Coffee =/= Date

I am really very ignorant of the entire “dating” culture. Mostly because, to me, it continues to lack any kind of structure that seems sensible or worth learning.

However, this does often lead to situations where someone (read: a boy) is like “Hey, do you want to hang out sometime?” to which I think “Yes! That would be *wonderful*! I’m still really pretty new to the city, and you’ve been here longer, and you seem pretty cool, so you probably know some cool things to do/places to go! Yay! We can get to know each other and I’ll have more friends!”

Then there’s the inevitable meet-up which goes really well until he starts going for my face and my reaction is like “OH HEY WAIT. Was this a *date*? Because that was not clarified at any point. I don’t think I signed up for that.”

Then I get schooled in the “language of dating” where apparently “coffee and a walk” somehow translates into “make out!” and I don’t understand because all I want to do is go for a walk and find a nice coffee shop.


I think it’s my new band name: Platonic Coffee. Because apparently that doesn’t exist.

Seriously. What the hell, world? When did “get coffee” start meaning something *other* than “…get coffee…”? and how does one explain that, no, actually, coffee is the actual goal here. (Well, to be precisely truthful, chances are good that I’d be getting tea, because I don’t like coffee that much, but NOT THE POINT.) If I want to go on a date with someone I’d say something like “Hey. Do you want to go on a date sometime?” Because that actually conveys the inquiry that I am wanting a response for.


I do not understand.

I’m also really sad, because if hanging out for coffee is “going on a date”, then what do I do when I actually just want to hang out for coffee?

I don’t want a date. I don’t want sexual advances. I want friends.

I’ve had several variations on the conversation recently, where I am told to assume that “Let’s hang out” means “let’s go on a date”.

I don’t want to go on a date.

I want to hang out.

I don’t want to assume that every invitation that sounds promising is actually false advertising for interaction that I am fully uninterested in. That’s not the life I want to live. I don’t want to turn things down pre-emptively as a form of protection from unwanted attention. That’s so many steps away from where I want to be as a person.

Getting that from so many different sources is just…really depressing.


7 thoughts on “Coffee =/= Date

  1. This I think is an unfortunate side effect of evolving language. I on the other hand often use the phrase ‘date’ to indicate platonic meet ups because its a lovely single syllable word and ‘coffee date’ rolls of the tongue nicely. As was the case of our weekly coffee dates in the past, I also use ‘coffee’ to mean hot chocolate and tea because I get tired of explaining I don’t actually drink coffee, and the places are called coffee shops so it’s just easier.

    But I digress, I don’t think you need to assume false advertising or turn down opportunities straight off. I do think that there needs to be an understanding that people communicate in different ways at different time and different places. Now in a perfect world every one would keep this in mind and life would be slightly more literal and points would be annoyingly hammered home at times but there would be fewer awkward moments of “wtf?’.

    Unfortunately the only person you can force to communicate more clearly is you. ‘Hanging out’ can mean ‘hanging out’ but people get scared and asking others out on dates is terrifying so the phrase has been co-opted for that purpose. Don’t ASSUME it means date, just be aware of the possible connotation and maybe ask follow up questions. It might be awkward in and of itself being that blunt but I think it will end in fewer faces attacks in the future.


    • Yeah. I think that’s probably what’s going to happen. Instead of “Yes! Let’s hang out!” it will be “Yes! Let’s hang out! Especially in a non-romantic non-dating way!”

      (I miss our coffee dates, that included no coffee and were not dates. I liked those. :p)


  2. Funny, I just read this article ( yesterday. Not all guys/gals who ask you to “hang out/or whatever” have intentions of putting moves on you. Usually the first outing is a “test the waters” thing. Unfortunately, some people feel they need to test physical compatibility right off the bat too. I agree with the comment above, you can only control YOUR communication tactics. So maybe the next time you suspect ulterior motives, just make it clear what you’re looking for before saying yes. That being said, I hope you won’t put up too many barriers, you never know what kind of amazing thing could happen if you give someone a chance…. you just might meet the love of your life.

    But what do I know? I’ve been out of the dating world for 11 years now, thank all that is good! 😛


    • Thanks for the article. The title of it especially resonated with me. There have been shockingly many times in my life when I’ve suddenly come to the realization that I might very well be on a date. It’s kind of funny.
      That being said, what the author says about expectations is so true, I think. If a person simply says “I’d like to go on a date with you” then the context is clear, and it is so much less stressful then attempting to decipher whether or not something is fraught with romantic/sexual intention.

      (I think some things haven’t changed, even in 11 years. :p)


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