Does that Grouper you went on last week count as a date? How about those drinks with the romantic prospect you met on Tinder? If they text you afterward, does that mean they like you?
The hookup culture ushered in by the millennial set has made the question of what constitutes a date harder to answer. A recent survey by Glamour found that 73 percent of women “have wondered whether the last date they went on was a date.” The survey also found that just 12 percent of women have a regular date night with their significant other, while nearly one in three single women said they’ve never been on an outing they’d consider a “real” date. (Unfortunately, we weren’t able to find comparable statistics for men).
In response to the slew of reader complaints that they don’t go on dates anymore, Glamour has christened Saturday, June 28 as National Date Night.
Dating Delirium: Why Dating Matters and How It’s Changed
As tempting as it may be to grumble about the need for yet another unofficial Hallmark holiday, research shows that couples who try something new for date night can increase their satisfaction with the relationship and release additional dopamine, which can help recreate those butterfly feelings. (Convinced it’s worth celebrating National Date Night? Check out our 30 Cheap and Awesome Date Ideas Under $30.)
If nothing else, the unofficial holiday has gotten people talking about shifting dating norms. On Vox, Alex Abad-Santos asks how dates got so complicated. Quick answer: “Dates have always been defined for us, never by us.” In other words, Netflix and wine at home or a trip to the farmer’s market could be as much of a date as dinner for two at the hottest new tapas bar—but only if we choose to label it that way.
Maybe all of the ambiguity about dating isn’t a bad thing. Amanda Marcotte penned a piece over on Slate in defense of the “nondate date.” Marcotte describes the maybe date as “a phenomenon where two people go on an outing that is ostensibly platonic but also has the possibility of morphing into something sexier.” So maybe it’s not that dating is dead, but rather that we’re all starting to think about courtship a little differently.
In any case, a national day devoted to bringing couples together doesn’t sound like a bad idea. Another upside of all of this chatter about dating? It’s comforting to know that we’re not alone in our confusion over how we define it.