Apparently an unofficial U.S. holiday known as National Date Night is this Saturday. It's an occasion that poses more definitional issues than you might suspect. Glamour, in a recent poll, found that 73 percent of women "said they often can't even tell whether they've been on a date or not" and 19 percent "said they had never been on a real date at all."
VOX is on it. Even has cards! Excerpts below.
"It varies from person to person," Dr. Zhana Vrangalova, a sex researcher and adjunct professor at NYU, says. "Some people think of it in the traditional sense: dinner, movies, whatever. People have also stretched the definition of the date to something more casual like getting drinks. Couples and non-monogamous couples have their own definitions of dates too."
The downside is that when anything can be a date, any platonic friendship activity can be construed as a date. That's part of the reason why there's that startling number of women in Glamour's poll who can't tell whether they've been on a date. It's not that they don't have working definition of dating or what a date is. It's that they can't tell what the person they went on that "date" with is working with the same definition.
Guys paying for the check has been a way for both women and men to tell and signal if they are on a date. It's a tradition that men and women still hold on to, even though women have better jobs, a better range of jobs available to them, and make more money than they did in the past.
Frazetto and Vrangalova both say that online dating has given people plenty of dating options, and perhaps too many dating options. And in the online dating world, people have become a commodity, which has changed the way we date. Frazetto argues that we don't have as much patience, and are hesitant to devote our time on a date. That's the reason, he says, 20-minute coffee dates are now a thing.
"The fact that people may swipe potential partners on a screen and date up to five possible individuals a week is a sign of determination to find a partner, but it makes the whole enterprise rather superficial," Frazetto said. "The interest (and the relevant investment) in the person on the other side of the coffee or dinner table evaporates too quickly sometimes, because there will always be another (perhaps more appealing) prey when the computer or smart phone is turned on."