Was out with some people, one in particular, a few months ago when the word "dating" came up. Looking around the bar at all of the different types of interactions going on, I started comparing and analyzing until I came up with some defining characteristics. It seems to be a vague and hazy concept for most people. But here I go...
Date: An agreement to engage in a social activity with one other person, and give each other your undivided attention.
In my mind dates can be romantic, or not (that's my own skewed point of view and sense of phrasing). But it does constitute an interest to be in the presence of that person in particular, to set them apart and treat them differently than you would treat other people. Which are good tactics when trying to put something romantic together.
One point I can't quite figure out is "movie date" but I suppose after the movie is over the undivided attention starts up again. "Double date" is also tricky.
In this case, hanging out with a big group of people is not a date. Going to see a person's show is also not a date, at least not with that person. A passing kiss on its own doesn't make a date, although it is often a nice ending for one.
Dating seems to be about effort and attention, which in some cases may lead to commitment. In other cases, ideally, "I don't feel like making an effort with you anymore. We should pay attention to other people." "O.K."
This comes up because the person I was having that conversation with a few months ago seemed to think we were dating. Possibly? It was hard to tell, he wasn't the sort of person to communicate things clearly. Likewise he never put any clear effort or attention to me, so I was confused. I cannot be dating someone if they have never actually asked me out on a date. And "Lets just see what happens..." does not count.
I like things to be defined. I like it when people are clear about what they want, even if its a brief snuggle in the back of a bar before moving on to the next girl. But I wonder if this is really me, or my reaction to lots of people giving minimum effort and expecting maximum attention? I've been jerked around a lot over the last few years, and don't have the energy for that game anymore.
Just defining things takes effort. And if I'm not worth that much effort to another person, they are clearly not worthy of me ;-)