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Wellness > Sex + Relationships

Her Gay Best Friend: The Date Debate–Telling the Difference Between a Date, an Outing, and a Booty Call

We need to talk.

I know you’re confused. It’s okay to be confused. Some of history’s greatest figures have gone through various states of confusion–Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, Ellen–and they all came out better for it. So how about you wipe that mismatched makeup off your face, stop digging through your closet for a “sexy top that doesn’t send the wrong message,” and we sit down and try to figure this out? 

Let’s review the facts. 

What exactly did he say? Did he use the word “date”? Is it possible that he just used a word that rhymed with “date”–like “hate” or “prostate”? How did he look when he said it? Are you positive he was even looking at you when he said it? Did he check out your boobs? Are you sure he didn’t check out your boobs? How can you not be sure if someone checked out your boobs? 

See, this is why I just summarize episodes of “One Life to Live” when you ask me about my day. You never pay attention.

Okay, let’s try this a different way.

When a guy asks you to meet up with him at some future point, it generally means only one of three things. Either he A) wants to hang out as friends and take pleasure in your platonic, fully-clothed company; B) is asking you on a date and wants to woo you like a gentleman; or C) is hoping to bang you and has more tact than to send a 2 am “wannnna fcuk???” text.

So which is it–friends, date, or fornicate? Stick to this handy guide to help clear up the confusion.

Situation 1: He invites you over to his apartment to watch a movie.  

I figured we could start with an easy one. If you’ve never been out with a guy and he invites you over for a movie, chances are more than likely that the movie he has in mind is a little flick called “His Bedroom Ceiling” (truly one of the classics). The probability of this increases exponentially if 1) the get-together is scheduled for 9 pm or later, 2) you first met when you made out at that party, and 3) no specific movie was named.

If you were expecting a romantic cuddlefest on the couch, I hate to break it to you–the answer is C: fornicate.

Situation 2: He and some friends are going out to a movie and he asks if you want to come along. 

This is where it gets a little bit dicey. 

You can pretty much rule out a booty call–unless he plans on pulling a Pee Wee Herman in the middle of the theater, there’s little to no chance of getting up close and personal with his man-bits. And unless you’re a Jonas brother, first dates generally don’t come with an entourage. So that must mean this is nothing more than a simple friendly outing, right?

Sorry sugar. It’s never simple with the opposite sex (or the same sex for that matter). Just because tonight isn’t a date doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have some kind of feelings for you. This movie may just well be his excuse to hang out with you in a pressure-free way while he waits for the right moment (read: gets enough balls) to ask you out for real.

My advice: dress, act, and be casual, but pay attention to his body language at the movie to see if he’s sweet on you. The answer is A (with a possibility of future B).

Situation 3: After lecture is done a guy you know says, “God, I’m so hungry I could eat a Kardashian’s thigh. Want to grab some lunch at the dining hall?”

Now as a general rule, it’s safe to assume that it’s never a date if you’re paying for it with your meal plan (any guys reading this–please take note). But, aside from that, there are a couple of other red flags in this situation that let you know there will be little to no romance involved is this rendezvous.  


There’s a time limit. Scheduling a quick bite between classes isn’t the method of choice for a man trying to win a woman’s affection. Unless, of course, he’s a Wall Street professional who can only make enough time to pencil you in between his noon meeting and mid-afternoon happy-ending massage.

Also, it’s impromptu. Guys generally need a day or two to mentally prepare themselves for a date–mostly to suppress the habit of saying things like “douche” and “that’s what she said” for over an hour. The spur-of-the-moment invite to food might suggest that it’s more about the food than you.

Sorry if you were hoping an afternoon lunch would lead to some afternoon delight. While a real date still might be in your future, the answer for now is A: friends.

Situation 4: After lecture he asks if you “want to grab coffee sometime.” You’re hoping “coffee” isn’t a strange new slang for something you don’t really feel like grabbing.

“Coffee sometime” might sound a little ambiguous, but the message couldn’t be clearer. He likes you! Not only does he like you, he likes you enough to suggest an outing where he’s obligated to talk to you for longer than ten minutes before the previews start. Now that, my friend, is romance. 

Coffee may be a more casual date–it often takes place in the afternoon, making a “goodnight” tongue-kiss unlikely–but it’s a date nonetheless. The answer is B. That is, unless “Coffee” just happens to be his nickname for his little purple-helmet warrior. Then you might find yourself looking at C. 

Situation 5: You’ve never gone out together before, but Mister Man suggests you come over to his apartment so he can cook you some dinner.

A home-cooked dinner for two? Of course it’s a date. Not just a date, but the most romantic date you’ve ever been on! In fact, this might be the perfect man. You’ll definitely want to stick around after dinner and get to know him a little better. Maybe watch a movie and snuggle on the couch or something. Oh? He says the bed is more comfortable? Well that could be nice, cuddled up on his bed, lights out, watching a movie. Just you, him, the movie, and his hand caressing your thigh. Yep. Just the movie, his hand on your thigh, and the condom pack on his nightstand. Wait. Are you sure you haven’t seen this movie before? Is it possibly titled “His Bedroom Ceiling”?

And I think we’re all on the same page now.

Yes, a private dinner for two may sound like a romantic, thoughtful gesture, but players of this generation have gotten a bit more crafty. And a home-cooked dinner is a great excuse for a guy to get you into his apartment, which is half the battle anyway. 

Unless you’ve been seeing a guy for a while, he most likely isn’t cooking you dinner without expecting a personal display of gratitude for the chef. In this case, it’s best to be prepared for C: fornicate.

Situation 6: He asks you out to dinner.

Seems clear-cut, right? 

Wrong. This is, quite possibly, the most confusing thing a guy can do, and this is why I’ve saved it for last. A dinner can be a friendly outing or a romantic evening depending on the situation. The best I can do is break it down even further. 

He’s been your friend for a while and suggests a meal–A: friends. Unless, when he asks you, he acts differently than he has in the past or suggests a place that is far fancier than the norm–B: date. Unless both you and he are dating other people–A: friends. Unless you aren’t aware that he dumped his girlfriend because he’s always had feelings for you–B: date.

You both are meeting mutual friends later for plans and are grabbing a bite to eat beforehand for the sake of convenience–A: friends. Unless he suggests a restaurant that is really not convenient or cheap and offers to pay–B: date. Unless he’s just a really picky eater and likes to flaunt his wealth–A: friends. Unless, in addition to being a rich, picky eater, he’s also madly in love with you–B: date.

He is not a longtime friend, asks you to go to dinner with him, one-on-one, to a fairly nice restaurant, for no reason other than the fact that he wants to take you out–B: date. Unless he’s your relative–A: friends. Unless he’s read Flowers in the AtticB: date.

He asks you out to dinner and specifically uses the word “date”–B: date. Unless he’s joking–D: soon-to-be eunuch.

Hopefully that cleared up all the confusion. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m meeting a friendly acquaintance for drinks at a bar downtown. I’m pretty sure it’s not a date though. 

When you’re gay, the answer’s pretty much always C.

Scott Rosenfeld is a junior at Carnegie Mellon University pursuing a double major in Professional Writing and Psychology. Originally from the D.C metropolitan area, Scott grew up with a great passion for the written word. From the time he first read Dr. Seuss, he realized the overwhelming power of human language, as well as the limitless joy of making up words for the sake of rhyme. On campus, Scott keeps busy working as the prose editor for the Oakland Review Literary Journal and an editor for the Thought: Undergraduate Research Journal. He was also recently elected to the position of editor-in-chief for The Cut, Carnegie Mellon’s music magazine, for which he has worked as the copy manager for the past year. As editor-in-chief, he hopes to buy all of his staff a thneed. Because a thneed, he feels, is something that everyone needs.