New Study Shows Confusion Among Young Daters About What is a Date

Dating
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Do you know when you're on a date and when you're just hanging out? If you're confused about the difference - you're not alone. It's getting harder and harder to tell for a lot of singles.

According to a new study by Christian Mingle and JDate, there is a lot of ambiguity. Their online survey of 2,647 singles of varying ages (18-59) shows that 69% of respondents are confused about whether an outing with someone they're interested in is a date or not.

Maybe the confusion comes in with the definition of a date. According to the data, only 22% agree that "if they ask me out, it's a date," whereas 24% think it's a "planned evening with a group of friends."

So why all the ambiguity? According to the study, technology might have something to do with it. Fifty-seven percent of 18- to 24-year-olds say texting has made it more difficult to determine whether an outing is an actual date. But among older daters, that isn't necessarily true. Only 36% of 35-44 year-olds think that texting has made it more difficult.

The ambiguity isn't gender-specific either - both men and women generally agree. Mostly, opinions vary by age. The younger the dater, the less likely he or she is certain whether or not it's a date.

"In today's modern world there are so many factors contributing to blurred lines and mixed messages when it comes to dating and relationships," says Rachel Sussman, Marriage and Family Therapist and Licensed Clinical Social Worker who analyzed the results of the study. "I see clients every day who are struggling with how to navigate muddled waters in a new or long-term relationship, and this study by ChristianMingle and JDate confirms these issues exist across the country."

Expectations for men to pay on a date seem to be declining, too. Only 69 percent of men say the man should foot the bill for a date (vs. last year's study of 78 percent). This might be part of the dating ambiguity issue, too, because if the outing isn't clearly defined, there's no need to offer to pay as a gesture of affection or chivalry.

While singles might not agree on what constitutes a date, they do overwhelmingly agree (by 85%) that online dating is a socially acceptable way to meet people. Also, two out of three know couples who have met through online dating sites. Ninety-four percent believe that online dating expands their dating pool.

While the definition of a date might be more and more ambiguous, it seems that online dating is gaining more and more acceptance as time goes on. We'll see what the results say next year.