When It’s Not a Date

If you ever find yourself expecting a date and ending up in the friendzone, you’re not alone. We’re here to show you that you’ll laugh about it later.

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What I’m about to share with you is nothing short of a dating-related horror story. That said, it’s an opportunity to draw from and grow, and in turn offer advice.

I thought it was a date.

I was a few years out of college at the time and we’d been unable to coordinate our schedules. I fully thought it felt like a date. Come to think of it, I should have consulted with my peers, who were (and still are) significantly more experienced at playing the field than I am. But when we arrived — separately — it didn’t take me long to realize that this meeting was not, in fact, a date.

My companion wasted no time in telling me that a relationship, in any form, was not on the horizon. I smiled and nodded and on the inside, I felt, for lack of better terminology, friend-zoned. More significantly, I felt embarrassed. I came into this “meetup” with high expectations — after all, we’d tried for months to get together, and it didn’t end up at all as I’d hoped.

I sat there and tried to enjoy the rest of the time. I refrained from asking any embarrassing questions, including “Are we on a date?” or “Why do you feel like you’re not ready for a relationship?” I drank my coffee and ate my cookie and felt my cheeks grow increasingly red. I couldn’t wait to leave and from what I remember of the rest of the “date” (because I honestly don’t remember much) I spent it making awful jokes at my own expense.

Now that we know what not to do, here’s how you can learn from my mistakes:

  • Try to save the evening, but don’t try too hard. Think of trying to save yourself from embarrassment. Don’t overcompensate with loud, obnoxious jokes, but don’t stay silent either.
  • Don’t get ruffled, and remember that we’ve all been there. Talk to this person as though you’re speaking to a casual friend because, after all, that’s whom you’re now talking to.
  • At this point, you can be yourself. The “first impression” portion of the evening has ended. Maybe you can gain a friend out of this experience. That’s a more likely outcome if you just act as naturally as possible.
  • Don’t get your hopes up. If it’s made obvious from early on that it is very much not a date, don’t try to make it into one. It won’t help anyone, including you.
  • Let it go. Leave when it feels natural to you to leave. If you did drive together, don’t try too hard to make idle conversation in the car. If it feels right to you, great. If not, don’t. You can put up with the awkward silence for a half hour car ride. If you do gain a friend, great, but if you don’t, now is not the time to beat yourself up. Chalk it up to experience and try again tomorrow.

Remember, don’t let this one experience dictate your entire dating life! You won’t encounter this embarrassing misfortune every time you make a date with someone. The experience is something you’ll laugh about one day — I know I do.

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