Losing the awkwardness of a first date

“Hanging out” has become synonymous for “dating,” but where is the line defined? | PC: Jorrdan Bissell

“Hanging out” has become synonymous for “dating,” but where is the line defined? | PC: Jorrdan Bissell

Our generation has it pretty easy.

Millennials love texting. This is obviously old news. But what we don’t always think of is how it affects new relationships. We have all these technologies and communication channels that no other generation has had before. These new developments are mostly awesome but have changed how we interact, namely when it comes to the first date.

First dates used to be awkward, and still can be.

Hollywood and literature have told us they  the first date has stilted conversation and uncomfortable silences, an unoriginal dinner date with generic get-to-know-you questions. If you search online for awkward first date stories, you can find dozens of articles, listing things like getting your date’s name wrong or mentioning a detail about them that could have only been learned from online profile stalking.

But, are we even getting to the first date?

“It’s not a formal first date anymore, the kind where you get to know the person for the first time,” says Jessica Abrahamson, senior elementary education major. “[My boyfriend and I] didn’t have an official first date. We hung out at camp all summer. By the time we went on a first date (to Chipotle, paid for with a gift card), we already knew everything about each other. We’d been texting non-stop since camp ended.”

This phenomenon isn’t only confined to romantic relationships. Abrahamson talked about the correlation with cultivating online friendships as well. “People become friends over texting or Facebook. The first couple times you hang out in person, it’s awkward,” she continues. “You think, ‘are we friends? I [feel like I] can’t communicate with you if we aren’t texting.’”

It seems like the intentionality of romance is fading away. Young people “hang out” and “talk” without doing or saying much at all. The transition from friend to special friend is blurred.

Guys don’t casually ask a girl to dinner in college anymore. On the other hand, due to its rare occurrence, girls automatically assume a man’s offer of dinner means proposing marriage or something of equal importance. A first date balances a fine line between the two issues, with both men and women holding responsibility.

Because all we do is text and hang out, the questions multiply exponentially. “When is the first date the first date?” asks Nicholas Morrison, sophomore graphic design major. “I feel like people don’t know anymore because people just hang out. Do you have to say the words, ‘This is a date’?”

Aziz Ansari, comedian and actor, recently co-wrote a book called “Modern Romance.” It investigates dating culture in today’s digital world and how it has changed with the evolution of cell phones and the Internet. At one point, Ansari writes on the ambiguity of a date versus a hang-out saying, “The lack of clarity over whether the meet-up is even an actual date frustrates both sexes to no end” (Washington Post).

This tactic of casual hanging out and texting all the time takes away the awkwardness, but it also removes responsibility and intention. “First dates aren’t necessary because people resort to their phones to get to know each other,” says junior nursing student, Zach Krall. “Then they don’t have to put forth effort to interact.”

If we want to change the dating game, we have to be intentional. Have those deep conversations in person. When developing a relationship with a new friend or crush, try not to limit yourselves to texting.

And don’t be afraid of a first date, even if it has potential to be awkward.

Katie Morrison is a senior studying business administration.