The Non-Date

Thursday, April 14, 2011
I am known for my phrases - I'm a repeat phrase user at best, abuser at worst – and I always get a kick out of other people embracing mine as their own. I usually pull these phrases from movies or TV sometimes but sometimes I create them on my own.

It’s been rumored that I’m responsible for the resurgence of the term "ginormous", and it's subsequent inclusion in Webster’s Dictionary, although I can’t take credit for its inception or my usage of it (stolen from the excellent holiday film, Elf). And while I’m the undisputed originator of “sexy time”, my term for all things involving naked or scantily clad activities, I coined another phrase years and years ago that I suddenly find myself using again.

Non-date (nŏn-dāt)
n. 1. a. An engagement to go out socially with another person, often out of potential, noted by others around you, but not-willing-to-act-on-it romantic interest. b. One's companion on such an outing.
v. non-dat•ed, non-dat•ing, non-dates 1. To go on a non-date or non-dates with.
v.intr. 2. To go on non-dates.

When I was in my early twenties I had a knock-down-drag-out crush on a co-worker. We worked in small quarters on a close knit team of over worked and over intoxicated consultants, and during the course of a year or so it became clear to everyone that whatever was happening between us definitely crossed the professional and platonic lines.

We walked the line, that's for sure, discussing intimate details about each other’s romantic relationships with other people, but then getting into these emotional, drunken conversations after nights out that I couldn’t possibly remember the premise of. I do remember walking home about a mile one night during a snowstorm, in flats, after dramatically exiting a taxi cab he and I were sharing. We let our social circles overlap, and our professional ones, too, deciding to attend our holiday Christmas party together one year.

Everyone already thought we were dating on the not-so-secret-sly (This was obviously their oversight; I am nothing if not an incredible secret keeper. If I had been dating someone on the DL, it would actually have been secret.) so I’m not exactly sure why we fed into it, but it’s when I introduced the term “non-date”.

I used it to explain how we were going to an event together as dates, but not romantic dates. It had all the trappings of a date, you see, we went to the event with another real couple, and he actually picked me up in the cab on the way to the event. And we went to after party events together, and the after-after bar, too, but we weren’t a couple. Despite making the arrangements to attend the event together we also made repeated, loud proclamations that we were not involved like that.

For years I believed if you didn’t use the term, didn’t call something what you didn’t want it to be, that it wasn’t that. Truth be told I still that feel way a bit, I hate qualifying (or promoting) relationships and men to a level I don’t consider them. Words like dating, boyfriend, relationship. I can’t tell you how many times I say “it’s not a date” and “he’s not my boyfriend”.

Words have meaning, but persistent avoidance of them has just as much meaning sometimes. Things are what they are. It doesn’t matter what you call them.

Except of course with my old co-worker. We really were non-dating; we were good friends with ill-timed crushes on each other and too much access to alcohol. Sometimes I miss those days.


Lifebeginsat30ty said...

Are you sure he wasn't gay? Or are you saying he was 'taken' at the time, otherwise you would have been bumping uglies? ;)

Dater at Large said...

Huh? No, he wasn't (and isn't) gay. And I think we were both single and taken at different times during that project. We were friends who sometimes entertained thoughts of being more than that but never actually acted on them.

jo said...

i think i get what you mean. way back in school days, there used to be a couple who kept saying that they weren't a couple but for all intents and purposes really acted like one. it was then that i realised that it didn't matter what you labelled or didn't label yourself, ultimately it boiled down to the level of feelings involved and i know that if that couple parted ways, someone was going to feel the hurt like they just broke up a relationship.

but yes, non-dating is totally possible. god knows i did a lot of that. sigh.