It’s not related to the buzz of “Call Me Caitlyn” or the Duggar’s secrets (I do have strong opinions about both, but those are for another time).
My anger is directed towards something much sneakier, something that no one is talking about.
Don’t mind if I do.
It’s a phrase that we hear and say often. “Hanging out” or “hang out” is literally crippling our ability to date and court. We use it so lightly and say it so frequently that it’s become a household term.
In so many ways, times and places, hanging out is fine. It’s not even restricted to the same gender! You can absolutely hang out with boys and girls in a group.
But what really pops my corn is this:
Your friends: “Hey! How was your date?”
You: “It was fine. We just hung out.”
Actually, if you were on a date, you were not hanging out. If you were hanging out, then you were not on a date.
This fence-sitting has got to stop. We’ve got to take true courting seriously again, and I will tell you why.
1. When you “hang out,” there usually isn’t a plan.
I cannot tell you how many times a group of my friends, guys and girls, have made plans to “hang out” and we actually do nothing once we’re together. Which is great! That’s fun. It’s fine to do and some of the best memories are made when you sit around and giggle. However, by intermingling hanging and dating, we legitimately confuse ourselves. Ladies, how many times have you come home from what should have been a date and said “Well… I think it was a date?”
And why did you have a hard time differentiating whether or not it was a date? BECAUSE THERE WAS NO PLAN TO IT.
Dates (should) have a plan, dates (should) have a purpose, and dates (even double dates- should) be paired off. The very nature of “hanging out” is counter to the nature of dating and courtship. Stop mixing the two. You’ll save yourself a lot of confusion.
2. Young men are forgetting how to preside.
This one truly is related to dating. Now, a little disclaimer here; I firmly believe that young women can, and should, take some dates into their own hands. Not only are we capable of doing so, but it also relieves pressure from young men. If they are constantly planning dates, they’re going to get burned out! Plus, sometimes I legitimately have a desire to plan, preside, and pay for things. It’s okay dad, girls can do that every once in a while.
But here’s where it gets tricky. When we started “hanging out,” we stopped planning (like I mentioned above) and we stopped presiding. Men have an obligation (as seen in The Family: A Proclamation to the World https://www.lds.org/topics/family-proclamation) to protect, provide, and preside over their families.
Why do you think dating is set up the way it is, folks? Young men need practice presiding before marriage.
Presiding is pretty instinctual for men, that’s a big reason why we have different strengths as men and women. By not allowing young men and women to properly date, we’re taking away a crucial area for men to practice presiding. Plus, a two-hour evening with a cute girl, that’s paid for and paired off, is really not that bad. Are we honestly having to twist your arm here, guys?
3. We all know what the purpose of dating is.
Okay. I’m just going to say the thing that no one wants to say for fear of sounding desperate. You guys, no one progressively spends their evening with someone else “just because.” We are all shopping for a spouse. Now, know that I’m not trying to peg every single date on marriage, because I’m not. There truly are such things as casual, one-time dates. But they’re still dates. Dates that are warm-ups for the real important dating that you will do someday; the dating that will lead you to your husband/wife.
The honest, real, super-awkward-to-admit-but-you-still-know-it truth, is that we are dating to find a mate. No one “hangs out” to find their spouse. You do that when you’re bored on a Saturday night and want pizza.
So get out there and date. But don’t worry about eating pizza on your date; that’s totally fine, and even encouraged!
4. There are critical steps in dating that don’t exist in “hanging out.”
When you take a girl out on your first date together, that is exactly what it is; a first date. If you like each other and good signals are being sent from both parties, then a second date happens. A third follows, then a fourth, fifth, and so on. During that period of dates, milestones are hit. Somewhere along the way you become a couple. You meet the parents. You start telling each other deeper things, more than face-level, my-favorite-color-is-red-and-I-love-Mexican-food stuff. Each of these events are critical to your advancing relationship because they help you to grow together.
In no way, shape or form does simply “hanging out” help you to grow together. If all we’re calling things is hang out’s, then how will we ever advance to the oh-so-important stage of dating?
Intentionally dating is the first step towards marriage. First comes dating and courtship, then comes engagement, then comes marriage. Those are the steps. See anything about hanging out? Neither did I.
5. The awkward stage isn’t overcome through “hanging out.”
How are we, who start out as weird teenagers with sweaty palms, supposed to learn the etiquette of dating if all we ever do is “hang out?”
All I’m saying is we are not the same people we were in high school. If you’re practicing your dating skills in fun, solid situations, you are going to make improvements. You won’t stay that awkward teenager forever. But the only way to make sure of that is to practice.
There are times and places where being awkward is inevitable. Dating doesn’t have to be one of them.
Something to remember…
We have forgotten our worth.
I know that there are girls reading things thinking, “Emily, I want to go on dates. I wish a boy would ask me out!”
There are also boys thinking, “But Em, I am terrified to ask. What if she says no? How will I recover?”
To the sad girl who doesn’t get asked on dates, I’m telling you right now, I know how you feel. It’s so hard to watch your friends go on dates, hear your parents tell you to go on dates, see people on TV going on dates, and still not go on dates. It’s so, so hard. Hang in there, sweet heart. Wait. Be patient. Cultivate good habits, talents, and be kind. Boys will come along soon and ask you, really. When they do come along, don’t you dare think for one second that you are worth anything less than a planned, paid for, and paired off date. Let him preside over it and know in your heart that you are worth every moment and every penny.
To the nervous boy out there who’s scared of being rejected, please know that your sincerity and desire do not go unnoticed. You might get rejected a few times along the way and I am so sorry. But know that there are so many kind girls out there that will say yes to you. Do not give up. She is worth your asking, and you are worth her answer.
So date. And hang out! Just don’t confuse or mix-up the two, because they are very, very different.