Stronger Marriage

Hanging Out vs. Traditional Dating

Has Hanging Out Replaced Traditional Dating?

Sarah Elizabeth Pope
Utah State University
January 2010


Has dating become a thing of the past? Is hanging out the new way to date? There are a variety of dating patterns today and each has its strengths. Some may argue that the media has influenced teen’s perceptions of courtship and dating. Could this be true? If so, is it brainwashing, improper, or merely forward thinking?

What is Dating?
Throughout the years, dating has changed dramatically. If you individually asked members in a group to define its meaning, it wouldn’t be surprising to receive a variety of answers. Dating gives young adults the opportunity to test drive a relationship for a potential partner or spouse.

In the dictionary, a date is “An appointment to meet at a specified time; especially, a social engagement between two persons that often has a romantic character” (Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 2003, p. 317). Many young adults agree that “actual dates are rare, but the word dating is still used by many of them to describe their own or their friends’ interactions with the opposite sex” (Glenn & Marquart, 2001, p. 24).

Norval Glenn and Elizabeth Marquart identified four types of techniques being used in the modern world of dating. Even though each type has distinct traits, couples are able to shift from one type to the other.

Shopping Around

The first is comparable to the traditional dating style; where men often initiate dates and pay for any expenses. However, researchers have found this method to be much less common among young adults today. “In [a] national survey, only 37 percent of the respondents said they had been on more than six dates of this kind, and a third said they had been asked on two dates or fewer” (Glenn & Marquart, 2001, p. 26).
Twenty years ago, if a young lady asked a young man on a date is was thought to be inappropriate. Now, women are being encouraged to ask young men to activities. Many parties or other social engagements require you to bring a date.

•Allows opportunities to “shop around” and date several people at a time.
•It is a positive way to discover qualities you are looking for in a partner.
•It gives the opportunity to get to know someone without jumping into a commitment.

• You only gather what’s on the surface rather than the person as a whole.
• Usually see the person in similar settings instead of a variety of situations.
• “In several cases it appeared that “nice guys” who tried to follow women's stated wishes by asking them on traditional dates were less interesting to some women than [those] who interacted with women in other ways” (Glenn & Marquart, 2001, p. 24).

Joined at the Hip

The second is described as being “joined at the hip”. This couple forms an immediate attachment and spends most, if not all of their time with each other. This type tends to move rapidly and encourages affection. They begin sharing roles and responsibilities and “it is expected neither of them will see other people” (Glenn & Marquart, 2001, p. 25). In this situation, it is common for couples to be passionate and physically intimate early in the relationship.

• It is a quick way to gain a relationship with your partner and have someone to talk to.
• Always having a constant companion, friend and date.
• Knowing someone cares may give the desire to strive to be a better person.

• Individuals are less likely to have a social life outside of the relationship. They may become neglectful of their family and friends.
• Even if things start out conflict may arouse later on.
• Some might stay in the relationship due to feelings of obligation because of the closeness shared.

Taking it Slow
Conversely, the third type is a much slower paced relationship. It is understood they are a couple, but it is not necessary to spend time together on a regular basis. Both individuals spend an equal amount of time with their friends, extra-curricular activities and their significant other. In this relationship, couples are less likely to become physically intimate with their partner. Instead, they are more interested in each other’s activities, interests and goals.

• It is a great way to get to know your partner without neglecting your family, friends and responsibilities.
• You value spending time with your significant other instead of making it an everyday routine.
• Due to the little time spent, you are able to continually learn new things about your partner.

• It can be limiting for you and your partner without allowing the relationship to grow.
• You have a relationship comparable to a good friend instead of a couple in a relationship.
• There can be a lack of exploration and communication beyond the surface emotions. It is important to understand deeper emotions and develop emotional intimacy.

Hanging Out
The fourth and final dating type has become one of the most popular throughout the country. It is commonly known as hanging out. By definition, hanging out is, “To socialize with your friends” (Urban Dictionary, 2005). A student at the University of Virginia stated, “It’s not that typical around here that you go out on a date… You hang out. Like you hang out with your friends or just visit them at their apartment” (Glenn & Marquart, 2001, p. 27).

Why do young people prefer this method? Perhaps it is a pre-dating technique. Hanging out gives the opportunity to get acquainted with someone before asking them on a date. If all goes well in a group setting, it makes the next step less stressful. Meeting new acquaintances in a group setting reduces first meet anxiety as well as feeling the need to impress.

Another contributing factor is hanging out and hooking up is continuously being modeled on popular television shows. A student from Howard University explained, “Formal dating like ‘let me pick you up and we’ll go somewhere’... it happens, but it’s rare... a lot of times a date could just be coming down to the room and watching a movie together” (Glenn & Marquart, 2001, p. 27). Hanging out can be a great way to get acquainted with others, but it isn’t a suitable way to get to know someone on a personal level. That is when it’s time to break away from the group and spend some time together.

• Gives the opportunity to see the person in a variety of settings and how they interact with others.
• Meeting within a group will increase the chances of getting to know the person before entering a relationship.
• Hanging out is safer than going on individual dates; especially if the date is only an acquaintance. This is notable as Utah being the thirteenth highest for rape rates in the nation – higher than New York, D.C. or California (FBI uniform crime reports, 2004).

• Couples who form an attachment in the hanging out setting will have a more difficult time breaking away from those routines.
• If the relationship doesn’t work out it may affect the relationships you have with common friends.
• Group settings can attract the use of alcohol. “75% of male students and 55% of female students involved in date rape had been drinking or using drugs” (Sexual Assault and Anti-Violence Info [SAAVI], 1998).

Dating Tips
• Do not send a text, email, or a send a Facebook message to ask someone on a date. It is courteous to either call or ask in person.
• Don’t feel like you have to spend money on a date. There are many activities available free of cost or inexpensive. Be creative.
• Dress appropriately for the date. If possible, let your date know of the activity beforehand.
• While on a date, it is common courtesy to not text or make phone calls.
• If prices on the menu vary and you are not sure what would be appropriate to order, ask your date what he/she is ordering. Then order either the same or lower in price value.
• Don’t share your life history on the first date; they don’t want to know all about you at once. Allow the conversation to gradually develop and ask each other questions.
• When you are on a date, be there. Do not talk about past dates or previous relationships.
•Dating isn't a team sport; branch away from large group date activies.

Hanging Out Tips
• Communicate with each other. Be social and interact with each member of the group.
• It is common to watch a movie at someone’s home. Instead, find other ways to be creative and active.
• Invite acquaintances to hang out with the group. It is a great way to get to know others and gain new friendships.
• Be yourself and participate in the activities.
• Don’t pair off within the group - that is what dating is for.
• If at a friends’ home be considerate and respectful. Help clean up before you leave.
• Group activities don’t need to be elaborate. Find inexpensive ways to have fun. Some places offer group rates.
• Know when it’s time to break away from the group and go on dates that are planned couple activities.

Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation. 2004 The uniform crime reporting.Retrieved November 14, 2009, from
Glenn, N., & Marquardt, E., (2001). Institute of American Values. Hooking up, hanging out, and hoping for mr. right: college women on dating and mating today, (pp.1-41).
Mish, F. (Ed.). (2003) Merriam-webster's collegiate dictionary, (11th ed., p. 317). Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster Inc.
Urban Dictionary. (2005, March 29). Urban dictionary ten years. Retrieved from
Utah State University. (1998) Sexual assault and anti-violence info. Retrieved November 14, 2009, from

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