Wayne and Wanda: But is it a date? Modern singles more confused than ever

Wayne says: Well, the digital age has thrown another curveball at the dating game. Apparently more than four out of every 10 men and women are confused whether hanging out with one another is even a date if it's initiated by text messages. This and other fun and frustrating facts about modern dating were recently reported by USA Today in its recent article, "Is it a date? Or hanging out? Survey reflects confusion."

USA Today shared the results of an online survey led by ChristianMingle.com and JDate.com of nearly 3,000 singles, ages 18-59. The findings reveal that nearly 70 percent of singles are at least somewhat confused about whether an outing with someone they're interested in is even a date. Really? Oh wait, there's more: "Although 80 percent agree that a date is 'a planned one-on-one hangout,' almost one-quarter (24 percent) also think it is 'a planned evening with a group of friends,' and 22 percent agree that 'if they ask me out, it's a date.'"

Duh! People -- have we really lost touch with our fellow humans to this level? Sure, there's always going to be a little mystery about if and how much someone likes or doesn't like you when you first hang out. But from a man's perspective, if you agree to go out somewhere with me, it's a date. And things might even get romantic. Boom -- there it is. Or things might get really awkward if I go in for the end-of-date kiss and you didn't exactly see the sushi dinner and play at Cyrano's as a date ...

So how about this? Use the word "date" when you ask someone to hang out, whether you do it by voice, text, email or skywriting message from your buddy's plane.

Wanda says: Wait, what? If I agree to go somewhere with a guy, it's a date? So any time a single male friend asks me to lunch, dinner, happy hour or any other random outing, I'm dating? I don't think so, Wayne. (Oh and to that "friend" who asked me if I could grab a burger at Long Branch this week? Um, yeah. I'm super busy.)

As far as the members of my highly scientific focus group (i.e., all my single girlfriends) are concerned, when a male asks you to do something in a way that comes across as a casual afterthought, it is most logically and probably a platonic meet-up, perhaps enhanced by a dash of flirtation, and maybe-just-maybe containing potential for more down the road. When guys suggest "grabbing a bite," this does not scream date. It doesn't even whisper it. Rather, it leaves us ladies languishing in a gray fog of confusion. Why did he ask me to go? Does he like me? Am I a buddy? Is he interested in a relationship? Or is he just hungry?

The surest way to express interest in a potential partner is to be forthright and erase all doubt. If you are interested in someone and want to take them out, explicitly say, "I want to take you on a date." So simple! And so much clearer than "We should hang out some time" or "Let's meet up later." These sentiments fall far short of establishing that the meet-up is something special and romantic. By defining it as a date up front, you're clearing the air and establishing expectations. The benefits: your companion is there for the right reasons, you're on the same page, and you're way less likely to get the cheek when you go in for that grand finale kiss.

Want to respond to a recent column, point out a dating trend, or ask Wanda and Wayne for wisdom regarding your love life? Give them a shout at wanda@adn.com.