You are so right. You are getting some serious mixed signals!
To answer your question, MS, some people would say there are steadfast rules that qualify a date. I think it’s subjective. For me, I qualify a date being a situation where I am spending time with a man with whom I am interested in forming a romantic and physically intimate relationship. There is generally some attraction there, whether it’s physical, emotional or intellectual, and we generally do something outside of our respective houses, and that something is probably drinks and maybe dinner.
Some people will say that something will become a date once he or she becomes interested. I think this is a load of crap. I think a date is a date whether you end up liking the person, hating the person, fucking the person or spooning the person. As for the difference between a “hang out” and a “date,” there is none. It’s semantics. The guys I know who use “hang out” when describing a situation that is very much a date are the most non-committal guys I know. They can’t even commit to the freaking concept of a date. It’s ridiculous.
You and your friend are doing date-like activities with no commitment and worse, no kissing. It’s exactly what you think it is, and as simple (and complicated) as that. He pays, you cuddle sometimes, but nothing more.
I will refrain from analyzing what’s up with your friend because I don’t know him or his situation, though I do know at least two men who would say he’s either gay or a pantywaist, and definitely not worth your time because you deserve more–if you want it. But for you:
1. Decide what you want. If you want your relationship to change, and whether you want more (or less) from him. Or do you even need to draw the boundary? Sometimes it’s okay to have cuddle friends as long as you are exploring other possible relationships. Though I’m assuming you’re asking this because you do want more.
2. If you want more from him, you’re definitely going to have to talk to him. Tell him you are sensing mixed signals and that your relationship feels like more than friends sometimes and you’re wondering how he’s feeling about it. (This is also where you have to give something of yourself and tell him how you feel. That you want more.) If he can’t answer you, well, that’s kinda your answer. He could be unsure, ambivalent and probably not worth the time you are investing in him. Or maybe he’s just really uncertain and needs a signal from you…a hint that it’s a sure thing. Guys are just as scared to make the first move as girls are, and while it may seem ridiculously obvious to you that you’re interested, he might not be tuned into your cues.
3. If you just want to be friends, then do that. I’m not sure if you need to have a conversation about it. I wonder if you can just act out the kind of friendship you want from him: If he pays once, you pay the next time. Stop cuddling. Don’t invest every night talking to him because when you do that, you suck away the time you could be talking to someone who wants to have a complete relationship with you. If you feel like your shift in how you relate to him requires a mention, then tell him how you feel. Tell him you like spending time with him, but you feel like the signals are mixed and it’s confusing to you. If he’s a true friend, he will understand. If he’s a jerk about it, then I don’t want you being friends with him anymore.
Another thing that may or may not be related:
The beauty of men is their ability to live in the present and enjoy things for what they are without analysis. This is also the most frustrating thing about men only because women are wired to want to know where things are going. (Damn biological clock.) I’ve had guys tell me they can go for months operating in the gray area of non-committal relationships and only when the woman finally brings up the “what are we doing?” question is when they finally decide to shit or get off the pot.
In my opinion, it’s better to know now than to wait around wondering. And if it doesn’t work out the way you want it to, at least you will be open to the possibility of something more with someone else who might be into dating, cuddling and kissing. Which is so cool.
Good luck and let me know what happens!