It’s the weekend. The emotional burden of your overdue homework is about to creep in when you remember that someone — Jeff from section, Amanda from your gutty psychology class, Chad from your old FroCo group — wants to hang out. You grab your phone to open the unread Facebook message and prepare to respond. This is NOT a date, though; you’re just doing it for the attention, the brain break and out of altruism (because it’s been two weeks since they last wrote). Communicating your intentions requires strategy. It’s time to suggest a non-date date spot.

Bass is a good choice, especially if you take your date to the bottom floor and insist on working in separate isolation booths. You could try the Center for Teaching and Learning — meet up with some hot writing tutor, so your new friend knows you’re out of their league. But avoid any library too warmly lit. Those libraries have unlimited potential for stacks and bookshelf action, so they’re better to avoid entirely.

If you’re hungry (always!), try Blue State on York, the only sustainable coffee shop completely devoid of any warmth or genuine human emotion. The slightly kinder Willoughby’s could also be a good option. I’ve never heard of a date at Willoughby’s, only startup meetings between sexy sophomores applying for Y-Combinator. How about The Juice Box? Juice has nothing to do with pleasure, right?

There’s another kind of platonic snack date. Go get your lunch swipe together at 2:15 p.m., then sit outside Durfees at the table where the film-major internationals smoke after YPU debates. Eat your chicken tendies in absolute silence while your date tries their hardest to interpret your blissed-out stare as a dazey love gaze. Lunch is sexy, but this table is not.

If you’re a man and the person you’re trying to blow off is a woman, take her to any art gallery and explain each painting using casual fun facts you learned in Directed Studies. Does this sound like a genuinely good date idea to you? Congratulations, you’re an asshole. Stop reading my article.

Do not bring them to a Saybrook practice room, because as it turns out, the Saybrook practice rooms are prime for romance. Last month, like a fool, I came to this discovery. When met at the door of Practice Room A at 2 a.m. with enormous resistance, I plunged through and with all my might forced the door open, only to find a beautiful young couple butt-naked on the floor. Serenades are always romantic — what was I thinking?

Say you’ll look out for them at Woads. Do not go to Woads.

Ask them to come study in your suite, and then invite your whole suite via group chat. This is sweet, because it’s overwhelmingly platonic: a friendly hang-out full of friends. Maybe ask them to help you take out your trash (but NOT the laundry, because laundry is too intimate, and you don’t want to start feeling paranoid if one of your drawers goes missing).

All of this is what we call pre-friendzoning. They have no reason to think you’re anything but friends, right? Pre-friendzoning is simply a word to the wise which allows everyone to save face. But sometimes there are complications. Maybe you’ve been sending mixed signals for three to six months. Maybe the two of you have been having sex. Cut them some slack: the question of platonic or romantic is officially a reasonable one, and it’s time for some damage control.

Bring them to the spot in the park where you used to take your ex girlfriend. Cry over your ex girlfriend in front of them. Wait, what? Did they think you were ready to date? Sorry, man, but it’ll be another little while before that’s happening.

Reverse engineer the sticky situation: take them to a gorgeous dessert at some sickeningly romantic restaurant, like Barcelona, and talk about how many children you want to have. Play crazy. Make them tell you that they just wanna be friends.

Say you’ll see them at Soads. Don’t go to Soads. (Drastic).

Or, for a better kind of bonding, take your platonic date to a naked party. Bear with me: the naked parties are strictly non-sexual, and everyone is focused very hard on making eye contact. Also, your date will literally be kicked out if they make an advance. But if they handle it well, the two of you have just shared a very exciting experience.

Go see a Red Hot Poker show together, or a Shades concert, or some other event where everyone in the group is the most attractive person on Earth. (Don’t forget your copy of “I’m With The Band: Confessions of a Groupie.”) Pick a person to look at the entire time and sigh dramatically whenever that person comes on stage. Be secretive, and laugh at inappropriate moments, as if the person is looking at you. “I knew you once,” whisper under your breath.

Try to make your intentions clear before the non-date date by calling the person “bud,” or “buddy,” as in, “let’s do a candlelit picnic on the top of Kline Biology Tower, bud!” Pretend to be confused when they start to think you’re odd and change their mind about hanging out with you.

But perhaps all this is too complicated. According to numerous psychological studies, humans are incredibly self-centered. We think that we’re better at communicating than we are, and we assume that others understand us much more than they actually do. So, consider being honest. Make any place platonic with a few simple words: “Sure, as friends.” Or maybe— just maybe — go ahead and say no thanks. Your time is your own, and you’ve got a p-set to finish.

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