I was catching up with my best friend on the phone the other day, when she said, “I didn’t know you were going out with Greg,” naming a mutual friend of ours.

He’s more her friend than mine, but he’d recently helped me out with some computer issues and afterward asked if I wanted to do something the following week.

“I didn’t think it was a big deal,” I told her. “We’re just hanging out.”

“Is it a date?”

“I don’t know,” I replied. “I don’t think so.”

I have to laugh; we’d had a similar exchange about another male friend of mine a few weeks ago. He’d canceled plans and wanted to take me out to dinner to make up for it. He insisted on picking me up at my apartment, taking me to dinner, paying for it and then driving me home. He even came up afterward to hang out for a bit.

Sounds a bit like a date, right?

If that’s what you call a date, then I’m a dating machine. Two other male friends of mine have taken me out to dinner in the past month. Each time, they paid. But in all of these cases, there has never been the expectation of subsequent dates or the physical contact that leads to “dating” a person.

Our terms need to catch up with the times.

Maybe it’s a “frate”? A friendly date? You and a friend set up a time, location to meet and eat and enjoy each other’s company. Sounds good to me; I plan to keep frating many people in the next few months!