THE BLOG

The Datelob

03/17/2015 01:43 pm ET | Updated May 17, 2015

In advertising, there's something called an ADLOB. It stands for "Ad Like Object" and it's called for when we need to present something to a client that's a simulacrum of an ad without being a full on ad itself. In dating, I've discovered the need for -- and therefore invented -- a similar term, a Datelob. A datelob as you might guess, stands for "Date Like Object."

In New York, where every new acquaintance is bookmarked, sorted and categorized as either social or professional networking, it can often get confusing which falls into which category. A few years ago for instance, a man contacted me on LinkedIn (which I think most people would agree is for professional networking), asking to meet to discuss a job. Schedules being what they are, we ended up finally deciding to meet for drinks. About five minutes into the meeting, it became abundantly clear that the man wasn't really interested in talking work, but rather wanted to talk play. I finished my drink and left.

Another confusing situation was when an old acquaintance from college got in touch to grab drinks and ask for advice on how he could get into advertising. I assumed the meeting was benign and agreed to meet him. Within the first half hour, he'd hit on me.

Was I being hopelessly naive in these situations? Should I have know better? Or were they simply boys being boys and keeping things casually vague so that they could make a game time choice about what they wanted out of the situation when it arose.

And given this confusion, how can I properly re-adjust my approach in the future. Like when a handsome rep recently proposed drinks to "talk about future collaboration" with my company. Date? Not date? Who knows!

As it gets increasingly more and more difficult to sort out when things should and shouldn't be kept platonic, every time I meet a person out and about (and I bet most women would agree), it's hard to determine when they want nothing more than friendship. I'm even skeptical that it's possible for a guy to ask a girl to "hang out" or get together without there being some ulterior motive. So how do we go about figuring out which scenarios are personal and which are professional? Which are platonic and which are romantic?

All that said, I wonder, if part of what's wrong with the dating world these days is our incessant need to put labels on everything. I'll admit that when I see a person on a dating site say that they're looking for "friendship," I roll my eyes a bit. But maybe it is best for first dates to be treated as meeting a new friend. That would certainly take some of the pressure off of it. And maybe the next time a new friend of the opposite sex asks me to "hang out," or an old one asks to reconnect, I'll take it at face value and see where things go. In the meantime, there's something tantalizingly unclear about a datelob.

Ladies and gents -- share your datelob stories in the comments!