love is one phone call away
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By Amelia Showalter and Chris Wilson
March 31, 2016
Amelia Showalter is a data expert and political consultant in Washington, D.C.
Chris Wilson is the director of data journalism at He is the author of RaphaelJS: Graphics and Visualization on the Web.

The results of Motto’s “Is it a date or not?” quiz are in, and thanks to the 92,000 responses we received, we were able to build a formula to predict when a hangout is perceived as a date. The above calculator applies that model to thousands of possible situations. We’ve written an article on the findings of the quiz, but here are a few key takeaways:

The friend effect
Invitations to or from a “friend of a friend” are mostly likely to be perceived as a date, all else being equal. Invitations from a friend, meanwhile, are the least likely to be considered dates.

Gender and age play a role
In most cases, straight men are at least 5% more likely than women of any orientation to consider something a date. Gay men are 4% less likely to consider anything a date. People age 30 or younger are 3% more likely to consider anything a date.

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Dinner usually means a date
Dinner telegraphs “date” better than any other meal, followed by a drink. This is less true in both cases if the day is Sunday.

The best way to ask
Asking someone out in person adds a modest boost to the odds that the person being asked will consider it a date. Emailing, meanwhile, slightly detracts from the odds.

How to see an ex
If you’re meeting with an ex-boyfriend or an ex-girlfriend, coffee and lunch are the safest options to signal that you’re not interested in getting back together.

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