When casually dating- if a guy asks what you're doing that night and you say you have plans. If he continues to ask if it's a date what do I say?
My intention isn't to make him jealous, but yeah I have a date and it's not with him, but that doesn't mean I don't like him, it just means he didn't ask me!
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And first off, I totally agree with you, that you are completely free to do as you like before getting exclusive and you don't have to tell someone you just met everything going on in your life. That would just be weird.
Now to answer your question.
When a guy asks you what you're doing tonight, and you say, umm I have plans. It puts the guy in awkward position. It makes him feel like he's not important, and that you have things you want to hide from him.
The best thing to do, is be honest, and make the guy feel important.
Guy: Hey what you up to tonight?
Girl: Oh Hey! Unfortunately I already told a friend I'd grab a bite to eat with them tonight, but I'm free tomorrow, would you like to do something then?
This communicates that you don't really want to discuss any further what's going on tonight, but you care about the guy and you want him to know he is a priority to you.
It also diverts the convo to yall making plans to hang out, rather than him getting jealous and asking more questions.
However, if he asks, is it a date. I absolutely think you should be honest.
If he can;t handle that, then he probably couldn't handle being with you anyways...
But to recap: Its bad to just say, I have plans (it leaves the mind wondering the worst) , Its awkward to straight up say I'm on a date, and its best when said, I'm already told a friend I would go do whatever with them tonight, but I'd like to see you and I'm free tomorrow...