There are all kinds of human relationships. Here, we are concerned with those between consenting adults who choose to spend time with each other, doing things together, getting to know each other and who share the notion that these brief encounters, the things we call "dates", might blossom into a meaningful long-term relationship.
A date, especially a first date, is like so many other things that involve trying something new.
The experience has certain elements in common with eating something new. When we are served something that we have never eaten before, most of us begin by taking a controlled, small taste. After all, if we find the taste repugnant, we will not want to eat it all.
Going to the beach or to a friend's swimming pool or before stepping into a hot bath, we customarily need to test the waters by dipping our toe or hand in. If the water is too cold or if the food makes us gag, we do what we have to do.
Dating ordinarily involves some element of risk. People often think they know what to expect when they go out for the first time as a twosome even with someone they may already know in some other context, like work or school. The date is its own special reality and context and what will or will not happen is a lot easier to anticipate or imagine than it is to actually experience or figure out!
Most human relationships have a beginning, a middle and an end. In a long-term, life-long relationship, the end can be death. But, one way or the other, they all DO end somehow. It may be useful to think about a date as being, rather than a prelude to or tryout for a relationship, to be a relationship in and of itself.
Like any relationship, a date has a beginning, a middle and an end. In the beginning, people size people up and gather their initial impressions and reactions. In the middle phase, there is usually some shared experience which either confirms or conflicts with those impressions experienced in the beginning. The end is, of course, the point where the shared experience is over and each
person is left with their reactions and reflections on what has happened and how it was for them.
That ending can be the platform for another beginning - another step in the relationship. In fact, another relationship. Another date.
So, yes, a date is a relationship however time-limited. It may or may not lead to something continuing, but, in and of itself, it begins, progresses and ends '" just as all relationships do. A date just happens to be a one-time event relationship.