Ah, the elusive second date. You’ve made it through the first. It was most likely dinner...or a few cocktails sprinkled in with light conversation. Now you’re wondering--will there be a second? And if so, do I even want to go?
Sometimes chemistry is immediate--a jolt, then a rushing. It overpowers you and leaves you jittering with excitement. Other times, first date chemistry is more of a slow build which doesn’t necessarily mean it wasn’t there. It’s just more… tame. You enjoyed yourself, but don’t feel as though you might soar over the moon. Does this mean a second date isn’t in order? Absolutely not!
If the “to second date or not to second date” enigma has you flummoxed, the following questions might help.
1. Did your date make you laugh?
While not often enough expressed, sharing a laugh with someone is quite intimate. You are, at the same moment, agreeing about something, sharing joy, and connecting all at once. In fact, laughter is an effective catalyst for new relationships according to Alan Gray of University College London, who talks all about it in his journal, Human Nature.
Attraction is surely a fickle beast, but science has proven that intelligence attracts-- and humor implies intelligence. Geoffrey Miller and Dr. Gil Greengross’s recent paper on the importance of humor in mating, asserts that humor is indeed an indicator of mate quality and mental fitness.
It’s safe to say sharing a laugh on the first date is essential- and if you didn’t giggle (even just a little bit), I would recommend thinking about that before saying “yes” to another dismal date.
2. Did your date make eye contact in a healthy way?
The intricacies of appropriate eye contact have been studied by social scientists for decades, with broad agreement on the basics:
- Maintain eye contact for 50% of the time while speaking and 70% of the time while listening, AKA the 50/70 rule-- and hold each contact for 4-5 seconds.
- Be careful where you’re looking-- avoid darting your eyes around quickly or staring at your feet.
- Establish contact when you begin speaking- do not launch into a story with eyes fixed on a target other than your date.
While this may seem overly precise, these guidelines are followed by the vast majority of people naturally. So, if you or your date struggle with what should come naturally ...it can be uncomfortable (and a bit creepy). It almost certainly indicates a lack of interest, but could also reveal a lack of confidence... or worse, obsessive tendencies. Pay attention to how your date maintains eye contact-- and, more importantly, how that contact makes you feel.
3. Did your date listen to you (actually listen) and share in equal measure?
The old give and take-- seems so simple, yet is so commonly mishandled. The art of communication is a contingent balance that shifts based on each person’s contribution. In other words, you need to be paying attention, and it is very clear when someone isn’t. If your date seemed distracted or uninterested, that’s because he or she was distracted or uninterested-- and you deserve to be listened to. Heck, you deserve to be respected. If you don’t “feel heard” on the first date, you certainly won’t 5-10 years down the road. This one’s a no-second date no-brainer! More speak-and-listen-related trainwrecks to watch out for include:
Your date refrained from sharing anything even remotely personal, after you did.
Your date was a manic blabber-mouth who never allowed you to speak.
Your date expected you to be the sole initiator of the conversation--and to keep it going all by yourself.
Unless you’re hoping to be in a relationship of one, I’d go for a “no, thank you” to the second date if any of these apply.
4. Did your date talk about their Ex… a lot?
You don’t need me to tell you this is a bad sign. A past relationship garrulously gabbed about, is a relationship not yet over--or, if technically over, it is most certainly not in the past quite yet for the person oversharing about it. Best case scenario, your date is obsessing over a past relationship to resolve their feelings about how it ended-- and perhaps to gain perspective. Worst case scenario, your date is still hopelessly in love with that person and cannot get through a date without bringing up said person--and unfortunately, you are being USED as a distraction. Neither scenario bodes well for you. My recommendation: move on.
5. Did you have some sort of physical contact when saying goodbye and how did it make you feel?
Not every first date ends with a kiss-- and that’s fine, but how was the goodbye? Did your date rush out of the bar to catch a cab and offer a cursory wave goodbye? Did he or she lean in to give you a gentle kiss on the cheek? Or was the parting sealed with a goodbye hug?
Whatever the method, there are some plainly unacceptable endings to a date- such as rushing away like you’ve got something… anything… better to do. Likewise aggressive and/or unsolicited kisses, a lingering (over-the-line) embrace, or simply not saying goodbye at all. The point: don’t go on a second date with someone who was rude, made you feel uncomfortable, or with whom zero sparks flew prior to an abrupt or dispiriting send-off.
The decision to go out with someone again doesn’t just affect you- it affects them. If you’re not that into it, or just have nothing better to do, do the right thing by the both of you and don’t go. If you have lukewarm feelings about the person and enjoyed yourself, but remain uncertain, use these 5 questions to clear up any fuzzy ambivalence and lead yourself to a sensible conclusion.
As always, love wisely.