Congratulations! You finally got up the nerve to go on a date with that guy/girl you've been messaging for weeks.
But what about the second date? Not happening?
Certainly, getting to the second date has a lot to do with connection and compatibility, but if you find that those second dates are consistently elusive, perhaps it's time to look at what might be going wrong (and what you can do about it!).
1. Not Being Real
While it's natural to want to put your best foot forward and showcase what makes you interesting, it's a turn off to be with someone who is trying too hard to be amazing at everything.
Lying about who you are and what you've done, or vastly embellishing the truth to make yourself more appealing often has the opposite effect, at the very least leaving your date with the feeling they've been duped. Dishonesty is never a good way to start a relationship.
Advice: be real. Focus on the good stuff by all means, but don't forget to sprinkle in a dose of humility by sharing one or two things that show you're not perfect (and therefore don't expect them to be).
2. Being Too Real
Though I maintain it's always best to be yourself, there's also such a thing as being too real.
Just as it can be a turn off to sit across from someone who spends the entire date bragging about themselves, it can likewise be off-putting to hear someone describe their biggest mistakes, most embarrassing moments, and worst character flaws in the name of ‘being honest'.
Don't get me wrong – honesty is always the best policy. But maybe keep that story of how you shat the bed at your buddy's place for another time (like, never).
Advice: keep it light. You don't have to stay on superficial topics, but for the most part it's best to save the deep honesty and the revelation of your character flaws for after you've developed some connection with the person.
3. The One-Sided Conversation
And then there's just saying too much, period. If your date gets a glazed look in their eyes, starts looking down at their napkin or glancing around the room, it's likely that they're bored – and possibly looking for an escape route.
A little nervous chatter is one thing. But if you've been monopolizing the conversation and your date hasn't had a chance to get a word in, chances are high that they're not having fun. They may also assume that you have no interest in who they are, which is not an aphrodisiac.
Advice: be a generous listener. If you know you tend to talk too much when you’re nervous, have a few questions ready to ask your date, and remind yourself to pause and breathe. A bit of awkward silence is better than bulldozing over your date with a 2 hour monologue.
4. Too Much Too Soon
It's something everyone's done at one time or another: doodling your crush's last name after your own on your binder, or picturing how she'll look in her wedding dress when you say your vows. But that was in elementary school.
When a first date is going well, particularly with someone you really like, it may be tempting to get carried away with fanciful thoughts of the two of you together. But talking about meeting their parents, or assuming they'll be with you on New Year's Eve four months from now is likely going to freak them out, even if they do like you.
Advice: don't rush to any assumptions about future plans, and certainly don't mention any of those plans out loud, until you're sure your date is equally on board.
5. Lack of Personal Hygiene
We're not talking about perfection, or spending money you don't have on an entirely new outfit, but taking a little extra time to spruce yourself up will show your date that you care enough to make a good first impression.
Showing up in a dirty t-shirt, hair uncombed, and still reeking of onions from that hoagie you scarfed down at lunch screams ‘I really don't give a crap about this date'. It also screams onion breath, both of which are pretty much a guarantee there won't be a second date.
Advice: put a little extra effort into your personal hygiene. Again, you don't need to go to great lengths or spend loads of money, but being freshly showered and groomed, and in a clean outfit, tells your date you care enough to spend the extra time on them.
6. Being Flirtatious… With Other People
Seems obvious, but we've all been out with that guy or girl who just can't keep their eyes and attention on you, and instead seems overly concerned with impressing everyone else in the room.
Flirting with people other than your date, or spending more time in deep conversation with your friends or other women/men, is rude and hurtful.
Advice: keep your attention on your date for the duration. Even if it's not turning out the way you were hoping, remember that you chose to be accompanied by this person, and show proper respect before moving onto ‘more promising prospects'.
7. Terrible Conversation Topics
While I don't advocate worrying so much about what you might say that you end up frozen in silent fear, there are some general guidelines for what not to talk about on a first date (or any date for that matter):
your ex(es). General comments about what you've learned in previous relationship history may be appropriate, but talking in depth about your ex, what they did right/wrong, how much you still love/hate them, and what a jerk/witch he or she is is not romantic.
how much you/they earn. Bringing up money by way of either bragging about how much you make, or asking how much your date makes is a great way to make the other person feel super uncomfortable.
gossip. Going on about ‘that hideous woman in accounting', or ‘the arrogant jerk' in the apartment below you will almost certainly leave a bad taste in your date's mouth. No one wants to hear all the judgmental details of your opinions, and the he said/she said of your personal life. Ever.
complaining. Again, we're talking degrees here. Making a general, brief mention of something you are struggling with is fine and may be appropriate, but spending the evening whining and complaining about everything that's going wrong in your life is a surefire way to ruin a first date.
arguing. A first date is often stressful enough, but arguing, scoring ‘points'and needing to win a dispute at your date's expense does not make for a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere in which two people can get to know one another.
8. Getting Sloshed
Drinking on a first date is certainly acceptable; in fact many first dates revolve around going out for a drink, and in small quantities alcohol can be a great social lubricant.
But getting totally inebriated while your date watches in horror is not a great way to set the right tone or showcase your best self. Getting drunk can also lead to a whole variety of other first-date mistakes, like sharing weird and unflattering personal details, telling off-color jokes, and falling off your bar stool.
Advice: limit your alcohol consumption to one or two. Follow your date's lead – if they do not order anything alcoholic, it's better to match their style and forego the drink entirely.
9. Being Rude
It's a commonly held but mistaken belief that women are attracted to ‘bad boys' when in fact this is not the case, at least outside of middle school.
Being rude to the serving staff, showing bad manners with your date or others around you, yelling or swearing excessively, making bigoted comments, or telling racist and otherwise demeaning jokes does not make you look cool. It make you look like an arse.
Ditto for women.
Advice: be nice. Seriously, when did being kind and polite become unpopular? Women and men alike rate kindness as a desirable quality in potential partners, and showing that you can behave when out on a date means you are far more likely to be invited on a second one.
We all wish for that magical first date when sparks fly and we feel an instant, reciprocated connection with another person. But for the vast majority of us mere mortals, we need to meet, talk with and get to know many different people before we find the one that clicks. This means at least a few first dates that are a little awkward and perhaps less magical than we might like.
By following the guidelines above of what not to do on those first dates, you may just improve your chances of getting to a second date, and eventually finding someone who truly knows, understands and loves you as you are.
PRIOR WORK: https://www.skillsyouneed.com/rhubarb/become-your-best.html AND multiple articles on PsychCentral as contributing author, as well as iNLP.org site blog.