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Following Up After a First Date

How to prepare for the second date.

Key points

  • After the initial date, it is important to reflect before thoughtfully planning the next date.
  • When initiating the second date, pick something enjoyable and comfortable for both, and don't wait too long to follow up.
  • Planning a date tailored to a partner's interests communicates attentiveness and care.
Courtesy of Pixabay, StockSnap
Source: Courtesy of Pixabay, StockSnap

You’ve just come home from a first date, and it seemed to go really well. The conversation was lively and engaging, your date laughed at all your jokes, and you found their jokes funny too. At the end of the evening, you hugged, and both said that you look forward to seeing each other again.

While you should feel relatively at ease, you’ve had previous wonderful first date experiences in which a second date never materialized. You want to be optimistic but don’t want to be let down, should this person not follow up or return your call.

So, what do you do? Should you make the first move and initiate another date? Should you wait to hear from your partner? Should you call? Text? Email?

One approach is getting from the first to second date would be to reflect on the previous date, explicitly express your desire to see your partner again, and make clear plans for a follow-up.

Reflect on the First Date

1. Did you really connect with the person, or was it just a fun date?

It is important to reflect on the first date objectively for those who tend to jump into dating full steam ahead. Sometimes people get caught up in the excitement of new plans and relationships and fail to pause and examine if there really was a connection.

Think back to your first date conversations. Did the two of you have anything in common? Do your views of the world align? If so, this is a great sign because “birds of a feather flock together.”

Research has shown that individuals relate self-perception on one trait to the selectivity of mate preference in the same trait (Buston & Emlen, 2003). Therefore, when selecting a potential partner, we would prefer individuals with traits similar to our own. Similarity has also been shown to be a major factor when people decide whether or not to pursue an online relationship (Barnes, 2003, Anderson & Emmers-Sommer, 2006).

Other research by Markey and Kurtz (2006) demonstrated that successful couples are partners who complement one another. The partners aren’t opposites but add qualities that enhance and fit in with their counterpart’s existing life. Therefore, be sure to see yourself entering into a relationship with this person and potentially forming a life together (if you are looking for more than just casual dating).

2. Did your date express interest in you?

Did your date ask questions to get a sense of who you are as a person? Was the conversation lively and engaging? Did they seem to be listening to you and affirming what you shared?

I conducted a study that demonstrated that when the conversation was lively, it focused on similarities the two daters shared and involved plans. It is a sign that your date is interested (Cohen, 2016). These early signals are important.

Planning for the Second Date

1. Don’t wait!

The study that I mentioned in the prior section also demonstrated that if you like a person, you should follow up with them…and do so quickly (Cohen, 2016). Specifically, the study (which was conducted with a sample in which most participants identified as heterosexual) demonstrated that daters still tend to fall into gender stereotypical patterns during early dating experiences. Regarding initiating the second date, women inferred-interest when men contacted them right after the initial date. Men noted that the women were interested when responding to their initiations right away (Cohen, 2016). Don’t arbitrarily wait for three days as widely circulating dating advice dictates. If you are interested in someone, let them know.

2. Plan a thoughtful second date.

Whoever initiates should plan a second date that is thoughtful, and you would both enjoy it. Think back to your first date conversation. Did your partner mention liking scary movies? If so, perhaps going to see a thriller or horror flick after dinner is called for. Did they mention enjoying art? If so, schedule a trip to the museum. Planning a date that is tailored to your partner’s interests communicates that you are attentive and caring.

Be careful and make sure the date is something you are comfortable with as well. While it is always great to expand horizons and step out of your comfort zone, you don’t want to put yourself in an uncomfortable situation. You also don’t want to set the precedent that you enjoy certain experiences when you actually don’t. So, If your partner mentions being a thrill-seeker and you are afraid of heights, your second date should not involve bungee jumping.

First dates can be exciting and, at times, anxiety-provoking. However, the second date is even more important, as it helps determine whether it will turn into a relationship. As such, go in with eyes wide open and really think about what type of experience you would like to have.

Have a wonderful second date!


Anderson, T. L., & Emmers-Sommer, T. M. (2006). Predictors of relationship satisfaction in online romantic relationships. Communication Studies, 57(2), 153-172.

Buston, P. M., & Emlen, S. T. (2003). Cognitive processes underlying human mate choice: The relationship between self-perception and mate preference in Western society. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 100(15), 8805-8810.

Cohen, M.T. (2016). It’s not you, it’s me…No, actually it’s you: Perceptions of what makes a first date successful or not. Sexuality and Culture, 20(1), 173-191.

Markey, P. M., & Kurtz, J. E. (2006). Increasing acquaintanceship and complementarity of behavioral styles and personality traits among college roommates. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32(7), 907-916.

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