Tips for second-date success

The unspoken goal of most first dates is to secure a second one. If you have a good time and get along, you’ll do just that. But this is when the stakes rise a little. If you made a good impression on the first date, you want to both sustain that and deepen it. This can be difficult to do, and it’s not all that rare to have a great first date and a definite fadeout after the lackluster second one. Instead of repeating the first date, think about mixing it up – and keep getting to know each other while you do it.

Do something that lets you talk

While going to see a movie or a show is a good date idea, it might be better to save it for after you’ve been going out for a while. At the very beginning of a dating relationship, talking is the main thing that keeps you and your sweetie interested and that builds the bond between you. If you’re dead set on a film, see an earlier show and get dinner afterward. This gives you plenty of time to talk, and also something to talk about if you’re afraid you’ll run out of things to say.

It’s easier for many people to relax and open up when they’re doing something aside from just sitting and looking at one another. For this reason, second dates that are a little more active are a good choice. Depending on you and your date, that could range from a stroll around the park to a few friendly rounds of basketball one-on-one. Giving yourself and your date something to concentrate on can really help conversation keep going and make you both feel less self-conscious.

It’s also a good idea to plan a date that’s a memorable experience for the second time you go out with someone. That way, you’re starting to create a shared history. New experiences can help people bond, which is what you’re looking to do on a second date and can help you establish together that you enjoy the time you share.

Keep getting to know each other

The second date is an opportunity to get to know each other better now that you already know you like each other on some level. It’s not a chance to start an interrogation, but feel free to get a little deeper with your questions. For example, you probably know what she does for a living already – but do you know whether she likes it? What she thought she’d be doing when she was younger? Where she wants to go from here? These are still neutral topics, but they can help you establish a rapport. And revisiting topics from the first date is a good way to show you care about what your date thinks, feels and does – which will definitely earn you some points.

If you have specific needs in a relationship or things going on in your life that your date will need to accept if you get together, the second date is actually a pretty good time to air them. Since you’ve gotten this far, it’s fair to assume there’s interest – but you’re also not so invested that getting the wrong answer for you would be devastating. There’s no need to make it into a big serious talk in many cases, either. If you need to be with someone who will be understanding of you taking care of an aging parent, for example, you can just drop something into the conversation about how you spend Wednesday afternoons helping your mom get to the doctor. This goes for other dealbreakers too – if you really don’t want to date single parents, you’ll know pretty early on whether someone has a kid. Online dating lets you make a lot of these stipulations up front, but if you have requirements for your next relationship that you haven’t gotten to in online conversation, try to bring them up naturally on the second date.

A warning, though – this isn’t licensed to talk about your ex or get explicit about whatever it is you want to do in bed. If those things come up, there’s no shame in that, but the second date is still pretty early to get deeply personal. Talking about the circumstances of your life is one thing, and is a favor both to you and your date. Plumbing the depths of your neuroses and your sexuality is another thing entirely.

You don’t have to decide

Even though you’re probably scoping this person out for a relationship, and you should make sure your dealbreakers line up, you don’t have to make any big decisions based on a second date. It’s easy to get ahead of yourself if you’re having a great time and you really like your date. After all, you don’t want someone else to find out how great he is before you’ve had the chance to make it official. But hold off for a little while. The only thing you have to decide right now is whether you want to see him again – not whether he’s actually boyfriend material or when to introduce him to your parents.

On the second date, you’re still getting to know each other. You’re also both still on your best behavior. So while you do want to make sure you’re not going to waste each other’s time in a situation that’s not right for you, you don’t need to make anything official or even think about doing so. Just relax as much as you can and have as much fun as you can. If you’ve picked a winner, neither of these should be too hard to do. After you’ve accomplished that, the only thing you’ve got to make a choice about now is where you’ll go for date number three.

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