How To Get A Second Date (By Acing The First)

First dates can be stressful. You’re trying to find the right balance of “impressive” but “non-chalant”. You’re stressing where to take her, what to say, who’s going to pay for what and – most of all – do you go for the kiss at the end of the night? Then, of course, if everything goes well, is there going to be a second date or are you going to be waiting by the phone that never rings, desperately trying to summon up your latent telepathy and trying to implant the idea of calling you back through thought projection?

"Hey, it's me. Again. Just checking to see if you're alive. ANd, y'know. Want to see a movie this weekend. Or some weekend. Or something. Call me?"

“Hey, it’s me. Again. Just checking to see if you’re alive. And, y’know. Want to see a movie this weekend. Or some weekend. Or something. Call me?”

Fortunately, it’s all pretty simple, as long as you keep your head. If you want to get that second date, you need to know how to ace the first date and what common pitfalls and mistakes you need to avoid.

A Great First Date is NOT An Interview

A great first date really isn’t that complicated.  You want to focus on three things: fun, conversation and a hint of sexual tension. You want your date to go home thinking about what a great guy she just hung out with and how much fun it would be to see him again. This is why most of my favorite first dates are structured to avoid the “audition” frame that so many first dates turn in to – sitting awkwardly across from each other, asking the 10 standard getting-to-know-you questions everybody asks and spending most of the date inside your own head instead of, y’know, enjoying yourselves.

This is one of the reasons I prefer to avoid the coffee date and the dinner-and-a-movie date: they’re cliche and boring and minimize any real chance for interaction. My only real exception to this rule is for online dating; a low-investment date like coffee is more about a gut check than an actual date. You’re checking how you feel about one another when you meet in the flesh… not to mention doing basic due diligence, trying to make sure that one or the other isn’t a psycho axe-murdering cannibal. Even so: a coffee date can be made more than just strangers asking questions while trying to pretend that the Starbucks they’re drinking doesn’t taste like burned ass. Pick a coffeehouse that does more than just coffee. Some double as music venues – some in Austin even have improv and stand up comedy performances. Many others have board games, which can be a great ice breaker and allow for that competitive aspect that can get your juices flowing and the flirty trash-talking sparking.

An important, yet often neglected key to avoiding the awkward “interview” vibe on a first date is positioning. Think of your average job interview: you’re staring nervously at your prospective employer who sits behind their massive desk as she asks the questions that decide your fate.

Now think about how you position yourself on a first date: sitting awkwardly across from one another from across a table while you ask questions and hope you don’t screw up. A simple change of where you’re sitting – from directly across to perpendicular – completely changes the tone of the interaction.

Of course, you might have had way cooler interviews than I have...

Of course, you might have had way cooler interviews than I have…

By sitting next to your date or at an angle, you remove the feeling that you’re at odds with one another or the impression of a barrier between the two of you. It feels much friendlier and less confrontational, which will put the both of you at ease. It also – critically – makes it easier to engage in casual physical contact that would be awkward to attempt sitting directly across.

Your Date Is About The Two Of You.

I spend a fair amount of time out and about and eavesdropping on dates is a guilty pleasure of mine… which is why I’m continually astonished by the number of people who make this very basic mistake: they don’t give their dates their full attention.

You would be surprised just how many people do not understand that when you’re on a date, it is about the two of you, period. Unfortunately we live in a world full of distractions and constant interruptions that can be hard to tune out – especially if you’re used to being wed to Twitter, Facebook or your email. Your date is about getting to know each other, not getting to know her AND checking up on your Facebook friends or the massive elbow strike that St. Pierre just landed on Diaz’ jaw. 

Which brings me to my point: turn off your motherfucking phone.

You wouldn’t think that this needs to be said1, but far too many people blow a perfectly good first date by not cutting their electronic umbilical cord. I have personally seen far too many people on dates lose track of their conversation with their dates because they put their iPhones on the table and keep glancing at them every time a new email or text chimes in. It’s annoying and it’s profoundly disrespectful to your date – you’re explicitly telling her that she is not nearly as interesting as the latest update to your fantasy football league or whatever @PartyInMyPants69 had to say about your latest retweet. If you can’t go more than 30 seconds without checking your phone, switch it off entirely. If you have some reason you absolutely must be reachable – a family member’s medical emergency is acceptable… barely – then set a filter; most smartphones have a “Do Not Disturb” function that will only allow certain numbers to ring through. 

The message he's missing says "U r not getting any 2nite".

The message says “U r not getting any 2nite”.

Other distractions can also ruin the flow of your date. Many bars – and some restaurants – have TVs; it can be hard to ignore these when they’re constantly flickering in the corner of your eye. The obvious answer is to avoid dates at venues with TVs or projectors. However, if you find yourself at a place with televisions, turn yourself away from them. Get them completely out of your field of vision – I have seen far too many people get caught up on the TV behind their date rather than on the person sitting directly across from them.

Believe me: your date will notice that you’re distracted. And she will not appreciate it… which means that not only are you not getting a good-night kiss, you’re going to be lucky if she doesn’t suddenly have a fake emergency that needs to be taken care of right away.

Conversation Is Key

Want to know one of the signs that your first date is going well? Neither of you wants to leave because you’re having such a great conversation. There’s nothing quite as appealing as someone who can intrigue your mind as well as your squishy bits… and a bad conversationalist can kill any sexual interest deader than Christian Slater’s career.

You don’t need your own personal Cyrano DeBergerac2 whispering poetry in your ear to master conversation, you just need to follow some simple rules.

Ask Good Questions:

There’s nothing worse than a date who will only talk about his favorite subject… especially when that subject is him. A date is about the two of you, which is why you want to make sure that you’re showing interest in your date… and the best way you can do this is by asking questions. Questions are part of how we find commonalities and build rapport with one another… and they’re how you keep from running into those awkward silences that leave you both feeling uncomfortable and scrambling to talk about anything.

Just don’t be boring… those standard 10 First Date questions will get you nowhere. Instead, ask your date about her hobbies, her passions, the things the craziest thing she’s ever done or what she would do if she had no chance of failure. If you need to get a conversation started, I always like to ask “Who was your favorite Bond girl?” or “Who was your favorite of the Doctor’s companions?”

(Hint: the correct answer is either Martha Jones or Donna Noble. Just sayin’)

Tell Stories:

When it’s your turn to share about yourself, you want to have some stories to tell – that crazy night you and your friends crashed a VFW dance dressed in vintage fashions and learned how to swing with WWII vets3 , the epic road trip you took with your friends or even just the wacky things that happen on a daily basis. I go into what makes a good story elsewhere, but the basics are simple: you want to keep them relatively short, vivid and should have an ending that provokes a “awww”, “cool!” or a laugh.  These stories are chance to subtly brag about yourself and let your date know what a relationship with you might be like… so you want to paint as attractive a picture as possible.

(Obviously, if you don’t have stories to tell… well, really, you need to go out and start collecting them!)

Avoid Negativity

Negativity has no place on a date, especially a first date. Negativity is the black hole from which attraction and fun cannot escape. This means no bitching or complaining about your job, your friends, your life, the restaurant or anything else. Your job may well suck… so don’t talk about it. Just say “yeah, it’s just something to pay the bills for now” and change the subject. Complaining about your friends will just make your date wonder why the hell they’re in your life in the first place.

This goes doubly so for your exes. I don’t necessarily subscribe to the “no talking about your exes” rule, but you definitely do not want to talk shit about them. All complaining about an ex does is tell your date how you’re going to talk about him if/when the two of you don’t work out… and the last thing you need to do is plant that idea in his head.

Most importantly though, it’s hard to have fun when the other person is relentlessly negative – and fun should be your goal. If you have nothing positive to say about a particular topic, change the subject and move on.

Dial Back The Booze

First dates and alcohol go together like Japanese school-girls and giant mechs – they seem like a natural fit, but the potential for trouble often outweighs the benefits. It’s natural to want to have a drink or two on a date – a shot or two of Irish courage to ease those jittery nerves, another to act as a social lubricant, yet another because you’re pretty sure the first two got lost on the way to your stomach and you need to send out a search party – but it’s entirely too easy to lose track and end up with problems you could have otherwise avoided. The line between a pleasant buzz and “removing a much-needed mental filter” is thin indeed, and you don’t want to end up tripping over your own dick because the whiskey loosened your tongue a little too much.

Similarly, if you’re not careful, you can give the impression that you’re trying to get your date a little drunk, which will send up the “creeper” vibe faster than just about anything else you can do, even if your intentions are perfectly honorable.

This isn’t to say that you should avoid alcohol entirely – just keep it to one or two before switching to water or soda.

Relax

Look: we all know that first dates can be tense, nerve-wracking affairs, but you need to relax. Remember: the key to a great first date is to have fun… and if you’re so caught up with anxiety and stress that you could vibrate through space and time, that’s just not going to happen.

"Here she comes. Remember: don't throw up. Don't throw up, don't... ::urk::"

“Here she comes. Remember: don’t throw up. Don’t throw up, don’t… ::urk::”

Part of the reason for these nerves is the self-imposed pressure to make a good impression. Some people get so concerned with the idea of impressing their date (and upping their “value”) that they end up going much further than they need to – expensive dinners, hard-to-get tickets to shows, large bouquets of flowers… it’s nice if you can afford it, but sometimes not only is it a case of diminishing returns but sometimes you end up with the opposite effect and scare your date off. Frankly, less is often more; a fun night of bowling and a couple Miller Lights is going to go better than an uncomfortable dinner at a gourmet restaurant with a bottle of Veuvet Clicquot.

But just as important as not trying to go over the top to impress your date is to not put so much pressure on yourself that you can’t actually enjoy yourself. If you’re so keyed up about making everything go perfectly, you’re going to end up a twitchy bundle of nerves… and that’s going to make your date uncomfortable too. Frankly, the best attitude you can adopt is one of “No big deal”. Dating disasters – spilled drinks, inconvenient stains, spoiled plans – suck, but being able to handle them with aplomb, grace and a sense of humor will not only get you past them but will actually make your date that much more memorable and charming. Being able to take a mistake in stride and good cheer makes it much easier to recover, and that recovery will say more for you and your sense of confidence than anything else you do… and that will impress your date.

Even in the worst moments of awkwardness, be willing to face it head on. Nothing kills the awkward faster than calling it out. Acknowledging that yes, things might be a little uncomfortable or that you’re a touch nervous isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength – you’re confident enough to be honest with your date instead of trying to put up a false front. Plus, it’s almost guaranteed that she’s feeling just as nervous as you are; being the one to call it out will make her feel better and help release all that pressure.

 

Getting That Next Date

At the end of the date, there are usually two questions remaining. The first, of course is: “when should you call?”

While I understand the worry about not appearing needy, I’m of the opinion that if the two of you were having a great time… why wouldn’t you want the conversation to continue? Hell, if the two of you hit it off, chat the night away as soon as you get home.

As a rule of thumb, however, I recommend a text some time after noon on the next day. Let your date know what an awesome time you had and that you want to see them again. Be clear on your interest; you don’t do yourself any favors by trying to pretend that you’re too cool to care. It’s not expressing interest that makes a person appear needy, it’s the manner in which he or she does it. It’s one thing to say “I’d like to see you again,” and quite another to say “Please please please go out with me again” five or six times into their voicemail.

Which leads nicely into the other question: “How do you get that next date?”

Ideally, the two of you have had such a good time that you’ve already talked about going out again. However, that doesn’t always happen… so it becomes incumbent upon you to set up the potential for another date. One thing that I have had success with is seeding the idea of the next date during the first. At some point, you will find the opportunity to plant the idea of a future date – usually when you’re talking about your passions. I would mention some upcoming event that I was looking forward to: a band playing in town, a gallery opening, a street-fair… something fun that would be occurring in the near future. I would talk it up a little… then let it drop and move on to another topic. Towards the end of the night – or in the conversation the day after – I would bring it up again; “Hey, listen, I’m having a great time with you, and I’d like to see you again. I’m going to $FUN_THING next week, and it’d be great if you came too, I think you’d really enjoy it.” It’s relatively low-pressure and doesn’t feel like it had been dropped out of the blue – you have some pretext for bringing it up. It also establishes that A) you have a life, B) that you’re not waiting with sandwiches by the phone for her to call you back and C) that fun event would be even more fun if he or she were there.

Go For The Kiss

Notice that I said there were only two questions? That’s because as far as I’m concerned, you should always go for the good night kiss.

Now to be fair, whether to kiss on the first date or not is often a matter of contentious debate and personal preference. Some people resolutely won’t while others have no problem burning up the sheets if the date goes well enough.

Personally, I’m a fan of kissing before the end of the date, but that’s me; if you’re not confident in your ability to read the signs that she wants you to kiss her then it’s not going to hurt if you wait until the end of the evening. I am of the firm opinion that, absent a clear wave-off, it’s worth at least making the attempt… provided you’re classy about it. If you don’t – especially if you haven’t been 100% clear from the beginning that the two of you are on a date – you run the risk of being too timid and possibly inadvertently signaling that you’re not interested in your date. So as you walk your date back to the car or to their door, pause. Tell her what a good time you had that night… then lean in slowly. Give her the option of giving you the cheek – or even a complete wave-off – if that’s what she wants. When you do kiss her, keep it light – which means no tongue – and just the once. If she wants you to kiss her again, she’ll almost certainly let you know in no uncertain terms. Let your date take the lead in how intense to go – better to hold back a little than to inadvertently maul them instead.

If you do get the cheek, then you act as though that’s exactly what you intended to do. Don’t call attention to it – that doesn’t help. Accept that she’s not ready to kiss you this time and you will have far better odds of there being a next time. Acting like a cock about it or trying for the kiss anyway is only going to guarantee that there will be no second date.

Ever.

  1. Although in the spirit of full disclosure, I will freely admit to this being something I’m especially bad about []
  2. although don’t think I haven’t been planning an app with that idea in mind []
  3. which I’ve actually done []

Comments

  1. The best way to get a second date. Ask for it. So many people wait until after the date to send a text or email asking for a second date. I say that you ask when you can go out again before you end the evening. If the night is going well you can just say that. "I am having way to great a time not to ask when we can go out again now."

  2. My best first date was trivia night at a pub. The questions give you a variety of topics to talk about and you work as a team to come up with the answers. Low stress and fun.

    • I think I'd either end up being unattractively nerdy and competitive, or (more likely) not enjoy myself because I was worried about being unattractively nerdy and competitive.

      • Or discover your date is just as nerdy as you! Don't be intimidated, I host one of those shows every week and it's a BLAST. There's regulars that the newbies can laugh at with all sorts of awesome, funny names, and it's a chance to showcase what you're interested in. Last night we had a question about Crash Bandicoot followed by Osadin and Microsoft. It's a great way to get to know somebody in a low key way, plus you get to be competetive as a team. I love seeing first dates at my show.

        Plus if you win, you guys have to plan another date to split the reward :)

  3. thesurfmonkey says:

    Lots of great advice here. I would have thought that the one about turning off your phone was so obvious that it didn't need to be said, but if it does, wow! Paying attention to your phone instead of your date is perhaps the dumbest mistake you could make, and the easiest to fix.

    • It's obvious, but it's also a really common mistake. I suspect that it's something that most people would agree is a bad idea if asked, but might end up doing more than they realize out of nervousness or habit in the actual moment.

      • thesurfmonkey says:

        Call me old-fashioned, but I think that turning phones off (or at least silencing the ringer and leaving the phone in a purse or pocket) should be standard issue manners for any time a person is spending time with someone else in person, whether it's a date, a friend, a colleague, a family member, etc. So if it's a habit that they leave the phone on, maybe there's a bigger rudeness problem rather than just a first date problem.

        • OldBrownSquirrel says:

          In general, I leave my phone on vibrate and only turn the sound on if I'm either expecting a call or actively using an app that requires sound.

        • Oh, I agree completely, but I'm feeling increasingly like a dinosaur. So many people I know never put their phones away, whether they're meeting people for dates or talking to friends or doing business, and it seems like it's becoming increasingly common for people to expect instant replies to texts and emails. Definitely not one of the better features of the modern world.

          • Tell me about it. My *default* setting for my cell phone is off–I only have it because occasionally I need to get in touch with someone re: urgent business matters when I'm out of the house. If I'm making casual plans on the go I do it via email or Twitter on my iPad, but generally I prefer to arrange things ahead of time anyway. I always feel like an alien when I try to explain to people that there's no point in my giving them my cell number since I won't have the phone on anyway. I don't want to be immediately accessible anywhere I am!

          • I'm the exact same way! If I'm out on the street, I can't be reached unless I've specifically planned to be reached. It seems like a good way to be to me, but it drives everyone I know crazy!

          • Solution: Phone Stacking Game.
            http://theweek.com/article/index/223137/how-the-p

            It's a standard with our group of friends, and if it has to be said on a date, it's not going too well…

        • I don't necessarily turn mine off, but I do ignore the buzz/beep normally when I'm with people, or I try to. I got in a bad habit of checking it excessively when drinking as a sort of timekeeping thing, and it's a hard bad habit to break.

  4. Hey, leave Christian Slater out of this.

  5. Finally. I was waiting for this topic to come up since I started reading this blog. One quibble though. I understand the reasoning behind not going the coffee-dinner-movie routine. The dates come off as being something like auditions for the role of boyfriend or girlfriend. This makes building romantic rapport difficult at best. The problem is that, in my experience, a lot of people, especially if you are meeting them online are very fond of having the coffee-interview date as the first date. Its a low investment, in terms of time and money, way of vetting people. If your concerned about safety, coffee-interview dates are also pretty safe. I've only had two dates that didn't involve the coffee-interview pattern and one of them was meeting up with a friend I was interested in and using the occassion to change the relationship.

    Is there anyway to do a coffee-interview date better than normal or convince a reluctant person to try something else for a first date? I mean coffee-interview dates are really popular for a reason?

    • Try to work an activity into it. Coffee in a place with board games or in a shop that's located in a gallery can easily lead into something more activity-oriented. So can getting drinks at a bar that has a pinball machine. That way your date gets the comfort of agreeing to meet just for coffee, but there's an option to extend things and have a little bonding over mutual fun if things are going pretty well.

      • At least in my experience, many but not all of the women I've dated seemed to come with pre-planned ways to end the first date on time rather than seeing how develops. Either they had to do some chore or had plans with friends and had to leave at a certain time. They might not necessarily be lying but part of me suspects that more than a few people see the first date as more of a vetting opportunity than a real date and that its the second date thats really the first date. I'm looking for away to avoid this. Of course one problem with picking an activity rather coffee is that scheduling is a lot harder. I really think that people should go out twice unless the first date is really bad. People are usually looking for somesort of vibe that doesn't really exist outside of movies or the very lucky.

        • Lee, do you do a lot of online dating?
          Because your explanation sounds a lot like the "check and see if there's any physical attraction once we're face-to-face" first dates that come with online dating.

          • Yes, thats pretty much my source for dating. Most of the people I know in real life are either coupled up or are single men. There are some single women that I know but none thats really appropriate age wise.

        • I have to ask: Why are you so sure that the women who aren't into you after the first date would be into you after the second? What would you do differently on that second date that you could see changing their minds?

          I'm not sure why scheduling a coffee date in a place that allows for other activities (coffee shop with live music, with board games, in a bookstore, next door to a gallery or whatever) would be any harder than scheduling a coffee date at a regular coffee shop. I guess it means you're being a little more restrictive in where you're meeting up, but the when shouldn't become any harder.

          • Look at this way, there are probably people that you met in your life that you thought were average or even slightly off-putting at first but latter you got really close to. I have two very good friends like that. The one date and then move on if you don't like it favors people who make very good first impressions. As I see it, I rarely make a very good first impression. Most of the people I'm close to came through doing this over a period of time.

          • See, I get that. But going on a second date is still not going to be the other person spending a long period of time with you. You're still hardly going to know each other, there's still going to be plenty of awkwardness, etc. It doesn't sound like you think you'd come across so much better on a second outing, but that you need the person's interest grow gradually over several dates. I think if this is the root of your problem, that you need time to get comfortable with people to show your best self, then online dating is not going to be a good method for you regardless. You'd be better off meeting people through in-person groups (classes, clubs, etc.) where people are getting together regularly and seeing the same people over and over, and so you can ask you people who have already started to get to know you and you do already feel somewhat comfortable with.

          • Maybe the classic dating style isn't for you? Personally, I hate classic dating; asking out a stranger, awkward first date that may or may not lead to anything, etc. I much prefer relationships that grow out of friendships. Instead of looking for relationships, look for friendships with women. If one of your new friends seems like she might like you a little more than a friend, make a move. The key is having the confidence to make a move when you think you see something, and the ability to accept it if she actually just wants to be friends.

          • I've done the dating that grew out of friendships thing and it ended up in a disaster. So my experience with that method isn't much better. I'm still single and a friendship ended in response. I've got several problems with romantic relationships that grow out of friendships. Women who view me as a friend make it very clear that there is no romantic/sexual dynamic at all to the relationship. Or bluntly, I get friend-zoned a lot. Makes it hard to transition from friendship to romance. The other issue is that I'm routinely getting beaten by men who move in faster with romantic advances. The friends to romance think also takes to long. I want romance now, not in the future near or far, but now. I've waited long enough.

            At this point it seems that neither classic dating or friendship to romance works for me. I'm really tired of repeated failure.

          • Could it potentially be the type of women you are asking on dates/seeking for relationships? The whole "league" discussion is off limits here, but I think it's very important to strongly consider whether you are pursuing the type of women that wouldn't (within the first few dates) go for you. If you are the product, are you considering who the consumers are?

            I think when it comes to strangers/online dating, you need to search out consumers, people who would traditionally be into what you offer. If you are turning a friendship into a relationship, there's more flexibility to go for someone "outside" your league because you can impress them in the long-term.

            I admit your whole "I go for conventionally pretty girls!" thing really got under my skin, but it made me wonder if you're pursuing women who expect high levels of confidence (since conventionally-physical-attractive women are usually drawn to conventionally-personality-attractive men), and are thus a little off-put from you in person, since from your comments, I get the sense that you are sort of awkward in person.

          • Well, for one, there are options between asking out strangers and asking out friends. Like I said in my earlier response, if you meet women through classes, clubs, meet-ups, etc., where you see the same people every week/whatever, you can give women a chance to get to know you a little, and then ask them out not after you're friends but just after you've had two or three enjoyable conversations. Not as fast as online dating, no, but if it works better, might be worth a try.

            That said, you complained earlier that the problem is that people don't warm up to you until they're known you a while, but now you're saying that women don't see you as dating material after they've known you for a while either. So again, I don't see how women agreeing to a second or third or fourth date is gong to convince them you're what they want in a boyfriend. You said you don't make a good first impression–if you want things to happen faster, I'd recommend working on ways to make your first impression better. It sounds like you may need to work on the overall impression you're giving too.

            And I agree with some of what Marty's saying. If you're not a person who makes a great first impression, if you're a little awkward or off seeming, then you might look for women who are dealing with the same sort of problem, who are kind of socially awkward themselves, who'll be more willing to take time to get to know someone because they want others to take the time to get to know them.

        • That's pretty common. Sometimes it's a hard limit. Sometimes it's something that can be flexible if the woman is having a good time. You shouldn't push against the boundary, but if she's enjoying herself, there's no need to remind her of it either. Are your dates telling you they can only meet for half an hour, or are they giving time periods of at least 90 minutes? You should be able to fit 20 minutes of chatting and coffee and then some games or some walking around and looking at art or whatnot into that.

          Is it really so hard to schedule things that aren't coffee? When are you going on your dates? I don't really like coffee, so almost all of my dates are after work drinks or activities on the weekends.

          As for the multiple dates thing, this gets discussed a lot here. I think people need to be open-minded about first dates, but I also think that there are times when the interaction is cordial enough but there's also no chance of a romantic connection, and there are others where there's a disconnect between people about whether or not a date went badly (I've had a few of those from both sides of the disconnect). I'd say that regardless of how we all think things should be, this goes into the category of things that aren't within the power of an individual to change and that aren't worth obsessing over.

          • The thing about coffee dates is that anybody could sacrifice thirty or so minutes for coffee or a drink. If things go wrong it can be ended, if things go right the date can last longer. Non-coffee dates take more a time commitment and are harder to weasel out of if not going right. I think thats why a lot of people really like coffee dates, its a very low investment way of vetting somebody.

          • "If things go wrong it can be ended, if things go right the date can last longer."

            This is exactly the point. If you go for coffee somewhere that has other activities available in the shop or nearby, you can have a coffee together for thirty minutes or so, and then if things are already going well, suggest grabbing a board game/checking out the gallery down the street/whatever.

            You live in New York–there should be no shortage of coffee shops near interesting things to do!

        • I actually have a thing about being scheduled on top of for (evening) dates. Maybe I'm old fashioned but I want my date to be free for the whole evening in case things go really well. So, here's a script I use that might be helpful:
          Date: "I can do something at 6, but I can't stay very long I have a dinner party to attend later in the evening."
          You: "Oh, that's ok, I wouldn't want you to feel rushed, how about <insert 2 day options when you are free*>? Are you free on one of those days?"

          *Giving 2 day options gives your date a choice without overwhelming her with options. Giving only 1 can sometimes make a girl feel like she's constantly rejecting you a la "Are you free Monday?" "Oh, I'm sorry, I have plans" "Tuesday?" "Yoga class" "Wednesday?" "Trivia with friends" but if you say "I've got Tuesday or Thursday open, are you free on either of those days?" "Why, yes, Lee, Thursday would be great!"

          POST EDIT: Before anyone jumps down my throat about the high investment of a whole evening, I'd like to say that the date doesn't have to invest the whole evening, just be available to do so. Ending a date is fairly easy if things don't go well, and one night of not being booked to the ears is not going to hurt your social standing. If anything, you can always just make some last minute plans afterwards, but nothing is bigger turn off for me than if I'm having a scintillating conversation with a guy and we're flirting, and all of a sudden he's like "oh no I have to go in 15 min, I have [plan] tonight"

    • Paul Rivers says:

      Yeah, this was also the topic of a long comment thread that I started a couple of articles back…

      While "a psycho axe-murdering cannibal" is the sensationalist reason given, the vast majority of concern is usually just about being stuck sitting around with someone you find gouge-your-eyes-out boring. (Absolutely not saying genuine safety concerns don't exist – they definitely do – but at least 95% of the angst over the first meeting nowadays seems to be about getting stuck talking to someone and being bored / the other person being unlikable). While I think girls should have a little more backbone and just leave it they've decided that, I find a quick, low investment chat to be just fine as it would give me a low investment and "quick get to know you" as well.

      The problem I find is – no one is willing to do that.

      I live in Minnesota, don't know if that's part of it, but last summer I tried suggesting an initial 15 minute meeting with 2 people. They both seemed put off that I didn't want to launch into hours of conversation with a near stranger. The first seemed miffed when I left, contacted me to make further plans then turned off her account immediately before we were supposed to meet somewhere. I kinda wonder if she thought she was getting back at me somehow. The second, I just ended up sticking around for a couple of hours because I didn't want to go through that again.

      I'm cool with a low investment first meeting, but the women seem to to be locked into an idea of a high investment first meeting, and they're scared of any deviation from that. Any ideas on what to say to avoid that?

      • I'm a little confused. A few days ago, you were advocating for a mandatory commitment to a series of three activity-based dates. Based on the reaction to that and the general dim view of dinner and a movie, I don't think it's correct that women are locked into the idea of a high investment first date.

        I get that you're frustrated with getting coffee, but I think what's turning people off is the insistence on things being so highly structured. If that's something you crave, I would say that speed dating might be more what you're looking for. The problem with a 15 minute meeting is that travel time will exceed the date time, and unlike speed dating, there won't be a series of other people there to meet as well. Beyond the practical issues, I think both this and the other suggestion tend to come off as…well…sort of bossy.

        Would you be willing to settle for a date that's under an hour? I've intentionally gone on lots of those, especially when I was a little iffy about meeting and didn't want to suggest I was up for spending all evening with someone. I just implied that I was especially busy that week but was still excited about meeting and wanted to do it sooner rather than later, and then excused myself after a couple of drinks.

        • Paul Rivers says:

          "I don't think it's correct that women are locked into the idea of a high investment first date."

          I'm not sure what you mean – by "high investment" I mean 45 minutes of conversation. I didn't mention anything about dinner or a movie. Low investment, to me, is 15 minutes of coffee. Even as a guy who's frequently had 2 hour philosophical conversations with guy friends, 45 minutes of nearly uninterupted conversation with someone I've never seen in person before is high investment.

          "Beyond the practical issues, I think both this and the other suggestion tend to come off as…well…sort of bossy."

          Quite possibly, but honestly suggestions of anything *but* coffee seem to come across as fairly bossy. 8 years ago or so, even suggesting coffee seem "way forward" or something…I remember trying it after I graduated from college.

          "Would you be willing to settle for a date that's under an hour?"

          Something I've written has been taken the wrong way, because I would *love* to meet up for less than an hour. I think my original suggestion was an initial 15 minute coffee, then if there was *some* interest from both of us, then an hour activity I suggest and an hour activity she suggests. But the hour wasn't an important point at all – I'd be delighted to do less time, it was just an off the top of my head and seems like the amount of time women feel is "worth it" for making plans etc.

          Hmm, maybe it would help if I rephrased the "1 hour" thing, it would make it sounds less "structured". Like I said – my goal is just to not have any more of these high pressure make-a-decision-today kind of first meetings…the only reason I want to add structure is that I feel like in real life, that's how people usually meet – with some sort of structure that lets them relax and not worry so much about every move they're making every second. Or to let the less extroverted get a little comfortable with each other before it being all "decision time".

          • Ah. I don't define 45 minutes as a high investment first date. I think everyone's different when it comes to that. As for the bossy thing, I think where it might come off badly is proposing something that's a) substantially different than the model people signed up for and b) doesn't sound like it's more fun. When dinner was standard, suggesting coffee probably did seem a little pushy. As going on a short but real date is the standard for internet dating now, suggesting one-person speed-dating seems pushy. I'm pretty sure that if you went to speed-dating and tried to spend the whole time talking to one person, it would seem pushy as well. If you don't like the model, I think the solution is to either find a way of meeting people where others are on the same page as you or to totally break the pattern completely and suggest something that's fun in and of itself, and not just some extra rules added onto the date. An activity instead of coffee would be an example, though I don't know if it would address your objection to online dating.

            I understood you. I think I just wasn't clear enough about what I meant. You're going to have trouble finding people who are willing to drive to go on a 15-minute date with someone they met online. I think most of the people who want to do an initial screening for attraction without committing too much time to one person just go to speed-dating events. If you were willing to settle for, say, a 45-minute date, I think that can easily be done by arranging an ordinary date and just setting it up ahead of time that you won't be able to stay for terribly long. That doesn't sound like what you're looking for, though. I don't really think the 15-minute idea would take the pressure off, either. I think it would end up being like speed-dating, where the end of the 15 minutes was decision time.

            I think you might enjoy it more if you were to get involved in some kind of meetup.com group that had lots of young, single members.The combination of being able to reserve judgment and being willing to commit to spending time one on one is going to be a hard sell, but if you run into the same women time and time again in a group setting, you can interact with them in short bursts while also letting them socialize with others.

            (Sorry if it sounds like I'm trying to shoot down all your alternate ideas about online dating! I think a lot of what you suggest would solve some problems men have with it. I'm not sure if they necessarily get at the problems women can have with it. I think a lot of our fatigue isn't from the dates themselves, but from dealing with the burden of sorting through and responding to emails, which doesn't really seem reduced under either a three-date commitment or a screener-date model.)

          • This is kind of strange. You seem to be coming from a standpoint of "my time is valuable" and sunk costs which makes sense when you're talking about work and long-term relationships but doesn't work as well when it comes to initial dating. 15 minutes is not long enough to do anything. I can walk to most of my dates in 5 minutes and I would be REALLY annoyed if someone left after 15 minutes.

            Why worry about time at all before the date even starts? If the date isn't working out you can always leave.

            I had a date with a guy once who was incredibly boring. We talked for an hour and then I left to go do something else. It really wasn't that big of deal.

          • Also wanted to add that some women get ready for dates. As in they physically get ready. They shower, shave their legs, put on makeup, do their hair, put on an outfit, pick out shoes. Sometimes those last two happen several times. This is especially true for an initial meeting. Even women who don't wear makeup or whatever will still think about what they are going to wear.

            That is a lot of work for 15 minutes and it might be why the first woman was miffed.

            I'm really asking you to try to give just a bit more time in the first date. It might seem like high investment but if I've agreed to a date with you I've already invested something and I need enough time to at least enjoy my latte.

      • Personally, I'd find 15 minutes too short to decide anything – and I tend to be quicker than most people I know at telling if I like someone or not. I don't know about being scared, I can't see anything alarming-sounding about the idea, but I'd guess that, no matter how you suggest it, people would tend to assume that you were essentially interviewing for looks only or for one or two pretty narrow criteria and would be put off.

        1-2 hours sounds like about the amount of time I'd want to decide if I like someone enough to want to see them again (assuming I've filtered to some degree already online and that they meet basic standards of social interaction), so it makes sense to me that you'd have a hard time getting people to deviate from that.

        The only thing I can think of as a suggestion is maybe put something about your first date preferences in your profile to see if you can attract the attention of some women who share your desire for different first date models? Phrase it as a plus, something that shows your interest in trying new things, rather than as a complaint about the current system. There might be others who feel the same way.

        • Paul Rivers says:

          Don't get me wrong – I'm not looking at all for someone to make a "date / don't date" decision in 15 minutes. But I feel like I get a much, much better read on the whether I might be interested in someone else based on chatting with them for 15 minutes rather than spending half an hour or hour writing emails back and forth.

          When I had 3 female friends who all tried online dating, and ended up dating someone they met in real life (not through a site at all), then a girl messaged me back saying she quitting the site because she was tired of doing all the work of exchanging emails and finding chemistry via email – only to have it be completely absent when meeting in person – I started thinking that I don't think it's *actually* working for women any better than it's working for the guys I've known.

          The goal is to build connection in a way that's more natural, less stressful, and – in a way that *better* reflects on the other persons personality, rather than more of an very, very learned and crafted ability to say just the right things in a high pressure situation.

          • Hmm, maybe I'm not understanding you well. I don't see how one would go on a 15 min chat-date without having to make the date/don't date decision afterwards (well, the decision to go on another date – of course you wouldn't decide whether you want to be seriously "dating" after one date). What would the 15 minutes be for if not to decide whether you'd be interested in seeing them again?

            Or is this part of your 3 mini-date model? If so, I think the same problems we've discussed previously would still apply.

      • Like eselle and enail, I'd find a 15 minute date too short–both to have a good sense of whether I wanted to see the guy again, and to make it worth the travel time.

        When I was online dating, we didn't usually set a specific time in advance. I had some first meetings only last for an hour, and others go on for several, depending on how well we were getting along. Sometimes the conversation just flows and you can get really into it. I would have been hesitant to set a specific time limit on it ahead of time. It would make me feel like the guy wasn't really interested in seeing how things went, that he was more concerned about making sure he didn't waste time or got as much time as he felt he should rather than how we actually got along.

        If your main concern is not spending too much time on just getting a coffee, there are the options DNL talks about like going to a coffee shop type place that offers other entertainment (music, board games–the one I usually met at was in a bookstore, so we could also wander around and browse and talk books). And I think if the conversation is going well enough after 1/2 an hour or more that you know you want to spend more time with that person, you can always try to spin it into a "real" date right then–suggesting going somewhere else for a more engaging activity. If the woman's into the date too and doesn't have prior plans for later that day, I'd imagine most would go for it.

        In terms of what to say, I'd just go with, "Let's meet at [time] and see how it goes!" And then whoever needs or wants to end the date first can just say they've got to get going while you're there. If the woman starts demanding you commit to hanging out with her for a certain length of time, then that would sound to me like a pretty good reason to just cross her off your list before bothering with the meeting.

        • Paul Rivers says:

          I apologize if I've gotten this confused and you've answered this before, but are you dating someone now? If so, did you meet them through online dating? And if so, how long ago was that?

          I ask because it's usually "I had fun, and met some nice people, but nothing that really worked out long term. Then either – I met someone in real life and we've been together ever since! or – eventually I got tired of it / moved / gave up on it".

          • I'm married. :) And I can honestly tell you that not only did I meet my husband online, every single date I've been on, and the two other serious relationships I had, were with people I met online. Partly because I just never seemed to connect properly with guys when we were meeting for the first time in-person without any prior contact, so I never got asked out in "real life".

            In the interests of full disclosure, the first serious boyfriend and my husband I didn't technically meet through a dating site. My first bf I met through a local dial-up BBS (hello, showing my age). Funny thing–we actually started talking due to an argument on that BBS about whether guys have it harder than women when it comes to dating. And my husband found me through a site that was structured kind of like a dating site but aimed at social networking in general. Though, in both cases even though it wasn't through a dating site, we still started things off by meeting for the first time in a public place for coffee. So it followed the same pattern.

          • Googled out of curiosity and found this article, which is relevant. A research group did a study on online dating and found that in their (large) sample, one out of five people who used online dating ended up marrying someone they met that way. So it obviously works for a fair number of people! Though I'm sure there are lots of people who try it on a whim and don't end up even getting serious with anyone, like you said, too. http://www.switched.com/2009/02/17/online-dating-

      • Minnesotans are a different breed. Anywhere in the tundra lends to a culture of close personal connections, and even first "get to know you" dates will be more personal than they would in NY or CA. I'm a CA girl who married a MN guy. His family still floors me with their openness and generosity sometimes.

    • If you're not great at making a first impression, why not get a friend to help out? There's nothing wrong with coming to the coffee shop a little earlier and meeting a friend who can leave when your date arrives.

      Seeing that you have other friends (who are maybe a little better at making first impressions) seriously lowers the creep factor, plus it can also be a way for you to relax a little headed into the date. It takes away some of the formality of the interview style coffee date and gives her the reassurance that you weren't just spending 30 mins panicking over which way to part your hair.

      Dating is the way we find out about who a person is, so don't be afraid to let your life bleed into the edges of the date.

      • Yeah, I once went on a date where when I arrived I found her talking with her co-writer for the webseries she works on. It was a smart idea since she was able to get work done in the coffee shop while waiting for me and she could also use her friend as a second opinion on me.

  6. The bit about not giving your date your full attention reminded me of this Simpsons clip, and that got me wondering, has the Doc ever heard anyone humming that tune on one of their dates?

    • Haha loved the clip!
      Yeah messing with your phone not just while on a date, but whenever you are supposed to engage in a conversation with someone (a colleague at work, friend, parents etc.), is downright disrespectful and rude.

      On the subject of focus, as someone who is trying to study for the finals – this is a more accurate representation of what goes in my mind when I lose track of the material and start to drift in my thoughts: http://youtu.be/ZkT7rUbyMO4

    • As a Simpsons fan, it makes me proud that I immediately knew exactly which clip you were referring to, before I even clicked the link.

  7. Another thing, is that when I'm enjoying a date, I usually say something to the effect of "I'm having a wonderful time and I'd like to see you again." More often that not I receive an answer in the affirmative of some sort. Than when asking for a second date, including an exact thing to do, the response back is something that "I'm a great guy yada yada but they didn't feel any chemistry or don't think we'd be a good couple." Either she answered the affirmative out of politeness or changed her mind latter. If its just out of politness, what I am doing wrong? My dating life is so repetitious that there has to be something that I'm doing wrong.

    • thesurfmonkey says:

      You could be running into social niceties or expected phrases when you say the thing about having a good time and are they having a good time too. Sort of like the expected response to "how are you" is some variation on "fine" regardless of the truth. Or it could be that up until that point they're having a good enough time that they wouldn't say they're having a bad time, but as the date goes on the whole thing doesn't add up to something they want to do again. Sort of like a movie that you like the beginning but by the end your butt has gone to sleep and you're out of popcorn and you keep wondering how long the denouement will last so you can go home and do your laundry. Hmm, that gives me an idea. How long do your unsuccessful first dates usually last? Maybe you might have better results tightening up the schedule?

      • Totally true. It also puts an awkward strain on them, because what are you supposed to do at that point? If you're in the middle of a game of mini golf and she says, "Nahh, I'm not feeling it," do you finish the game? Do you just stop and go your separate ways? I would have no idea how to handle that.

    • I agree with thesurfmonkey that it's better just to take these as social conventions. People can discuss the ethics and causes of this forever, but on a practical level, it's something that you're going to run into and will just have to work around. If you feel you want a clear thumbs up or down at the end of a date, I'd suggest asking her out on a specific date at a specific time. If you get vague noises about checking her schedule, that counts as a no. If you'd rather not do that, then I think it's more a matter of not reading much into end of date comments and not being too caught up in it if the answer to a later date request is no.

      • Its all a freaking short in the dark basically. You just have to keep at it until you meet somebody who wants to date you even if you don't really want them. There are things that you can kind of do to increase your chances but it is still chance. Dating is a numbers game and I keep drawing the loosing numbers. I really feel like the romantic-runner up as described on TV tropes.

        • I would suggest that treating dating as a numbers game sort of implies that each date is a crap-shoot in your mind, each woman is an object to practice your dating skills on in the hopes of winning the game (getting a girlfriend, or having a fling, or whatever)? I understand the importance of developing good dating/social skills, but maybe it would be better to limit your search to women you know you find very interesting? If you're going on dates with as many women as you can in the hopes of finding a good fit, with very little pre-screening, then I wouldn't get so disappointed by the lack of chemistry thing (I bet you're feeling the lack of chemistry too, but are feeling lonely and would just like to have a girlfriend now, damnit!). If that's the case, I totally sympathize as a similarly forlorn, romance-hungry male, but I've been on enough boring, chemistry-less dates to know that we should be the ones comfortable with walking away if we feel that there's no chemistry, not just the women we're dating. The main problem sounds like the "I'm tired of waiting" you mentioned earlier. As maddening as it is, that attitude can only spell self-sabotage, and will only detract from having a fun, relaxed date with someone you genuinely find attractive.

        • I'm sorry, please tell me what about you (or your comment) is romantic?

    • @LeeEsq,
      By asking during a date about a second date, you are killing a bit of the attraction by taking away that bit of time she will be wondering if you are going to call her again. On the other hand, you can't assure yourself of a second date as politeness (of her feeling trappped) will force her to accept when she doesn't know for certain. It can also come off as being needy or impatient.

      If she thinks you are an impatient eager beaver, she might want to put on the breaks to slow things down. Leaving it unclear can leave her hoping for more. Which would you prefer her mindset to be: Hoping for more or worried about having to slow you down? Which seems for fun for her?

      • This might just be personal, but having to wait for someone to call has never made me more excited. The three day rule isn't some secret., and asking during the date and waiting a couple of days are all the same to me.

        That's especially the case for online dating, where there's no need to try to create the image of having other options. I mean, it's online dating. I know the guy has other options and goes on dates with other women.

        • Maybe it's the age difference, but you seem a bit off compared to a number of women I know.

          • The Simple Man says:

            And those woman you know opinions are not the universial standard.

          • how many women do you know? I actually find it annoying when I realize someone is putting an arbitrary time constraint on when to call me. I'm in my early 20s if that's relevant.

        • I'm the same way. If a guy makes me wait, then I know he's playing some sort of "game" and I basically write him off. With today's technology, there is no reason, given that he actually likes me, for him not to text me the next day. A text message takes literally 10 seconds to compose, no one is that busy.

        • Oh man, I'm the same way. I really hate waiting for a call. But then again, I hate pursuing guys. Darn it, I just hate dating…. I just want to be IN the relationship and comfy already, and bypass all the "will they won't they" drama!

  8. My dates usually last somewhere between forty-five minutes to two to two and half hours. The better dates tend to be the longer ones. There are dates where its pretty obvious that things aren't going well. We don't have much or anything in common, we have a hard time keeping the conversation going etc. Than there are other dates that seem to be going very well but apparently not well enough for a second date from her point of view.

    • thesurfmonkey says:

      Hmm. If these are all first meetings from internet dating, then something about you is probably different in person than it is online. How do your dating profile photos compare to how you actually look in person? (I think the ideal is for your profile photos to be very recent, very accurate, and while attractive for you to look better in person than you did in the photo.)

      Also, how is your breath? And how do you smell? Bad breath, too much cologne, or an unpleasant smell are all things that are extremely likely to: a) turn people off in person, b) not be something you'd be aware of yourself because of how we become used to smells we're around all the time, and c) be something a first date would be very unlikely to tell you about.

      • My on-line photos are very accurate and I don't lie about my height because its not something that I'm going to do successfully. I shower once a day or twice if going out at night, groom, get my back waxed, etc. So basically neatness or smell should not be a problem. My voice is very harsh.

        • @LeeEsq When you say your voice is harsh, what do you mean? A scratchy sound like from damaged vocal chords (e.g., singers who strain their voice)? Purely vocal quality? Something else?

          Also, do you talk with dates-to-be on the phone before meeting for the first time?

      • I call this the stale baby smell. Some guys just smell to me like sick children! It's like that weird musty smell that you notice if you walk into a sick kid's bedroom. I've never been able to figure out if it's pheromones or just hygiene, but this is something I really can't get past and has put me off quite a few guys who were otherwise ok. One of my favourite things about my boyfriend is the way he smells.

        • thesurfmonkey says:

          Yes, this is more what I was trying to get at. That weird thing where as far as you know the person has normal hygiene habits, but something about their smell just smells off somehow (to you, not to everyone). Or like how when you walk into someone else's house and notice the way their house smells (something I always found fascinating as a child).

          I think it could be a pheromone thing. I've seen it suggested that how good a person's pheromones smell to you has some correlation with your genetic compatibility for making healthy offspring.

          This is why I consider the first coffee date when internet dating the smell test. Sure, you're making sure the person looks and acts in person the way they did online, but just as importantly you're getting the gut check to see how you feel with them. And a big part of that gut feeling comes in through the nose.

  9. I have a question that's vaguely first-date related, which hopefully means it's somewhat on topic:

    What's the best way to handle the situation when you strongly prefer to split the cost of the date, but the guy refuses your genuine offer to pay? I'm guessing that my, "…no, really, I've got this part!" isn't coming across clearly enough, but I don't have any alternatives beyond either putting the money on the table or offering to get the next round, or pay for an activity that comes afterwards. The second one works when the date's going well and the guy agrees to the plan, but some dates are never going to be anything more than one cup of coffee or bottle of beer, and other times the guy still wants to make a show of paying for the second part of things.

    • That's a tricky one because I think a lot of guys worry that if they don't pay, the woman will think they aren't invested enough/chivalrous enough/something, and that even if she says she wants to pay, she'll really think better of him if he insists. So the insistence is often well-meaning.

      Maybe bring it up ahead of time, while planning the date, if it's possible to do so in a casual friendly way? "Just so you know, I always feel better paying for my side of things" or similar. Or once on the date, try to get in there first–have your wallet already out as soon as you're purchasing something–and if he tries to tell you to put it away, repeat that you really like to split the cost, emphatically but with a smile to show it's not a problem?

      I think I just went with the flow when I used to be in that position. I'd have my wallet out ready to pay, and pay if the guy would let me, but if a guy repeatedly insisted that he really wanted to take care of it, I'd let him instead of making a bigger deal about it. Never had an issue because of it… but then I went on fewer than ten first dates total, so not a very large data pool to draw from.

      • I do think there are a lot of guys who insist because they've been told it will be held against them if they don't, and it's mostly them I'm worried about. If it were just guys who have super conservative ideas about gender roles, I'd be loud about wanting to pay and just treat it as a screening device!

        That's a good idea. I might try bringing it up ahead of time the next time I plan a date and see how that goes over.

        • I definitely second the idea of mentioning it while planning the date – apparently, there are some people who take the woman insisting on paying/the man agreeing to split it as a formal declaration that they're not interested in the romantically. I know a feminist woman who had to give up on insisting because it was consistently interpreted as a clear (and incorrect) message.

          • Yes, that's a problem too, since I do know there are women who will only insist on paying if they feel the date has gone badly.

            I've given up on it in the past as well, but it's very uncomfortable and I worry that it sends out the wrong signal in the opposite direction, and suggests that I'm someone who likes this sort of old-fashioned chivalry.

      • I advise against rushing to get your wallet out first to pay for your part. That will convince the guy that you're not interested, and just trying to get away without any sense of obligation (if the date is going well, and you would like to keep up a good thing). If you insist strongly enough, I think most guys would withdraw their offer, unless they're really insecure about that aspect of dating.

        • I didn't mean to make a big deal about it–just to casually take your wallet out (no rush) as you get to the counter to place your order/see the bartender coming over/whatever so you already have it in hand when it's time to pay. I mean, that's what I normally do when I know I'm going to pay (on my own, with friends) anyway, so it can look totally natural. I'm not sure why it would be taken as a definite signal of disinterest. My thought was just that if you don't look like you really are ready to pay, the guy's less likely to be sure you mean it and aren't just being coy when you say he doesn't have to.

      • Ok, this is a big one for me too. I like being able to pay my way. However, there are *people* (men and women) out there who genuinely enjoy treating others. I am also occasionally one of these people when I can afford it. One of my pet peeves when it's just me and one other person is splitting the check. I find it very tacky and I feel like it kills the mood of the evening sitting there calculating who owes what. At that point, I just grab the check, put my credit card in and hand it to the waitress.
        So here's a couple situations for you:

        1) Coffee date/ counter ordering/drinks – splitting checks here doesn't apply, so take out your wallet and proceed as normal. If the guy insists on buying you your $5 drink, let him. It isn't going bankrupt him. Say: "thanks for the drink! I got next round!" and mean it. When it's time to get the next round, don't let him get up to go up to the counter, say: "stay right there, I'm gonna grab us more drinks, and you can watch me do it" and then do your best va-va-voom walk – it will be flirty and funny.

        2) Dinner – If the guy insists on paying, negotiate to leave the tip, but say that you're treating him next time/activity. To avoid hemming and hawing over who owes what if the guy agrees to split the check, carry cash, round up, and just plop down the amount for half the check. Ex. if the bill is $30, I plop a $20 and make to leave – this is a good screener for bad tippers (my dealbreaker)- ideally he should also throw down a $20 and go, if he sits there and counts out $15 dollars, then I'm immediately icked out.

        Ayway, I don't know if this was at all helpful. Money is weird, and I totally ranted on a bit there.

        • Thanks, there's some good advice there. I do 1) sometimes, and that does tend to make it easier.

          I wish that people would let go of this custom, since it seems to make both men and women unhappy, but it seems like it's difficult to buck it entirely. I'm surprised by how many men seem to tolerate it, since I've previously encountered lots of griping about how expensive dating can be and how unfair it is that expenses are shouldered mostly by men.

      • Those are all good suggestions; I do the wallet one a lot. If he doesn't get the hint, I've stolen a line from "Sarah Marshall" and assured him with a smile, "don't worry, I'm not that kind of girl." That made it clear that I wasn't testing him, I was genuinely okay paying my own way.

    • For me (male) insisting to pay is a screen for "can you say thank you graciously and without a fuss".

      • Out of curiosity, how do you react if the woman says, "Thank you, but I'd rather pay for myself"? Is that a deal breaker, or does that count as graciousness?

        • That's fine, but if I insist further and she won't let it go it's a small redflag. Not a deal breaker of any kind.

          • From what else you've said here, I'd think that a woman who wasn't comfortable with a man paying for her dates probably wouldn't be a good match for you in other ways? So that makes sense.

            For eselle28, I think the reverse is true, so I'd imagine the two of you would be screening for quite different things!

          • Not really. "Not comfortable" is completely fine, I understand people have mindworms running around in their brains screaming "I don't want to take advantage of him!", or "I want to show I'm independent" or something similar.

          • Ah, sorry, misinterpreted.

      • That's absolutely a valid preference. That being said, it's also why I prefer to pay. Someone who puts a lot of emphasis on it or who uses it as a screen is probably not a very good partner for me, and it would be better if we found it out quickly so we could both move on.

        I'm more concerned with finding a way to do that without putting off men who would rather split expenses or who don't have strong feelings about the issue, but who offer and then insist anyway because they think I want them to.

        • It's not really a preference. It's more a question of "chances are I have more money than you, and if we're going to be hanging out together more often I will wind up spending some of it on you, and I'd prefer to able to do so quietly and without a fuss. One 'thank you' will suffice".

          Ceaseless gratitude is just as annoying as no gratitude at all. It comes across as fake, insincere, and insecure.

          • The situation's a bit different in my case. Most of my dates are in roughly the same income bracket or make less than I do, sometimes substantially so. It's one of the reasons that letting my date pay doesn't feel quite right.

          • Yeah, if she makes/has more than I do it does change a bit. If it's a lot more then I expect to be treated like a good toyboy should be ;)

          • Heh! I'm not sure how a person would go about communicating that, but I'm sure it would be amusing.

          • You can say exactly that, just with a smile and a flirty wink. Helps if she's older too ;)

      • Oddly enough, for me, a female who dates males, asking to split or offering to pay is the same screen.

    • @eselle28, have the grace to accept him paying for it then move on.

      • So I can't ever go on second dates? This isn't just something I want when I'm not interested. It's something that makes me uncomfortable when I am.

      • Why can't the guy have the grace to accept that she feels more comfortable paying for herself? Going Dutch isn't exactly a new thing–it's not like he should never have heard of the concept.

        • Anonyleast says:

          Because our society keeps sending bad messages to people about how they should act, why she acted like that, why he acted like that and so on and so forth. It's already been covered above about the supposed message the girl insisting on splitting the bill sends, and the supposed message the guy agreeing sends. So, I'll just say that I blame Cosmo and its ilk.

          • I'm not arguing that it's simple, but guest was implying that Eselle is somehow impolite to want to draw specific boundaries based on her comfort levels. How will we ever change the "bad messages" society puts out if no one ever challenges them?

          • Think of how an extremely confident person might act in this situation. Do you think something so trivial as spliting the check would be an issue? IMHO, it's about insecurity.

          • While hardly life-or-death, I think the issue of who pays is not actually all that trivial either, since it has a number of cultural associations about gender roles and about politeness – a person's stance on the issue may indicate something about how they would like to handle dating in other ways. I don't see why insecurity would come into the picture.

          • See, I don't understand why the confidence and security comes solely from the woman changing what she wants, in your opinion. Why does it show confidence to back down and let someone do something for you that makes you uncomfortable, but not to back down and not do something for someone that they've asked you not to? It seems to me that a guy who insists on paying is quite possibly doing so out of insecurity himself–the insecurity that the woman doesn't really mean it and will be upset that he didn't insist. If the guy was really confident, why wouldn't he be able to take the woman at her word?

          • I'm uncomfortable with the practice and the traditional gender roles implied by it. Miming old behavior patterns that don't make a great deal of sense and that don't fit with my own beliefs feels wrong. I don't think that's quite the same thing as being insecure, though.

            What, exactly, seems like it would be the focus of the insecurity? I'm perfectly aware that a man paying for a date doesn't mean I'm required to have sex with him, or kiss him, or even talk to him again, and I'm fine with saying no.

          • But since this is something that is not universally agreed on, but only common, I think it's reasonable for her to decide if she would like to risk sending the message that she's not interested in order to send the message that she considers it important to pay for herself and would like to date someone who is comfortable with that – or possibly the message "please listen to what I'm saying rather than interpreting my feelings based on what Cosmo might tell you I'm probably saying." :)

          • It's been universal for 52 years of my life.

          • I think there's a small but not insignificant number of women who prefer to pay their share and men who prefer to split the check. Google is finding me everything from 8% to 50%, depending on the country surveyed and the particular survey – not scientific, but we're certainly not looking at universal here. In fact, if it were universal, why would the subject come up so often?

        • Well, generally the social norm in America is the man pays or if you prefer, the person doing the asking does the paying. Going outside the long established norm is a rub and a likely red flag.

          • You mentioned 52 years of your life above–I think the norms have changed since you entered the dating scene. I'm twenty years younger than you (assuming you are 52 as opposed to that being how long ago you started dating) and when I was growing up the media I was exposed to–teen girl and women's magazines, general TV shows, books, movies–gave me the impression that splitting the bill was relatively common practice, especially on a first date where you have no established relationship dynamic. And when I was actually dating, my experiences bore that out (some of the guys I went out with offered to pay on our first get together, but none had any issue with me paying my share).

            I think it can be a little more awkward when the first date is a more traditional dinner type deal, because it's harder to split the bill in a restaurant and calculating things out can be a mood killer as others have suggested. But we're mainly talking about meeting people from online for the first time, grabbing a coffee or a drink at a bar, where it's very easy for each person to pay for their own order when they place it.

          • Is it that hard to split the bill in other areas of the country? When I go out with friends, it's a one line comment when they ask if we're ready for the bill to just say "Hey could you split it by seat." Then, ta-da, Dutch with no fuss.

            I do agree it's a lot easier to do in a more relaxed environment. I always try to make a first date getting coffee-I arrive early and buy myself a cup, so that when the date comes in I'm already all set-up and waiting for them.

          • If she insisted to pay half and won't take no for an answer. (PS. I thought no means no…..) I would not take any action for a second date.

          • Shrug, if that's a dealbreaker for you, good. Better to know on a first date that you've got different ideas about relationship dynamics.
            Personally I feel uncomfortable with my date paying for everything and I dislike the implied power imbalance.

          • I see it as a turning away rather than moving towards move. Assuming you needed it spelled out for you.

            Oh, it's about power……………………..hm……………………

          • Buddy, if your date's not into you, your insisting on paying isn't going to change her mind.

          • You keep coming up with these double standards. "No means no." Yes, which means if the guy says, "Here, I'll get this," and the woman says, "No, I'd rather pay for myself," the guy should respect *her* no. Generally speaking, when you're offering to do something *for* someone else, basic etiquette is that their wishes on the matter trump yours. If you offer to carry someon's bag and they say no, you don't keep insisting and try to grab it from them. If you offer to give someone a ride and they say no, you don't keep badgering them about it (well, unless they're a friend and they're in actual danger due to being drunk or some such). You don't get to say no to someone else's decisions about what they do for themself and expect that giving in is the proper thing to do. And heck, if you could, then the woman could say no to you paying for yourself, and you'd have to listen to her!

            If you prefer to date women who are happy to have a guy pay for them, that's fine. That's your preference. But please don't go around implying that other people who have different preferences are wrong or disrespectful in some way.

          • So her saying, "no, I can pay for myself" is invalid, but your "no I insist" can't be ignored? Am I understanding that right?

      • But then guys start assuming either they're entitled to something, or that I'm a gold digger who is using them for a free meal. I see guys online CONSTANTLY complaining about how women are privileged because they get their drinks/dinner paid for. By allowing the guy to pay, aren't I just reinforcing this belief?

        • Those are the MRA whiner/disillusioned Nice Guy types. If a guy has that belief avoid him like the plague, and even if you do insist on paying you won't shake his belief that the majority of women are those irritating gold-digging sluts he keeps bumping into.

          (but this means that you, of course, will now be elevated to the role of Goddess on a Pedestal, being a unique special snowflake).

          • I dunno, it still seems like AWFUL shaky territory. My experience is that I almost always make more money than the guys I ask out. Sometimes I make twice as much, if not more. Especially at my age, it seems the only single, available guys are ones without either a steady or a good income.

            In that case, where I make substantially more money, AND I am the one that asked them out (since guys never ask me out), aren't I the one who should insist on paying? Isn't it pretty mean to make a guy pay for my dinner, when I asked him out and I'm more well-off?

          • If a woman were to ask me out, which has yet to happen, I wouldn't feel comfortable with her paying the entire check, even if she makes twice as much as me. In a scenario such as this, if she protests to me taking care of the bill, I would gladly pay for what I owe and leave the tip.

          • adambluth, here you say that you wouldn't feel comfortable with your female date paying the check, even when she asked you out and she makes more money than you…yet, in the post right below this one, you say you don't feel comfortable splitting the check on the first date, especially if you asked her out…that you want to pay.

            This seems like a sexist double standard to me. Care to elaborate why what is good for the goose isn't good for the gander?

          • adambluth says:

            Quite simply, I'm uncomfortable having others pay for me. Regardless of the specific social or romantic context, be it with friends or on a first date, I will always prefer to pay my own way or take care of the check myself.

            My reasoning is not at all dissimilar to the average woman's: I don't want someone to think that by picking up a check or buying a round, I now owe them something in return. I understand that such an expectation may be different when held by a man, that ideally the favor would be of the sexual variety, but I'd still rather be square with people than in the red. I also can see how going Dutch may resolve the issue, but then I would feel that I was taking advantage of one's generosity.

            And Marty is not the first female commenter to mention how difficult dating is for women when us guys just don't make nearly as much money as they do. Now thankfully, I have a job that I love, which compensates me well. But the last thing I want is for a woman to feel obligated to pay for me, because my yearly salary is X and her's so happens to be X+Y. And considering that I tend to date women older than I am, it's not at all uncommon for them to have more money than I do, and that is A Okay with me. I'm drawn to those types. I'm not threatened by their success. It's not an issue unless she makes it an issue.

            So in sum, I just want to pay. I don't want to owe. I don't want to be though of as a cheapskate or a loser. I don't think a woman owes me an hours-long blowjob session if I gallantly settle a tab. I don't get butthurt if she doesn't reach for the check. I loathe having to do the dance. I just want to go out with someone that I hope to see again soon enough, order what I want, have her feel free to do the same, and for us to enjoy ourselves.

          • So, you don't want someone to pay for you because you don't want to owe anyone anything. Yet you want to pay for the woman's half…so that she feels in a way that you yourself don't want to feel. Don't you see that is a jerk-y thing to do. Your *preference* is to put a woman in a situation that you yourself don't want to be put in. If it is so uncomfortable for you to have someone pay for you, why would you insist on making your date feel similarly uncomfortable. That isn't very gallant.

            Going Dutch resolves this problem and rather than "taking advantage of the woman's generosity" (?!) puts you both on equal footing.

          • First, my use of "gallantly" was sarcastic…

            Second, I just don't like to go Dutch on a first date. I don't think it's truly equal and that it makes me look cheap, so by going Dutch, I feel I am "taking advantage of one's generosity." Are my feelings so insane to you that they honestly warrant a "?!"?

          • I have to agree with Trooper6 on this one. It doesn't make sense to me to say that two people paying for what they themselves consume is unequal, or one person taking advantage of another's generosity (how is it generous of the woman to pay for her own thing, but not generous of you to pay for your own thing?). If you go Dutch, what is it you think you're getting from her that she isn't getting from you that makes it unequal?

            As people are saying all over this thread, if a guy prefers to pay, that's fine. Then he just won't date women who feel uncomfortable with that. It's your reasoning that seems odd to me.

          • As I said in my initial response to Trooper6, I will gladly pay for my own thing (pay my own way is how I expressed it) if I don't take care of it all. I said the same thing in my response to Marty. It's the even split of a check where I fear my date will think I am taking advantage. "Going Dutch" can be used to define both, and you don't know until it comes time to settle the tab which of the two your date prefers.

          • Okay, that makes more sense, if you're likely to have spent more. These days first dates so often involve activities where it's easy for both people to pay separately rather than splitting one bill that I didn't realize you specifically meant the latter.

          • I think that's fair enough; if you asked him out and you make more. If he really insists I'd still let it go, though.

            Why not look to date older guys though? Most young women do for a number of reasons, most of them good.

          • Past a certain age, the fact that a man is older doesn't necessarily mean that he will make more money. It often comes down to choice of career. Beyond that, I think there are some attraction, family status, and stage of life issues that come into play. I'll date a bit older, but there's a point where it's not a worthwhile solution to the issue of payment, which is annoying but not the most serious.

          • I consider my "age" to be somewhere between 26 and 32. (I am 27)

            I do not want to date older than that, as I find it kind of uncomfortable and creepy. Why would someone so many years older want to date someone so much younger? The answer to that question is usually tied up in ideas of dominance and "breeding," neither of which are very attractive to me.

          • It used to be completely standard. in my parent's generation, for grooms to be about seven years older than their brides, give or take a bit, but people seem weirded out by such age gaps these days.

            There were probably other reasons behind this but such an age difference does keep the couple's respective sexual market values in alignment for longer.

          • Meh, not really true in my experience. Many of my friends and acquaintances date people with a 7+ year difference.

            Also, the phrase "respective sexual market values" creeps me out.

          • Average difference these days seems to be about 3.5 (again, unscientifically based on googlage), but I think it varies a lot between individuals.

            And ditto re "respective sexual market values."

          • What is MRA?

    • Personally, I'm not comfortable splitting the bill on a first date, especially if I asked her out. If she repeatedly insists on paying for half or desires to contribute some amount, a solution I will offer is that she leave the tip. More often than not, I've found that to be agreeable. It satisfies my desire to pay the check, she still contributes to the date, and it all but guarantees that the server receives at a minimum 20%.

      If you're not enjoying your time with someone and you feel a single round of drinks will be the extent of your interaction, then yeah, throw down enough cash to cover what you ordered and wish them the best. I'd be just fine with that.

      • Okay I don't get this assumption that if she pays (for herself, or both) it means she didn't enjoy herself. Is it this idea she doesn't want to feel obligated? Isn't it a good sign if she buys the dinner, as it means she's wanting to make a good impression? (Show she is independent and investing in you.)

        Isn't leaving the tip when the other person pays actually kind of harder? This might be a generational gap, but I pay for nearly everything with my debt/credit card-I rarely carry money, and if I do, it's only small bills in cases of going out to a bar or getting coins for laundry. If you're using plastic to pay, then you risk offending the waitress because she sees a big 0 for tip, AND you're assuming the woman is carrying cash.

        I mean… my goodness, isn't the woman just paying for herself easier logistically as well?? I don't understand why guys would be uncomfortable with it.

        • adambluth says:

          Well, we are of the same generation (you being a year older than I), so I wouldn't consider it a gap. If she doesn't have cash, then she doesn't have cash. It was merely a suggestion, not a hard-and-fast rule. The planet will still be spinning on its axis if we reach some other agreement. And the server's potential offense would be short-lived as soon as he or she finds the cash right next to the signed merchant copy of the check.

          How is making a good impression/independence/investing in another person exclusively synonymous with a woman paying the check? Earlier you were lamenting that dudes be broke, so if I happily pay for the first date, doesn't that mean I want to make a good impression, show that I'm independent, or wish to invest in this person? Why must it be assumed that the only reason men want to pay is for those sweet, sweet blowjobs that will certainly come with settling a tab?

          • I don't think it's assumed that the only reason men want to pay is to create some kind of sense of sexual obligation. I mean, sometimes that happens and sometimes women feel that pressure even when the man didn't intend it, but I don't think it's the usual case.

            What I find a little curious is that you want to be able to show that you're independent or wish to invest in your date, but you'd be uncomfortable if your date wanted to show these things to you by treating you. If your argument is mainly that it's tradition, or something related to gender roles, then that's that and I could understand where you were coming from. But you seem to be coming at this in a relatively gender neutral way, but without recognizing that your date may have the same feelings that you do.

    • SarahGryph says:

      For myself, I remember that guys are also people. What I mean by that is I'm a girl and in some situations I want to treat someone. Maybe I'm the one who asked them out, maybe I just got overtime money and feel like paying the tab, there are many reasons. On a date, I will most certainly pull out my wallet and won't think less of the guy if he lets me pay my part. But if he (politely) says "don't worry, I've got this" I'm not going to hold THAT against him either. I might tease and I'll certainly try to grab the tab for the next date…but I know how awkward it feels if you're really just in a mood to do someone a favor and they immediately splat all over you "ZOMG no, how dare you?!" Another thing I try to keep in mind is that just bc many guys complain that girls just want a free meal etc., doesn't mean that the specific guy I'm with is thinking that way. And I feel it's disrespectful to my date to assume he's one of those guys unless he's given me a more solid reason to think so.

      • SarahGryph says:

        I probably should also note that before I agree to a date, I tend to pay attention to cues about whether they see me as a person or just a girl. So if I'm already fairly comfy that they see me as a person, it's just not so much of a deal who pays what.

        • just a girl? Girls are people too. Also, hopefully a woman not a girl.

          • SarahGryph says:

            I get what you're saying, however I phrased it that way on purpose. The above thread has a lot talk about gender politics as far as specifically the man paying for the woman. I meant my comment to reflect the difference between that situation – one where the guy is paying for "the girl" out of assumptions which may be incorrect and/or annoying; vs two people who can be comfortable with either one paying the tab as a genuine nice thing to do. I'm pretty well aware girls are people, too I promise. ;) And while I understand that in certain contexts, calling a woman a "girl" can be seen as derogatory; in this case it was just keeping things simple and using the same term throughout the thought. I myself am fine with the terms woman, female, girl, etc…so long as the context and implication aren't meant to be demeaning, though again I do understand the argument.

  10. I cringe at the idea of going to a music venue/bar for a date since these places in my area usually only have shows by shitty local bands like these: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1m8UPCh15So Other than these places, the only places suitable for dates in my area are either coffee shops or on campus so I don't really have a wide variety of options when it comes to potential dates or meeting people for that matter. But then again I haven't had a date in about a year and have only had four dates in the four years that I've gone to university here so what do I know.

  11. I had a date the other day, first in a while. But after reading this, I feel like I probably failed on multiple fronts. There was no parting kiss. I didn't really get the impression she wanted one, and earlier in the date she'd said something along the lines of, "I think it's sad that a woman can't just stand at a bar, and just enjoy the conversation of a man who approached her without him having ulterior motives." Plus, I'm terribly self-conscious, insecure, and depressed. Despite all that, I don't think she had a bad time–there were plenty of laughs, I managed to avoid devolving into a negative Nancy, though I know I spoke very softly the whole time (my voice always drops several octaves when I'm at an interview, which is very similar to how it felt until we got up and went for a walk). I just felt/knew I wasn't "wowing" her; that sure, maybe she wasn't having a bad time, but I don't think she was having the time of her life, or even a really fun time, and I've always been a very serious, preoccupied person. The only reason I hold out any hope of a second date was because I think she and I have somewhat similar personalities, with regard to the seriousness and being quite idealistic, but wearied by it. Sigh.

    • Don't beat yourself up! If you're insecure and depressed, that can make you read other people's reactions as more negative than they really are. She may very well have had a great time (lots of laughs sounds promising), so give it a chance and try for that second date. And if she declines, remember it's not that you necessarily "failed"; a lot of dates don't work out just because the two people aren't compatible enough through no one's fault.

      Also, it's really hard to be your best self when socializing if you're dealing with depression and anxiety. I hope you're getting help for that, and if not, please do!

  12. DaLilBlueBoy says:

    Oh my goodness. I’m a young high school kid and I always pictured on dates that I’d sit in front of my date and not beside, but beside is SO much better. Doc’s little things help a bunch.

  13. Ace is also an acceptable answer for Doctor Who companions…

    • Dr_NerdLove says:

      Mostly on being willing to take on a goddamn Dalek with a baseball bat in a true crowning moment of awesome.

  14. I would also like to second the cautionary advice when it comes to alcohol. Don't get me wrong, I love drinking! But at my age (27), I know my limits, and I no longer drink to get "wicked drunk yea!" and I accept the same from my date.

    I, personally, don't mind when a guy loses his filter, since I don't have much of one myself, even without the drinking, but I've had a couple of dates where a guy got completely sloppy drunk and it was a huge turn-off.

    One was a younger guy I was seeing, and I was already apprehensive about his age, but he seemed decent and mature. We were hanging out on my porch drinking beers, and I usually drink fairly slowly since it's a social activity not a race, but this guy drank like 3 to my every 1. He ended up so drunk that he was slurring words and stumbling, and it was just so completely unattractive.

    The other was recently. I invited a guy over because I was making pie (not a euphemism). I had a 6-pack in the fridge, and he brought one as well. He ended up drinking so many beers that he was like falling asleep while speaking to me, spilled pie juice all over my couch, and I had to deal with his ass until like 3 am because he couldn't drive home. Finally, I just told him to sober up on the couch and went to bed.

    • Megan Dufficy says:

      Omg I was on a third date with a great guy who didn't have his hands all over me. Big plus in my department. But then he drank too much and turning into an IDIOT. I had to call me girlfriend in the bathroom and ask her how to get out of the date! Never saw him again. Thankfully.

  15. So… no one should be listening to anyone here? I mean, honestly, who the heck are you supposed to listen to…. the guys who insist on paying, or the guys who insist the woman should pay?

  16. theoriginalbraingoo says:

    I still say River Song is my favorite even though she's technically not a companion.

  17. too much alcohol can be a real date killer but I always think I'm funnier and more relaxed when I've loosened up a little, I think a couple of drinks is ok but it's when you get into a state. The last time I got too drunk to be anywhere never mind trying to impress someone it was because the date wasn't going to well and rather then just saying, lets call it a day I decided quickly that alcohol was the answer. I have no regrets about the lady in question, we weren't right for each other but its the fact that all her mates have heard the story from our date which means they all think I'm a right idiot.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] trying to prove something or meet some arbitrary and random standard to prove yourself worthy of a second date, of sex, of a relationship; you’re trying to form a connection with another [...]

  2. [...] Got Away, the dates where there’s been no chemistry, the date you thought was amazing but ended up going nowhere. How many times have you despaired about finding someone you liked rather than someone you could [...]

  3. […] How to Get a Second Date By Acing the First […]