February 4, 2011

Dating Discussion: Breaking Down Second Dates

I've been going back and forth about this over Twitter...

Someone posed the question, "If a woman says 'yes' to a second date, can the man assume she's interested?"

I say wholeheartedly, NO!!!!!

"Why not?" I'm asked. "Why is she going then? Free meal?"

To this, I have three explanations for my reasoning.

The first one takes me into the way-back machine, when I went out on some very, very embarrassing first dates. One of them was going fine. We'd been set up by a mutual friend. We were having a nice meal. He was funny. I wasn't crazy.
When we got up to leave I noticed something felt not quite right. My purse was stolen. All of a sudden our first date with just the two of us turned into a trio, with the cop who took my police report. I was frazzled and thought, "this date is a wash."
No second date.
I would have gone if he would have asked. I hoped for a second chance. I was having a bad night and didn't want his sole judgment to be based on that bizarre first meeting. Nope. No chance. He made his call and didn't ask me out. I felt robbed... twice.
The other time was when my dog chased outside my apartment building, locking me and my date outside. We had to scale the wall into my bedroom window. It was awful. My mood completely changed. I was hoping for a second chance, where I didn't feel so judged by my dog, my lack of a hide-a-key, or my climbing skills.

So my first reason is this: the first date can easily turn into the worst date. You never know if your night with them has followed their worst day.

The second reason is this. A man can't assume a woman is "interested" in him solely because she said "yes" to a second date because he has no idea where she is with her current dating life. She could think he's funny but isn't quite so sure about his job. Or his roommates. Or that weird jacket he wore last time.
She could have made weird judgments on the first date that she's wondering, "Was I wrong about judging him on that? Or is he really into wearing pleather pants all the time? Can I handle it?"
She could be dating 29 or so other guys and trying to figure out which one rises to the top.
You have no idea what else is swimming through her head about you, so let her give you another chance to see how great you are.

Number three... If the other reasons made no sense to you, maybe this one will.
You asked her out, right??
There was some initial assessment that made you think, "I need to go out with her." That assessment might have taken some time for you to figure out if she's someone worth spending time, money, and effort on. And then you finally came to the decision to muster the courage to decide, "Yes, I want to go out with her."
Your timing and interest is likely already way ahead of hers.
Her first date is an opportunity to do just what you did: assess the situation. She figures you out, sees what you're about, questions your pleather pants.
She might not have made the decision of "YES! I'm interested!" by the end of the night. BUT, she might be considering it, which works highly in your favor, right?
You ask her out for a second date, she says yes. Does this mean she's for sure interested? Nope! But give her credit for considering it and working at her pace. By the end of the second date, she has likely decided whether she's interested.

Having had a series of first dates, I easily came to the conclusion that, yes, I would see each of those guys again. However, I wasn't "interested" in all 30 guys. There were about a dozen I was really hoping would ask me out again. The others, I had such a great time with that I thought, "Why not?"
(Sidenote, I feel I should mention that my project was a little different from the "normal" dating world, in that I didn't have time to go on second dates since I was stacking so many other first dates in. Instead, I was able to communicate with most of the guys a little more over email - if they were interested. Those exchanges gave me plenty of time to assess my interest in the 7-10 guys I found myself attracted to the most.)

A "yes" to a second date doesn't necessarily mean she's interested in you. But... it doesn't mean she's not either. :)

A first date is a meet-n-greet. A second date can give you a better idea about the judgments you made on the first date.
So for you girls... before you say 'no' to a second date (or even a first), it's worth considering whether you've judged too much too soon.

In general, I tend to think this: If we as a society embraced this idea of going out on second dates to see if things flow a little better, wouldn't it relieve some of the pressure of a first date?
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