What to do After a First Date if You Want a Second

You Have Reached the End of the First Date: Now What?

Congratulations, you have arrived at the end of a terrific first date.  It was an evening filled with both chemistry and compatibility.  No gaffes, no wine spills, no accidentally using the name of your ex.  Now comes the awkward but important question of how to say goodbye—for now.  

The dynamics of parting company is significant as both an assessment of the first date, and a prediction as to whether there will be a second.  And to complicate matters, research reveals that men and women view the process differently.

Regarding physical contact, research by Marisa Cohen (2016)[i] of 390 predominantly heterosexual participants indicated that women perceive a wave goodbye or a handshake at the end of the night as indicating their date was not interested in them.  Hugs and kisses, on the other hand, indicate attraction.  End-of-date physical contact was not as significant for men, who focused on other indications of attraction, such as topics of conversation.

But the question remains: after the first date is officially over, now what?

Who Initiates the Second Date?  

Who initiates a second date?  Some of you might remember this quote from the movie “He´s Just Not That Into You”:

“Hey Conor, It’s GiGi, I just thought that I hadn’t heard from you, and I mean how stupid is it that a girl has to wait for a guy’s call anyway, right? Cause we’re all equal right? more than equal. more women are accepted into law school now then men. Call me, oh this is GiGi, call me.”[ii]

According to research, GiGi´s approach is not the best idea.  After the first date, men prefer to take the initiative to arrange a second. Cohen found that men expressed their desire to be “hunters,” as they preferred to be the one to initiate contact after the date, as opposed to having the woman contact them.  

If you practice proactivity in every other aspect of your life, the post-first-date waiting game may feel unnatural, because it requires patience.  Because your schedule fills up quickly, if there is going to be a second date, you want to get it on calendar soon or you are afraid you will become totally booked.  Resist the temptation to worry about this.  Even very busy people who want to get together somehow manage to find time to do it.  And the fact that you have a life makes you even more alluring.

Ironically, when your love interest finally does decide to get in touch with you, research indicates that he would like to hear back from you sooner rather than later. Cohen found that when men reach out after a first date, they want an immediate response to their advance.   Now the ball is in your court to decide what is a reasonable delay on your end. 

And speaking of delay, when it comes to cultivating a successful relationship, research reveals the value and wisdom of progressing slowly both emotionally and physically.

Patience is a Virtue Both Emotionally and Physically

In a sample of 10,932 individuals in unmarried, romantic relationships, Willoughby et al. (2014) found delaying initiation of sexual activity to be positively related to relationship outcome.[iii] Their results provide support for earlier research by Busby et al. (2010) demonstrating the sexual restraint theory, indicating that abstaining from sex until marriage (as compared to initiating sexual activity early in a relationship) resulted in better marriages in terms of marital satisfaction, sexual quality, and communication.

A Relationship is Not a Race

In summary, research supports the conclusion that similar to the attainment of other goals in life, a good relationship is a marathon, not a sprint.  Expressing enjoyment and gratitude at the end of your first date paves the way for a second, by giving an interested paramour the confidence and courage to ask you out again. 

And moving slowly both emotionally and physically allows both parties to get to know each other at a comfortable pace, paving the way for a healthy future.


[i] Marisa T. Cohen,  “It’s not you, it’s me…no, actually it’s you: Perceptions of what makes a first date successful or not,” Sexuality & Culture: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly 20, no. 1 (2016): 173-191. 

[ii] http://ift.tt/2oGRX0E  (with corrected mis-spelling)

[iii] Brian J. Willoughby, Jason S. Carroll, and Dean M. Busby, “Differing Relationship Outcomes When Sex Happens Before, On, or After First Dates,” Journal Of Sex Research 51, no. 1 (2014): 52-61.



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