How To Know Whether You Should Go On A Second Date

by Laken Howard
couple, date
FatCamera/E+/Getty Images

Thanks to the immediacy and popularity of dating apps, finding a first date can feel easy. All you have to do is swipe right, make small talk, and set up a time to grab coffee (or a more ~adult~ beverage). Although finding a first date might be a cinch, figuring out how to get a second date is slightly trickier — and that's assuming the first date wasn't a total fiasco and you even want another date.

As someone who's spent way too many years online dating, I've found myself stuck in post-date limbo tons of times. If I've been chatting with someone, it's rare for me to say no to a first date. But after the dust settles and we've had a cocktail or two, it takes some serious introspection to figure out whether or not I'm interested enough to let things continue. Of course, there have been tons of objectively bad dates, and objectively good ones as well. However, you might be surprised how many dates leave me feeling meh — neither turned off nor super excited about the future.

"Your desire to go on a second date comes from a fairly easy formula — do I want to do that again?" Mark Bradford, founder of dating site, tells Bustle. "More than that, [are] there enough potentially good and exciting things to uncover, and were there any signs that this is going to go south quickly? Sometimes there's a spark and it's obvious — in fact, if there's a spark all you're really doing is looking for a reason NOT to [go], rather than any more reason to go forward with the next date."

For dates you're unsure about, it helps to take a step back, and think of the date from start to finish. While you don't need to take notes during the date (please don't), it's useful to try to remember certain instances — weird comments, awkward moments, or sweet compliments — so you can go back later with a more holistic perspective of how it went. To help jog your memory, here are seven questions you should reflect on after a first date to help you answer that all-important question: should we go on a second date?

1. How Often Was I Tempted To Check My Phone?

Be as high and mighty as you like about Millennials being phone addicts and not understanding real social interaction — we don't care. Let's be real: no matter who you are, it's pretty hard to go more than an hour without once checking your phone. If you went on a first date and were so immersed in conversation that you forgot what a smartphone even was, there's a good chance that a second date is a smart move.

2. Was My Date Courteous To Strangers?

It's worthwhile to reflect on how your date treated those around you. If they were polite and well-mannered, that's a solid reason to consider seeing them again.

3. Did My Date Make Me Feel At Ease?

Even if you're a casual dating veteran, first dates can be nerve-wracking. After a date you're on the fence about, think about whether or not your date made an effort to make you feel comfortable. Did they ask genuine, but not too personal, questions? Did they notice if you were cold and try to help? It's hard to quantify 'feeling at ease', but chances are there was some indication that your date was in tune with your needs and did what they could to help.

4. Would I Recommend Them To A Friend?

OK, I'm not advocating that we all go around giving perfectly good dates away to our friends. But if you step outside your own point of view and think objectively about whether or not this person is someone you'd set a friend up with, it's a good indicator of whether or not you should give them another chance. Unless you know for a fact that you're not into them and that your friend would vibe with them (maybe they share a common interest), in which case feel free to play matchmaker.

5. Did I Feel Chemistry With Them?

Although 'chemistry' is a pretty abstract term and sexual compatibility is something that can be improved upon with time, there are definitely instances in which you know right away that you're not into someone in a sexual way. Although there's no real harm in going out again just to test the waters, I've found from personal experience that a less-than-sexy first kiss (or more) after a first date doesn't bode well for the romantic future.

6. Did We Both Laugh A Lot?

There's a major difference between laughing out of nervousness or to fill awkward silences, and genuine wow-they're-so-funny laughter. If both of you spend the evening laughing together, it's a pretty clear sign that your senses of humor — aka a hugely important compatibility factor — are lined up. If you had the giggles for the whole date, there's nothing to lose by going on a second date. Even if it doesn't pan out romantically, at least you'll have some good laughs together.

7. Do I Want To Know More About Them?

Ultimately, this is what really matters. First dates are full of complications and weirdness, because both parties are likely nervous and a bit guarded. What it really comes down to is whether or not you honestly feel like you want to know more about that person. There are only so many topics you can broach during a first date; a second date is the perfect opportunity to let loose a bit more and figure out whether there could be a real future.

So if you're ever on the fence about giving someone another shot, do some reflecting and figure out whether the positives outweigh the negatives. And as a rule of thumb, the worst that can happen is another just-OK date, so why not go for it?

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