How To Ace Your Second Date

The first date is behind you (phew!). Here’s how to make a great impression as you move on to your next rendezvous.

By Jennifer Hoppe

f course date #1 is important—we all know that first impressions are hard to shake. But it’s your second meeting that often seals the deal on whether you and your date are going to move forward or part ways. If you were nervous or uncomfortable on your first date, the second date is your chance to relax and reveal more of your true self. And if your first date was, in fact, great, you’ve got even higher expectations for your next one-on-one encounter. So we asked dating pros to share some of their secrets to second-date success. Follow this advice and the only thing you’ll have to worry about is whether your suitor truly suits you.

Consider a different type of date activity
For your first outing, you likely stuck to the classics—drinks, maybe dinner. Date #2 offers the chance to branch out and reveal more of yourselves. Consider something more active,
A second date offers you the chance to show you were paying attention last time.
such as attending an outdoor reggae concert, visiting a gallery or two or renting a rowboat at a nearby park. This is an especially good plan if the two of you aren’t exactly chatterboxes. “An activity gives you a subject you can both talk about,” notes Jill Spiegel, a Minneapolis-based motivational speaker and author of The Flirtologist’s Guide to Dating. Ask your date about his or her favorite things to do (biking? cooking? seeing a favorite local band?), then suggest the two of you try one of those things, says Spiegel. Ultimately, this thoughtfulness will make your date feel special.

Follow-up on the first-date chat
A second date offers you the chance to show you were paying attention last time, so take a few minutes to run through the conversations you had. What interests did your date mention? Did they express anxiety about an upcoming work-related project or excitement about or a trip they were about to take? Bringing this information to mind ahead of time will help you later, says Laurie Puhn, J.D., a member of Happen’s expert panel and author of Instant Persuasion: How to Change Your Words to Change Your Life. “For instance, you might say, “You mentioned that you had a major deadline last Friday. Did you meet it? How crazy did things get at work?’” she notes. “When you remember that information and ask about it later, you create an instant positive connection.”

Don’t grab a “hello kiss”
Even if your first date culminated in a full-on lip lock, Puhn advises you choose an alternative greeting for your second meeting. Better to proceed with caution than to weird out a date who’s harboring some hesitation. Think of it as having to earn the right to smooch back again, she says, and see how the date goes first.

Accept responsibility for first-date flubs—then move on
If something went wrong on your first date (say, you drank too much and got goofy), your best bet is to acknowledge it, says Tim Sanders, a national speaker and author of The Likeability Factor: How to Boost Your L-Factor and Achieve Your Life’s Dreams. “Apologize upfront, and say you’d like to do better,” he says. Then move on and focus on making this date different.

And what if there were no major disasters but you feel as if you could have made a better impression (perhaps you were exhausted and not so talkative on date #1)? Don’t
Showing your date that you’re really interested is of utmost importance on the second date.
waste time worrying about it. “If you’ve set up a second date, then both people have already decided they’re going to give it another shot,” Puhn points out. “Don’t dwell on the past, just think of it as a clean slate and do whatever you have to do to build up your energy and enthusiasm.”

Express yourself
How many times have you left a date wondering if the other person had a good time as you did? Or felt as strong a connection as you did? It’s not that most people try to hide their feelings—they just don’t think to express their emotions out loud. Showing your date that you’re really interested in them is of utmost importance on the second date, says Puhn. So start it off by saying what’s on your mind. “It might be something as simple as, ‘Hi—you know, it’s really great to see you.’ That way, your date knows for sure that you’re enjoying getting to know him or her better.”

Don’t be afraid to disagree
It can be tempting to simply let your date express their opinions, without sharing that you hold a different belief. After all, the last thing you want to do at this stage is start a debate. The problem is, by not stating your own opinion, you’re missing out on an opportunity to show you’re open-minded, to share different facets of yourself—and very possibly, to learn something, says Spiegel. We’re not talking about going head-to-head in a political debate, but you can beg to differ on less heated topics. As Spiegel puts it, “You can disagree in an agreeable way.” For example, “If your date says, ‘I saw the latest Star Wars movie 12 times’ but you just can’t stand the movie (nor seeing any movie that many times), there’s a way to express that sentiment tactfully. Say, ’Star Wars. You know what? Those movies have never been my thing. Tell me what it is you like about them.’ You’re still going to be who you are, but you’re stating that in a gentle way.” And you’re going to learn a lot about what your date is passionate about—which is a key foundation for building a lasting relationship.

Jennifer Hoppe is a New York City-based freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in Ladies’ Home Journal, More, Modern Bride and other publications.
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