Great First Date—Now What?

After meeting online and clicking in person, you’re ready for a second date (and maybe more). Here’s how to make it happen.

By Chelsea Kaplan

t happened: Despite your original skepticism about online dating, you had a knock-your-socks-off first date with someone you met on the ’net. Love was definitely in the air—the conversation flowed, you had a ton of things in common and maybe even shared an amazing good-bye kiss. The only challenge remains coming up with a plan for a second date that will maintain the vibe of that initial blissful meeting. Need hints on how to orchestrate the perfect follow-up? Use these tips from Kristina Grish, the author of The Joy of Text: Mating, Dating, and Techno-Relating, as your guide to staging a successful second date.

Step 1: Make sure you’re both on the same page about the success of the first date
Before proceeding with planning a second date, make sure you’re confident that your partner feels as strongly as you do about the first date’s success. “A
Avoid waiting three days to send a thank-you email.
great date is essentially when two partners realize they’re like-minded beyond the shared interests they express on their online profile,” Grish explains. A truly great date must include a few key elements, she says: “There must be an equal exchange of laughter, banter, smart conversation and sincere compliments, and each partner must feel comfortable enough to disclose at least one vulnerable moment—and then be secure enough to recover without an ounce of regret for opening up so soon in the game.” Sound like your date? If so, Grish says that odds are, your date is as excited about the prospect of seeing you again as you are, and you’ve got the green light to go ahead and plan a second date.

Step 2: Follow up via email
If the seeds of your romance were first planted by communicating online, why mess with a good thing? “Following up with your date via email to properly thank your date for such a nice evening is always a good move,” Grish advises. If you’re certain that you both share the opinion that your first date was a success, she says there’s no need to play games when it comes to deciding when to hit the send button: “Avoid playing games like waiting three days to connect. If things went well, send it the very next day!” When choosing exactly how to phrase your email, keep it simple and direct, yet interject it with a bit of humor, she advises. “Begin the letter with a simple hello, move into a thank you and then close with an inside joke or reference to your date and the suggestion of a second. Keep it brief but sincere.” If you’re feeling especially bold, don’t be afraid to pick
It’s easy to reveal too much to someone behind a computer screen.
up the phone. “Nothing compares to hearing another’s voice to rev the imagination and spark anticipation for a second meeting,” Grish says.

Step 3: Remove your technologically-assisted communication training wheels
No matter whether you choose an email or the phone to respond to your new flame, Grish recommends keeping in mind that neither matches up to face-to-face contact when it comes to forging intimacy at the proper pace. “Remember that three emails do not equal three dates,” she notes. “It’s very easy to feel close to someone behind a computer screen and reveal too much about yourself or move into cruise control before you’re even in first gear. Using technology is a means by which you connect, not a means by which you define your relationship.” Bottom line: Use technology to reconnect, but get offline as soon as you can so that you can have another wonderful in-person encounter. Remember that it’s just like the old Marvin Gaye song: “Ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby.”

Step 4: Plan an outside-the-box second date
While it’s easy to go the dinner-and-a-movie route for date number two, Grish suggests coming up with a plan that involves something a bit more original. “I always like afternoon dates as a second date versus an evening date, which is usually the first date,” she explains. “An afternoon date allows you to enjoy yourself without the scrim of too many martinis and a dimly lit room.” Hit a museum, favorite shopping area or historic district, or tap into one of the many interests listed in your profiles to come up with ideas. If he has a fondness for boats, charter a fishing cruise for the day. Do you love flowers? Why not go for a picnic in the park or visit your local botanical gardens together?

Regardless of which activity you chose, Grish advises against planning a date involving situations that foster instant or rushed intimacy. “Avoid dates that occur in either of your homes and definitely away from the bedroom,” she cautions. “Additionally, avoid introducing each other to family right away; this could be interpreted as your having your eye on a wedding prize.” Whatever you plan, choose something that will ensure that your courting ritual is a slow and steady climb, she says. You’re pacing yourself for the long haul, after all!

Chelsea Kaplan is deputy editor of and regularly appears as a guest on XM Radio’s “Broad Minded.” Her blog, “I’m Somebody’s Mother?” can be found at
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