Did you have a really good first date? The conversation flowed easily. You laughed for hours. You told each other your best stories. Maybe you shared some personal stuff. You went to a second place for a drink or took a romantic stroll by the lake or around town. Perhaps you held hands or even kissed. You totally connected.
You both admitted that it was a good date. You thanked each other. Perhaps you sent flirty texts the next morning. There were hints of doing it again soon.
Then a week goes by … and nothing! There are work excuses and child custody schedules and vacations. It becomes clear: You are not getting a second date.
What did you do wrong?
Here’s the frustrating answer: Absolutely nothing! The truth is that you were a good date. The person did enjoy your company. For whatever reason, it didn’t materialize into more. Why? Why? Why? Maybe the timing was off. Or she wanted to give Thursday’s date a chance. He’s newly divorced and not ready to get serious with someone. Or he or she thought, “This will never work, but I might as well have fun on this date.” You just didn’t click in a big romantic way for a big relationship.
There’s a psychology we don’t often acknowledge in dating. That’s our desire to “win” the date. Just like we want to ace a job interview, we want to consider the date a success. We want to be good company. We want the other person to like us. We can’t help but find common connections, such as: “You like peach cobbler? Me too!” or “I can’t believe you also went on a cruise to Jamaica the summer of 2006. What was the name of your boat?”
It’s human nature to seek validation from our date. “So you like me, right? And you theoretically would want to see me again, right? Woohoo! I won. I’m a successful dater!”
The confusion happens when we think that all that attention is sincere romantic interest. How can you tell the difference? Sometimes you can’t. Your date likely was genuinely interested in you. He or she just didn’t know yet in what capacity. That’s why it’s helpful to adopt a carefree attitude until it’s clear you’re both interested in developing a relationship. That could be by the third date or third month. In the meantime, like the songs say, don’t give away your heart too quickly.
Believe it or not, there’s an upside to experiencing all these wonderful first dates that never materialize into second ones. It’s proof that you’re good company! People like you. It’s just a matter of finding the right person who’s in the right place to share more good times with you. So keep on practicing.
About the Author:
Sarah Elizabeth Richards is a journalist and the author of Motherhood, Rescheduled: The New Frontier of Egg Freezing and the Women Who Tried It. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Marie Claire, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Slate, and Salon.