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7 Steps to Take After a Great First Date to Guarantee a Second One

Heed this expert advice and you're far more likely to land another date.

No pressure or anything, but first impressions are pretty important. While it's not impossible to maintain someone's interest after a bad first date, it's definitely more challenging. In fact, a 2022 survey found that 11 percent of Americans have straight up walked out on a first date. Respondents reported that the top reasons they might avoid going out with someone again are if their date was rude to wait staff, on their phone a lot, or talked about their exes too much. In other words, if your behavior is kind and respectful, you're off to a good start. Still, experts agree there are some key steps to take after a great first date.

The idea here is to maintain some momentum in the chemistry and connection and, of course, pave the way for that sought-after second date. Rule number one? Make sure your date knows where you stand.

"People want to feel appreciated and pursued," says Suzannah Weiss, a dating coach and resident sexologist for Biird. "You may be worried about whether your date is interested in you, but they may shy away if they're not sure you're interested in them. Most people are looking for someone who is considerate and thoughtful, and post-date communications can go a long way toward demonstrating these qualities."

Here are some more expert tips on what to do after a first date if you're hoping for a second one.

RELATED: 7 Body Language Signs That Mean Someone Is Attracted to You, According to Therapists.

Express some gratitude.

A young happy woman is in a restaurant on a Valentines date with her boyfriend.

Experts agree that gratitude can really help solidify that positive first impression. It shows that you not only appreciate the little things but that you can express your appreciation in a way that will make your potential future partner feel seen and valued.

"It helps build a warm and solid foundation for whatever future you two might have," explains Jonathan Hartley, a relationship coach with PositivesDating.

Weiss suggests following up over text to thank them for buying your drinks or paying for dinner if applicable. You could also thank them for traveling to the other side of the city or for walking you home at the end of the night.

At the very least, Hartley says you can simply thank them for an amazing night or for taking the time out of their schedule to meet up.

Show your interest.

Woman on phone call

Ideally, you also want to let your date know that you're still interested. After all, they're not a mind reader—so even if they had a stellar time with you, they may wonder if the feeling is mutual. Giving them some reassurance that you enjoyed the date can put their mind at ease while also opening up the door for a discussion about meeting up again.

Rachel DeAlto, a relationship expert at Stir and author of Relatable: How to Connect with Anyone Anywhere (Even if It Scares You), suggests saying something along the lines of: "I had a great time tonight! Looking forward to continuing our conversation."

You could also say something as simple as, "Really enjoyed getting to know you last night. I think my favorite part was [XYZ]."

Respect their space.

Shot of a young woman using a smartphone and having coffee in the kitchen at home

No matter how psyched you are about how your date went, it's important to be patient rather than rushing into things. According to Magda Kay, founder of the School of Intimacy, moving too fast after a first date can lead to unrealistic expectations—and hinder your ability to notice any red flags.

"Great things take time to develop," Weiss agrees. "Even if you're totally sold and willing to jump right in, your date might not be. Be considerate and meet them where they're at. Don't rush physical or emotional intimacy. Stick with polite expressions like 'you're fun to talk to' rather than lofty statements like 'I could really see this going somewhere.'"

De Alto adds that bombarding your date with texts may be enough to drive them away. "Let the conversation flow naturally," she says. "Often, the initial spark can be stomped out with overkill. You want to give the connection the space to grow."

Show you were listening.

young couple hanging out and walking in Greenwich Village - New York, USA.

One of the smartest moves you can make after a first date is to refer to something you talked about during your time together. "This demonstrates that you were engaged and interested," says DeAlto.

For instance, let's say they recommended a book or TV show. DeAlto suggests letting them know you started it and saying something like, "Loving it already!" Or, if they mentioned that they had a job interview coming up that week, wish them good luck.

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Don't play games.

man holding smartphone texting message or play mobile game

There's no need to leave your date on read, avoid texting them for three days after your date, or otherwise play hard to get. While it may feel like a power move, all these tactics really do is leave your date feeling insecure and uncertain of your interest. And ultimately, that may make them question whether it's worth pursuing your connection.

"It's important not to play games or overthink things," says Kay. "If you had a good time on a date, just let the other person know. Being straightforward avoids confusion and helps both parties understand where they stand."

Focus on self-care.

Young woman spending free time home
eldar nurkovic/Shutterstock

After a great first date, it's normal to feel a little anxious. After all, you're already emotionally invested in this person but still unsure about where it's heading. In order to maintain a healthy, balanced perspective, Kay says it's crucial to prioritize self-care.

"Take some time for yourself to stay grounded and relaxed," she suggests. "This approach helps navigate the dating process with a clear mind and without undue pressure or expectations."

Making sure you get enough sleep, continuing to participate in the hobbies you enjoy, and making plans with friends are just a few examples. These simple acts of self-care can help to remind you that no matter what happens with your date, your life can still be joyful and fulfilling.

Suggest a second date idea.

Man taking a phone call while walking

This probably goes without saying, but if you had a stellar time on a first date, you'll definitely want to keep the ball rolling by suggesting a second.

Weiss recommends saying something like, "I'd love to move forward if you're open to meeting up again," or "Would be fun to go out again next week if you're down for that."

Better yet, consider making a suggestion for a specific plan, says DeAlto. If your date mentioned that they spent a summer in Spain, you might suggest meeting up for some tapas. Or, if they told you that they love being outdoors, you might invite them to have a picnic or take a hike with you.

If your date said they enjoy seeing live music, DeAlto suggests texting them something like, "There's a great jazz bar I know that one of my favorite artists is playing next week—want to check it out?" She says, "This shows initiative and thoughtfulness."

It not only takes the burden off the other person to come up with a fun date plan but also demonstrates that you were paying attention during the conversation.

Rebecca Strong
Rebecca Strong is a Boston-based freelance health/wellness, lifestyle, and travel writer. Read more
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