Couple lovingly holding hands on a romantic dinner date

Second Date Danger Zone

by Eharmony Editorial Team - February 17, 2010

Congrats! You had a successful first date, now it's time to keep from running too far ahead in this new dating endeavor.

Congratulations! In your quest for meaningful romance, things are starting to look up. You recently went on a first date, and it must have gone well because you now have plans for a second.

That means it’s a really good time to take a deep breath and make sure both feet are in contact with the ground. If that seems to you like a downburst of rain on your parade, it isn’t meant to be. On the contrary, the purpose is to maximize your chances of creating a successful future relationship by pointing out potential hazards in the road.

Danger arises when you treat a second date as a shot from a starter pistol to signal that the race for romance is on. In reality, you’d be jumping the gun to take off running just yet. For one thing, after just one date, you are still just getting warmed up. Furthermore, if there is a “race” to run, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Better not to burn out in the first mile.

The truth is, a second date would be better described as a “second first date.” Think of it as version 1.5 of a new software release—mostly the same, but with slight upgrades and a few of the bugs worked out. For instance, the worst of the awkward uncertainty is behind you. You’ve settled the question of compatibility on the most basic level—neither of you counted the seconds until the evening ended. So far so good. But not nearly good enough to disable your firewall and hand over your password.

Here are two things to remember on a second date:

Be cautious about getting too personal too soon. The quickest way to get ahead of yourself early in a new relationship is to let the conversation wander into territory that’s highly personal. But remember: You don’t yet know how trustworthy your date is! Now is not the time to play Truth or Dare, confess your sins, or to disclose your secret fantasies. There is still plenty of “public domain” details left to discover about each other—no need to open the safe and reveal your classified information.

One way to be sure you maintain control over conversation content is to decide what you’d like to discuss before you go out. What are the unanswered questions left over from your first date? Focus on those and you’ll be less likely to regret saying too much.

Handle chemistry with care. Romantic attraction and sexual energy—which can show up anytime, ready or not—are a lot like rocket fuel. They possess the potential energy to lift you into orbit—or to explode in a ball of flame on the launch pad before you’re even aboard the ship. The key is to keep away from the ignition switch until you’ve worked your way through the pre-flight checklist, your seatbelt is securely fastened, and you are sure you’re ready. In other words, too much physical intimacy on a second date often creates confusion at a time when you’re seeking clarity.

Want your second date to lead to a third . . . and a fourth? Pace yourself. Slow down, and enjoy the deliberate and delightful unfolding of your new relationship.