Man and woman hiking together as example for second date

How To Ace the Second Date and Make it Memorable

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by eharmony Editorial Team - November 22, 2023

It’s a basic everyday story, two people decide to go on a date to see if there’s any chemistry and they end up hitting it off. Now what obviously follows is they, or may not, decide to go on a second date. You may wonder, are second dates really that different from the others?

Second dates can often be a more important event than the first. But what does a second date mean in practical terms? Let’s take a look at some tips and perspectives on the lesser-considered second date in this guide.

Why the second date is actually more important than the first

Second dates tend to differ from first dates in several ways. It’s a common saying that first dates feel like interviews. And this isn’t that far off. We tend to use first dates to quickly vet a potential partner, so we don’t waste our emotional bandwidth on building a connection.

So, while the first date is typically about getting to know each other and establishing whether there’s a connection, the second date tends to start building the foundation of a genuine relationship.

How to ask for a second date

Are you stuck on how to ask for a second date after the first went well? We take an in-depth look at how and when to ask for a second date and get it.

Here are 5 ways the second date is actually more important than the first.

You’ll be more comfortable with each other on your second date

Those first-date jitters can often get to you and put a little bit of a strain on the event. However, it’s natural for you both to be a little nervous.

But by this time, you’ll already have gotten past the getting-to-know-you ritual so figuring out what to talk about on a second date won’t be as stilted an experience. The conversation will flow easier and you’ll probably explore deeper aspects of each other’s personality and get a better idea of your chemistry.   

The 2nd date is an indicator that they’re interested

People often agree to first dates because they’re open to exploring the possibility of attraction and a deeper connection, but second dates mean they’ve already formed a solid interest in you as a potential partner.

Now it’s just about exploring other aspects of your possible compatibility. This can be encouraging but it’s important to realize this part is just as make-or-break as your first date.    

You’ll delve further into each other’s personal lives

Now that you’ve already gone over what each other does for a living, how many siblings you have, weekend interests and your favorite music, it leaves the conversation open to go down much more interesting pathways.

So get ready for deeper conversation where you explore each other’s passions, ideas on things and just generally what makes the other tick. But the second date is also a time when hidden red flags inevitably emerge. 

The question of intimacy and boundaries may come up on a second date

Sex and intimacy are topics that are intrinsically bound with the notion of dating and second dates are often when you two may choose to explore that, either verbally or gesturally. The question, do you kiss on the second date, or perhaps go even further may be going through your mind.

People looking for relationships are more likely to go on second dates

People who are ready or actively looking for a serious relationship have been shown to be more willing to go on second dates. And this trend is just growing with time. A recent eharmony report found that 35% of respondents were looking for a serious relationship in 2023, which is quite a spike from last year’s figure of just 22%1.

Our top 6 second date tips

Now that you understand how much more important second dates can be than the first, you may realize there are a lot more things to consider for your second date. A lot about that date is going to depend on your individual chemistry and sometimes, just dumb luck.

But here are some ways you try to stack your odds and make it a special and memorable event.

1. Knowing what topics to talk about

During your first date, you were likely too busy getting to know each other and exploring the possibility of chemistry to have a proper conversation where you go a little deeper.

While you should be guided by how the conversation organically flows and your commonalities, a recent survey by the financial company Balance found that the three most inappropriate topics during second dates were marriage, career and children2.   

2. Pick a more exciting activity this time

First dates are generally simple and laid back. Most generally opt for a quick coffee, a walk in the park or just a drink at a bar. The second date is your chance to spice things up with a more elaborate and personalized second date idea.

If they like the outdoors, organize a little picnic for them and a breathtaking view as a backdrop or take them on a tour of your favorite spots in the city. 

3. Show that you listened during your last date

Nothing shows genuine interest and your potential as a partner better than remembering the things they told you on your first date.

It could be as simple as ordering something for them at a restaurant that they mentioned was their favorite, playing their top artists on the radio when you pick them up or asking them to elaborate a bit more on a personal story that they told you last time. 

4. How long should a 2nd date last?

While first dates range between 1-2 hours, a second date will generally last a little bit longer to give you two more time to explore more personal aspects of each other’s lives. So about 2-5 hours seems like a good rule of thumb. 

However, depending on how well the date goes and the intensity of your connection, there’s no real limit on how long second dates should last. Just go with the flow and see where the day takes you.

5. How to know if you can initiate intimacy on your second date

If you’re wondering, do you kiss on the second date, there’s no international rule on the matter. Many younger singles are even quite comfortable with sex by second dates, depending on their level of chemistry.

You can get a hint of where the other person is at in terms of intimacy through their body language and if they’re more openly flirtatious with you. However, the first and most crucial factor to always consider is consent so perhaps just have a frank discussion with them about it.

6. Be authentic and vulnerable

While you may have put on a slight front of wit and charm during your first date, this is natural. Second dates are a chance to be more yourself. Rather than being performative, try to exchange more candidly, embrace awkward silences and be braver about sharing your feelings and being vulnerable about topics. Show them the real person they’ll be dating, for better or for worse. 

5 important second date no-no’s

Now that we’ve covered the best ways to approach second dates and their significance in the dating process, let’s look at what not to do on a second date and after it or you may risk having your new romance fizzle before it gets a chance to go anywhere:

  1. Don’t be overly loving or familiar – Even if your first date went really well, don’t start immediately acting like you’re a couple on the second date. Coming off that strong can seem desperate and socially inept. It may even cause them to start looking at the first date through a different lens. Keep the pace relaxed and casual.
  2. Have a consistent personality – While you may have been a little more witty and charming on your first date, it’s important that you were still authentic. Because showing up to your second date with a wildly different personality is going to make the other person see you at best, as insincere, and at worst, psychologically unstable. 
  3. Don’t wait too long to set up another date – Many people wonder how long to wait after a second date to suggest a third. The general consensus is 2-5 days. More than a week and your connection may lose momentum or they might feel like you’re not interested and move on. You should also stay in contact with them during this interim with the odd message (especially right after the date to say you enjoyed it). 
  4. Never pressure them – This should go without saying, but pressuring your date to go further than they’re comfortable in terms of affection is a giant waving red flag and the easiest way to halt a date in its tracks. The sexual pace should always be mutually agreed on.
  5. Don’t go in with unreasonable expectations – Just because you had a great first date and felt an instant connection, don’t create unreasonable expectations for your second date. The other person may not share your perspective, which can be embarrassing and emotionally painful. Instead, approach fledgling relationships with cautious optimism.

 But at the end of the day, the dos and don’ts of second dates can often vary from person to person.

Try not to overthink what should happen on a second date

The most important thing to remember on your second date – and really in all of your romantic interactions in life – is to have fun with it. You’re trying to find love, and when it comes to love, each person’s journey to it is a unique adventure. So just enjoy that a second date feels deeper, less stilted, more laidback and that the connection just seems to flow more easily between you two. After all, this could just end up being one of the thousands of dates you two end up sharing.

Every second date starts with a first date, which starts when two people experience a certain connection. At eharmony, we excel at helping our relationship-seeking members more easily find and foster those connections through our versatile platform and a Compatibility Matching System that helps someone on eharmony find love every 14 minutes. So start looking for someone to share your journey with today. Join eharmony.

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