Think about it: While there may be a little stress or social anxiety, first dates are relatively easy and stress-free because there are no real expectations. But, if you’ve planned for a second date, expectations are slowly starting to creep in—and there’s pressure to live up to them.
So what does a second date mean to a guy? “It means the first date went well!” said Dan, 27, with a laugh.
“I’m always relieved, if I’m being honest. Even if we don’t make it to a third date or much further, at least I know my jokes landed and she thought I was good-looking or funny enough to see again.”
Justin, 22, echoed Dan’s sentiment. “I don’t find first dates stressful at all, but if she agrees to a second date, the pressure is on! It’s almost like a movie sequel—will I be able to follow up my own first act?”
A first date is easy, and third dates are where things might start brewing—but you can’t get there without a second date.
Why is the second date so important?
For a guy, a second date usually means he experienced enough chemistry and he’s confident that he did well on the first date. He’s wondering if he can get enough of what he needs and make you happy.
“If he’s working hard on building his career or is busy with family or other responsibilities, he’ll be trying to determine whether he can win with you without compromising these priorities,” explained Carol Roderick, a dating and relationship expert.
“Can he make you smile? Do you receive his compliments or minimize them? If at a restaurant, are you enjoying the food? He’ll take credit for it as if he cooked it himself. Even if you had a say in the venue. He just wants to know that he can win with you.”
“The second date is important because these days, a first date has become more of a meeting to see if there is connection and chemistry,” added Jess McCann, relationship expert and author of “Cursed?”
“Many people go on first dates that don’t turn into seconds, so when a second date happens, it shows very high interest in each other,” McCann said.
So what does it mean if he wants a second date?
While both men and women have many of the same concerns, hopes and expectations, women may be more apt to book a second date to suss out the situation more before committing to a third. However, to a guy, a second date could mean there is already high interest on his part.
“Most guys will only go on a second date with someone who they’ve experienced a strong physical or emotional reaction to,” said McCann.
“More often than not, if a guy asks for a second date, you are likely to get asked for a third, fourth and fifth for this reason.”
Both Justin and Dan agreed that if they’re the ones booking the second date, they’ve already developed interest in their date.
“I like to ask about a second date during our first date, if it’s going well,” said Justin. “I think it’s a better, more sincere way to be transparent about how I’m feeling and to see how she’s feeling, too.”
“I feel like a second date means that we’re interested,” said Dan, “but if it’s a second date with texting and sending each other memes leading up to it, then there’s definitely something there.”
Second date expectations and tips
So what signs should you look for on a second date that might indicate it’s going well (or poorly)? The second date is where the wheels start really turning, so being on the lookout for red flags is important.
According to Roderick, a top sign to look for on a second date is a man “trying you on.”
“This is an unconscious habit that men have, and it is totally adorable,” Roderick said. “He might say something like, ‘It would be fun to take our dogs out to the park together. I bet you’d really like my dog.’”
Your gut response, if you’re into him, tends to be, “Oh wow, he’s into me. He wants me to meet his dog.” But according to Roderick, this isn’t what is happening at all.
He is just checking out in his mind, in his imagination, what it might be like to all be out in the dog park together. Roderick suggests simply noticing it, enjoying it and moving on in the conversation.
“The tendency of women is to give this some significance, and we think that things are further along than they actually are,” she said. “We come across as weird or too keen, and he’ll be taken aback.”
Just like you’d try on a new pair of expensive shoes, you want to see how they fit, but you haven’t bought them yet. According to Roderick, the big take-away here is to notice him doing it, be flattered and then let it go. Unless there is a concrete plan with a time, date and invitation, there’s no sense dreaming about long-term plans just yet.
However, that’s not to say there aren’t signs he’s doing more than just “trying you on.” The date might be going well if he:
- Talks about the next time he’ll see you. For example, he might say something along the lines of, “Next time, let’s try a Thai place!”
- Gives compliments. He may notice you wore the same necklace as the last date, or he dotes on your new haircut or outfit.
- Asks meaningful questions. Is he asking genuine questions, or is he just trying to make small talk without getting to know you?
- Makes great eye contact. Maybe he was a little shy on the first date, but by the second date he should be maintaining eye contact throughout the date.
What comes after the second date?
So, the date is over. What kinds of things are going through men’s minds?
“He wants to leave the second date clear that there is chemistry between the two of you, that he’s had at least one experience of being successful in making you happy, and he sees how you can fit into his life and other priorities without upsetting them too much,” explained Roderick.
“Let’s be honest. He’s also thinking about intimacy, but he may not bring it up yet, especially if he is really into you and is looking for something long-term,” she said. “He won’t want to screw it up.”
“By the second date, I’m usually certain if I want to continue building a relationship,” added Dan.
“Sure, sex is on my mind… but I’m looking for something long-term, and I’d rather wait before broaching the topic or moving that quickly.”
Step by step, date by date
Whether you are looking for a short-term, casual relationship or [something longer-term](), the second date usually means there were no red flags on your first date and you were each sufficiently intrigued to give it another go.
“With the first-date jitters behind you, the second date gives you a chance to be more of the real you and see more of who he really is. Just relax into it,” Roderick added.