Tagged out before I get to third.
September 11, 2009 10:30 AM   Subscribe

I can't seem to ever get to the third date.

I searched, and came across this post, and it pretty much sums up my exact experience these days. Except that I'm a guy and not a girl.

I've recently gone out with a few different girls. First dates always seem to go well, second dates seem to go (at least, in MY mind) a little better. I've always made sure to communicate (assuming that I do) that I would like to see her again, and soon. When it comes time for #3, well, #3 never comes. I call in an attempt to set something up, and never get a response. Not even the "let's be friends" schtick.

Some of these girls are ones I've met from various dating sites, but recently, they've been friends of friends who were highly recommended, so I'm not completely sure the out-of-sight, out-of-mind thing applies. Or, maybe it does. I just don't know.

Does anyone have any ideas?
posted by chrisfromthelc to Human Relations (55 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Send them flowers! Maybe it will all be for naught, but if you really like a girl make sure she knows how into her you are. Are you being upfront enough about your feelings? I'm a girl, and I love to feel wanted, and if the guy I go on a date with seems at all ho-hum about the date I'm less likely to take them up on another.

Good luck!
posted by wild like kudzu at 10:42 AM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Well it seems likely that you're doing things right on the first date. What are you doing that's different on the second date?
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 10:42 AM on September 11, 2009

From a man who goes on a lot of dates and has a tendency to meet women everywhere and has experienced the same issue: After a lot of thinking it made me realize the key is to talk less and listen more and reflect on what people are saying. Go into the first and second date with the mantra, "It's not about me!" I think the third date will be a cinch after that. Good luck to you!
posted by parmanparman at 10:44 AM on September 11, 2009 [4 favorites]

Well, remember, on a date or in a relationship, it's about "We" not "Me". I took some time to learn that but it's a profound learning moment.
posted by parmanparman at 10:45 AM on September 11, 2009 [3 favorites]

Send them flowers! (wild like kudzu)

To many people, this might seem like going overboard, and might actually decrease your chances at this stage in the game.

What exactly, do you do on these dates? What are you like, what do you talk about?
posted by ocherdraco at 10:45 AM on September 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

I'm in this boat too, so maybe I can't give you any advice. But maybe I can?

Something I've been thinking about lately is returning appropriate attention. I tend to either love (or think I'm in love or whatever) someone immediately, ignoring faults and barreling away, or being totally uninterested. I expect women to act the same way. But they rarely do, and when they do, it freaks me out.

This may seem like game playing, but I'm playing the game against myself, rather than the girl. So what I'm doing lately...I'm trying to mirror the attention the woman is giving me, but just a little less. So if I write to someone online, and it takes her 3 days to write back to me, I write her back in 3 days and 2 hours.

This may sound totally ludicrous, but I think it's a whole lot better than being like, oh great cat_pauer finally wrote back, I better write her back to let her know I'm still interested. And then bang she gets an email 10 minutes after she sent hers. That's my usual thing.

Also, another stupid ass thing I do is be overly flattering to women. If I like something, I tell them. I know, that's sort of a good thing, but I think a little of that goes a long, long way. The last woman I dated freaked out because of it. So. I'm planning on being pleasant in the future, and being friendly and talkative. But waiting a bit to hear her compliment me about something before I return the favor.

Oh yeah, and something a friend told me an ex-gf told him: emotions are stronger if you don't express them. At least, they are stronger when you don't ALWAYS express them. Another thing I do constantly. So I'm going to try to learn to keep things inside a little bit longer.

For the record, I'm FAR from a bottled up person. This is just an effort to bring me a little closer to the curve of normalcy instead of a starry eyed gushing freakoid. It's sort of making a little sense to me, why acting this way might help things along.

I'm definitely not suggesting you learn magic tricks, put women down subtlety and read The Game or weird dating theory websites. Just think about how you are coming across and make efforts to make that something that women can deal with.

Again, I'm in the same boat. This is kind of new thoughts to me that I'm lately trying to put into practice. So take it with a grain of salt. You are probably totally different from this.
posted by sully75 at 10:49 AM on September 11, 2009 [8 favorites]

Definitely more information required!

When you indicate to them at the end of the second date that you would like to see them again, how do they respond? With enthusiasm or nonchalance?

Through the course of the conversation, do you find a common activity that you both enjoy, and make tentative plans to do that together?

And, if at the end of the second date, you both seem interested, do you kiss them goodnight?
posted by unlaced at 10:51 AM on September 11, 2009

Maybe they are hoping you put out by then. Are you being too much of a gentleman?
posted by bravowhiskey at 10:55 AM on September 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

More information would be nice. Are these dates like "getting to know you" sessions? Are the women aware they are dates? Is there physical contact?
posted by Happydaz at 10:57 AM on September 11, 2009

Honestly, this is an impossible one to answer; see the above answers for all of the baffling elements that we're missing about you, your dates, and what you expect.

In an information vacuum, let me give you some tactical advice: move into the second date with a mental list of fun, interesting things that you -- and this is important -- that you are genuinely interested in doing yourself, solo but being open to company, in the next couple of weeks.

Close the second date, if it's gone well, with "hey, I'm planning to X/Y/Z on [DATE], would you care to join me?" and make a plan then, not call back later.

But it has to be things you want to do and will do regardless. As a frequently unsuccessful dater in my past life, one thing I am certain of is that both guys and girls can smell Desperation Stink a mile off, and it is the most repellent thing (other than perhaps Serial Killer Pong) in the world for a single person exploring their options.

So make your plans, invite potential dates to enjoy an experience you full well intend to enjoy anyway, and introduce them to part of your life that you're passionate about. If they take a pass on the Buster Keaton film festival or the touring rare spiders exhibit or the one-night-only live performance of Cannibal! The Musical, their loss and you can always default to the call-them-later plan to confirm absolute disinterest. But if they're interested, all the better. This way, you're coming off the (successful?) second date with a plan (people like people who have ideas, not people that call up and dither around with ...well I dunno what do YOU wanna do?... phone conversations), a date and time (as opposed to calling later with some open-ended vague wanna get together sometime maybe Thursday if you're not busy I dunno get back to me when you can) and something that you're actually excited about (rather than a rote dinner-and-a-movie dishwater date). I don't know if you do any of those things, but I did all those things, and it sucked for all parties involved. I never had a clear idea of what could be done for a third date, I always fell back on dull dinner-and-a-movie stuff, I wasn't showing people the real me, and I wasn't getting to know the real them.

And if they defer or refuse, do the damn thing anyway. Because (a) you wanted to go see the Lego Replica of Myrmidion Exhibit anyway, and (b) if Person-In-Question has a last-minute change of heart and shows up and you're not there... desperation stink.
posted by Shepherd at 11:02 AM on September 11, 2009 [13 favorites]

Response by poster: @ocherdraco:

The last one, we initially met up for coffee in a nice little plaza area near us both, and walked over to another cafe to grab a bite to eat. We talked about all of the "normal" stuff with advanced topics here and there. At the end of the date, before I could ask to see her again, she let me know she was free Tuesday (this was on a Friday before).

Come Tuesday, she let me know early in the day that she had some last minute happy hour plans with a friend from out of town, but would be available by the time we had planned on getting together, and that we could meet up in the area. So, we meet up, go get sushi, and have a couple of drinks afterward. Conversation will a little deeper (mostly of her choosing); religious beliefs, political, etc., along with the random "Oh, do you like $thing?". The whole date was nothing too extended, because she had work early the next day, and I was doing some website maintainance at midnight. I made sure to let her know that I wanted to see her again, and asked when she would be available. She told me what day (which has come and gone), and I told her that I would call her to set something up.

So, a couple of days before, I called her, and got no response to a message left on voicemail. Early in the day of, I sent a text asking "Hey, I haven't heard from you. Are you still able to hang out tonight?", and of course, no response. Not a "Sorry, my dog died" or "I had to wash my hair" or even a "I don't think we're a good match".

Like I said, the last couple of girls have been an almost carbon-copy situation.
posted by chrisfromthelc at 11:03 AM on September 11, 2009

To me, it sounds like she is/they are flaky. Having a good time, but are busy people, and aren't really making space in their lives for this sort of thing. Lots of people are this way.

Keep trying. You're doing the right things. Having a firm idea for a next date at the end of each one is a good idea—it lowers the threshold of action required for them to say yes. Eventually you'll reach someone who's on top of things, and who will actually get back to you.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:07 AM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Do you communicate between dates, or just call when setting up a new one? E-mails saying "Had a great time last night. Hope your day is going well!" go a long way in making people feel connections. Dates are great, but for me they're jumbled meetings unless there's communication in between to keep things going.

Not TOO much - don't text 8 times a day - but an e-mail asking about her day would be nice. It gets a conversation going and keeps you on her mind.
posted by caveat at 11:09 AM on September 11, 2009 [4 favorites]

Since these are friends-of-friends, have you just asked your friends to see if they heard any feedback? It's likely they did.

On AskMe, when people ask how to end a casual relationship/acquaintance/friendship/whatever, a lot of people advise that they just disappear without answering a call or email. It's pretty rude, as you are experiencing. So, I think you have to ask yourself, do you really want a person who doesn't have enough courage or empathy to just say, "Hey I had a great time, but I this isn't a good match for me"?

It's very possible that you've just had a string of bad experiences. Nothing wrong with you, but just striking out a few times in a row so that it makes you think there's something specific you are doing to cause it.
posted by Houstonian at 11:11 AM on September 11, 2009

Just a thought, feel free to ignore this if it isn't useful: people tend to overinterpret a "streak" (good or bad) as highly meaningful. As the popular mathemetician John Allen Paulos has explained, this can result from misperceptions about probability. For instance, people instinctively assume that an athlete who wins a lot of games in a row must be an all-around amazing athlete, but that conclusion may simply be unfounded. There are going to be lucky or unlucky streaks because that's just what happens sometimes with probability and life. This is all on top of the fact that going on a date with someone is always likely to go nowhere (even if you're a catch, not making any major blunders, etc.). None of this is to take away from specific tips others might have, but I just wanted to add a reality check that there might not be much of a problem at all.
posted by Jaltcoh at 11:14 AM on September 11, 2009 [18 favorites]

Jaltcoh is spot on.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:17 AM on September 11, 2009

Response by poster: @Happydaz:
Yes, in fact, "this date" or "our last date" was used several times by both sides. It was crystal clear what the intent was.

In all of the recent cases, we were both churchgoing Christians. Sex isn't really on the table, and I severely doubt that is an issue with either of these girls.

I didn't kiss goodnight. The latest one (which I detailed the scenario) offered a hug goodnight on both dates, so I'm not sure if that says "friend/brother" or "kiss me already".

I've thought about that. I do web trend analysis as part of my job, so it definitely entered my mind. At the same time, when a bad streak is happening work-wise, I want to know EXACTLY why it is happening, and what I can do to sidestep it next time.
posted by chrisfromthelc at 11:19 AM on September 11, 2009

Honestly, this does not sound like wildly uncommon luck for someone who's out there, dating, looking to meet someone. You say "the last couple of girls" -- so -- three or four girls you've met have gone on two dates with you and nothing more? You just sort of have to go through this. I don't think there's anything you're doing wrong, per se, in fact, the getting to a second date means you're probably doing everything right, and these girls just aren't feeling a "spark" -- and honestly, perhaps you're not either? You don't mention being particularly wild and/or crazy about any of these girls.

Think about it this way. In the world of folks who are dating, looking for a relationship, first dates are kind of exciting, kind of exhausting, and sort of a whirlwind. If you go on enough, you find that if it isn't a horrible experience, it's hard to know how much you like the person, because you know that the first date dance is sort of like meeting an alien copy of the person you're meant to be meeting, it's just how it goes.

Don't take it personally, and hang in there. Maybe flirt a little more before dating, maybe only ask out girls that REALLY interest you and seem to be interested back. The bonus to this strat: Much more satisfying dates. The negative: There will not be very many dates. If many of your dates aren't all that fun, then maybe that ain't so much a negative, when you think about it. That's probably very irritating advice, I'm sorry, but in my experience, it really is not you, it's why the dating scene is considered unpleasant by so many.
posted by pazazygeek at 11:20 AM on September 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

Not to be discouraging, but I wouldn't be totally sure that things are going right on the first date. The other person might be pretty unsure after the first date but will go out with you a second time just in case they are missing something. If the second date goes the same way as the first, they know that they don't need a third.
posted by grouse at 11:25 AM on September 11, 2009 [9 favorites]

Hang in there. Good tips are to ask questions and listen on the first dates. Also, I like the idea of finding an event based on the interests SHE has told you, and making a second or third date around that.
posted by xammerboy at 11:30 AM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

My guess (knowing nothing about these women & you & how the dates actually panned out) is that it's a chemistry thing. The first date goes well, but they aren't feeling it. They decide to give it another go because they think you're a nice guy. Second date they have a fine time, nothing terrible, but they still aren't feeling it. But they don't want to say that out loud because it seems rude. So they don't respond - which is still rude, but is easier for them because it avoids any sort of awkward conversation and they think you'll get the hint. Perhaps they've had a bad time trying to have this conversation before - who knows. The reality is, most of the time dates don't turn into relationships.
posted by witchstone at 11:32 AM on September 11, 2009

Send them flowers!

No. This is not what flowers are for. Flowers before you are in a Relationship are about as effective as mailing her your severed thumb with a note that says "I LIKE YOU DO YOU LIKE ME I SURE HOPE IT'S A "THUMBS UP" LOL ☺"

I really hate saying this, but if you are dating a "normal" subset of women, and you want to see them again, and they're not interested in you after two dates, you are probably doing something wrong. While some women may have a "thing" that prevents them from going on a third date with Olympic Medalist and Millionaire Philanthropist Johnny Perfect, it's unlikely that this is the case. This is not fun for me to say or for you to hear, I am certain, but it's true.

How is your hygiene? Does you floss and brush twice a day? Do you dress nicely or are you wearing a t-shirt and sneakers? Do you listen when they are talking or do you just talk about yourself? Is your car clean? Do you stay in decent shape? Do you talk about anime?

I know, I know: people are supposed to love us who we are, and I think most people are pretty forgiving about the weaknesses of others - but that's usually after you're already in a relationship. I don't think you should lie about who you are, but you do need to be in top fucking form when you're looking for a mate. I'm sorry I can't say anything more specific, but I know nothing about you. Good luck.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:51 AM on September 11, 2009 [25 favorites]

You sound a little stiff. Flirt more. Look for the signs that she's receptive to it. If you're not getting them, don't try harder.

Also, this might not be your thing, but next time try meeting up for a drink...
posted by milinar at 11:52 AM on September 11, 2009

In all of the recent cases, we were both churchgoing Christians. Sex isn't really on the table, and I severely doubt that is an issue with either of these girls.
This may be part of the problem. You are both probably looking for someone you're serious about. By the third date, they're probably thinking, "This person is of my same religious background and also looking for something serious. Do I really want to go out with him a third time and get myself entrenched in a serious relationship?" There's going to be less of a willingness to say to oneself, "Hey, I'll keep going out with this person and see where it goes."
posted by deanc at 12:17 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

This could just be the dating behavior of these people, but you can't do anything about that, so examining your own behavior is the next step. The only thing that leaped out at me as a possible deal breaker are the discussion about slightly deeper topics like religion and politics.

Did you agree or disagree about those? If you disagreed, were you very passionate or somewhat wishy-washy about your perspective? Both of those responses could turn some people off. Those personalities would probably respond better if you come across as committed to your perspective, but also interested in different views. If you think your approach to these issues and the intensity of your response weren't an issue, then you could chalk it up to some people just can't abide differences when it comes to these topics. They don't see a point in pursuing things further because of the topic's importance in their life.

Let's say you agreed about these topics, and your date had no issue with how you expressed your views. Some people are more into the opposites attract thing, and they may have felt you were too similar. They need the tension, and for some people chemistry, that differences create.

Maybe this has nothing to do with it. It seems these days many people are quick to discard a potential partner over subtle things that would not matter at all to another person. Trying to figure out what those things would be and trying to change those, however, will drive you mad and make you self-conscious. So, please, don't do that. I'm afraid this isn't terribly helpful, but really the only person who can tell you why these girls didn't go for the third date are these girls, and they may all have wildly divergent reasons. Actually, your experience sounds pretty common to me. Most people I know are happy to give someone two dates before making up their mind, but that third date is a lot tougher to snag. It doesn't mean you're doing anything wrong. It just means you haven't meant the woman for you yet. That's frustrating sometimes, but dating is all about time and patience. Lots and lots of patience. Make sure you do things you enjoy on these dates, so even if they don't lead anywhere, you can still say you had fun. Good luck!
posted by katemcd at 12:25 PM on September 11, 2009

The only thing that leaped out at me as a possible deal breaker are the discussion about slightly deeper topics like religion and politics. Did you agree or disagree about those?

From the OP's follow-up: "In all of the recent cases, we were both churchgoing Christians."
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:29 PM on September 11, 2009

I think Shepherd is half right (btw, lol @ the Buster Keaton movie marathon). You definitely need to have a plan. "I don't know, what do you want to do" is such SUCH a turn-off. But, asking me to tag along to something that you're interested that you were planning to do anyway is not a date.

When it comes to planning the second date, you should be totally set. You've had a first date with this girl, and you should have been finding out about things that interest her. Now that you know a few things that she likes, plan something that you think she will enjoy (you should enjoy it, too, obviously). If you always go see xyz band, and ask if she wants to go, that date is not special. She is wondering how many other girls you've brought there. Further down the line, she'll feel special when you invite her into your world and show her the things that you like to do. But for a second or third date, you should be planning special things that are specific to the two of you, eg, on the first date you discovered that you both like blah-blah, and there's a new blah-blah exhibit opening. She wants to feel like you are planning dates for her, not for whatever girl you happen to be dating.

Now, when you say that the girl "let you know she was free on Tuesday," then what happened? Were you like, "Oh well, we should do something, I'll give you a call." Or were you like, "Okay great, Tuesday it is, I'll find something cool for us to do and give you a call on Sunday to let know when/where/what the dress code will be." (The dress code part is my wishful-thinking.) A really, really amazing thing in dating is when a guy gives you an actual day and/or time when he'll call, and then does. When a guy says to me "I'll give you a call sometime" or "Talk to you soon," it's almost like he's saying "I'm not that interested in you, I mean kind of, but I'll feel bad if you're expecting to hear from me, because I might not, so don't hold your breath for my call." When a guy says "I'll call you on Tuesday night" and he actually fucking does, it is like the thrill of a lifetime.

Otherwise, I've seen among my girlfriends a kind of second-date-phobia. I believe that first dates are awkward and really not a good medium for getting to really know a person, so unless there is something really wrong with a guy, I'll always go on a second date, regardless of whether there was a "spark." But it seems like a lot of girls are almost relieved when they can come up with an excuse not to go out with a guy again -- "he was kind of quiet." There's nothing you can really do about this, but if this is why you're not getting subsequent dates, know that you're missing out only on girls who are insecure or afraid of life or whatever it is.
posted by thebazilist at 12:32 PM on September 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

Whoa whoa, don't send flowers. If I want to see someone the 3rd time, I'll make sure I do. If I don't, then flowers will annoy me, make me feel bad for not liking them, and then it's just a waste of your money.

From what you said, it just seems like the girl was sort of interested in you, and wanted to be interested, but then when it came down to it, she just wasn't - whether it was because of you, or because she's not over her ex and can't think of even dating other guys, or whatever, so she didn't want to spend time on a 3rd date. Dating sucks. I was the one who posted the 2nd and 3rd date question you linked to. I found that if you meet someone, either online or through a friend for the purpose of dating, you come across this 2nd and 3rd date problem that we're both having. If you meet someone randomly and talk to them without it being a date and already know you're interested in them, then you're more likely to actually date longer. So as people said to me, it's a numbers game until you come across someone you like who likes you back, and when you finally get past that early stage where you're counting dates then it's great. Of course, there's still a chance that 6 months later they just totally stand you up and disappear and don't return your phone calls and you never hear from them again and don't know why, but once again, just keep trying until someone actually sticks around for good.

Man, too much of my life is on the internet.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 12:36 PM on September 11, 2009

Response by poster: @Optimus Chyme:
Yes, I shower/shave/dress appropriate/etc.

Jaltcoh is correct in assuming that our beliefs (religion/politics/etc.) lined up.

My response was "Well, I'd love to get together with you again. Can I call you in the next two days to make a plan?". Getting the open-ended "I'll call you!" annoys me, so I try to be as specific as possible without coming off as being anal or unrealistic.

I do not, have never, nor do not plan on ever sending flowers before the third date. :D
posted by chrisfromthelc at 12:47 PM on September 11, 2009

Response by poster: @KateHasQuestions, we should totally go out. But, only on two dates...why break a trend, right? :D
posted by chrisfromthelc at 12:50 PM on September 11, 2009

Okay, so you're a statistics and trends guy, so you're also an odds guy (not an odd guy.)

Most people meet and decide to try dating without knowing they have things in common, other than some kind of chemistry that drives them to try it out. So in that sense, they have something in common in the chemistry.

Even then, odds are good that it won't work out, because that's how people are; barring some kind of desperation or enabling behavior, most people quickly realize they're not a good fit for each other. That their original attraction was based on chemistry makes it more likely they'll keep trying anyway, because nobody likes giving up that chemistry.

Now, you have a totally different scenario: you are hooking up with people that you don't have initial chemistry with (through mutual friends), so if things aren't clicking (and, as mentioned, odds are they won't) you have no reason to hang on artificially hoping things will work out.

In the parlance of gambling, people will spend a lot of time at a slot machine that hits the first thing, desperately hoping it hits again even though it probably won't, but if the slot machine doesn't hit the first few times, they'll walk away. Same slot machine, nothing wrong with either slot machine.

And so this is what it's like for people who internet date or get fixed up, based on having "things in common" (like Christianity, or being non-smokers, or whatever.) Note there is no greater chance of success in either approach, because you need both chemistry and common interests to make a relationship work, and both approaches are playing to the odds of finding a person that has both.

However, the relationships based on initial chemistry will last longer before they fail. Which means, overall, if you do what you're doing now (a few dates, then nothing if there's no chemistry) you'll get more dates in the same span of time as you'd get if you took the other approach.

In short, keep doing what you're doing, except (politely) make a move on the second date at the end of the night, to give chemistry a chance to spark.
posted by davejay at 1:30 PM on September 11, 2009

er, different slot machines, nothing wrong with either slot machine
posted by davejay at 1:31 PM on September 11, 2009

One thing that's jumped out at me - did you wait to contact this last girl until a couple days before the designated next-date-day?

Because yeah, I would be pretty confused and turned off by that. Definitely send an email or a text or whatever like, the next day saying, "I had a great time last night! XXX was a lot of fun/scary/tasty!" The point is to develop sort of a low-level flow of conversation that leads more organically to date opportunities.

Or, these girls could just be flakes.
posted by muddgirl at 1:54 PM on September 11, 2009

Does anyone have any ideas?

Keep trying. It isn't you, its the process. You gotta go through a bunch to find the right one.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:21 PM on September 11, 2009 [3 favorites]

In all of the recent cases, we were both churchgoing Christians.

Then three dates may seem like a big commitment to them, and they don't want to waste their time or yours with a relationship that doesn't feel right.

So keep doing your thing.

I mean, yeah, I'm a churchgoing Christian who thinks third date is the sex date, but clearly if you "don't kiss goodnight" you go to a different Christian church than mine, and your dates may have similar boundaries to yours.

I doubt you're doing anything "wrong"--if you don't dig them and they don't dig you, why keep dating? That said, it's spectacularly rude to just not return calls rather than letting the person know, politely, that you don't think you're a match. So what you've learned from this is that you dodged a few bullets in the form of rude, disrespectful people.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:30 PM on September 11, 2009

Long story short: DON'T talk about religion or politics, DON'T tell her you're not going to sleep with her

Disagree. I would want that on the table so I could let the guy know we weren't a match. There's no point dating someone who differs so profoundly from you on issues like that.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:31 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Same boat. Gave up, on the hope of the saying 'when you're not looking, the right one comes along'. In my case, I think it's because I don't open-up until I really get to know somebody, but they never give me enough time, one or two dates isn't enough to get to know someone.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 2:37 PM on September 11, 2009

From the flipside... I'm a woman who did the whole online dating thing last year and tended to bail on guys after the second date (but I was at least friendly and polite about it).

I'd agree to a first date to basically anyone who seemed like a nice, reasonable guy. And if we had a good time, or even an okay time, I'd agree to a second date. For some reason, when it came to the third date, it was decision time. I thought about whether I felt a connection with the guy and was excited to see him again, or if I was more like "he seems like a nice enough fellow but I don't really feel any chemistry." If it was the latter, I let him know that I didn't think it was going to work out. Honestly, with most of the guys who didn't get a third date, it was because they had a slight air of the Desperation Stink mentioned above. I just felt like they didn't particularily care about me, they just wanted to be dating somebody, and didn't matter who I was or if we had the same interests or whatever. No offense, but the way you wrote your question reminded me of this- it wasn't "oh, I met this pretty great gal and we seemed to get along really well and then she bailed...and something similar happened a couple of months ago. what's up with that?" It was more "why didn't I get a 3rd date with Interchangeable Available Woman?"

So, my advice? First of all, don't sweat it. Dating is hard and takes time and effort, and above all, luck. A lot of these women may not have been right for you at all, it's just that they realized it before you did. Make an effort to get to know them as individuals...instead of lining up Formulaic Date #3, if you do actually feel like things are going well, try to do something more personal...one of the best second dates I had was when a guy brought me out to Trivia Night with his elderly uncle because he knew I liked trivia.

Lastly, do you have any good female friends you could ask for advice? There might be something obvious you're missing, and strangers on the internet won't be able to help with that.
posted by emd3737 at 2:59 PM on September 11, 2009 [4 favorites]

Hey, you sound like a decent guy thats just kinda stuck in the dating scene where there are a lot of people who turn out to be flaky because they don't realize that dating and getting to know someone takes a lot of time. I don't really think you've got any fault in this, but one thing that may increase you chance at a third date is shaking up the venue somewhat. So first date you drink and eat and talk, then second date, try something more interactive like a museum or trip to a nature trail or a church volunteer activity since you mention being a church going Christian. That would give you an opportunity to not only converse but share in actions and show sides of yourself that can't necessarily cone across verbally. Be prepared to have to wait a few more days, maybe 7-9 or so, to set up a date like that since it tends to be more time consuming than grabbing a bite to eat (like you both might need to have the same day off).

Then you can call and talk about the cool stuff from your second date and have a banging conversation, and suggest a third date!

Maybe a third date could involve going together to one of youse guys's church services and then brunch afterwards?
posted by WeekendJen at 3:27 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Lastly, do you have any good female friends you could ask for advice? There might be something obvious you're missing, and strangers on the internet won't be able to help with that.

Yes. I've tried that route, actually, to no success. I get "oh, but you are such a great guy, i don't know why any girl would do something like that!".

Long story short: DON'T talk about religion or politics, DON'T tell her you're not going to sleep with her

Religion is always on the table, and I make a point to date girls that I am pretty sure of where they stand already so that particular area shouldn't be an issue. As far as politics, you're right in some regard, but my knowledge of such is minimal, and when in any conversation about it, I try to keep it light and not get into actual issues.

Sex. I would never say that I am not going to have sex (again) until I am in what seems to be a permanent relationship, or that I'm not a virgin (or ask her whether she is or not). That conversation (at least, in my sub-culture) is one that will come up when the time is right, and not something to be brought out on the first couple of dates.

I do think, though, that the OP should make sure that if he is not giving off Judgy the Judgmental Bear vibes.

I do my damnedest to not give that vibe, even if it's something I am a polar opposite on.
posted by chrisfromthelc at 3:50 PM on September 11, 2009

Are you into any of these women you've been on dates with? Maybe I missed something, but I don't hear anything about attraction/clicking etc. And as others have mentioned, are you trying to get to know your dates a little better in the time between dates? Or are your email communications solely focused on the dates? The vibe I'm getting from you in this thread is that you are concerned about getting to a third date with the same woman, but not really concerned about getting to a third date with a woman who interests you specifically (other than meeting a few criteria related to religion/politics).
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 5:13 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

That conversation (at least, in my sub-culture) is one that will come up when the time is right, and not something to be brought out on the first couple of dates.

I would encourage you to be upfront about it if you don't do kissing. That's a pretty out-of-mainstream-US dating stance, and unless people understand that this is part of a set of choices about interactions, they may get the impression that you're communicating something you don't want to communicate by that.

Have you tried dating sites that focus on your particular Christian community (or on a broader community of which that's a part)?
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:32 PM on September 11, 2009

Heck, I have a lot of time on my hands tonight. Here goes:

Were you flirtatious on these dates? Did any of these women give you hints that they were into you? If each date went sort of like a "fun interview," then I'm not surprised you didn't get date number three. Two, sure. But not number three.

First of all, this advice only applies if you genuinely find your date charming and sexually attractive. Yup, sexually. (Even if you're waiting to have sex until marriage, it is much healthier to be oh-so-attracted to someone, than it is to bind yourself for life to life with someone who you have a take-it-or-leave-it attraction to. Chemistry cannot be worked on. Great chemistry is either there, or it isn't.)

That said:

On date number one, flirt, listen, tell anecdotes about your life that are relevant to the anecdotes she shares with you. Ask questions that are opened ended (instead of yes or no questions). Talk about something crazy that happened to you this week, or something you are passionate about. Be honest about yourself, and she will hopefully be honest with you. If she shares something vulnerable about herself, share in kind. Treat her like she is a unique and interesting individual (because she is) and not a run-of-the-mill woman who fits neatly into your idea of man+woman simply because she is female. Hug when you part. A good hug, a warm hug, not one of these awkward six inches of distance between your torsos things.

The next day, email her (I hope you have her email?) and say what a great time you had. Mention how much you loved it when X happened. Pick your favorite part of the night and bring it up again. Say that you'd love to see her again soon, but you're busy. Could she get together next week? How about Friday night?

Date number two. If you did dinner and a movie on the first date, and you really like this girl, do something completely different on date number two. Suggest burgers and fries and put-put. Or if that isn't your speed, maybe go to a museum, or say you'd love to go somewhere you can both talk, and then pick a nice little Italian restaurant where you can sit for hours, do the four course meal thing, and order a bottle of wine. Just hang out. Do more talking. Ask her how her week went. If she says it was fine, respond with, nothing bad happened all week? You're lucky! And then if she responds with a story about something bad that did happen, you've got the conversation going. If nothing bad happened, you can still bring up something that happened to you. The point is to really get to know each other, and not just swap information like you are trying to see if they fit X. (BTW, these kinds of conversations will also help you know early on if she holds beliefs, etc. that are deal-breakers for you.) During the course of the night, FLIRT. Flirt with your eyes. Laugh at her jokes. When you first see her, and she looks cute or beautiful, tell her. If, by the end of the night, both of you seem to have had a great time, kiss her. Don't ram your tongue down her throat. Suck slightly on her bottom lip. Make sure you pucker. The Beverly Hillbillies gave the best advice I've ever heard on kissing: when you go in for it, just think "prune." (If you do this in front of the mirror, you'll understand.) At this point, you might have a full-on make-out session on your hands. If you don't, that's cool. She might blush, say she has to go to sleep, and then leave you.

Email her the next day. Say you were in the middle of work and you started thinking about her. Wish her a good day and say you'd love to talk soon.

If she doesn't call you on her own within 48 hours, give her a call a couple days after the email. Ask her about her week, how her life's going. Say you had a great time the last time you saw her, and how much fun you have with her. Mention something you're doing with some of your friends (maybe you're going to a ball game? something like that) and ask her if she wants to come along. I'm thinking a midday weekend event of some kind. Heck, if you're both Christians, and you go to different churches, you could express curiosity in her place of worship, or invite her along to your church or a church event. At this point, things should start becoming more relaxed, and move along a bit organically.

If you don't get a third date after all of that, color me purple.

P.S. Never, ever stop flirting with her. Even if, down the road, she becomes your wife.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 6:06 PM on September 11, 2009 [16 favorites]

You know, a lot depends on just which Christian subculture you are a part of. Some folks are really into intentionality-which means they are literally shopping for a spouse. Is that you? Or is that them?

Also, to be frank, as a Christian myself (albeit a long-married one) my friendly advice to you is that Metafilter is probably not the most helpful place to get dating advice from from a Christian perspective. Maybe you should talk to your pastor or to some older folks who know you well for an honest perspective of how you present yourself. Your peers might be holding back a bit.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:25 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

IMO, if at date #3 you're still framing things in a "hang out" kind of way, some women might take that as a subconscious "move along/he's just not that into you/it's turning into a friend-thing" cue.

Yeah, it's more casual to ask someone to hang out, but sometimes it helps to be a little more overt about your intentions. And I don't mean in some kind of suave, cheesy ladykiller kind of way. Maybe next time you get around to arranging date #3, be bold. Tell her "I'd like to take you out to dinner this week." Don't feel you have to be wishy-washy about it. You want to date her. You want to move things into a different sphere of interaction. Ask for a date date. Be confident about it. Make her feel like you're doing something special for her, because you want to, not because you have to.
posted by contessa at 6:55 PM on September 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

I do agree with the advice that you might be seeing a trend where none exists. Dating is hard work and lots of random chemistry that depends on everything from what she ate that day to how much you remind her of her dad.

However, let's just assume there is something that directly compels these ladies to bail on the third date. To be honest, chrisfromtheic, and I mean this as gently and respectfully as possible, I think you've gotten quite a few good leads in this thread that you've quite succinctly discounted. This might be because you can see everything objectively and with crystal clarity, but if that's the case, then why are you seeking our advice? I sort of wonder if the nugget of your problems is staring you right in the face and yet you've ignored or underestimated its obvious detriment to your dating life. Lots of people think they have good hygiene--in fact, few people suspect they have sub-par hygiene--who stink to high heaven. Maybe you do come off as a little too judge-y and pious. Maybe you seem too commitment-oriented, or not enough. The point is that you seem so confident that our guesses are patently wrong that I wonder if you're seeking glib reassurances that you're doing everything right rather than earnestly considering our objective guesses.

Again, I know absolutely nothing about you other than what you've told us, and if every word is true then it's probably Not You but Them. But I do suggest you comb over the details of your dates with this advice in mind and make absolutely sure you're not cavalierly discounting anything that initially seems inapplicable.
posted by zoomorphic at 7:57 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yeah, it's more casual to ask someone to hang out, but sometimes it helps to be a little more overt about your intentions.

If I could instantly pin down any one thing, this is an area I admittedly struggle with. I just don't know how I can be flirtatious without coming off creepy or cheesy-sounding. I make attempts to do it in a subtle way, but maybe that is the problem.
posted by chrisfromthelc at 8:44 PM on September 11, 2009

I just don't know how I can be flirtatious without coming off creepy or cheesy-sounding.

"I had a great time with you last week. How about dinner next Saturday?"

Confidence (not cockiness) and directness (not pushiness) beats flirting any day of the week. I sympathize, it's a fine line. Practice makes perfect.
posted by contessa at 9:26 PM on September 11, 2009

You need to kiss them goodnight at the end of the first date.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:59 PM on September 11, 2009

Have your female friends any suggestions that might help? Sometimes you have to ask the target demographic that knows you why you aren't doing so great.

For example, I had a friend who made an amazing first impression - tall, piercing blue eyes, intelligent - the whole kit and kaboodle, and the kind of guy where women keep asking 'why is he single?' He's an incredible social justice lawyer because he can throw down in court on any topic he believes in, and crush his opponents. Great if you're the wronged woman who was unfairly discriminated against in need of a lawyer, not-so-great if you're the lovely woman on a first date who's all gung ho to date a successful lawyer, and then voices an opinion he doesn't agree with. He doesn't really temper his superpower; any topic is just a wonderful opportunity to debate. He thinks they are connecting, they often just get tired of being cross examined. He was sort of a third date sort of a guy.

In the end, he sort of had the choice to dial it back a little or to date someone who considered his lawyerly style of communicating more like foreplay rather than an unnecessary fight. As I remember it, a number of his dates also didn't try the excuse route, and instead went for the freeze-out silent route to end the relationship. One friend thought it was because he would naturally cross examine them if they verbalized that the relationship wasn't working. So the women were just super polite on dates, and then just sort of didn't respond.

It seems to me that a number of us - his female friends - clarified this dynamic to him only after he specifically asked, "why am I not getting past date 3?", because before that we just said what we honestly thought - "you are a great guy and any woman would be lucky to be with you." Which is absolutely true - it just needed to be the right woman.

So maybe a female friend can give some feedback?
posted by anitanita at 10:16 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: In an ironic twist of fate, both of the last two girls (that gave me the silent treatment) contacted me this evening to make plans. Which means I have 3 different dates with three different girls over the next few days. Is the hive going around busting heads on my behalf?

And since I know someone will ask...yes, I do feel attraction to both of them. I'm not sure which I like more, as they both have varying qualities. The one remainder girl would be a first date.

(you can't make this stuff up, folks)
posted by chrisfromthelc at 10:25 PM on September 11, 2009

Jacqueline is right, although now that you're on the third date, frankly, kiss at the beginning and the end.
posted by peter_meta_kbd at 2:30 AM on September 12, 2009

LOL chris, I was just gonna say "maybe they've got a 'designated wait period'" before they give you a call back. A designated wait period, apparently, that's way longer than what you've been thinking is normal.

Have fun, good luck, and I'll say it again, HAVE FUN!!!
posted by thisperon at 3:28 AM on September 12, 2009

You need to kiss them goodnight at the end of the first date.

Yeah, no, not if he's from a religious subculture that doesn't do that. Seriously, this is like saying to a rabbi, "You know what would make your gefilte fish more delicious? Bacon!"
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:09 PM on September 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Yeah, no, not if he's from a religious subculture that doesn't do that. Seriously, this is like saying to a rabbi, "You know what would make your gefilte fish more delicious? Bacon!"

I LOL'd.

Yeah, it's certainly not out of the question. I just prefer to get to know someone a little bit before I suck face with them.

Went out with the one random girl tonight. Not a bad thing to be said, but we both agreed that we weren't what each other is looking for.

I will definitely be more upfront and intentional with the latest girl. It's time for me to man up.
posted by chrisfromthelc at 8:38 PM on September 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

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