When to Give it a Second Chance?
February 27, 2010 10:32 AM   Subscribe

How long does it take you to know you want to "date" a first date from online? Is there more i can be doing to give chemistry a try?

I know this topic has been discussed here, but I couldn't find a question addressing it specifically.

I am asking this question because I am fairly new to online dating. (I am a straight female btw ). What I am finding that happens is that I seem to know almost immediately upon seeing someone and talking to them (for a few minutes) whether I am interested in taking it further. I have gone on a 2nd, and in one case, a 3rd date with someone I didn't feel much chemistry with, but it always fizzled out. In your experience, is one date enough to tell? What are the criteria you use to determine whether you want a second date? For me, I just "know", but I am wondering if I am being too strict. When should I give it another shot and when should I not, if I'm not feeling it? What can I do on a first date to ensure I am giving the person a fair shot? Did you ever have a first (internet) date that was very "meh", only to go on to a successful relationship? I am interested in hearing your experiences. I am specifically interested in first dates where you have never met in person previously.
posted by bearette to Human Relations (19 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
There's a reason they say "first impressions matter".

If you're astute enough to know right away that something is off, then pay attention to that.
posted by Solomon at 10:46 AM on February 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

I think one of the harsh tropes of online dating is that an initial "meh" commonly prevents further dates. For better or worse, but you can use this to your advantage.

I think the smart game is in not putting too much into the initial email parts of online dating and move to the real-life meetup ASAP. Just move through everybody who seems remotely interesting, like you're trying on 100 pairs of shoes or by yourself at a party.

If you can't tell, my general advice for online dating is not to wait until someone looks really good on the screen, but to use up whatever people the site has available and be done with it. You can weed out a lot of people through pictures, since nobody is attracted to everybody, and move on the remaining, I dunno, 30%? Over years, the selection doesn't change that much.
posted by rhizome at 10:53 AM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

To me, "I'm not feeling it" = move on. Don't go on the second date. Look for people with whom you are feeling it.

I mean, there's always some chance you'll change your mind. Ask a question about whether to go a second date with someone you're not very interested in, and you'll get people telling you their anecdotes about how they kept dating after a lame first date, and now they're engaged! Wow! No one could doubt that this happens sometimes. But ... it's all a matter of probabilities, and there's no reason to assume that the awesome success story that makes a heart-warming Metafilter comment is representative of what happens most of the time. As I said in that thread (with a further elaboration and example), there are opportunity costs to everything: if you're spending your time going on repeated dates with someone you're lackluster about, that's time you're not spending going on dates with other people you'd be more enthusiastic about.

Here are some of my main criteria for whether I'll want a second date:

- enjoyable, interesting, flowing conversation (with allowances for first-date-like shyness/awkward)

- shared (or at least, compatible) values, interests, goals

- physical attraction

- showing a mutual interest in each other (e.g. if either of us gets through the whole date without smiling or laughing, that's a deal-killer)

If any of those criteria is lacking, that's probably sufficient for me to pass on a second date. If several of them are lacking, there's no question: there should not be a second date.

Now, if you feel like you the rate at which you're rejecting people is oddly high, maybe you should rethink your criteria -- maybe. But it's difficult if not impossible for us to judge that for you. You don't want to have such stringent standards that almost no one is acceptable, but there's nothing wrong with rejecting most people so that you end up with someone who's right for you.
posted by Jaltcoh at 11:02 AM on February 27, 2010 [9 favorites]

I generally think one date is enough. When I first started online dating I would also give guys a second or third date if they were nice, even if I didn't feel that spark. And that just generally made things more difficult to end, but never made me feel more interested in them.

And agree with everyone who says its best to move to a real meeting ASAP. There's nothing gained by lots of e-mails or phone conversations. There were plenty of guys who I really clicked with until we met... then it just fizzled. Don't invest all that energy before you meet.
posted by kimdog at 11:05 AM on February 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

I had a first date with a guy that I'd been talking to online for about a month. We met up and played Scrabble, since it was something we both liked to do. We didn't end up talking very much, because, well, we were playing Scrabble and taking it pretty seriously. There was a lot of awkward silence, so I thought he wasn't that interested in me. After the date was over (I won the game), I texted a friend and said the date was okay and I didn't know whether I'd see the guy again. I decided to give it a shot though, because we had lots in common and he was pretty hot. So we had a Scrabble rematch (I won the second game by busting out a bingo in my last turn!), and almost a year and a half later, he and I are living to together, are ridiculously happy, and we both know we've found the love of our lives.

All this to say I heartily recommend you give dates a second chance, as long as there isn't some major reason that you aren't feeling it. In my case it was just that we didn't get enough chance to talk, and I decided I'd like to get to know him more instead of dismissing him as uninterested. I thank my lucky stars that I made that decision - it's one of the best of my life.

Best of luck!
posted by just_ducky at 11:06 AM on February 27, 2010

What are the criteria you use to determine whether you want a second date?

If the two of us have a good time and want to see each other again, that's enough to go on.

One of the big drawbacks of online dating is that your feelings don't get a chance to develop at a natural, organic pace. If you meet someone through work or school or mutual friends, you'll likely get some completely pressure free time to hang out and get to know each other and for interest to grow. You can wind up getting involved with someone you never thought of dating the first time you saw him or her because you had that opportunity to find out what they were like and find out how the two of you get along when working together. And even then, I know some happily married people who say their first date wasn't anything to write home about.

With online dating there's a whole expectation that if their aren't fireworks from that first coffee date, it's a no go. Someone I knew met her husband off a dating system, and told me after their first date she went home and wrote in her diary, "I am not attracted to John and am not sure I ever will be." But she thought he seemed like a nice, interesting guy who had the qualities she wanted in a man, so she would see him again. They clicked on their second date and sat on John's couch making out all evening.

So what I try to do in online dating is to relax, give it three dates if the other person is agreeable, and focus on getting to know each other and giving things time to jel rather than asking yourself if this could be the love that makes the angels sing.
posted by orange swan at 11:07 AM on February 27, 2010 [5 favorites]

I just want to chime in and second kimdog... I've often gone out with guys two or three times despite not feeling a spark, but I've never felt a spark develop under those circumstances, and it's almost always made it tougher to end things.

Of course, I've been online dating for a long time and have yet to find romance, so maybe I'm doing it wrong.
posted by cider at 12:22 PM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

If our conversations have been especially great online, and they really do seem sweet and nice, I'll give it a second date (especially if the first date wasn't under great circumstances).
posted by Anonymous at 12:32 PM on February 27, 2010

I think there's very good reason to listen to that little voice. It doesn't have to be instant chemistry, or love at first sight - but if you don't click, you don't owe it to anyone to keep trying. There's a lot of potential partners out there, and life is too short to waste time trying to feel something that isn't there.

My worst relationship ever involved 'giving a guy a chance' when I knew from the first date I wasn't feeling it. I'd like that year of my life back, please.
posted by Space Kitty at 1:13 PM on February 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'm going to be the dissenter here (there's always one, right?).

The catch-and-release approach is prevalent in online dating. When I was doing it, I didn't go on many second dates, and very few third dates—some of this being my choosing, some being the woman's.

But I didn't feel an immediate spark with the woman who I eventually married as a result of online dating. Not on the first date, and not on the second. We obviously got along well—well enough to keep dating—but it was only on our third date that something tickled my hindbrain.
posted by adamrice at 1:21 PM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: This is interesting but kinda confusing. I mean, I know there must be times when giving someone a second chance are worth it...but how do you know when?

Maybe I should ask it this way...If you have give someone a second chance upon feeling little to know chemistry, what were your reasons?
posted by bearette at 1:26 PM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

If the person is boring, offensive, or for any other reason someone I wouldn't want to hang out with, even as a friend, no second date. If the person is nice and smart and funny, but the romantic/sexual spark isn't there, I'll go out on multiple dates. Worst case, I make a new friend. So basically, I'll go out on two or more dates with anyone I'm having a good time with, whether that good time is romantic or not.
posted by decathecting at 2:05 PM on February 27, 2010 [7 favorites]

Part of the problem with this whole thing is that we're really trying to do two things, things which don't necessarily have all that much to do with each other, at the same time. On one hand, you ask "Is this a halfway-decent human being who doesn't want to rape/kill/rob me" and "Do I want to sleep with this person?"

The reason this is a problem is that the two are't actually mutually exclusive. Someone who is a ton of fun to be around, or whom you really respect, you might never want to sleep with. Then again, danger can be part of the thrill for some people.

Traditional dating, where you meet someone and then decide to date them, let's you work these things out independently. But online dating doesn't really give a good way of untangling that. It's a date from the get-go, and there isn't a good way of liking someone well enough without liking them, liking them.

The temptation then, and possibly the best way of dealing with this thing, is to be brutal in ways you wouldn't dream of in other contexts. I don't think one date is enough to tell whether or not you're interested in someone most of the time, absent fireworks or red flags, but two should be. You're here looking for someone to have some kind of acceptable sexual relationship--if you weren't, you'd be looking elsewhere--so if that's off the table, why waste everryone's time?

Whether this represents a view of human relationships which is compatible with human flourishing is another question entirely, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the whole concept of online dating may be incompatible with it.

Yes, I use online dating sites. No, I'm not thrilled about it. I hate this town.
posted by valkyryn at 2:29 PM on February 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

I think decathecting gives good guidelines.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:29 PM on February 27, 2010

I tend to avoid a second date unless I feel something sparkly. I'm not sure it's the best strategy, but it's the strategy that's felt the most honest and kind.
posted by serazin at 7:30 PM on February 27, 2010

In my experience + what I have heard from others, some people just know if they are going to be interested in someone or not early on. Some people, on the other hand, do take several dates to figure it out.

You are clearly NOT the latter personality. When you know, you know. And if you honestly don't give a shit if you ever see this person again or not by the end of the date, don't "give them a chance." I have yet to be glad I gave a chance to someone I knew I wasn't interested in like that (and well, the point of online dating is going for "someone you want to sleep with" rather than friendship, so you really do need "like that" behind it) from the getgo. I like decathecting's guidelines if you want to try that, but in general, stop "giving chances" to people that you know you probably won't like any better on date 5. You know that's not how you operate as a person, so wasting everyone's time with multiple dates won't work for you (or them).
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:34 PM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Here's a fairly straightforward method to use for online dating

Phase 1: E-mail
Phase 2: Phone
Phase 3: Coffee
Phase 4: Date

You're not blowing it by not giving someone a second chance. If they didn't blow you away in each one of the phases. If you're not 100% sure about someone by the time Phase 4 comes along, time to move on.
posted by analogue at 11:39 PM on February 27, 2010

You just kind of know. If someone seems like the type of person you'd want to be friends with, and you had a good time on the first date even if you felt nothing, give them another shot. But with online dating, it seems that even if a guy seems great and you should like them, you won't feel anything for 90% of the guys you meet, and that's totally OK.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 6:15 PM on March 1, 2010

One thing to consider is the outside factors that might have been contributing to the first date. I went on a date with a guy from an online site, and was unsure about it; I knew he was a nice guy and I enjoyed talking with him, but the evening felt off. However, I was also a little hungover and running on very little sleep, he was about to leave for an international trip and was distracted, and the seating in the restaurant was very awkward and uncomfortable.

After he got back from his trip, we went on a second date, and the circumstances worked out this time, which meant we were both able to be authentically ourselves and realize that there was indeed chemistry. Now, we're in a relationship, and I'm really glad I didn't just write him off after the first date.

This isn't to say that you should keep trying if you really know it won't work. Just, pay attention to the outside forces at work that may have affected your (or his) experience.
posted by sarahsynonymous at 1:52 AM on March 6, 2010

« Older Things to do in Lilongwe, Malawi.   |   Can I mail merge the name into the "To" box, with... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.