Is having a crush too much to expect?
December 4, 2007 2:31 PM   Subscribe

Is it reasonable to not pursue 2nd dates unless you're infatuated? I've gone on several dates recently. While I've encountered several intelligent, nice, and not particularly ugly prospects, I haven't been thrilled, excited, infatuated, enamoured (and I'm certainly capable of that feeling). As a result, I haven't followed up. Is mine an immature or unrealistic expectation?
posted by shivohum to Human Relations (31 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Well, if there is absolutely no chemistry and you were bored to tears, then don't bother. But, lots of people find first dates stressful and you might be cheating yourself not seeing them a 2nd time when they might be a little more relaxed and you see more of their genuine personality instead of their uptight-first-date personality.
posted by 45moore45 at 2:33 PM on December 4, 2007 [2 favorites]

I don't think it's necessarily unrealistic at all. About six weeks ago I had a first date, and was thrilled, excited, infatuated and enamoured. We had a two more dates over the subsequent few days. Sadly, she put me in the 'friend zone'.

I have subsequently had dates with four other women, none of whom thrilled, excited, infatuated or enamoured me. Maybe one of them would do so after a couple more dates, maybe not. But for me, it's not worth the investment of effort, simply because I know that that first wow might be out there; I dated one recently, after all.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 2:40 PM on December 4, 2007

If you want to go out with them again, go out with them again.

If you don't, don't.
posted by jpdoane at 2:40 PM on December 4, 2007 [2 favorites]

I'll offer a counter-example. I recently went on a first date where there was some nice conversation but I didn't feel much of a spark. My date evidently did and initiated a second date, and at that point everything seriously fell into place.

If it had been left up to me, I don't think I would have necessarily pursued the second date. Looking back, it was likely the first-date jitters mentioned by 45moore45 that were affecting the way we related.
posted by flipper at 2:41 PM on December 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

I think infatuation can be a bad test for determining whether or not you are compatible with someone. I think feelings of infatuation often result from some sort of ideal picture you've built up of the person you are dating, a picture which will almost certainly be disappointed somewhere down the road. My most successful relationships have started from initial feelings of insecurity and doubt.

I'd try giving the dates a second chance. Give yourself more of a chance to get to know the person. And if it doesn't turn into something romantic, you may be able to develop a new friendship.
posted by inconsequentialist at 2:41 PM on December 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

Let's say you were excited by a person, but for whatever random reason, they were not excited by you. Would you want them to gracefully fess up? Or continue to follow-up and only half-heartedly attend dates, always saying the right things but keeping one eye on the door in case something better walks through?

Yeah, I thought so. Move on (gracefully!). Plenty of fish in the sea.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:41 PM on December 4, 2007

Actually, the second date is usually the date on which you evaluate them--whereas on the first date, you're focusing more on being your charming, witty self.

I usually give it three dates to see if there's a bit of a spark.
posted by sondrialiac at 2:41 PM on December 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

thrilled, excited, infatuated, enamoured are not reasonable criteria for a first date, no. How about considering if you liked the person, thought they were interesting, and/or found it a pleasant, possibly even entertaining way to pass an hour or three?

If you had a neutral to positive experience, I'd go for the second date. That seems fair to both you and the dates in question.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:50 PM on December 4, 2007 [2 favorites]

When I was single, I usually gave it two dates (unless the first was a disaster from beginning to end). As others have mentioned, first dates involve a variety of factors, including nervousness and attempting to create an impression -- but the second date is usually more relaxed.

I think my wife would agree that our first date wasn't the best - she was nervous and talkative, and I was tired and distracted by some work issues. But the second date provided more of a spark; and the third date was the clincher for our relationship. When she quoted Monty Python in context, I knew something special was going to happen.
posted by never used baby shoes at 3:00 PM on December 4, 2007

Many -- most? -- healthy, loving, exciting relationships that exist didn't involve the participants becoming out-and-out infatuated straight out of the gate. Wanting great chemistry with someone is fine, but it often takes more than a single meeting to emerge.

The realistic, healthy thing to ask yourself after a first date is quite simple: "did I enjoy myself?" If the answer is yes, move on to a second date. Then you can more realistically evaluate whether there might be a prospect of going forward with someone. But limiting yourself to this binary of FIREWORKS/NOTHING on the first date will very likely result in your passing up someone who could have otherwise emerged as a pretty great match. Infatuation is an awful lot to expect of yourself AND someone else on a first date, and using it as your only standard is actually more crippling than liberating.
posted by scody at 3:12 PM on December 4, 2007 [2 favorites]

I wasn't thrilled, excited, infatuated or enamored with my husband the first time I hung out with him. Oh, he has some looks, was intelligent, educated, funny, charming, considerate and all those things I was looking for, but there wasn't a huge giant spark of "OMG, I have got to be with this person!" In fact, I didn't think about him too much unless he was sitting right in front of me. He was just some new guy I met and had played pool with. By the second date, I knew I liked him enough to add him to my list of friends, and at least wanted to play more pool together. On the third date, the sparks flew, and we both knew we at least wanted to try having a relationship.

Not everything can be judged from a first date, and in fact, looking back at my previous relationships, the ones that started out with sparks and flames on the very first date tend to be the ones that ended badly or died quickly.

Unless your reaction to the person was absolute boredom or otherwise negative, maybe try a second date ... or third.

And ... what scody said.
posted by Orb at 3:21 PM on December 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'll never forget the feeling I had when I first talked to the girl I've liked the most so far in my life... We'd been talking for a while and I was absolutely desperate for a piss. But I held it for about an hour because I didn't want there to be a lull, a reason for a break in conversation... I feel like that very rarely, when you aren't on the edge of your seat (with excitement, not from a full bladder) its sad, but once you've had the real thing, you can't go back to simply being excited to be on a date.
posted by tomw at 3:21 PM on December 4, 2007 [3 favorites]

In my own case, there was interest but not a lot of spark between my now-wife and me on our first two dates. Date #3 is the one where something caught my interest.

There's no real right or wrong to this, but I do think, especially with Internet dating, there's a tendency towards "one strike and you're out" that's shortsighted.
posted by adamrice at 3:22 PM on December 4, 2007 [2 favorites]

I'm confused by these sorts of questions. A lot of discussion of "all that effort" often comes out of these questions. I really don't see the effort in it at all. A second date isn't that hard. Unless the person totally turned you off, I'd suggest that taking a chance is a good policy. If your reaction is meh, that means you didn't get to know them well enough to say "good God no!"

In otherwords, if you know right away yes or no, act accordingly. If it isn't clear, another shot is the way to go.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:30 PM on December 4, 2007

I think people mostly recognize potentially good chemistry right away. The caveat is that first dates tend to be stressful for some people. Something low key like a cup of coffee mid-day is probably a better way to get to know someone.
posted by caddis at 3:39 PM on December 4, 2007

I have to agree that infatuation and "crushes" are a pretty inaccurate measure of relationship potential. Not only can fabulous relationships come from sparkless first dates, but amazing, chemistry-everywhere dates can result in horrible crashes.

I think a lot of people tend to assume that more than one date equals "dating" and therefore coupledom. It shouldn't, though. If you genuinely enjoyed the person's company, go out with them again.
posted by Metroid Baby at 3:41 PM on December 4, 2007

The gf and I agree that date one was just putting on a good face and being nervous. Dates two and three were a bit more relaxing. I think youre being terribly short-sighted and being unfair to yourself and your date if you are judging everything by date one. Heck, that strategy pretty much guarantees you'll find someone who is a really, really good liar or who has unusually good social skills.

Its also fair to say that as you get older you no longer get the schoolgirl crushes of old. Your body changes, your hormones change, you become more mature, etc. Expecting to feel like a crazed teenager on her first date in your 20s and 30s is being a bit unrealistic.
posted by damn dirty ape at 3:46 PM on December 4, 2007

Are these internet dates? If so, think back to when you last had a non-internet relationship or crush. Didn't it take you more than one hour to decide you liked that person? It's just too much to expect a crush from the get-go.
posted by footnote at 4:45 PM on December 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

Yes, it's immature and unrealistic. It's almost as if you're deciding at the outset that you want to get into relationships based on your mood at the time that you meet people.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 5:06 PM on December 4, 2007 [2 favorites]

I never even notice the small things that I later grow to love, in the first date. Definitely give it another go. It's not immature but it's cheating yourself.
posted by ersatz at 5:30 PM on December 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

To be contrary: No, it isn't unreasonable. Prior to meeting my wife, I went on 23 first dates (!) and did not feel any special chemistry with any of the women I dated. This was over an 18 or 24 month period, and it was depressing as I was lonely, but I was looking for a particular spark and ease of company and I just wasn't finding it. On the first date I had with my wife (a blind date via a mutual friend), I knew within a few minutes that this was someone in whom I was very interested -- sweaty palms, butterflies in the stomach, wowowowow, the whole nine yards -- in fact, this was someone with whom I could spend the rest of my life, and omg I sure hope she feels the same way about me! Luckily, she did feel the same way about me, and we've been very happily married for 14 years.

So I say be picky, and hold out for the right person. Maybe you just have very good instincts.
posted by mosk at 5:51 PM on December 4, 2007

I think it depends. I went out on a first blind date with my current boyfriend. At the time I wasn't really into him, but we went out on a few more dates and each time I liked what I saw more and more. We've been together eight months now. Recently I asked him whether he thought we'd go anywhere when we first started dating, and he said in the beginning he didn't think so either. But now we're both in love and very appreciative of each other. So from my experience, sometimes it takes a few dates to warm up to someone who is actually right for you. I've definitely been on dates where I've immediately known the other person is wrong for me. But when you're not sure, I would give the other person the benefit of a second or third date. It might turn into something beautiful that you would have otherwise missed.
posted by amileighs at 5:53 PM on December 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

I've never had someone go from "meh" to actual chemistry. First date meh is the last date for me -- I'd rather stay home and read a book. The few times I've forced myself to go on the second date I've regretted it.

OTOH, there's something in the middle -- hun, that person seems kind of cool but I'm not sure ... -- that warrants a second date, in my opinion/experience.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 6:14 PM on December 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

Nobody says everyone you date must be the result of instantaneous, enduring love. I think if that is your attitude it is unrealistic. I have been in a few relationships where things seemed great from the start but fizzled for other reasons later on. Shit happens.

Dating should require a little bit of flexibility to be successful. If every little thing is a deal-breaker you will most likely be lonely the majority of the time. You could find someone you relate to on many levels but after the initial dates and the start of sex, find they are a supreme dud in bed or maybe don't even like sex. That could kill any intense infatuation I would have had initially.
posted by JJ86 at 6:24 PM on December 4, 2007

you know, i have done a ton of internet dating, but few resulted in second dates and not one of them materialized into a relationship. every relationship i've had has begun because we'd met for the first time in person, and got to know each other naturally.

i know people who have met the love of their life online (my cousin did, and they just had their second child yesterday, yay) but for me, it was just the most unnatural thing in the world. it felt like i was screening resumes and interviewing men for the job of being my boyfriend. it was truly ridiculous.

with the men with whom i have dated for a while or had real relationships, it was because we had chemistry before we even spoke to each other. ridiculous as it sounds, it happened because our eyes met in a chance encounter in a bar, or through a random confluence of friends running into each other after a movie, or during a throwaway conversation in line at a coffee shop. whatever. the point was, the chemistry existed before we knew a single thing about each other. (and it wasn't superficial...some, maybe most of the men in my life have been decidedly un-stereotypically-hot, but had -something- that just captivated me. it was chemistry. that frisson. you know it when you feel it.)

now, i am currently single, so perhaps my method is not ideal. maybe if i had gone on a few more second dates, i would be married right now (i'm 31, about the right age for such things). so take it with as much salt as you like.
posted by thinkingwoman at 6:50 PM on December 4, 2007

So I say be picky, and hold out for the right person.

Sure. But plenty of people may not present themselves as being the right person in the form of OMG INSTANT INFATUATION on the first date.

I mean, my boyfriend and I have been together going on three years, and we had off-the-charts chemistry pretty much immediately on our first date, but it most certainly doesn't follow that off-the-charts immediate chemistry is the only right way for everyone to gauge a potential partner under all circumstances -- as plenty of anecdotal examples here can attest to.

Hell, my mom couldn't stand my dad the first time they met -- the chemistry happened a little later, and it took her totally by surprise. They've been happily married for nearly 45 years, with two kids and three grandkids to show for her willingness not to judge him by her first impression.
posted by scody at 7:56 PM on December 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

My biggest regret is that I ceased following up with a certain woman after a couple of dates. I'd like to have dated her, she'd like to have dated me, we were and are good friends, and I'm pretty sure I could have married her, like, four years ago, and it would be a good marriage too. By the time I got my head on straight and decided to try dating her again, she'd decided to move to another state, where she soon met and married someone else.

Why didn't I pursue anything further? Because I wasn't infatuated/thrilled/enamoured with her, and I was rather crushy on someone else, someone who turned out in due time not to return my interest at all. So I tossed away real potential for imagined potential, sowed a hollow tomorrow and reaped a long row of empty yesterdays.

You should judge for yourself how immature or unrealistic that was, but if you ask me, I was a blazing moron.

Since then, I've learned: The purpose of dating is not to see who you hit the hormonal jackpot with. The purpose of dating is to get to know the person, see if your mind and heart and spirit and style and memories find this person agreeable. The time it takes to do that is sufficient for the old endocrine slot machine to spin a few times, and then when it rolls up those three sevens, you know the rest of you is OK with what it's paying out. Then you're in position to enjoy a total relationship, and not just to formalize a mutual crush. Yeah, you need to at least be well-disposed to the person at first. Finding them intelligent, nice, and not bad looking is enough.
posted by eritain at 8:08 PM on December 4, 2007 [4 favorites]

The question of how necessary chemistry is will be argued over endlessly (as I said here). Maybe people who learn to have feelings are deluding themselves and actually accepting a lower version of love. But maybe people who hold out for a spark are deluding themselves, and making life choices based on what kind of mood they're in when they meet someone. It's really hard to know, and people will never agree on an answer.

It is also hugely dependent on what is an acceptable notion of love for you. Would it be better to have someone who drove you crazy with desire but was always too busy with his work, or a total slob, or liked to get drunk too much, or just not emotionally available; or would you rather have a person who you really connect to, who has a good sense of humor, is smart and interesting, but who you ultimately have a lower level attraction to? Is love about the excitement and heat, or about the closeness and comfort?

I have a friend who was dating someone who she said drove her absolutely crazy in terms of desire, and he felt the same way - she said that when they were in a room together both of them basically felt like everything else around them just disappeared. He was convinced this meant they belonged together. But I was surprised by how remarkably unmoved she seemed to be by this fact. I have never felt an attraction as intense as what she described and would have thought it would lead to thoughts like "this must be the one" (as it apparently was for the guy). But my friend said it was a lot of fun, but she knows she's not going to end up with him. That is really not all there is in a relationship, and understanding the variable levels of the variable aspects of What Needs To Work is important to finding a good "set" so to speak.

People do sometimes talk about that person they "never noticed before" that they suddenly have a crush on - it's not as if the chemistry of a crush is completely reliable. A haircut, a new job, a cool reference, and somehow that ordinary nobody starts looking interesting, and vice versa...
posted by mdn at 8:58 PM on December 4, 2007 [2 favorites]

I'd say you don't need to be infatuated, but you do need to be, at the least, intrigued.
posted by booksandlibretti at 10:52 AM on December 5, 2007 [2 favorites]

As a dating expert, ALWAYS go on the second date unless you are repulsed by something about the person (horrible breath/hygiene, annoying laugh, you got into an argument on the first date and saw you were clearly intellectually incompatible).

First dates are like job interviews; sometimes, one party wants it to work so bad, they blow it. Other times, they look good on paper, but you're just not sure.

Have YOU always been perfect on every first date? Have you ever wanted to ask someone out again, but didn't get a response at all or a terse "yeah, thanks but no thanks"? Did you feel like YOU merited a second chance?

First (blind) dates should ALWAYS be something like coffee and top out at 30 minutes.

Second dates should be something non-committal and not very expensive, like meet at a museum, mall or poetry reading (insert anything except dinner/movie/meet at my favorite bar). They should last about an hour, and give you the opportunity to continue IF YOU BOTH WANT TO or end without anyone's feelings hurt or big expenses incurred on one party alone.

Lots of couples fall in love slowly and gradually; love at first sight (or even infatuation) isn't as common when you get older as it is in high school. Adults are more guarded.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 1:18 PM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

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