Allow us to let you in on a little secret. First dates don’t really matter.
Hear us out: So. Much. Stress goes into orchestrating the best first impression possible. You’ve gotta find the perfect First Date Bar, the perfect First Date Outfit, the perfect First Date Pair Of Shoes, and the perfect First Date Way To Discreetly Carry A Condom (Just In Case).
It’s a lot of pressure, only to spend the whole time worrying more about how you come across to this new romantic interest, than how much you’re actually interested in them as a person.
Most first dates are an anxiety-ridden blur. They’re not pointless, per se, but first dates only exist as the necessary hurdle to reaching the true holy grail of courtship—the second date.
The second date is when you’ve established at least some level of interpersonal comfort. It’s when you can ask questions that are thought provoking, and not just about whatever bullshit someone does for work, or how they wound up in whatever city you live in (snooze).
It’s when you can actually determine whether or not you like someone as a person, not just an activity for a dull weeknight. Second dates are crucial territory, and they never get the credit they deserve.
Why the Second Date Matters More than the First
The second date where shit gets real and you figure out if the person is worth pursuing. It means that both parties are interested and the stakes are therefore higher. Below are other reasons why it’s the holy grail of dates:
Discover True Colors
Second dates are when you get to show off your real personality. A first date, despite what some think, doesn’t reveal a lot except that you look like your online photo. It takes more than a first date to reveal true chemistry. You aren’t as nervous this time around, and since mutual interest has been established, you can show your true self more.
It’s a great chance to make sure their first date manners don’t just melt away after the first encounter. Everyone is on their best behavior on a first date, but if they’re still treating others like servers and cashiers with kindness and tipping well (as they should be) on the second date, you at least know you’re not being personality-catfished. Some people let their guard down as early as a second date, so you might get a sneak preview of how you will be treated down the line.
Add Fuel to the Fire
It’s a chance for more attraction to build. Let’s say you weren’t super attracted to someone on the first date, but they were interesting enough to make you wanna see them again. A second date is important, especially if you are on the fence with someone after the first date. You might find yourself feeling differently once you’ve had some time after a first date to think about it. Do you keep finding yourself drawn to the way they spoke or did something on the first date? Here’s your chance to see if the sparks for something long term are there.
Now, you already know the second date is the one you shouldn’t mess up once you’ve got the first date over with. Not sure what do during the second date? If you’re in need of some inspiration, here are 11 ideas for the most underrated date in the whole game.
1. GO TO YOUR ACTUAL FAVORITE BAR.
N e v e r take a first date to your true favorite bar, because if it’s terrible, the bar will have a stink permeating through it for months to come. But by date two, you’re more ready to show this person the place where the bartenders know your drink order and will let you charge your phone behind the bar.
It’s a simple premise to bring your date to your favorite bar, but it serves a lot of overlooked, crucial second date purposes: You’ll be comfortable here (and more likely to be yourself), and it’s a way of letting this person you have budding interest in learn more about you via the kind of atmosphere you enjoy.
2. TAKE A LONG WALK TOGETHER
Walking is believed by therapists to help people open up—you’re literally moving forward, and it takes the pressure off sitting still and maintaining eye contact. So borrow that little tip and use it on your second date to get to better know someone.
This is a great suggestion if you’re on a roll texting one night and want to continue the conversation IRL—just suggest meeting up for a walk, and you have a low-pressure, low-key second date.
3. GO TO A CHEAP CONCERT
Concerts are loud. So loud, you need to get really close together to hear someone speak. Spend an hour essentially yelling into each other’s ears at close, I-can-feel-your-body-heat proximity, and then go somewhere quiet afterwards to pore over the details of the show. This is a recipe for a make out and you’re welcome.
4. FIND A DIVE BAR WITH A JUKEBOX
Did you know you can literally just type “jukebox” into Google Maps, and it’ll turn up places that have jukeboxes? You may need to comb through reviews to verify that it’s working and still actually in the bar, but at most, this is a five-minute research project for a very good second date option.
Take turns putting dollars into the jukebox and spend a couple of hours driving the entire rest of the bar crazy while getting to know each other via musical taste.
5. GET SOME GROCERIES AND COOK SOMETHING SIMPLE
The key word here is: simple. Save cooking the extremely complicated whole chicken recipe from that beautiful cookbook you got for your birthday three years ago for down the relationship line.
Nothing against whole chickens, but a raw slab of pink meat doesn’t scream LET’S SMOOCH! At the risk of being overly cheesy, spend the night making gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and comparing who does it best.
6. GET HAPPY HOUR SNACKS AFTER WORK
Maybe you’re using your second date as an extended prelude to doing a full-fledged, sit-down dinner date, and that’s fine! Graduate from simply “grabbing drinks” to grabbing drinks and snacks.
Most bars have happy hour menus of snacky things like marinated olives or, I don’t know, some kind of dip. Order a few, sit at the bar so your knees might touch, and get to know each other over cheap finger food.
7. GO TO A KARAOKE BAR
Hate it? Sit tight for a second! You can go to a karaoke bar, and not actually do any karaoke yourself. Find a place with a karaoke night, stake your claim at a booth in the back, and enjoy the free entertainment.
Knowing how goofy this person is, and how much humor they can find in things like buzzed people scream-singing Bruce Springsteen, is key second date material.
8. HAVE A MEAT AND CHEESE DINNER IN A PARK
Once again, maybe a Very Serious Sit Down Dinner isn’t your second date vibe—totally understandable. Keep things more casual and see how this person is at selecting complimentary charcuterie by assembling a cheese-and-meat picnic at the grocery store, and then eating it outside in some grass.
9. GO BOOK SHOPPING TOGETHER
There’s a reason why every manic pixie-esque rom com has some sort of bookstore scene, and it’s that bookstores are, somehow, romantic as fuck. Maybe it’s the smell of all that paper and ink, or the close quarters you’re forced into between the shelves.
Pick a favorite bookstore or one you’ve always wanted to check out, and browse the shelves together. It’ll be a quiet space where the two of you can speak somewhat privately, and you’ll get a sense for what kind of stuff they like to read. Perhaps this is how #Potterheads keep finding each other.
10. GRAB A FOOD TRUCK DINNER
But with an added twist: Send your date on a mission to order your food for you, and you order their food. If you hate what they pick, boom—your first argument is now out of the way, congrats! If you love it, all the more reason to push for a third and fourth and fifth and millionth date. Being able to eat happily together is relationship gold.
11. GO TO A MUSEUM
Typically, some people are a huge proponent of visiting museums alone, so you can go at your own pace. But they’re also great second date spots. You can get to know each other between artworks, and, probably because they’re so quiet and stoic, museums are hotbeds of intimacy.
And a final added bonus? Because they’re literally designed to showcase arts, museums almost always have very flattering lighting. So you’ll look great the entire time. Where else can you get that?
You’re now ready to nail your second date! And while you’re at it, make sure you don’t mess up the kiss too. Check out our in-depth guide on how to be the best kisser in the world! Clue: You need a loooooooot of practice!