HeadSpaces: Help! I Never Get Asked On A Second Date

HeadSpaces is a new column featuring the brilliant minds of psychologists Dr. Rachel Kozlowski and Dr. Naomi Ben-Ami discussing modern romance. 

Dear Doctors,

I feel like I’m a pretty good catch. I’m smart, funny, and cute (or so I’m told). I go on lots of first dates with the help of OkCupid and Tinder, but I can’t seem to get a guy to want to take me on a second date. What gives? Can you help?  

-Sadly Single Sally

Dear Triple S,

Good grief, what a drag! The anticipation, the outfits, the practicing of clever banter and just-revealing-enough stories about childhood . . . first dates are alternatively exhilarating and eviscerating. How wonderful—and harrowing!—that you are experiencing a bona fide blur of them.

My first question would be whether you felt there were men you were particularly drawn to, felt like you had that rainbow-connection with, assumed you'd be face-mashing on your inevitable second date . . . and then, heard nothing but radio silence. That scenario is very different than feeling rather ambivalent either way. "He was nice, but kind of boring." Or, "I loved his style and taste in music . . . but man, his voice was so. annoying."

I mean, let's be honest: it's still nice to be noticed and pursued, but if you felt ho-hum about the whole damn exchange, chances are he did too; it was a mutual rejection when the smoke cleared, not a one-way street of spurn.

But all that being said, since you’ve taken the time to write, it seems your haunches are more readily resting in the "I liked him, what gives?!" camp, so let's focus on that paramour paradigm.

While yes, we ain't nothing but mammals and we should do it like they do on the Discovery Channel (sorry) . . . the good doctors remind us that the glinting golden key to catching not just your date's eye, but hooking your love-barbs right into his heart has everything to do with who you are and very little to do with toned calves, a mini skirt or impeccable eye make-up. Physical attraction is nothing to sniff at, but pure lust does not a love-foundation make.

Being comfortable in your own skin and owning your passions (contemporary theater!) values, (vegetarianism!) and interests (sci-fi horror!), is going to be far more sexy than any way-up-there stilettos or your very best cleavage shirt. Keep in mind—and actively hone—the things you want to be admired and pursued for:

"If your suitor is actually worth that prized second date, then what’s going to keep him interested and wanting more is your confidence, your spirit, and y.o.u. Invest some time focusing on yourself outside of dating; develop interests, pursue passions, and learn to love yourself. Then when you’re on these dates you can let your unique qualities and your inner beauty shine. If he’s worth it, he’s going to notice."

And while we're working with hunting and traffic metaphors, make this sniffing out session a two-way street. Rather than merely asking about his day or his job, go below the surface and start to scratch around. Ask some questions to learn what really makes this guy tick. What are his siblings like? What's his favorite book? Album? Does he have any phobias? (like spiders or flying?!) Who's his best friend? What did he study in school? What does he do when he's not accounting/environmental science-ing/editing/dance instructor-ing, etc. etc. etc.?

It may sound obvious, but all these kinds of questions will give you some place to go—context to build on and connect with—which in turn, could ignite a spark that's bigger and brighter than wanting to drop trou for a few hours.

Dr. Ben-Ami and Dr. Kozlowski have rounded up four pieces of advice for you to consider.

How you approach dating matters.

If you’re overly focused—obsessed!—on the end goal of getting a second date, your anxiety and self-consciousness will inevitably spike and get in the way of your spontaneity and openness.

"Can you focus more on the experience of the date, and work to let go of your concern about the outcome? If you’re able to go into date number one with an open mind and heart, focusing on meeting someone new, going somewhere new, and learning something new, we’re guessing things will feel different. You’ll be less focused on what he thinks of you and better able to enjoy the date, which paradoxically, might make him more likely to ask you out again."

Do your best to remain present.

Rather than focusing on whether he’s into you, how guys never call even when they promise they will, or—shoot! I forgot about my damn dry cleaning and I need cat-food and I owe my mother a call . . . try and stay in the here and now:

"You’ll be much better able to enjoy the present when you’re not stressing about the past or future. Part of being present in a mindful way is being willing to take each moment as it comes, letting go of judgements, and engaging fully in what's happening. By working on being present to what is happening in the here and now of the date, you give yourself the opportunity to more fully participate in the experience. That will make the date more pleasurable for you and he’ll pick up on your centered-ness, too."

Work on reframing your perspective on the situation.

"You make it seem like the men have all the power in these dates, and that simply isn’t the case. Why should you waste your time hoping for second dates from men who for whatever reason (they have their own issues too, remember), can’t recognize your worth. Remind yourself that you’re a good catch (you told us so yourself, so channel that), and feel sad for him for being unable to see that."   

Closely examine who you’re selecting in the first place.

Don’t go after men who don’t seem to align with what you're looking for. If, for example, you’re on the prowl for something more lasting, shall we say, agreeing to go out with a guy whose Tinder pictures alternate between a bikini-clad gaggle of girls and tequila shots in a dive-bar hashtagged #BromanceSupreme . . . you could very well end up disappointed.

Expanding your horizons, boundaries and "check-list" could be immensely helpful as well. Often we imagine that carefully curating our desires will result in us getting them, but often you're simply limiting yourself to a wonderland of possibility. Think about dating someone who lives a little out of town, has been married previously, isn’t as into family, unabashedly loves cats or has a liiiittle more around the middle than you’d prefer, for instance.

"Consider opening up further possibilities by keeping your eyes peeled in your everyday life too. Remember all those newfound interests you discovered during your self-discovery efforts? If you see someone captivating in your taxidermy course, challenge yourself to say hi, or ask him out for coffee.”

Even if he’s taken, it’s good practice, and who knows? He might have cute friends who'd love to date a gal who can skin a raccoon in 3 minutes flat.


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