If we learned anything from middle school, it's that trying to make someone like you doesn't work out.
It's awkward, it's weird, and the more you try to focus on being the coolest version of yourself, the further you veer from who you really are (aka the actual coolest version of yourself).
The problem is that this is the entire premise of a first date: Two nervous strangers come together to try to impress each other with weird, forced versions of themselves.
In the movies, it’s a different story: Two people go on some fantastic date (usually mini-golfing or something), and they immediately feel what they call a "spark." And there’s always that part halfway through the date where they look at each other, and you know they are both so down.
But this doesn’t happen on real-life first dates. Or, at least, it doesn't happen on mine.
A more realistic depiction of me on a first date would be reciting a two-hour-long monologue about me, my friends and my family between bites of a meal that I carefully chose because I knew I could eat it without looking like an ogre.
My eyes are too busy trying to maintain that perfect balance between creepy staring and sexy eye contact (we all know how awkward this gets when you start thinking about it), so none of those "knowing looks" happen.
I’m so busy focusing on myself and making sure that things doesn't get awkward that I don't even put any time or thought into figuring out how I actually feel about this person.
It’s not until the second date that we start to realize whether or not our connection merits one of those looks.
Life is not a movie, and the magical first date we often see in the movies more closely resembles the second date. Here’s why.
The second date is your first chance to chill the f*ck out.
First dates feel like an audition. That’s what makes them so stressful, right?
Will this person let you make it to the next round? Or, more importantly, will you want to continue to the next round at all?
So we find ourselves stressing over every little detail. If I order beer, will he think I’m too masculine? Can I order a burger, or is he going to be repulsed by the sight of me shoving a quarter pounder in my face? Am I talking too much? I should ask him a question... what should I ask him?!
By the second date, though, the two of you have an established connection.
First of all, you know you liked each other enough to even have a second round, which alleviates a lot of the initial first-date stress. Now it’s time to stop stressing about impressing each other and just relax.
The second date is your first chance to be present.
On the first date, your mind is literally everywhere else. You are so up in your own head that you don’t take a minute to just appreciate the moment(s) you are sharing with this person. So how can you ever say you gave it a fair shot?
The second date is your first chance to show your date who you really are -- without all those distractions. Without the tension and the nervous, insecure energy, you’re free to actually put your best self forward.
Go ahead and order what you want, talk however much you want, and give him a nice flavor for the real, awesome, fantastic you. Because he likes you! He really, really likes you!
The second date is your first chance to actually get to know the other person.
On a first date, you're so focused on impressing the person across from you that you forget to actually pay attention. You're thinking of how much you're talking and what you're ordering.
While the first date is all about you, the second date is more about him or her.
It’s your chance to stop hyper-analyzing your every move and start getting to know the person sitting across the table from you.
The second date is your first chance to do something you actually enjoy.
First dates tend to be the standard dinner-and-drinks. And I’d say that’s the best-case scenario.
There is nothing more awkward than the other person trying to impress you by guessing that you would enjoy a morning jog or a pottery class... when you f*cking hate exercise and know that you can buy a perfectly fine pot from Ikea for $2.99.
So, needless to say, dinner and drinks are the safest bet when you’re planning something with someone who is, for all intents and purposes, a stranger.
But dinner and drinks aren’t fun. They’re not exciting. They’re the plain bagels of dates. Nobody hates them, but nobody’s world is ever rocked by them, either.
But the second date is a real game changer. At this point, you guys know each other well enough to plan something really fun that you'll both actually enjoy.
The second date is your first chance to gauge how you really feel about the other person.
As I’ve hopefully made it abundantly clear throughout this article, you don’t get a real flavor for someone until the second date. You can’t write anybody off based on a bad first date; that’s just not fair.
But if the second date rolls around, and you’re present and being yourself and paying attention to him or her as a person and STILL not feeling it... well, maybe it’s time to drop it like it’s hot.