I think that sometimes we focus so much on the differences between men and women—how we communicate, how our brains are wired, how we approach relationships—that we often forget that when we get down to it, men and women are pretty similar. We ask many of the same questions, have many of the same anxieties, and find ourselves in many of the same situations.
Case in point: the first date. I know women often come away from first dates with more questions than answers. Will he call? Was it a bad sign that he hugged me goodbye? Do I even like him? The list, so I’m told, goes on and on.
Well, ladies, I'm here to tell you, guys are doing the same thing. I might not verbalize all these questions out loud to my best buds, but in my head I'm running through a very similar list of what ifs and woulda, coulda, shouldas.
So now that the secret's out—we're all wondering where we stand with our date—let's look at some common questions guys are asking themselves and how you can address them—and save you both from a lot of unknowns. This will hopefully give you an inside look into where your date is coming from and what questions he is hoping to have answered before that "should we hug— kiss— shake hands?" moment at the end of the night.
Is the Feeling Mutual?
Was she interested or not? What does ‘I had a great time’ really mean? She seemed quiet; did she not enjoy the date?
When I asked men about their first date experiences, the most common response I heard was this: “How do I know she’s interested?” Trust me, if you're wondering, he is wondering. But for the most part, you already have your answer. The simple fact of the matter is, if we asked you out, we are interested. You are awesome and worth the fear of rejection! But the funny thing is, we don’t always know if the feeling is mutual. After finally working up the courage to ask you out, plan the date, pay for dinner, and so on, a guy wants to know—are you or aren't you?
Don’t assume the man will know your level of interest, because we won’t. We typically struggle to pick up on non-verbal cues that would normally communicate interest or lack thereof (eye contact, body language, etc.) I am not saying you have to know if you would date the guy long-term after one dinner, but don’t be afraid to be more direct and put your level of interest into words.
If you're feeling good about things, instead of saving your "I had a great time" for the end of the evening, choose a spontaneous moment during the date to say (if you mean it), "I just want to thank you for asking me out tonight because I am having a great time!"
Do this, and I promise the remaining portion of the date, while it might have been good before, will be great now. He knows you're enjoying yourself, so he, too, can relax and enjoy himself.
Two Peas in a Pod
Can I actually be myself around her? I had a good time, but is she right for me? Did she really think my jokes were funny?
Despite what the stereotypes might suggest, women are not the only ones who think about the future after only a first date. Guys do it, too. We partake in the over-analytical, self-conscious post-date breakdown. We think about whether or not the two of us are compatible, if we share interests, could we work well together if this turned into a longer relationship?
This all comes back around to compatibility, and compatibility takes time. It takes a while to be yourself around someone new, to get to know the other person, to give them a genuine chance—that’s why I usually suggest 3-4 dates as a good barometer, rather than a one-and-done date policy (although, there are always exceptions to the rule). If you're left with questions of compatibility after the first date, be patient. If your date asks you out again, accept. Give it some time to develop, and you'll likely have more answers. Hopefully, he will give you the same time for consideration.
On the other hand, I think it’s important to remember: you can’t force attraction, and you can’t force compatibility, as much as we may want to at times. But when we step back and think about it, why would we want to force this? When you meet that special someone, you want it to be exactly that: special.
How soon should I plan the second date? What are her expectations? WHAT IS SHE THINKING??
Relationships are not about either/or; they’re about doing things together. So why would this be any different when it comes to dating? It’s unfair for the girl when the guy doesn’t take initiative, and it’s unfair for the guy when the girl expects him to know what she’s thinking.
Towards the end of the date a guy would ideally say, “Hey, I really enjoyed spending time with you tonight and getting to know you. Would you like to go on a second date next week?” But this isn't an ideal world. Even if he's into you and wants that next date, he's probably nervous. What if she doesn't feel the same? He’s probably saying to himself, "Should I ask her out now? Call later? Keep it casual?" If you want to put his mind as ease and encourage that second date ask, feel free to drop a line like this: “Thanks for a great date, I would love to hear from you this week.”
I don’t say this as a cop-out for the guys out there. I say this because when you hint at your expectations, it empowers both the guy and the girl to be more free in the relationship. Forgive the sports analogy, but relationships are always a team sport—if I know what my teammate expects of me, I can go out on the court and step up to the challenge and do my job, but without clear expectations I might hesitate. By giving a guy the green light to call you, he may do just that, or he may really take your go-ahead a step further and set up date No. 2 before the first has even ended.
Some of the best dates I have ever been on were when the girl straight-up told me why she was having such a good time. I was so excited that on one of those dates I couldn't wait any longer and asked her on second date halfway through dinner (risky move, but we both were enjoying ourselves and it made the rest of the first date that much more enjoyable). Either way, when you give your date the go-ahead, you're taking a lot of the pressure off and he'll be grateful.
If you're not interested in him though, let the guy down easy. Be proactive about letting him know you are not interested in a follow-up date. At the end of the evening, tell him you had a nice time and that you are grateful for the chance to get to know him a bit better, but that you don't think it's a good fit. I've had this happen before and believe me, it removes all the pressure. I know what your expectations are and can learn to respect that. Even though it's likely not the outcome we wanted, guys will appreciate you being straight with them and they won’t be stuck in limbo, debating whether or not you want to go on more dates.
So the next time you go on a date and you’re wondering what next, what’s he thinking, or how things are going, don’t worry—he’s probably doing the same thing. But when this happens, make these subtle shifts in your own behavior, and you'll likely see him do the same. Sounds like a win, win!
Photo Credit: Manchik Photography