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Online Dating Magazine > Columns > Date & Relate > Second Chance at a First Date

Date & Relate
by Sara Hodon

Second Chance at a First Date?

I really don’t like first dates.

Even if I’m excited about the guy I’m supposed to be meeting, first dates are not my favorite thing to do.  I think they’re stressful for a number of reasons.  First, if you’re driving somewhere to meet them, you have to make sure you find the right person.  This part stresses me out more than anything else.  Then you have to get the introductions out of the way, settle in, and hope the rest of the conversation flows.   If you’ve had a bad day, you have to put all of that aside so you can focus on being your best, brightest, wittiest, and most charming self so the guy will instantly (or shortly thereafter) fall madly in love with you. 

Okay then. 


This is not stress that I particularly need or want.  But, each time I find myself facing another first date, I remind myself that this could be it—the guy I’m about to meet could be The One!  Telling myself that a few (dozen) times as I get ready helps to calm my nerves so I can focus on the task at hand—winning this guy over with my charm, wit, intelligence, and overall fabulousness.

I’ve often said that I don’t put a whole lot of stock into a first date.   I’m a bundle of nerves for hours beforehand, but I usually calm down pretty quickly once I get there.   It’s much easier for me to just be myself once those first few minutes are behind me.  To me, the first date isn’t much more than an introduction.  Don’t get me wrong, first impressions are important.  Based on those crucial first few minutes, I have to decide if this is someone I can see myself spending a lot of time with.  Sometimes I can figure this out pretty quickly.  Other times, I wait it out a bit to see how the evening goes and try to get a feel for what he’s thinking. 

I think most singles would agree that you can usually tell by the end of the night if you want to see each other again.  Even if you meet for a casual lunch date or a drink after work, it’s pretty obvious if there’s a spark there or not.

Or can you?

Most of my first dates have been pretty casual—the standard, “safe” choice of dinner and a movie, usually.    If the guy is sincere about getting to know me and wanting to put his very best foot forward, maybe he’ll go the extra mile and take me someplace special or be generous with the compliments.  This tells me that he does think I’m worth getting to know.

Well, usually.  First dates are nerve-wracking on both sides.  I’ve had dates where I knew almost immediately that there wouldn’t be a second date, but he seemed interested and clearly wanted to get to know me.   They’re the tough ones.   I was on one unforgettable date with a guy who seemed nice enough, if a little anxious.  It turned out that I was his first date in about five years.  He was trying so hard to make a good first impression, I was actually uncomfortable.  I felt terrible about hurting his feelings, but there was no way I was going to pursue a relationship with this guy.  I felt so bad about letting him down, I actually made myself physically ill, though it gave me a legitimate reason to end the night early!  That guy crosses my mind once in awhile.   I wonder if he ever met someone.  I wonder if I made a mistake by not giving him a second date?  Maybe if he would’ve been a bit more relaxed, we would’ve had fun.  But his eagerness was so off-putting, I couldn’t bring myself to do it again.  Was that harsh?  Sometimes I think so.  Other times I rationalize my decision by saying that I just did him a favor.   It never would have worked out anyway.   

I know folks who have had completely disastrous first dates.  My best friend makes no secret of the fact that her first date with her now-husband was a total dud.  After weeks of hours-long phone conversations, once they met in person, there was suddenly nothing to talk about.    What happened?  Maybe it was nerves.  Maybe it was being so blown away by the attraction to each other, they were literally tongue-tied (I need to ask her).   But there must have been something there if they decided to give it another shot.  Is it worth a second try if the first date wasn’t what you expected?  I admit that I’m guilty of bailing on one guy before we even got to the first date.   He sounded promising, but I thought there was just too much baggage.  He said he understood and I thought that was the end of it.   He got in touch a few weeks later and said the invitation was still good.  My curiosity won out, and we had a great night.  Who knew?

Even though it’s important to meet the first time, sometimes it takes a second date to get the right first impression of someone.  Once you both get past the nerves and wanting everything to be perfect, you can start to get to know each other and figure out if they’re worth pursuing.


Date & Relate is published every Thursday by Online Dating Magazine columnist Sara Hodon. She can be reached at

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