Second Dates Are the New First Dates

Woman going on a date with many men
Cole Ott / Thrillist
Cole Ott / Thrillist

For years, people have considered the first date to be the hardest one to master, leading friends and family to give countless hours of advice to those going on the date. Well, guess what: the first date is small potatoes and you're making a huge deal out of nothing.

With the rise of dating apps and an increasing trend towards keeping that first date casual and brief (think one drink or a cup of coffee), first dates have become, well, kind of disposable. Things might go fantastic, they might not -- either way, you'll probably be on to the next one before you've even gotten home from the previous date (technology!). 

But the second date? That's when the real pressure sets in. Here's why.

The second date is like a job interview

Let's look at dates along the same vein as trying to get a job. The first date is your basic Skype interview -- you've dolled yourself up, you've practiced everything you're going to say, and you're probably (possibly?) wearing pants. There's SOME pressure, sure, but it's nothing more than a standard meet-and-greet.

The second date is when the pressure mounts -- you're going into the office, you're submitting your writing test, you're meeting with the guy in HR. It's all happening and you can't rely on the killer icebreakers you mastered during the first meeting.

The air of excitement has all but dissipated

With our generation's level of flakiness hovering between a fresh croissant and the top of a warm chicken pot pie, it's a miracle to think that people can actually muster up the energy to leave their apartments and meet up with each other.

That being said, the fun and flirtatious environment is gone when you meet up the second time. You’re no longer walking in blindly… you know exactly what to expect and -- like the job interview scenario -- you've already gone through all the cute things you planned on saying before initially asking them out.  

The venue comes into play

The location of the first date is always up for debate, but how much guidance is there out there for the second? Anywhere between "little" and "none." You can't go to the bar you went on the first date, nor can you eat the same kind of food you already had. You have to do something new, exciting, but still somehow romantic.

This means you have to wrack your brain thinking of an inventive venue to express your feelings that somehow still feels original. By the time you're done conjuring up a place, you're exhausted and have to rely on small talk to carry along the night until you either make out or get hit by a truck. At least the latter of the two situations would save you from screwing up the former.

"... a second date will (and does) reaffirm everything either party thinks the other thought on the previous date..."

For better or worse... your true intentions are known

Sometimes a first date is a fluke. Let's say you have a close female friend whose dog suddenly dies and you decide to ask her out for pizza out of sympathy, but she interprets the friendly move as an act of courtship. Now you're covered in cheese and tears and you don't know what to do next.

That's why you don't ask her out again -- but a second date will (and does) reaffirm everything either party thinks the other thought on the previous date. So, at the same time, getting that text for "let's do it again next Friday" will alleviate the stress of not knowing whether or not they were into it.

The real you shines through

Is "shines" the right word here? I guess it all depends on what you would do if you happened upon a fedora in the middle of a street. The first date is when you're Mr. Cool Guy -- you wear the T-shirt that makes you look ripped, those jeans that do wonders for your calves, and that puka shell necklace you bought after you found out you could stream The O.C. on Hulu.

Guess what, though? You can't wear any of that stuff again; the second date is all about what you're really like underneath all the fabric and seashell material. Do you really have the necessary muscles to pull off any other kind of T-shirt? Do you look as cool as Ryan Atwood in a puka shell necklace? (No.)

Sex is even more up in the air

Let's put the perspective chance of sex at around 50% on a first date. You're either completely not into it or so into it that you abandon your no-sex-on-the-first-date rule and jump into the sack with the person you just met. In either case, sex is far from guaranteed on the second date.

If you're the type of person who doesn't sleep with someone on the first date, you're probably not going to concede to doin' it on the second. Similarly, if you already knocked boots once, this is suddenly the date where you "get to know each other." Guys, the second date is serious.

You have to clean your apartment

Yeah, guys, sorry. You can always blame your dirty-ass apartment on your roommates or laundry day when it's first viewed by virgin eyes… but when someone sees the same discarded box in the same spot two weeks in a row, that's when the judgment begins.

So, clean your apartment and try to pass the illusion that you don't live like a complete vagrant. In fact, regularly cleaning your apartment will only lead to a nice lifestyle, despite what most college-aged people and young adults assume.

To sum it up: stop sweating that first date -- they come and go, and you'll acquit yourself better if you're super relaxed anyway. The "I better not screw this up," high-stakes action doesn't kick in until the second date, anyway.

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Jeremy Glass is a writer for Thrillist and also played the dog in Air Bud.