You were rude and/or negative
“This should be common sense,“ says Natalia. “But all too often I hear people being turned off of second dates because of rude, unattractive behavior. Being rude to a server, checking your cellphone, being late without warning, talking shit about exes, co-workers, or friends, and the list goes on. In contrast to physical appearances, we have much more control over how we behave. More people need to exercise that control.”
Negging may have landed a few floozies' phone numbers for a handful of hopeless PUA dorks in The Game, but negative energy overall just makes you look like an ass. No one’s asking you to act the part of some smarmy concierge. Just act like a decent human and ensure everyone -- including service staff -- walks away from the date feeling better about themselves.
You tripped on a secret deal-breaker
“If someone doesn’t call you back for a second date, there’s a fairly good chance that you fell into one of their 'do not touch' categories and didn’t realize it,” says Dr. Kimberly Moffit, Canadian relationship insider for Match.com. "Did you mention you have a cat? They may be a dog lover who absolutely hates cats. Did you order spaghetti and meatballs? They may be a vegan... I don’t personally believe that having such all-or-nothing deal-breakers is the best strategy, but many people do approach dating this way.”
It would be great if deal-breakers were always obvious, predictable landmines (criminal record, driving a Hummer). Unfortunately, sometimes you just never know what kinds of relatively harmless traits could make someone pull the plug. Or if you’ve got competition. Which brings us to...
You lost to someone else
“One of the most common reasons I see for someone getting passed over,” Natalia relays, “is that somebody else had better strategy. That includes things like maintaining the momentum (this is huge) and applying better ‘dating etiquette.’ For example, sending a short but appreciative text the day after a date communicates interest and invites them to make the next move confidently, which in turn is very attractive.”
The numbers here work for you and against you. That person you went out with is probably seeing someone else, texting with three more, and just right-swiped on another 12. Competition is tight and almost impossible to disarm -- especially when you get edged out by Mr. or Ms. Slightly More Attractive.
That all said, it’s not really your job to compete. It’s your job to be the best version of yourself and find the person who will lap that stuff up like gravy. This may take some reflection and refinement, and it may also take some extensive exploration. What it certainly starts with though, is a realistic perspective on what -- or whom -- might be getting in your way.
Benjamin Mann is a Sex & Dating contributor for Thrillist and the author of the blogs This Is Your Brain on Dating and Love Gone Cray. He knows literally everything and thus, ultimately nothing about relationships -- particularly once he gets past the first date. Follow him on Twitter: @MrBenjaminMann.