If you’ve ever seen a movie like Groundhog Day or Sliding Doors, you probably have thought about the varied possibilities for your life and realized that at any moment, one decision could change the entire trajectory of your life.  Now wouldn’t it kill you to think that you may have already met your husband or wife but dismissed them for some random reason?

When I first met my husband I thought he was the nicest guy I’d ever met.  But, at the time I wasn’t into nice guys.  He didn’t put on the moves too quickly.  He didn’t talk about himself the whole time.  He didn’t plan our wedding with me on the first date.  I was used to whiz bang kind of relationships that started strong and fizzled out within a few months so it was difficult for me to understand that process of being with someone who was more of a slow burn.

We went on a second date and he opened up a little more to me.  Then, on the third date we went to a concert, which required an hour car ride in each direction together.  I left my house worried that we’d run out of things to talk about and returned from the date completely smitten. So what happened across the course of those three dates?  I guess the simplest way to explain it is I got to know him.

I think back to that first date when I, frankly, was on the fence (he since has told me that he was too) and I wonder what would have happened if either of us cut it off at that point.  So often we are quick to judge. Think of the times when you made a quick decision – either at work or with a purchase?  How happy were you in the long run? Studies show that 55% of Americans believe in love at first sight[1], but with a divorce rate that hovers close to that number, maybe we need to rethink our way of making decisions about a potential partner.

I keep my basic criteria for deciding whether or not to go on a second date very small:

1.     Did you enjoy talking with him/her?

2.     Were you attracted to SOMETHING about him/her? Looks, sense of humor, intellect, values, kindness?  Notice I didn’t say EVERYTHING.

3.     Did they treat you well?  Meaning they did not say anything that offended you and they listened while you talked, NOT did they pay for everything and open every door for you.

You have to remember that people have different societal touch points and might not have learned the same rules of chivalry or gender identity that you did.  Paying for your valet, for example, should not be part of your first date criteria.  Your date may have no idea that you are expecting this and then you mark their score card down before they have learned the rules of the game.  Also note that my list didn’t include the nebulous quality of “chemistry”.  That often can take time to develop and it should not be on your first date checklist, as it’s impossible to quantify in most cases.

That first date is simply about seeing if there is common ground and a basis for attraction to develop.  Try to stay in the moment and avoid making judgments about your date, until you’ve had a chance to really get to know them.  Most people are not their true self on a first date and you have the best chance at long-term success if you give your date enough time to open up and show you who they really are before you give them the official thumbs up or thumbs down.

Dear Mrs D is an online dating strategist and author who coaches singles on how to find success dating online as she once did. Her eBook, D is for Dating, is now available on her website,


  1. “Paying for your valet,”——First date or any date that may follow? How about expecting him to pay for your date wardrobe and your date hairstyle and your date makeup and your gas to get to date? Also why shouldn’t he pay for your bikini wax and BOB (battery operated boyfriend) because there will be no second date! Why aren’t you insisting on paying for YOUR DINNER or DRINK BILL on the MEETING date? Women nowadays are all involved with EQUAL RIGHTS except when paying for their half of any date! The man is cheap if he doesn’t pay for her but somehow she is not cheap when she does not pay for herself. FORGET becoming a MRS. when a second date is not going to happen except with losers! Actually women can’t even communicate on online dating sites even though they put communication in their profiles. If women would put the same effort in getting and keeping a man as they do in getting and keeping their job then they would have a man instead of just the BS with their girlfriends. Aging alone is all that is left for the arrogant self centered daters!

  2. Mike is completely correct. Attractive women on JDate are far too picky and their criteria for a second date is absurd!

  3. Great article Mrs. D! For me attraction does usually take time to develop. It seems though that many men want to know right away how a woman feels (read: if she’ll sleep with him). I really appreciate when a man pays my Valet/drink/dinner mostly because it shows that they care about my needs — it’s a sign of respect. I can certainly afford to pay, but chivalrous actions show a woman that a man is tuned in to something other than himself…

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