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Nice To Meet You, I’m A Slut!: First, Second and Third Dates

First, Second, and Third Dates: What’s the Vibe?

The dating world is a minefield of pretences. We’re expected to know the unwritten rules and to sense the (mostly) unspoken feelings – to know what to say and when to say it, what moves to make and when to make them. First, second, and third dates are often the landmark events in any dating journey; they’re a time for first impressions, the opportunity to amend said first impressions, and a time-frame in which you’re traditionally expected to go from total strangers to lovers. But it’s rarely that straight-forward. 

So, in an effort to help others navigate the jungle that is the 21st century dating world, I’m providing my thoughts on how I think a first, second, and third date should look. It might not seem spontaneous, or particularly romantic, on my part, but not all of us are happy to free-fall through the chaos of ‘seeing somebody’. While there is something thrilling about the dating scene within our generation and its lack of rules and restrictions, the anarchy of it all can be – at times – overwhelming. It can be difficult to know where to start.

The First Date !!

Pre-Date Thoughts: There’s something nerve-wracking about first dates that can be akin to a big interview, or an exam; it’s make or break and – if you’re looking for the one – the stakes can be high. Will this be the first of many? Will this be when you finally meet your life-partner? Or will this be an isolated incident? A one time thing that you laugh (or cringe) about with friends in the years to come? With any first date, the opportunities are boundless and it’s precisely this mass of potential that can make it so… terrifying. 

The Date Itself: So, how might we subdue those first date nerves? Alcohol. Meeting someone, in a romantic setting, for the first time requires a social lubricant – this can take the form of a couple of drinks in a relatively relaxed environment. I would recommend the pub as opposed to a high-end bar; pubs can be cosy, friendly, inoffensive and don’t have to be so romantic (i.e. high pressure) as somewhere like TVC or Frevd.

If you’re looking for an alcohol-free alternative to the Pub Date, I recommend an activity-based date. This can be something like crazy golf or the cinema. Activities are a good way to ensure that you have something to talk about (once the college/subject Oxford small talk is out of the way) and reduces the pressure for conversation to flow – alleviating the stress of any awkward silences.

The Vibe: First-date-jitters are normal and should be taken into account when evaluating the success of any first date. Managing expectations (of yourself and your date) is an important way to ensure you’re not putting pressure on it to be anything when you’ve only just started out. The vibe should be as relaxed as possible with the conversation remaining as deep as you and your partner are comfortable with. It can be easy to overshare and nervously ramble your way through a date (I’m very guilty doing this), but it’s best to sit back and just figure out what the two of you do or don’t have in common!!

TLDR; it shouldn’t be that deep.

The Second Date ??

Pre-Date Thoughts: So the first date went well and you left in mutual agreement that you should ‘do this again sometime’. But what is this? Whilst there’s nothing wrong with going for drinks again, or repeating whatever it is you did on your first date, it can be good to change things up on the second date. A change of scene can put you/your partner in a fresh light to help you two lovebirds get to know each other on a different level.

The Date Itself: With that in mind, my ideal second date is sober, wholesome, and activity-based. If we’ve figured out our slightly-inebriated-selves get on, it seems sensible to verify whether our not our sober-selves get on too (because you can’t spend an entire relationship under-the-influence). Also, once you’ve broken the ice with pints or crazy golf on the first date, the second should feel a little more natural. Think coffee and walks in the park, brunch, or a cultural visit to a museum or gallery.

The Vibe: Without sounding too clinical, the second date is an opportunity to see whether you two enjoy doing the same things – whether your lifestyles are compatible. Much like the first date, it really doesn’t have to be deep, but is simply a chance to see how well you two really get on sans substances (or golf?) and during daylight hours.

The Third Date ?!?!?!?!

Pre-Date Thoughts: In traditional, outdated terms the third date is usually when you … you know … do it. I’ve provided zero guidance on when’s best to ‘put out’ because, unlike the ‘relationship experts’ of the 20th century, it is not in my interest to tell people when they should and shouldn’t, can and can’t, have sex. Whether it happens on the first, second, third, or any future dates is not my – or anyone’s – business. When it comes to sex there are no rules but your own.

SO, beyond the obsolete dating doctrines of times past, what should one expect from a third date? In my mind, the third date is the real make or break; you’ve had some time to get to know each other (emotionally, romantically, physically etc) and the third date is probably going to be the indicator of what the two of you are going forwards. This doesn’t have to involve a ‘to be or not to be’ (in a relationship) ultimatum, but it can reveal which direction your dating-journey might be heading in.

The Date Itself: A good setting to have this conversation in can be over dinner or – if you’re looking for a more intimate but slightly less romantic space – from the comfort of one of your rooms (say if you arranged to watch a film together or something). Whatever you’re doing, it can be productive to do it in a space where conversation is possible so that communicating your expectations/reservations is made easier.

The Vibe: Overall, the third date is one massive Vibe Check. So there is no prescribed ‘vibe’ for this; it is entirely dependent on what is going on between yourself and your date. The vibes could be anything from platonic to purely sexual to let’s-get-married – all are good, provided they are sensitively communicated with your date so that all parties know what to expect from future interactions.

To Summarise in Three Easy (Over-Simplified) Steps:

1. Make a good impression with the aid of social lubricants such as several pints of something alcohol or an engaging/hands-on activity.

But remember: it’s not deep.

2. Switch it up! From night to day, inebriation to sobriety (or vice versa).

It’s a compatibility check (so a little bit deep)

3. The Big Vibe Check: take a seat and have a chat over dinner, or coffee, anywhere that feels comfortable and appropriate to whatever the vibe is.

Doesn’t have to be so formal as the ‘what are we?’ chat, but can be a good time to see what page you’re both on (and if it’s the same one). 

Alice Garnett

Alice is our resident sex columnist whose interests include pints, pink, and all things love-related. When she's not evangelising Singledom she's busy hyping up her East Midlands home town, demystifying bisexuality, and writing for other publications such as Lithium Magazine and Adolescent Content.