The follow-up after a first date is rarely as simple as: "I like you, I had fun, let's get together again." There are layers of meaning in texts to unpack, not to mention timing: who reaches out first and how quickly does the other person respond? It can all feel like a giant chess match.
Either party can play coy because a) They don't want to look too eager/desperate and b) They're not sure how the other person feels, but there are a number of cues that can confirm your date is going swimmingly. Below, our dating expert Rich Santos spells them out to spare you the next-day mental math.
1. Completing the Date
Low bar, we know, but hear us out. Though seeing the date through to its end may seem like an obligation for most people, Santos says there *are* exceptional dating disasters where you have to cut it short for your own sanity.
"Most people are courteous enough to do the absolute minimum on a date: finish whatever activity you're doing together and devote sufficient time out of respect for the other person," he says. So provided your date's not running out with an "emergency text from a roommate" after twenty minutes, it's an easy first sign that things are going well.
2. Wanting More One-on-One Time
When your date wants to spend time with you alone instead of calling in backup for a group date, says Santos, it likely means that he's comfortable around you and wants to spend more time getting to know you. "One tactic to combat a boring date," he says, "is calling in 'reinforcement' friends" as social buffers.
"One tactic to combat a boring date is calling in 'reinforcement' friends."
3. Extending the Date
Suggesting something (other than going back to someone's place) after dinner is a solid indication that your date's asking for an encore. "A masochist like myself might ask a girl to spend more time with him if he's not enjoying her company," Santos says, but if they're willing to extend the date past the "easy out" first location of a bar or coffee shop, that's a good sign.
4. Suggesting *Another* Date
"Sometimes I get so excited during a first date I play my cards by suggesting other things we should do together," says Santos, though timing may not be that immediate. A common time to suggest another date is at the end of the first one. Some may do this as a friendly gesture before making a quick exit, says Santos, but it can't be bad if your date is enthusiastic enough to suggest a second meet-up. They just have to make good on their word.
5. The Friendly Follow-Up Right After You Say Good-bye
A good sign that a date went *really* well, says Santos, is when someone giddily follows up after a date to let you know they had a great time without waiting around. The alternative: "If I'm not interested after the date, I'll head straight home and begin my process of fading out of this girl's life (following up is not part of that process)." Of course, not hearing back right away isn't a definite rejection, but the excitement of a speedy follow-up message speaks for itself.
6. Striking While the Iron's Hot
When you don't get that speedy affirmation text, or a greeting within a few days, it can mean a number of things. Waiting too long to follow up is a sign the other person is flaky or disinterested, which either way is not worth your time. "If I enjoyed the date I'll contact her within a few days. This doesn't necessarily mean I'm asking her out again. I'm just keeping the conversation going," he says.
Being ghosted or receiving non-committal responses without concrete plans to set up another date is another sure sign of disinterest. And though men often feel pressured to make the first move, there's no harm in taking a feminist stance of reaching out first if you're really interested.
"Hold him to a higher standard than one extra date, or one call back after the initial date."
When you start dating someone and haven't established exclusivity, says Santos, it's always important to measure signs that the other person is as on-board as you are. This could mean making regular conversation or establishing dates at a consistent frequency. "Hold him to a higher standard than one extra date, or one call back after the initial date. How many times have you gone on a few dates only to have it fizzle out?" he says.
Transparency is key if you're not looking for anything serious, too.
8. Planning Spontaneous, Non-Cliché Dates
The informal text to see if you have the afternoon free to spend time together, unannounced, is the key that someone's thinking of you even when there's no pre-determined date. "Take notice when they ask you to do random little things like run errands together or go to the park. It's that next step when they're getting to know you that they want you around whenever, wherever," Santos says.
There's a big difference between the impromptu hangout invitation and the "lol u up?" text, though. If you're seeking a more serious relationship, pay attention to whether the other person is exclusively asking you to hang out at night or clearing their schedule for a daytime meet-up.
Santos' bottom-line advice? "Use these indicators as guidelines (they usually build on each other as things progress)." Every relationship is different, but if you're not sure of where the other person stands, what's there to lose by asking?