The follow-up after a first date is rarely as simple as: "I like you, I had fun, let's get together again." First, there are layers of meaning in texts to unpack coupled with the actual timing: who reaches out first and how quickly does the other person respond? It can all feel like a giant chess match at times.
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 (it's scary to take the dive of expressing interest without being sure where the other person stands).
Despite attempts to put up an aloof front, though, there are a number a things men do to clue you in that they're interested. Below, our guy expert Rich Santos spells out some of the motives and reasonings coming from the other end, to spare you the next-day mental math.
1. Completing the Date
Low bar, we know, but hear us out. While the act of simply seeing the date through to its end may seem like an obligation for most people, Santos indicates that there *are* exceptional dating disasters where he simply has to cut it short for his 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 there wasn't any major fire to put out.
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. "I'm naturally talkative with those around me, but if I invite everyone else around us into our party, I might be looking for a more interesting outlet."
"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 like taking a walk, grabbing a drink, going for dessert, catching a movie, etc., 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 he's willing to see things through to the end and extend the date past the "easy out" first location of a bar or coffee shop, there's a good sign he's making the time because he wants to see where things are going.
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 the timing may not be that immediate. A common time to suggest another date is at the end of the date. Though some may say this merely to be friendly before making a quick exit, says Santos, "it can't be bad if the guy is enthusiastic enough to suggest a second date. He just has to make good on his 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 a guy giddily follows up after a date to let you know he had a great time without waiting. The alternative makes for a stark difference: "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, if you don't hear back right away, it's not a definite rejection from the other party. But the added excitement of a speedy follow-up message speaks for itself.
6. Striking While the Iron's Hot
Here comes the tricky "wait and see" part. When the other party doesn't send you that speedy affirmation text, or shoot you a greeting within a few days, it can mean a number of things. Santos says that waiting too long to to follow up is one sign that the other person is flaky or uninterested, which in either case is probably 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 just yet. I'm just keeping the conversation going," he says.
On the other hand, either being ghosted or receiving non-committal, half-hearted responses without the intention of setting up a concrete next date is a sure sign of disinterest. And while the standard puts so much pressure on the guy to make the first move, there's no harm in taking a feminist stance of reaching out before he does 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 also 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, and on the flip side, don't count on the other person having serious intentions if you haven't seen each other consistently for a month or so.
8. Planning Spontaneous, Non-Cliché Dates
The informal text to see if you have the afternoon free to take a walk and spend time together—unannounced—is the golden key that lets you know someone's thinking of you even when there's not a pre-established date set up. Santos says, "Take notice when he asks 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 and showing you they want you around whenever, wherever."
There's a big difference between the impromptu hangout invitation and the "lol u up?" text, though, and if you're seeking a relationship more so than a casual companion, pay attention to whether the other person is exclusively asking you to hang out at night or clearing his 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?