- Holly Battey, PsyD, matchmaker and dating coach
- Janine Ilsley, LMSW, licensed psychotherapist at Cobb Psychotherapy
- Jessica Jefferson, LMFT, licensed marriage and family therapist
- Michelle Herzog, LMFT, relationship and sex therapist
- Nicole Ohebshalom, RN, LPCC, New York City-based psychotherapist
- Sharon Gilchrest O'Neill, LMFT, marriage and family therapist
According to a number of relationship experts and psychologists, the answer is "absolutely." “If you are waiting for the initial spark in a literal sense—that immediate, visceral flash of attraction to a new person—you could potentially be waiting forever and overlooking the heart of a good relationship right in front of you,” says licensed psychotherapist Janine Ilsley. That's why—assuming your spark-less first-date didn't present harrowing red flags or a reason to make you feel unsafe—Ilsley recommends almost always taking a leap of faith by going on a second date. Psychotherapist Nicole Ohebshalom, LPC, agrees, noting that a second date can provide an opportunity to build chemistry.
“If you are waiting for the initial spark, you could potentially be waiting forever and overlooking the heart of a good relationship right in front of you.” —Janine Ilsley, psychotherapist
Remember, it takes time to establish a genuine connection. In other words, this isn’t something that happens overnight—let alone in an hour or two of a first date. “The absence of an instant spark or attraction doesn't mean one won't grow over time," says relationship and sex therapist Michelle Herzog, LMFT, CST. Spoiler: it can.
Of course, you should never feel pressured to go on a second date if you know in your heart that it's not a match. “Sometimes we just know that we are truly not interested in pursuing anything further, and that's completely okay,” Herzog says. However, the experts do recommend keeping an open mind and erring on the side of taking a second date, even when there was no first-date spark. Below, they share why.
6 reasons reasons to go on a second date, according to psychologists—even if the first date left a spark to be desired
1. That initial spark? Not so important.
“We all think that an initial spark is an indicator of compatibility; however, there is a lot more to a long-lasting and healthy relationship than the initial spark of the first date,” says Jessica Jefferson, LMFT. In fact, in addition to not necessarily measuring true compatibility, the presence (or lack thereof) of that first-date spark is often given outsize importance. “An initial spark is more indicative of infatuation than compatibility,” she adds.
Instead, of worrying about a spark, Jefferson recommends spending your time getting to know one another, creating emotional intimacy through conversation, and spending quality time together. All of these factors—which you likely won't satisfy on a first date alone—will subsequently enhance physical intimacy and give you a better picture of whether a partner is a solid and desirable match for you.
2. First dates can be nerve-racking
For many folks, first-date jitters are a real thing. Knowing this, you could consider the possibility that you're actually not getting the true, full picture of a person just based on the first date. “Unless there is something so obvious to you that you could ever get past, never consider that you know [everything about a person],” says Sharon Gilchrest O’Neill, LMFT, in reference to a gauging a just-okay first date. Her best-bet tip to get to some someone more authentically? Try a second date.
3. They’re not your type—and that's okay
Do you have a type? If so, you’re not alone, and that's totally okay. According to matchmaker and dating coach Holly Battey, PsyD, many of us have a dating type, but clinging too tightly to notions of said “type” can limit us from considering potential matches. So, if there’s a baseline attraction and you like how you feel in your date’s presence, try to keep an open mind, even if your gut reaction is that they're not your type. Furthermore, dating against your type can open up a whole new world of possibilities to potential love interests.
4. Spark aside, you did have a good time
When you’re unsure of whether or not you want to go on a second date, Herzog recommends reflecting on the quality of the date. According to Herzog, this exercise can help you consider what future dates with this person might be like, and help you ascertain whether that's interesting to you.
For example, consider the conversations you had: Did you enjoy them? Were you intrigued by this person? And did you even perhaps have fun on the date? If any of these are a “yes,” opt for a round two without overthinking things, and you may be pleasantly surprised.
5. You may have had an off day
When you feel off for any number of reasons, your mood and headspace can impact how you feel about a date. “This may mean you are distracted, leading to the lack of spark you are hoping for on a first date,” says Herzog. With this in mind, if you were in a funk for a portion or the entirety of the date, she recommends scheduling another meet-up once you’re feeling more like yourself.
6. Remember, sparks can burn just as fast as they ignite
Consider this another reason to not worry about having felt a spark. “Sparks can fizzle just as quickly as they are created,” says Ohebshalom. Those looking for meaningful, long-lasting relationships will need to allow the figurative fire to build over time rather than in a fast fury, which may well burn out. “You want to make sure that this other person really understands who you are and vice-versa,” she adds. As a result, you’ll be able to build a successful and sustainable fire—plus a “deeper connection that makes chemistry much more fun.”
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