Are you in a rut of first dates that aren’t leading to a second? Unfortunately, the problem might be you. Fortunately, that’s actually a good thing. Changing someone else’s dating behavior is impossible, but changing your own dating behavior is easy. 

Check out this list of bad behaviors and worse choices that are definite turnoffs. Be honest: Are you guilty of any of them? There’s a lot of little changes you can make in your approach to land the second (and third, and fourth, and fifth) date. 

The Venue

Sure, it’s convenient to have a go-to bar where you meet the majority of your Tinder dates for a quick drink. But if it’s so loud in there that no one can talk without screaming, or the place is always packed and you have to awkwardly stand, you’re not setting yourself up to make a good connection. Instead, choose a venue that’s lively but encourages conversation. Try to get there before your date and save them a seat at the bar. It shows you care.

Small Talk

Conversation is a skill that needs to be practiced. Remember, you have one mouth and two ears. Listen more than you talk. Ask leading questions that show genuine interest and aren’t just a clever way for you to talk about yourself. Por ejemplo, if you ask your date if they went to Burning Man because you want to tell them a 10-minute tale about biking through an art installation, you’re bad at conversation. Also, you’re not getting a second date.

Your Mom

Moms and exes can be mentioned, briefly, one time on a first date. Full stop.

Being Unavailable

Kathleen Dahlen deVos, MA, LMFT, suggests asking yourself whether you are open to love and a relationship. “I encourage really checking in to see what implicit messages you may be sending to dating partners,” she says. “One of my favorite questions to encourage this introspection is: ‘What are you available for?’ In other words, are you truly available for dating and/or a commitment right now, or are you on the fence about how invested you’re willing to get? Dating partners might be able to sense your ambiguity.” Maybe it’s time to do some soul searching before you ask anyone else out. 

Not Offering To Pay

If you ask someone out on a date, or even if there is no clear asker, you should at least sincerely attempt to pay the bill. If you can’t afford to splash out on an expensive dinner, then don’t invite your date to a restaurant. Getting ice cream, taking a hike, grabbing a coffee or juice, or attending a book store event are all affordable and acceptable first date ideas. Not offering to pay the bill, or — and not everyone will agree with this — even splitting it with someone you are trying to woo looks cheap and indicates you’re not invested in a second date. Not cute. 


How do you treat waitstaff, bouncers, and bartenders? If your date hears you speaking sharply and impatiently to strangers, they know it’s only a matter of time until they get the same treatment. Second date, denied.

Treating It Like An Interview

This can happen to anyone who has been on a few too many first dates. You have a laundry list of questions to ask so you can get straight to the point. And while that’s fine for a job interview, it’s terrible for a date. No one wants to feel like you’re looking for information that counts for or against them. Let the conversation unfold naturally, and see our points about listening above.


Sure, sometimes the subway is a mess and your boss asked you to stay late at the last minute. But. You should definitely send a message to your date with an apology and honest ETA. Leaving someone wondering where you are is a surefire way to lose out on a second chance. And don’t be the person who texts, “be there in five,” when you know it’s going to be more like 15. 


Rushing through a date is a bad idea, but do you know what’s even worse? Lingering too long after the bill is paid. It’s hard to keep the momentum and excitement of a first date going for more than an hour or so. Save some enthusiasm for date two, which you’re definitely getting if you follow this advice.

Bad Smells

It’s a simple step, but are you popping a breath mint and giving yourself a light (emphasis on light) spritz of perfume or cologne before you meet your date? Be sure you showered recently and follow these sweat-proof tips. Smelling good and having fresh breath are key to a good first impression that will lead to a second date.

Getting Handsy

Sure, there are dates where both people have an insane initial sexual connection. But it’s safer to assume your date needs time and space to get to know you before they’re comfortable taking things to the next level. Pressuring your date for sex, demanding sex, or bartering for sex is creepy, rude, and wrong. And we hope you’re already well aware that touching someone without their consent is illegal. Keep your sexual ideas and advances to yourself until there’s consent from both parties. 

Not Indicating Interest

If you’re still following the outdated rule of waiting three days after a date to get in touch, we have an idea: Don’t do that. “Be as open and direct as possible about what you’d like to see happen next,” says Dahlen deVos. If you want a second date, set it up either at the end of the first date or the very next day. She suggests saying something along the lines of, “I had a fun time and I’d like to see you again.” Though it might feel uncomfortable and anxiety-inducing to find out what your first date thinks about seeing you again, it’s better to be vulnerable than it is to be confused. 

Kiss, Kiss

A first date is an excellent opportunity for a (consensual, go ahead and ask) first kiss to test out your chemistry. But if you’re nervous and bad at it, well then… learn to kiss! You might have to find a kissing partner or do some research on the internet. The perfect amount of lip pressure guarantees a second date. And remember what we said about breath mints.