Should I follow up on no response after a great first date?
We sent a few texts since the date, now she hasn’t replied. Anything I could do to get a second date or closure?
A BIG ANGEL:
I don’t date very much, but recently went on a date that I thought went really well and I liked the girl. Talking the whole time, both laughing, also kissed when we said goodbye and planned another date for the following week, etc. We sent a few texts since the date, now she hasn’t replied. Anything I could do to get a second date or closure? Or am I being stupid because it’s a first date?
You aren’t being stupid at all. Great first dates are right up there with eating raw cookie dough in terms of delightfulness. Very little feels so good and so full of hope for the future, good first dates are positively intoxicating. The problem with intoxication is that it makes fools of us all. The sick, fucked truth is that you can have a great— GREAT!— first date with someone who does not want a second date with you. It may not even be because you read the situation wrong or anything—your co-dater may have had a really fun time—it could be for all sorts of reasons that you both have no control over and will never be privy to.
Maybe she felt like you were more of a friend. Maybe this date made her realize that she’s not ready to date yet. Maybe her dad’s MS is getting really bad and she can’t bear feeling happy (or pretending to feel happy) at the moment. Maybe your haircut reminds her of her most hated ex. Maybe she thought something you said was a dealbreaker. Maybe she loathes the way you pronounce “water.” Maybe she felt like you were more into her than she was into you and worried she’d never catch up to your feelings. I DO NOT KNOW. YOU DO NOT KNOW.
You can’t know. Even if you reach out beg beg beg beg beg her to tell you, she may not give you the truth. Or the full truth. Or nothing but the truth. But guess what? It doesn’t matter. You do not need to know why this person does not want to go on a second date with you. It is immaterial. I KNOW it doesn’t feel that way. I know your brain is running over and over this little trench in your heart the way your tongue runs over a chipped tooth. I also know that what you’re most likely going to fill the trench with is Your Biggest Insecurity. That’s what humans do. To you, the reason this woman didn’t want a second date is always going to be whatever it is that you don’t like about yourself. Which is, frankly, unhelpful nonsense. But humans are very bad at not knowing.
I encourage you to try to sit with the not-knowing a bit more. I encourage you to try to not fill up the trench of pain with insecurity. I encourage you think less, “She didn’t want another date with me because I’m ugly and pathetic and my job sucks,” and think more, “She didn’t want another date with me, and I’m not sure why, and it is not really my business. I can’t do anything about it with the information I have. I can be sad, because I thought the date went well. I can be frustrated with how she handled it. But I cannot find out why, so I’m not going to fill in the blank of her motivations with my conjecture.”
The good news is that the pain will ease with time pretty much no matter what you do. (Unless you make this one minor “rejection” your whole personality, the opening paragraph to your manifesto, or whatever). Whatever you do to cope in the meantime, healthy or unhealthy, positive or negative, do not reach out again. She is handling this the way she’d like to be handling it. I’m not saying that she’s handling it well or with kindness, but she is having the amount of contact with you that she’d like to be having. Respect that even if you don’t like it, or don’t like the way she went about it. She does not owe you a second date just because you had fun on the first one. (I’m sure you know that, but I just want to remind you of it).
It’s painful that someone can simply not follow up with any more details. It sucks, but it’s also part of dating. If you want to spend your life railing against it, great go for it. But it’s a waste. Every single person I know under the age of 30 (and many over) has been ghosted or rejected without explanation or even follow up. A lot of people have also done the ghosting.
One big reason for ghosting is that the person you’re rejecting seems like they might not handle rejection well. This is super common from men (but of course anyone of any gender can be like this). Even if a person doesn’t seem like he’ll find out where you live and cut you up into pieces, some people give off the vibe that they are going to be not-chill about there not being another date. (The correct response to someone saying that they don’t want to keep dating you is a very simple and sincere, “Thanks for letting me know. I had a nice time and I wish you well.”) Please please make sure this is not the energy you’re putting out there. It is not even close to the only reason for ghosting someone, so I’m not trying to suggest that this is why she isn’t responding. But I think it’s worthwhile to check in and make sure that you are not coming across as a guy who might not take rejection well. (Aggression, anger, and guilt-tripping are all red flags!)
Now, is there some possibility that her phone service was cut off? Sure. Maybe she got both hands caught in a door and her fingers are bandaged and she can’t type. I don’t know. But to misquote TLC, you don’t need to go chasing waterfalls. Rejection is ok. People are allowed to not want to date you, even when you had fun together. It is not damning. You aren’t a bad guy simply because this one person didn’t want to date you. Hers is not the only good opinion on earth. She probably doesn’t want to date me, for example—doesn’t make me a bad person!
Ultimately, who gives a shit about her opinion (I mean, in this moment you do and that’s reasonable and I get that). But this is a person who doesn’t want to date you, so who cares about their opinion of you as a romantic partner. She’s not in your life and likely will never be. I’m not saying rejection should never hurt. I’m suggesting, however, that you build your life and yourself such that when someone rejects you you (without narcissism) think, “Well, that’s fair of them. I still like me.” To quote Dita Von Teese— BET YOU DIDN’T THINK THIS LETTER WAS GOING TO GO THIS DIRECTION!— “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there's still going to be somebody who hates peaches.” Some people don’t like Beyonce, for fuck’s sake. Live so that you like yourself so much that when someone rejects you, you can’t possibly frame it as “I must suck.” Because you don’t. You’re great (I presume!) Find people who see that, don’t try to convince people who don’t.
Sophia Benoit writes this very newsletter; she also writes about sex & relationships for GQ, tweets about everything else at @1followernodad, is a researcher for Lights Out With David Spade, and has had bylines in The Guardian, Reductress, Refinery29, Allure, and The Cut. You can reach her or yell at her at firstname.lastname@example.org.