Our advice for successful dating

Article 20

How to end a first date

'Goodnight' can be the hardest word – here's how to get it right

“All's well that ends well,” so the saying goes, and that's certainly true on a first date. The tone of your goodbye may linger in your date's mind more firmly than anything you’ve said all evening, and those final few moments could make or break your chance of a second date.

The end of a first date can be a nerve-wracking experience. The better the date went, the more nervous you'll feel, because you don't want to spoil your chances of seeing your companion again. Chatting all evening might have been easy enough, but suddenly you're terrified of hitting the wrong note. What should you say? Is it best to be coy or forward? To kiss or not to kiss? Shake their hand, give them a hug or give them your number?

If it's any comfort, your companion is probably just as nervous. No-one ever quite knows how to handle the end of a first date, and most of us walk away wishing we could turn the clock back and do it all again more smoothly. If you'd rather go home feeling happy and confident about how your date ended, here's what to do.

If the date went well, don't be coy

The end of a great first date is no time for playing hard to get. People respond to being liked – that's probably why the date went so well. There's already some momentum behind your fledgling relationship, so build on it. Thank your companion for a great evening, and say that it would be lovely to see them again.

Take a chance

If you're keen, but you're not sure how your companion feels, you've got nothing to lose by hinting that you'd like to see them again. Something like: “I really enjoyed meeting you, let me know if you’d like to meet up again” is enough to state your interest, but it won't embarrass you if they don't feel the same way. Leave it at that; don't press them for reassurance.

If you're not interested, don't pretend to be

Honesty is the best policy if you don't want a second date. You don't have to insult your date, but don't leave them waiting for a call that'll never come. Say something like: “Thank you, I had a nice time. Perhaps we could stay in touch as friends?” If they still ask for a second date and it’s clear that they have a romantic interest in you, say that you don't think you're right for each other, but that you wish them well with their next date.

To kiss or not to kiss?

Let's assume that the evening went well, and you're both making hints about meeting again. Should you give them a kiss? Only if you want to – and only if you think they want to as well. Judge it by meeting their eye, touching them gently on the arm and leaning in. If they lean in too, kiss them and keep it brief. If at any point they lean back or turn away, stop. Don't take it as a rejection – this is your first date, and they may be very nervous. If in doubt, it's better to leave them wishing that you'd kissed them than wishing that you hadn't.

Head home separately

It may seem wise to share a cab if you're heading home to a similar part of town, but it’s important to remember that you still have a long way to go in terms of getting to know one another, and at this stage it’s best to maintain a sense of independence - so say goodnight and make your own way home.

Don't make them wait three days for a call

You've probably heard the “advice” about being as coy as possible after a date, but that will just make them think that you're not interested. If you were both quite flirtatious when saying goodnight, drop them a text on your way home. “Thanks again, it was so good to meet you x” is enough. If they text back, call them the next evening. If they don't, wait for them to make the next move.

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