You’ve just come home after a great date. You felt a spark, you got the flutters, you swiftly notified the relevant WhatsApp groups.
So, what next? Chances are you’re reluctant to message them first because you want to “play it cool” as per standard dating form.
But what happens when hours of waiting turn into days, and days turn into weeks?
At some point, you have to draw the line and assume that the person with whom you shared some lols and linguine with might not be interested in seeing you again.
Or are they? The thing is, in today’s increasingly convoluted dating landscape, nothing is clear-cut.
To save you from sinking into an abyss of self-doubt, the Independent spoke to dating experts to find out what to do if you haven’t heard from someone after a first date.
What to do first
Breathe. If it’s been a few days since your date and you’re still experiencing radio silence, there’s no need to start sounding the “I’m never going on a date again” klaxon. Nor should you begin planning your year-long dating sabbatical.
In times of great panic, it’s best to adopt a pragmatic approach. The same applies to dating.
Why they might not have been in touch yet
Look back on your date and see if you can outline the reasons why this person might not have been in touch yet.
According to dating and relationship psychologist Madeleine Mason Roantree, these may include (but are not limited to):
1. They are seeing someone else but want to keep their options open
This can be a nasty pill to swallow, but it’s common to the play the field, particularly when your next date is literally a swipe away. You should acknowledge this as a very real possibility as to why your date has kept mum thus far.
2.Life took over and they forgot to get back in touch
It might sound like a clichéd excuse, but some people really are “just so busy”, either with work, family or whatever else there is to occupy oneself with.
Their communicative negligence could simply be a case of forgetfulness. Bear this in mind before describing yourself as a variation of Miss Havisham.
3. They just aren’t that into you
It will come as no surprise that this is the most common reason why someone may not get in touch after a first date. There are countless reasons why someone might feel that after one date, they aren’t interested in seeing you again. More often than not, it has far more to do with them than you.
Remember, you’ve only been on a single date. Chances are, they don’t really know you yet. Even if this person was a friend of yours beforehand, they’ve never known you in a romantic context, so you really shouldn’t take the rejection personally.
Now, the next step when it comes to moving forward with your life very much depends on which of the above you’ve decided most applies to your situation.
Action is required regardless, because assuming one way or another will only exacerbate the depth of your self-doubt abyss. You need to know why this person has not contacted you.
Mason advises sending a message sooner rather than later to avoid roaming around in dating limbo. Despite some dating experts suggesting sending a banal message, for example, about the weather to get the conversation going again, Mason explains it’s important not to beat around the bush.
“That will only lead to more misunderstandings down the line and might result in you being classed in the dreaded friend zone,” she said.
“If you are interested and you think they might be too, ask them out again.”
Some examples of texts Mason suggests you could send (you could try phoning them, but texting might feel more appropriate if you don’t know them that well yet):
“ Hi Jim, I really enjoyed meeting you, I was wondering whether you fancied meeting up again”
“I’m thinking of going to see [insert movie, museum, gig, park] and wondered whether you might like to join me”
“I’d like to invite you out for a date. Would you be free?”
This strategy is best if you think your situation falls into either the first or the second category.
What if you think they aren’t that into you?
It’s understandable why you wouldn’t want to risk feeling humiliated by asking someone out again if you think they might turn you down. As a result, you may decide to stay silent too.
A lot of us like to play it cool when it comes to dating, but if someone isn’t into you, they can make it clear rather than cutting off all communication (aka ghosting) and leaving you in the dark.
“Getting rejected is never a nice experience,” says dating coach James Preece, who adds that someone may decide to stop communication to avoid an awkward “thanks, but no thanks” text.
“But if you like them, it’s fine to drop them a message,” he tells The Independent.” If you don’t hear back from them then at least you know where you stand.”
The important thing to remember with all of this is that if someone likes you then they will make time to get in touch, Preece concludes, urging people not to spend every two seconds checking their phones for post-date texts.
A little silence every now and again is fine, he continues, but treating someone with disrespect is not, and you shouldn’t have to wait around for anyone.
“If they don’t respect you, find someone who will,” he says. “You’ve nothing to lose by texting them once, but never chase more than that.”