By Jane Hoskyn
Triumph! You’ve got a date with the man you fancy. But don’t count your chickens, ‘cause you’re not his girlfriend yet. Before you get anywhere near girlfriend status, you have to survive the harrowing 24 hours after your first date.
As any regular dater knows, the dreaded “day after” is designed to turn the sanest of women into a quivering wreck, fixated by the silent phone and desperate to know whether he wants to see her again.
But don’t let this put you off ever saying “yes” to another first date. If you can handle the aftermath with panache, it could be the start of a fabulous new chapter in your life. Here are 24 ways to make the most of those 24 hours.
1. The day after starts as your date ends, so make sure to leave him with a good “last impression”. Don’t just say “’bye” – bid him farewell with a full sentence that includes his name. A sweet, confident "Thanks, Stephen, I really had a good time. Goodnight…” will linger in his mind far longer than a mumbled “seeya.”
2. Crucially, look into his eyes as you say goodnight. Bewitch him with your gaze, rather than shuffling off nervously with your hair hanging over your face.
3. Want to kiss him? Hold that gaze, give him a half-suppressed smile, lean in for a peck on the lips, hold it for a heartbeat too long – and if he doesn’t pull away, kiss him. But don’t get carried away. The point of the exercise is to leave him wanting more.
4. Ban yourself from texting him on the way home. I’ll say it again: leave him wanting more.
5. Savour the moment. Sit on the bus with a big grin on your face. You may remember this moment for years, so enjoy it, and don’t let your inner pessimist start grinding you down just yet.
6. When you get home, wind down with a bath, a hot chocolate, a book in bed, or whatever it takes (yes, whatever it takes) to get to sleep. Don’t lie awake all night worrying about every little thing you did on the date.
7. If you’re not in work the next day, get out of the house and keep busy. See a friend, hit the shops, meet your mum for lunch. Chat about last night’s date, but don’t drive yourself mad by analysing all the details.
8. Go for a run or a bike ride. The fresh spring air and exercise will make you feel a lot better about yourself.
9. Listen to your gut instincts. American psychologists who studied a group of speed-daters found that their instictive feelings about how a date went – good or bad or wafting about in the middle – tended to be pretty accurate. So if you think it went well, it probably did.
10. Remind yourself that men don’t want to put you off by seeming too keen. So he hasn’t phoned by lunchtime… well of course he hasn’t. He’s playing it cool.
11. Resist the urge to go online and mention your date in your status updates. If the guy really liked you, he may well be Googling you right now. Do you want him to stumble across your girly online declaration that “I’minlovei’minlovei’minlovei’minlove”? Probably not.
12. Don’t email all your family and friends telling them that you’ve found The One. Sod’s law states that you will never hear from him again, and you’ll feel humiliated as well as rejected.
13. Have you already checked your phone 15 times by midday? Switch the thing off.
14. Have you made it to 5pm without hearing from him and without going mad? Good work. The time is now right for you to do something about it. Drop him a quick text. Keep it simple and friendly – something like: “Hi, had a great time last night. Thank you. x”
15. If he doesn’t respond to your text by the end of the night, steel yourself: you may not hear from him at all. You will feel terrible now, but please don’t think that you’ve lost the love of your life. He’s just a bloke who doesn’t appreciate what you’ve got to offer. No loss.
16. If he does text you back, wait an hour and then give him a ring. Try not to call him immediately – partly because you may give the impression that you’ve been sitting by the phone all day (which you haven’t… have you?) and partly because you’ll be too hyper to have a decent conversation.
17. On the other hand, don’t wait for hours on end before replying. If he’s texted you, he wants you to like him. Don’t miss your window of opportunity.
18. When you talk, try to stay relaxed. Find out how he thought the date went, but be subtle – don’t attack him with questions about whether he wants to see you again, and when, and where.
19. Relax him, too. Be aware that he may be very nervous, so make it clear that you’re happy that he called.
20. Let the chatter flow by continuing a topic of conversation from last night.
21. If you like him, let him know. Playing hard to get won’t work in your favour at this point. He has shown interest in you, so don’t throw it back in his face – keep the momentum going by being friendly and welcoming.
22. If he also seems keen, seal the deal by suggesting something that you could do together. “Would you like to meet up for a drink next week?” is plenty. The worst he can say is no – in which case write him off, get a mate round for the evening, watch a DVD and moan about men. (But he’ll probably say yes.)
23. Know when to end the conversation. Wrap things up quickly when you can feel the energy levels dropping. Tell him that you enjoyed chatting, and it’d be good to talk again soon – that sounds a lot less needy than “will you ring me again tomorrow?”
24. Now you’re free to spend all evening grinning smugly.