A lot of attention is often focused on the first internet date, to the extent that sometimes people lose sight of the real goal of online dating. To be successful you have to get beyond date number one and navigate your way to date number four and beyond. Developing ideas for what to do with a partner once you get beyond the first date is a good idea and sets you up for success. Here are some guidelines that can help.
Date #1. The purpose of this date is to get a firsthand impression of the other person and determine if there is a foundation to build on. Lots of active conversation is essential. That is why most people recommend you meet in a restaurant for lunch or coffee. Meeting for a drink at a bar can also work if the bar is not too noisy and if you meet in the afternoon rather than the evening. You want to be on your best behavior and make a good impression, so it is important to keep alcohol at a minimum. Both parties should drive separately to the meeting place and both should still keep their address and home phone number to themselves. It is also very important for the man to put the woman at her ease and to show sensitivity to her concerns about safety. Under no circumstances should either person get in the other’s car and drive somewhere on the first date. Senior women value courtesy, so it is a good idea to walk the woman to her car after the meal. Sometimes the woman will offer a perfunctory peck on the lips in saying good-bye, but this is definitely not the time to enjoy a real first kiss. The first date is a definite success when both of you decide there is enough interest to meet again.
Date #2. Another afternoon session is called for, with each of you still keeping your address and home phone to yourselves. Sometimes people want to move on to a romantic dinner in the evening because the first meeting went so well – but resist that temptation. What is needed is more conversation without the emphasis on romantic expectations. Some people will want to move on to doing an activity together, as is recommended for date #3 but that also may be hurrying the relationship too much. If the first meeting was for coffee, the second date should certainly be for lunch. Once again the focus should be on lots of conversation as you get to know each other better. Again, I would suggest walking the woman to her vehicle. The second date is also too early for that first kiss.
Date #3. It is time to spend a greater length of time together. One great way to do that is to do an activity – go to a museum, visit botanical gardens, spend time at a neighborhood festival, or drive through the mountains for an afternoon. Your day should include eating lunch and spending time in a car together as well as walking around at public events. Your addresses should still be unknown, so you should make arrangements to meet somewhere public so that one of you can get in the other’s vehicle for the trip. Spending a large part of a day together leads to much more conversation and gives you an idea of how compatible you are as you do things together. Upon returning to the vehicle at the end of your activity, you might find a good opportunity for that first kiss if the day has gone very well.
Date #4. If the relationship has continued to progress through the first three dates, then it is time to plan a romantic dinner. By now the woman should feel comfortable letting the man know her address so he can pick her up at home to go to dinner. This will be a second time they have been alone in a car together, but there should be no concern because of what each has already learned about the other. If the evening goes well, there should certainly be a good night kiss at the door. For the most part, senior men will have carried the initiative up to this point – asking for dates and suggesting what to do on the next date; but after three dates, it’s time for the woman to show initiative if she really likes the man and wants the relationship to continue to progress. She can do that on the fourth date by inviting him in for dessert or a glass of wine. She may even decide that date #5 will be dinner at her house.
Exclusivity and Sex. The progression of four dates I have described will be preferred by people over 50, but younger people may find themselves moving toward sex and even exclusivity in fewer dates. It is the individual couple that decides when sex and exclusivity become appropriate for them. In senior citizens, sex is not likely to become a viable issue until the fourth date or after. In my own case, I have been in two relationships in which I decided after the third date that I would be exclusive with my partner but I felt it was too soon to tell my partner I wanted them to be exclusive with me.
Every relationship has its own rhythms and realities. My guidelines for the first four dates can be helpful in putting couples at ease as they find relationships they want to continue.