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Unspoken Dating Rules: Did You Know What Second Dates Imply?

Updated on December 27, 2011

When I was in college, I experienced more than one fiasco resulting from different expectations between myself and male humans.

At the time, I assumed that these misunderstandings were just natural; all social activity brings with it a fair amount of confusion and conflict. While I still believe this to be the case, I have recently been informed that I was at fault in several situations. You see, I did not know what certain actions imply, and in many cases, at least according to some (apparently widely understood) unspoken dating rules, I was leading people on!

Let's put an end to this vicious cycle, shall we? Let's make sure that future socially inept gals and guys don't make the same mistakes. Let's make the rules CLEAR!

On that note, here's a big one: Apparently, if you agree to meet with someone you have just met a second time, you are implying that you are attracted to that person and are game for being more-than-friends.

Variations of this rule include:

  • If you agree to go on a date with a friend, classmate, or colleague, you are implying that you're attracted to him or her.
  • If you agree to go on a date with anyone you've met in person before, you are implying that you'r attracted him or her.

This probably doesn't surprise you, but it sure did surprise me.

Weigh In!

What should you do if you want to meet someone again, but not date him/her?

See results

The Second Date Rule

Call me a dunce, but it simply did not occur to me that, by expressing interest in hanging out with new acquaintances again, I was implying physical attraction.

That said, it makes sense. So I am glad to know the rule!

Some Complications:

  • One party may think it is a date while the other party assumes this rendezvous is just some friendly time-killing between new acquaintances.

DISCUSSION QUESTION: Is the onus then on an individual to clarify the status of a meeting every time one meets new people one-on-one when the meeting type is not clearly specified?

  • While both parties may assume that it is a date, one party may realize that he or she is not attracted to the other party. That said, he or she may still wish to be friends.

DISCUSSION QUESTION: How does said party arrange for future meetings without leading the other party on? Or must the prospect of a friendship be abandoned?

I would love to hear your advice on these complications. Share them in the comments below, or add your opinion to the poll to the left!

What About You?

Have you ever led someone on by mistake?

See results

Other Insinuations

Aside from agreeing to to on a second date on the spot, there are other practices that I have discovered may be misinterpreted as expressions of physical attraction by the other party. They include:

  • Sustained eye contact
  • Toying with hair (if female)
  • Placing hands on hips (if female)
  • Physical contact of any sort
  • A generally pleasant meeting

Have you ever lead someone on by mistake? Share your horror stories and words of warning in the comments below. Perhaps, just perhaps, we can learn from each other's mistakes.

... Though it really isn't the end of the world if we don't. Social fiascos are pretty amusing.


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    • profile image

      Krypsy 5 years ago

      Recently when on a second date hoping we could just stay friends but didn't know how to tell him that.... i ended up just kind of blurting out that i was not interested in a relationship....didn't go over so well with him...he sent me two long messages on facebook about how i waisted his time...oopsy..

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Most interesting, ElizaDoole! That sounds much nicer to me.

    • ElizaDoole profile image

      Lisa McKnight 6 years ago from London

      I'm not sure this applies to England. The rules are slightly different here. If you agree to meet up with a male or female friend for a second time everyone and their mum assumes you are dating. This leads to a conversation between the two of you to establish if you in fact are going somewhere. Problem sorted. BFFs or lovers.

      No one here assumes anything from hanging out. Or - I've left a trail of broken hearts in my wake ... EEk!

    • stugod profile image

      Stuart Goddard 6 years ago from Bradford

      I make my intentions perfectly clear with my elephant impression. This involves pulling my two trouser pockets out and un-zipping...Forget it. I hope it lightens the conversation though. ha ha ;););)

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Ooooooooh maaaaan @_@ STUGOD!!!!

    • stugod profile image

      Stuart Goddard 6 years ago from Bradford

      Last one but the ultimate is to ask the chick if she has any gypsy in her. With the usual answer being no.. It's a simple would you like some.? (Whilst twiddling with my ear ring);););)

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Oh maaaaaaaan stugod! Boy, would I ever like to see reactions to THAT one!

    • stugod profile image

      Stuart Goddard 6 years ago from Bradford

      My other infamous chat up line is.. Do you sleep on your stomach ???. If the answer is no it is merely a question of asking if I can then;););)

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Indeed- such assumptions would be a bad thing, Neema! I only argue that folks should be aware of what may be implied. I love the idea off asking a guy, straight out, what his intentions are and being clear about one's own intentions. I've been giving that a go and it's hard at first... but totally worth it in the long run, hahahaahah!!

    • Neema 6 profile image

      Neema 6 6 years ago

      Don't ever assume that just because a person agrees to a second date that you are in the clear. The problem with people today is that they don't know how to distinguish between friendship "hanging out", and relationship dating and instead of clarifying this, they say this person likes me so that must mean we are together. I would let the person know up front what your intentions are and find out what theirs are and what is mulling around in their head. I always do this. If the guy ask me out, I ask him straight up what are his intentions. Why is he asking me out. They usually say something like I like you. Then if they ask for a second date I say, I don't mind going out with you as a friend and that's it. I've said that on more than one occasion, and it works because the guy knows that you aren't interested in him that way and he'll either keep it on a friendship level or he'll let it go. So, as always, honesty is the best policy when dating. Tell the guy whether they are what you want as soon as you figure it out. Being scared only leads to complications and uncomfortableness in the long run and the anger is less likely to happen the sooner you clarify things.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      I need to start using that one, stugod. It's GOLDEN!

    • stugod profile image

      Stuart Goddard 6 years ago from Bradford

      I rarely get past a first date with my now infamous chat up line."you don't sweat much for a larger frame girl"

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      That, SirDent, is most strange. But I'm glad the problem is solved!

      I like this whole "accidental romance" thing, GoldenBird. Forget dating!

      We really would have fewer questions if dating were less of a fuzzy, uncertain thing WD Curry 111. Good point. And good point about accidental romance in the states! I suppose it does happen, but so much gets muddled because of differing standards, traditions, and understandings.

      Aah, so it's the THIRD date, huh stricktlydating? Most interesting!

      You're so right, Wesman Todd Shaw. Which is why being direct is really the best thing to do. Advice is dreadfully dangerous. But also very fun to collect!

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 6 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      It's really pretty hard to interpret just what someone's intentions really are. A lot of folks will say "whatever" as they feel that that is expected of them, and it can be hard to add the body language and eye signals into all of what is deduce what was REALLY said.

      Advice? Dangerous thing to give, really.

    • stricktlydating profile image

      StricktlyDating 6 years ago from Australia

      A second date to me, usually means I like someone enough to spend time with them again. Nothing more than that at that stage. But a third date is a whole other story, haha! I really enjoyed this Hub.

    • WD Curry 111 profile image

      WD Curry 111 6 years ago from Space Coast

      I came by to see what GoldenBird thought. The dating isn't all that organized. If it were more organized, there would not be so many questions about how to go about it.

      We have our share of accidental romance. Modern American dating is weird, because it is a "shorthand" version of European tradition that cuts time and leaves out the middle man.

    • GoldenBird profile image

      GoldenBird 6 years ago

      Dating must be a Western invention- we don't have organized dating in India; what we have is accidental romance!

      ...As good as one might find in fate, that works for our metaphysical piety. Luck is what we call marriage.

      Thanks for that Shakespearean soliloquy :-)

    • profile image

      SirDent 6 years ago

      I got it fixed now. Apparently each browser has it's own volume control now. Really weird.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Thanks for that feedback, SirDent! Strange that the sound wasn't working in Chrome. I've been using it and the videos have been playing OK. Let me know if you notice any other weirdness!

      LOL@ the Corrolla, JoshuaDR. And I suppose you never know until you ask or clarify... nothing seems clear when it comes to inter-gender relations these days!

    • JoshuaDR profile image

      JoshuaDR 6 years ago from Charleston, SC

      WD Curry.... that's funny

      I'm recently engaged but I always aassumed that a girl I had met before or was going on a second date with me was attracted to me. Let's face it, I'm not that interesting or fun and I'm broke and drive a Corrolla..... it must be attraction =)

    • profile image

      SirDent 6 years ago

      I opened this hub in Firefox after I commented and the sound works. It didn't work in Google Chrome.

    • profile image

      SirDent 6 years ago

      Well, the video is certainly entertaining even though I hear no sounds from it. Not sure what to say about dating. I don't think my wife would like me to date another woman. Of course, I am not sure about that because I am afraid to ask her.

      Is this video uploaded straight to the hub and if so, can all users do it now?

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      I like that, davenmidtown!!! I suppose the key now is to remain calm enough to say that once a misunderstanding surfaces, heheheh ^_^;;

      Being super clear up front does seem to be the key, secularist10. Better safe than sorry, I suppose!

      You're so right, Kangaroo_Jase. The manner of communication makes a big difference, and NOTHING about dating is clear cut! Hahaa, I just want to make it so.

      That's quite the smart device, ktrapp! Thank you!

      And you're so right, princesswithapen. Interpretation can really vary, so it's best to play it safe.

      I hate that you've also been in these situations, melbel, but I'm sure as heck glad I'm not alone! Your trick about inviting that guy to hang out with you and other people was a smart move- and it shows how being clear and polite can STILL make people mad! ARGH! As for turning off gaydar... hahahaa, I love that! Maybe it really WOULD be a cool thing to do around people one fancies, since then one would be less likely to be nervous and self-conscious. Hmmmm! Also, I just wish that all people were as clear and direct as that German programmer.

      I know, cclitgirl!! Who woulda thunk it?? Stupid unspoken rules.

      Thank you, stugod, for providing evidence that not ALL guy friends for gals are interested in being more-than-friends AND that guys are just as likely to be in the position of having inadvertently sent the wrong message.

      And I totally agree about this situation being sucky, Emerald Strachan. WHY CAN'T FRIENDSHIP BE EASIER???

      Hehee, thanks for stopping by livelonger! It's true- nobody wants to hurt others' feelings... though sometimes it ends up being inevitable!

      LOL Jeannieinabottle!! The bro hug versus the cuddly hug!! I AM GOING TO HAVE TO RESEARCH THIS! Also, 6 dates? REALLY? As if. That. Is. Insane.

      Thanks so much, alphagirl!

      And awesome point, WD Curry 111. Sociological trends revolving around dating are more important than tradition.

      Hahaa, of all the misinterpretation stories so far, yours is the funniest, FloraBreenRobison! Hahaa! Oh, inter-gender relationships really are hilarious.

    • WD Curry 111 profile image

      WD Curry 111 6 years ago from Space Coast

      When you are my age, and a beautiful woman shows a keen interest . . . hide your wallet.

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      I think this is why it is so difficult to be friends with people of the opposite sex. I knew there was a reason why my male friends tend to be very happily married - they tend to be the only men who don't misinterpret things. I even had a situation where a man who is gay thought I was making advances too. No, I just wanted to be able to out with someone I considered safe in the dark. You just don't walk around in the dark by yourself.

    • Jeannieinabottle profile image

      Jeannie InABottle 6 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      OK... I am back. I just read an article on Plenty of Fish that said you should give every man at least 6 dates before you decide if you like them! That is crazy! So now, if you follow the advice on POF, you are going against the unspoken rules of dating. Sigh. Sorry... I had to share.

    • WD Curry 111 profile image

      WD Curry 111 6 years ago from Space Coast

      I can't talk long . . . I'm married. Dating is a trip. There are no rules. Being a trend noticer, you may have noticed that our culture has more trend than tradition. Just communicate and keep it light. There is no easy way through relationships.

      The video was funny! I risked my life to watch it.

    • alphagirl profile image

      alphagirl 6 years ago from USA

      Lines get blurry these days! I think it depends each person!

      Voted up! Good luck to any on

      Out there dating

    • Jeannieinabottle profile image

      Jeannie InABottle 6 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      This is why I HATE dating! I was just expressing my sheer frustration on dating with a co-worker. Apparently, only certain types of physical contact gives the vibe you are interested. I was informed last night by a guy I thought I was dating that I gave him a "bro hug" on our date, so he thought I was not interested. So I asked, "And what exactly is a bro hug?" Apparently, I did not cuddle long enough or something lame like that. WHAT?!?!?! A bro hug! Since I am not a bro, and I am not required to abide by bro code, I don't know these things. I am a girl. Girl code states any hug is a nice hug. Grrrr... dating stinks! And now I learn that if I agree to a second date, it means I am interested! What is that? Can't a third date be the better way to determine that? I can't tell by the second date. I HATE dating!

      Sorry about the rant, Simone. Sometimes I think I should just quit dating again.

    • livelonger profile image

      Jason Menayan 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Fascinating topic! It probably weighs on people's minds much more than we think, because we all understand the concept of unreciprocated attraction, and very few of us want to deliberately hurt someone's feelings just because there's no spark. Great advice, and I loved the polls, too. :)

    • profile image

      Emerald Strachan 6 years ago

      These unspoken rules really p**ses me off because most times after the other person realizes that you only want to be friends, the situation ends up quite awkward! There are many times you lose people you really like, as friends, because they get offended that you aren't interested.

    • stugod profile image

      Stuart Goddard 6 years ago from Bradford

      I have fallen into this trap many times. Over the years I have had many female friends. Which I never even gave a second thought about any sexual congress, Much to my wife's annoyance. Looking back I suppose I was either being naive or just too busy to consider any physical relationship. One lady bar owner who used to put my troops up was a friend for over twenty years and it never entered my head that there would be a physical attraction between us. One awkward moment in Manchester when a rather large lady "Nora" got it into her head that the time was right had clearly got the time wrong. Oh happy days....

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 6 years ago from Western NC

      Wow. I must have accidentally led a bunch of guys on when I agreed to meet with them "as friends" but didn't explicitly say it. Hmmm. Great hub! :)

    • melbel profile image

      Melanie Shebel 6 years ago from Midwest USA

      I have been guilty of leading guys on without being aware of doing so. I just want to hang out and really just don't want to date. My ideal boyfriend is someone whoI've been hanging out with for a long time.

      It's really difficult because a lot of people use "let just be friends" as a way to totally get out of a relationship and I don't want the guy to assume that I hate his guts.

      One time I was like, "Hey, let's go to the Yacht Club, I'll bring along some of my OTHER GUY friends and we can all hang out" and the guy was kind of angry. I felt horrible, but it was the only way I could think of saying, "I want to hang out with you, but not date you."

      One particular case where I led a guy on without realizing it.. was really horrible. I thought we were decent friends, but there was nothing romantic for me. He asked me what I wanted for our one month anniversary... (on a side note... even if I were romantically attracted.. ONE MONTH anniversary? C'mon, what is this? High School? I'm in my mid-late 20s!) Anyway, I knew then that he thought we were more than friends. I decided it was best to stop hanging out.

      Another time, my gaydar was off and I assumed a guy was gay so I was kind of different to him than I'd be to a straight guy and apparently this made him REALLY like me. So hmmm maybe when I see a cute guy, I should just put it in my head that he's gay and it'd instill some sort of super-attractive confidence that I apparently don't have around guys I assume straight.

      From the other side of it all, I have a programming blog and this German programmer wanted to hang out with me when he came into Chicago on business. I was like "ummm no thanks" assuming it was one of those emails like, "i don't know what u really look like n although u don't know me i think it could work out. from what i read on ur profile it seems like we have a lot in common" (which I am SURE is a kind of email you've received on here or some random social networking site.) Then, the guy responded with something like, "I didn't mean to scare you thinking I wanted a relationship or something. I just want to talk about programming with someone because I know I'll otherwise be really bored when I'm in town. I'm already in a relationship." So yeah, I met up with the guy over coffee and had a blast. It was awesome that he spelled it out for me that he seriously just wanted to hang out.

    • ktrapp profile image

      Kristin Trapp 6 years ago from Illinois

      So funny Simone! Perhaps if you're in that sticky situation again, you could hang out but ask if he minds if your friend comes too.

    • princesswithapen profile image

      princesswithapen 6 years ago

      Physical contact of any sort, which you mentioned in your hub can indeed, be one of the single most widely misinterpreted move. While gestures of touching the hand, shoulder or waist may be familiar territory for some, it may be misinterpreted as 'advances' by others. Misinterpreted or not, moments like these sure make for amusing memories!


    • Kangaroo_Jase profile image

      Kangaroo_Jase 6 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      Dating is HARD in the first place. Being friends with someone is also HARD, but is very worthwhile and rewarding.

      Sometimes though, when one person is attracted to another but that other party sees the first only as friends, being socially awkward is difficult to communicate ones feelings.

      How one communicates to others is key as well, and sometimes, you just have to bite the bullet and let the other party down gently if that person is someone you want to be friendly with, but not necessarily date.

      We in Australia loosely follow 1st date, 2nd date, 3rd date conventions system, but its never clear cut. For example where both parties may seem keen about one another, it may not be clear cut about 1st kiss and then who is going to ring who for another date.

      Geez Im exhausted already with my explanation and Im not even on the market anymore... lol

      P.S. When I was on the 'dating scene' I was confused as hell and just made it up as I went :)

    • secularist10 profile image

      secularist10 6 years ago from New York City

      I think in general most women don't realize just how sexually driven men are. A small minority of women seem to grasp it (typically very hot ones, because they get asked out constantly).

      If a girl just wants to be friends, she can explicitly say that to be clear with the guy. It's fair to everyone to be clear upfront. (Guys need to be ballsier and make their intentions clearer too.)

      Also, here's one piece of advice for girls: think about how you act around a guy you like, what specific behaviors you do, and just make sure to NOT do those things with a guy you're not attracted to.

      I have a friend who is very flirty with everyone everywhere, but she gets into trouble and does lead people on a lot. (I misread her when I first met her!)

    • davenmidtown profile image

      David Stillwell 6 years ago from Sacramento, California

      I just hang out with whomever wants to hang out... it is not up to me to make assumptions... how else are people suppose to find friends. My line is this: Im sorry you were confused but now that we have straightened that out shall we hang out or not?


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