23 Second Date Ideas To Actually Spark Connection, From Dating Experts
Planning a second date can be just as critical to sparking connection as what happens on the first date. While first-date conversation topics may be more straightforward to come up with, deciding how to follow them up may prove a bit more challenging. So, we talked with a couple of dating experts who have some advice on what makes a good second date.
"I would say a good second date would be one in which you can continue to get to know each other and learn about one another," says licensed marriage therapist Rachel Freidus, LMFT. "Explore your chemistry and attraction and have fun (flirt!). There's no right or wrong activity, but being that first dates are usually more likely to be simple conversations (over coffee, a walk, a meal), it's fun to do some sort of activity for a second date."
Sex and relationship therapist Kingsley Moyo, MAMFT, RTC, adds, "When you consider what to do or try, choose interests that your date may also appreciate. Simple as it may sound, this shows how attentive you were on the first date. A second date is not necessarily separate from the first; it's a continuation."
Both experts stress that exactly what you do is far less important than being able to chat and continue getting to know each other. This is why Freidus does not suggest going to a movie this early on, for example. She and Moyo do have some specific ideas that can help you develop authentic connection with a second date, ahead:
Visit a museum.
"If you both enjoy art, pick a museum where you can walk around and talk about the art while you're also learning about each other," Freidus suggests. "Then add in time for food afterward just to chat more." Having time to talk is especially important if you met on a dating app and haven't had much face-to-face interaction.
Go paddle boating.
Freidus recommends trying out a water activity you can do together, such as paddle boating, paddle boarding, or canoeing. The serene atmosphere can help you both relax. Combined with the length of time it will take to complete these types of activities, there will be ample opportunity for in-depth conversation. Not to mention water activities are fun and require teamwork, which can help spark a connection.
"At some point, dancing requires you to get close," Moyo says. With dancing, you can do so in public so both parties can feel comfortable with sharing each other's personal space for the first time in a safe setting.
Have a karaoke night.
"If you have an opportunity to incorporate both food and music, do it," says Moyo. "The food and music duo have the capacity to evoke powerful emotions." He points out that singing can cause the body to release oxytocin, the bonding hormone we usually associate with sex and touch.
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Go for a walk.
Speaking of feel-good hormones, Moyo also notes that something as simple as walking, like most physical activity, causes your body to release endorphins. "Endorphins trigger positive feelings that will go a long way toward creating intimacy," he says.
Competitive activities like bowling are fun, first and foremost. This keeps your second date light and low-pressure. Maybe make things even more interesting by wagering that the loser buys dinner. It's a win-win, as this is an opportunity to continue the conversation.
Spend the day at an amusement park.
Freidus is an advocate of whimsical outings. "It's important to ask some deeper questions on a second date but also balance that with being playful and having fun doing an activity," she says. Amusement parks allow time and space for a little of both of those things.
If you live near mountains and hiking trails, take advantage of the opportunity for some fresh-air fun. Make sure your date is up for it, however. On a hike, the two of you can enjoy nature, get some exercise, and stop along the way to sit and talk.
Cook a meal together.
If you're comfortable inviting your date over or going to their place, Moyo loves the idea of preparing a joint meal. He encourages you to "enjoy the process of cooking together, not the end goal." As an alternative, the two of you could sign up for a cooking class to keep the date at a public spot.
Attend a concert.
Remember, music + food = good. Although Freidus believes it's important to be able to talk on your second date, the next best thing is dancing and singing together. She does recommend grabbing dinner before or after so you can still get in that quality conversation time.
Consume any type of art.
It doesn't have to be a traditional art museum. You could check out the work of a street artist or visit a funky part of town filled with creative installations. "Conversations about art are subjective," Moyo says. "This may be an opportunity to learn how out of the box your date thinks."
Create art together.
Most cities have a place you can go for a quick and dirty canvas painting session. Sure, you may or may not necessarily want to display the novice portraits you end up producing, but that's not the point. The point is to do something engaging with your date and learn more about them. And perhaps you'll discover they have legit artistic skills.
Find a yoga session.
The mind-body experience of yoga is palpable. Imagine if the two of you do it together. You'll leave feeling physically relaxed, mentally at peace, and hopefully, in sync. No strings attached. (P.S.: Yes, couples' yoga is a thing!)
Visit a fair or festival.
You can do several of the activities mentioned here at an outdoor festival. You can walk around, eat, get fresh air, enjoy carnival rides, and likely listen to music all while you're there. This makes for a full day of fun, as well as plenty of in-between time for good conversation.
Go rock climbing.
This one can be intense for someone inexperienced, so make sure your date is up for the challenge. If so, the sense of accomplishment you'll both have after your climb can produce some serious feel-good vibes.
Meet at a park.
"That second date could be with someone you really like, or it could be with someone you're giving one more chance to but aren't very excited about," Freidus says. "If it's with someone you're not sure about, do an activity that can be shorter if need be or one that you can (easily) leave whenever possible." A low-key picnic at the park can be as long or short as you like while still being an enjoyable activity.
Visit a popular restaurant.
You can't beat good food and good conversation. Dinner might be a bit cliché, but this is a common date idea for a reason—it works. Having dinner gives you at least an hour or two to sit, talk, and connect. Try choosing a restaurant neither of you have been to or one with interesting décor or a unique theme. There are ways to spice up this classic date night.
It feels good to help people. And that's the goal here, for both you and your date to feel good spending time together. You two can really bond over doing something selfless, and you'll get a good sense of who they are and how they treat people.
Go for a bike ride.
Again, physical activity does wonders for your mood. Since you're biking and can go farther faster than on a walk, you can also make stops along the way, such as at an ice cream shop. Here, you can take a break, sit, and talk.
Do a double dinner date.
If your date is interested, Moyo suggests introducing them to a friend. Going on a double date is a natural way to make the introduction. This can be especially useful if you're struggling to get a good read on the person, as Moyo points out that your friend will see things you may have overlooked.
Attend an open mic night at a comedy club.
This one can be tricky, as a comedian may use people in the audience (i.e., you and/or your date) for material. They may say something that makes you uncomfortable. But if you're able to poke fun at yourself and your date seems to have a healthy sense of humor as well, you'll spend the night laughing.
Or try an open mic night at a poetry lounge.
Poetry is the language of romance. Hopefully, you two will hear some butterfly-inducing poems about love and leave feeling closer than when you arrived.
Enjoy a holiday-themed event.
Holiday-themed and seasonal activities are always fun because you don't get to do them all the time. During winter you might go ice skating or check out the city Christmas tree. At other points during the year, you can visit a haunted house for a cute fall date idea or watch a fireworks display in the summer. Take advantage of these intermittent opportunities.
What makes a good second date?
According to Moyo, a good second date creates an opportunity for authentic connection. "Good second dates don't come solely from how creative you are. They come from how attentive you were in honing in on your date's interests," he says. Plan something that allows you and your date to talk, as well as something that feels personal now that you know them a little better from the first date.
How soon should a second date be?
Freidus says there is no "should." "There's no right or wrong, and every couple is on their own timeline. Timing of the second date depends on how much they like each other, their goals, how close they live to one another, free time, and many other factors." Go on a second date when it feels right.
Is the second date a good time to kiss and/or have sex?
The right time to have sex with someone for the first time depends on what sex means to you, according to Moyo. Some people enjoy having sex regardless of whether the relationship goes somewhere afterward and can enjoy pleasure in the moment. But as Moyo notes, "If sex for you is about attachment, connection, and vulnerability," consider waiting until there's more trust and commitment established. Either way, a kiss can be a nice demonstration of affection without going further than you're ready to.
How many dates until you're officially dating?
"I believe that if you are going on dates with someone, then you are dating them," says Freidus. She reiterates there's no correct number of dates. What's more important is that both of you are on the same page about whether you're "officially" dating or not.
When done effectively, Moyo says a second date can represent the transition from you and me to an idea of us. Be creative, ask good questions, and like Freidus says, be playful. Establish an environment that welcomes romance and deepens connection.
Acamea Deadwiler, M.S., is a freelancer writer, speaker, and the critically acclaimed author of Single That: Dispelling the Top 10 Myths of the Single Woman. She has a bachelor's degree in public and environmental affairs from Indiana University Northwest and a master's degree in marketing and communications from Valparaiso University. She's a former Top 100 Contributor on Yahoo! with more than one million page views, and her work has been featured at New York Post, Blavity, FOX, and elsewhere.