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How Long Should a First Date Last? Your Guide to Timing It Right

So, you are wondering… how long should a first date last? We’re looking at the amount of time to wait before you know whether or not you like someone.

how long should a first date last

First dates have the ability to make magic happen, but how long should a first date last?

You meet someone and they are exactly as they claimed to be when you heard about them. They are cute with perfect candor.

Or, sometimes a first date has the ability to bring hell on earth. You’re gritting your teeth and suffering through their awkward conversation, rude demeanor, or straight up weird behavior. You’ve been counting down the seconds until it’s been an appropriate amount of time to politely bail.

All of this social anxiety begs the question: how long should a first date last?

First date classics

Before we get into the specifics, let’s look at some ideas for what you can do on your first date. [Read: 20 ways to perfect your first date conversation]

Some classic first date ideas include:

#1 Heading out for a coffee and seeing whether or not you get along

#2 Dinner and a movie *a classic for a reason!*

#3 Taking a fantastic photography hike

#4 Go out for dinner at a pub and play pool

#5 Head out for a cocktail and some live music [Read: 30 fun first date ideas that’ll leave them wanting so much more]

If you’re not into traditional dating and are looking for something a little more unique, these seasonal first date ideas are sure to please:

#7 Spring: Garden picnic to see the newly budding flowers or head out to the newly opened theme park

#8 Summer: Beach lunch with an ice cream stroll

#9 Fall: Pumpkin patch, corn maze, Starbucks, and sweets

#10 Winter: Sledding, hot cocoa, and sitting by a fire asking get to know you questions

A first date is designed to test for chemistry and to get to know the person next to you. Now that you have your date planned out and ready to go, it’s time to figure out how long you should be hanging out for before you call it a night. [Read: Perfect your first date conversation with these 20 tips and tricks]

How long should a first date last?

Should a first date be confined to a 30-minute time limit or should you let it go as long as it’s fun? What constitutes ‘enough time’ to get to know one another? Is it okay if a first date lasts for 10 hours?

When it comes to how long a first date should last, the real answer is that it should last long enough for you to get to know your date. Whether your date lasts one hour or four hours, you should make sure you plan it accordingly.

Your first date should include a fun activity that leaves you enough room to chat and get acquainted. Here are the answers to these questions and more in our guide to first date etiquette.

Different strokes for different folks. Some claim 30-minutes is long enough while others prefer a two-hour time limit on their first encounters. Here are some guidelines to follow when deciding how long a first date should last. [Read: 18 signs your date really likes you on your first date]

#1 Long enough to get to know one another. The date should last as long as it takes to get a good idea of who you’re sitting across from. According to Business Insider, people make snap judgement first impressions of others within the first 7 seconds of meeting!

That’s not a lot of time to impress your date. Therefore, you need to commit yourself to giving this person a fair chance to get to know them before cutting your date short.

#2 Short enough to bail if it sucks. You want to plan an evening that is both fun, active, and allows time for chit chat. That being said, you also want a date that you can bail on if things aren’t going very well. Planning a 4-hour lunch cruise around the harbor sounds romantic, but it isn’t exactly bail-worthy. *unless you brought a lifejacket!*

It’s always good to have a friend ready to be your scapegoat for a date-gone-wrong. Tell your BFF to call you 30 minutes into the date. Tell your friend that if you pick up the phone that means the dates going awry and you’re using them as an excuse to leave. If you ignore their call, things are going well! [Read: How to end a date – The good, bad and the ugly examples]

#3 Don’t overkill your time together. Dates can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 5 hours; the latter being a bit of an overkill if you’re just meeting for the first time. Unless you guys have really hit it off from the get-go, odds are you’re going to have an awkward silence or two during the course of your date.

Dragging a date on for hours on end may sound romantic, but it may end up ruining your date if you run out of things to talk about. [Read: 14 signs you’re unintentionally ruining your first date]

#4 Don’t play by someone else’s rules. Some singles prefer to meet up for coffee to get a real feel for one another. Coffee dates are great for either first dates or first meets. First of all, everybody loves coffee.

Second, if you aren’t feeling the spark, you can leave as soon as you’re done with your cup. But if the date picks up, you can always turn your coffee date into to a meal or a walk to spend a little more time together.

If you’re headed out at night, as 60% of surveyed singles prefer, you may be together until the wee hours of the morning talking and getting to know one another. [Read: How to end a date the right way without feeling awkward]

Put simply? There are no right or wrong answers for the question: how long should a first date last? If your date is going amazing, keep it going! If you’ve been mentally rolling your eyes since your date started speaking, whoops! It’s time to go.

[Read: First date moves that will guarantee a second]

So, how long should a first date last? Your date should last as long as you want. If you’re having fun there’s no reason to tap your watch *cellphone, let’s be real* and say you’ve used up your allotted time together. So long as you’re enjoying each other’s company, your date could last all night!

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Waverly Smith

Waverly Smith is a freelance writer who has been getting paid for spreading her sarcastic take on love, life, and sex since 2010. She is many things that peo...

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