Dear Rosie & Sherry,

I went out with on a first date and we had a great time. She was laughing and smiling, and so was I. We never had a silent moment, we got to know a few things about each other, we spoke about different topics and it was great.

Three days later I called her back and told her that I would like to see her again. She said she had a great time but that she needed some time first, and that she was not ready to see me again. What does this mean? I'm pretty confused about the whole thing. Please give me some advice about what to do next. Thank you.

Jeff

Dear Jeff,

It sounds to us that you are relatively new to the world of dating. Otherwise, you would have been able to pick up on your date's clear message that she was not interested in going out with you a second time. We understand that her turn-down seems very confusing after the two of you seemed to have had such a positive first date. Unfortunately, this happens sometimes, for any of a dozen reasons. Here are some possibilities that might apply to your situation:

1) Even though you had a positive date, she decided that you aren't what she is looking for and decided to move on. She could have based her decision on a legitimate reason -- she may have realized, for example, that the two of you have a different set of goals and/or values.

2) Your date could have been looking for "fireworks" or some other elusive quality that exists more often in movies and novels than it does in real life. People who begin a courtship expecting "magic" are apt to be disappointed and are likely to give up on even the most promising dating partners and continue searching for their dream. They don't realize that "love at first sight" is an infatuation based entirely on physical attraction and has nothing to do with the character of the other person, and that most courtships based on "love at first sight" end after a matter of months -- when the chemistry fades and the dating partners realize they have little in common or had overlooked negative aspects of their date's personality.

3) You may have had a better time on the date than she did, and she decided that since the date didn't rate an 8 or 9 out of 10, she doesn't want to go out a second time. This is very common, and, unfortunately, a mistake. A large percentage of the happily married couples we know rated their first dates as "okay" rather than "great." They wisely decided to go out a second time, learned more about each other, and gradually built a relationship.

4) She could have decided there wasn't enough physical attraction. This is also a premature reaction to a date, since many people don't experience strong physical attraction the first time they meet the person they will someday marry. Over the course of their first few dates, however, they find themselves becoming more and more attracted as they get to know the other person better.

5) Your date really doesn't know what qualities she's looking for, and even though you had a good time together she's too unsure to realize it would be worth getting to know you better. People who think this way keep hoping there's someone a little better around the corner. The problem is that usually there isn't.

6) She's looking for perfection and you're not perfect. (Relax -- nobody is.) Why is it, then, that so many of us refuse to allow our dating partners to make a mistake? (We're not talking about actions that reflect negatively on a person's character, such as insulting a waiter or exploding after being cut off in traffic.) Can't we overlook the fact that perfectly nice, personable people sometimes put their foot in their mouth, commit a fashion no-no, fail to plan for the weather, or order the wrong thing?

7) Of course, there is a possibility that something you said or did turned her off to the idea of a second date. You might have found it so easy to talk to her that you opened up about a private topic that made her feel uncomfortable. This sometimes happens early in a courtship, even though the topic wouldn't generate the same discomfort if it were brought up further down the line, when the two of you had developed an emotional connection.

If, on thinking back, you realize that you may have been too open, you may want to avoid making the same mistake the next time you hit it off with someone from the beginning. Save conversation about topics that are deeply personal or overly revealing for much later in the courtship.

As you can see from our short list of possibilities, in all likelihood, by turning you down your date passed up on a great opportunity to get to know you better and see if something could take root between you. We hope that you soon meet someone for whom this isn't a problem.

Rosie & Sherry