You ever have a time where you’re lying in bed, trying to fall asleep, and then your brain suddenly decides to be a jerk and replay all the embarrassing things you’ve ever done in uncomfortably vivid detail? Turns out there’s a name for that. It’s called “Fridge Horror”. This happens when you experience something horrifying but it doesn’t register in your brain until much later, such as when you’re rummaging through your fridge the next day trying to grab a midnight snack. For example…
…this was my face when I watched Star Wars Episode 6: Return of the Jedi for the first time, and…
…this was my face when it dawned on me that the cute and cuddly Ewoks probably ate all the fallen Stormtroopers after the film ended.
I still kick myself over this one mistake I made a long time ago. Not as hard as I used to since I’m married now, mind you, but still on occasion when I’m trying to sleep and my brain decides to remind me of all the dumb things I’ve done in the past so I wake up at like 2 in the morning and my wife just looks at me weird.
My pain is your gain. I made these mistakes so you don’t have to. Enjoy!
What happened when I followed the “Three days” rule
A few years ago, I was on the online dating website OKCupid and I came across the profile of a stunningly gorgeous Chinese woman. “Steve,” I thought to myself, “she is way out of your league. There’s no way that she would go for a guy like me.” I decided that I would try anyway. I skimmed through her profile and learned that she was in med school studying to be a doctor, so I thought that I would try to send her some sort of silly message about that. I messaged her:
“Do they teach you the way to a man’s heart in med school?”
And to my surprise, she messaged me back.
“No, they taught me how to dissect a man’s heart.”
“Wow, remind me never to make you mad,” I replied.
We messaged each other back and forth for a while on the website. She told me her name was Wendy and we traded phone numbers before logging off. During the week, she would randomly text me “Hey Steve, what’chu doing?? :)” and I would always look forward to hearing from her. She told me more about her studies in med school and I told her about how I was studying to be an accountant. That Friday I texted her,
“Feel like getting some Chinese to eat?”
“Sure. Reminds me of home :)” she replied. We set the date for Saturday night. I could hardly fall asleep that night, but I didn’t mind at all.
The next night, I drove over to the restaurant where we had scheduled our date. “I’m already inside. Just waiting for you,” she texted me. I parked outside the restaurant and just nervously sat in my car for a while. My heart felt like it was ready to leap out of my chest. What would it be like to meet her for the first time? What if she saw me and was disappointed? What if she didn’t like me the way I am? Finally, I mustered up the courage to go into the restaurant.
And then there she was. To my surprise, she looked even better than she did in her online dating profile.
“Hey Steve” she said. I thought I detected a hint of nervousness in her voice.
“Hey,” I replied anxiously. We both looked at each other silently for a few tense moments. Then, she gave me a smile that was both warm and reassuring. I smiled back and finally began to relax.
I teased her, “So you’re studying to be a doctor? Isn’t that a little stereotypical for an Asian?”
“You’re an accountant, Steve! Isn’t that a little stereotypical for an Asian?” she teased back. We both laughed. She told me more about her hobbies and we shared a few stories about ourselves. The food was amazing and we had a great time talking to each other. It was one of those rare nights that seemed to last forever and yet felt like it was over in the blink of an eye.
…and then I failed
I always heard the rule that you ought to wait three days after a first date to contact her again. That way you don’t come off as clingy and it lets her wonder about you…or some crap like that. Honestly, it didn’t feel right at all to go no-contact for three days after a first date. However, I was still new to dating and I just thought that was what you were “supposed to do”. So, I didn’t call her or text her after our date.
One day passed without any contact whatsoever.
Then two days.
Then three days.
Then I called her. Before she even got three words out, I’d realized that I screwed up hard.
“Who’s this?” she asked.
“It’s Steve. We had dinner at that Chinese place three days ago.”
“…Oh, right” she replied. “Umm, how about I let you know the next time I’m free?”
“Sure” I said, full of naïve hope. As it turns out, she was just letting me down easy. She never did contact me back to let me know when she was free. Three days of no-contact and she had already forgotten who I was.
Shouldn’t you wait so that she wonders about you?
Sure, if you’re trying to be like this guy…
Want to know what happens if you wait three days to contact her after a first date? Story time!
Just a few weeks ago, I was crossing the street while walking home from work. The sign very clearly said “WALK” and the incoming cars very clearly had a red light. Thus, it was very clearly my turn to cross the street and the cars’ turn to stop and wait. Very clearly!!
(Pardon me, but I am still salty AF about this!)
As I begin to cross the street, I spot a flash of silver out of the left corner of my eye. A sense of dread fills my mind when I realize what it is and I feel a jolt send shivers down my spine. A car decided to run the red light and I’m about half a second away from becoming part of its front bumper. I dive forward, landing on all fours as the car roars mere inches behind me. A pedestrian helped me up, saying “Dude! It should totally have been safe for you to cross.” Meanwhile, the offending car drove away into the sunset while a crowd of pedestrians looked at it disapprovingly.
The very next day I couldn’t have told you what that car looked like. I don’t even remember what the pedestrian who helped me up looked like. I remember seeing that car’s front bumper. I remember getting that jolt down my spine and me jumping out of the way. I remember being helped up by someone. But what that car actually looked like…I couldn’t tell you even if I saw it in a lineup.
And it almost killed me!
If it takes less than 24 hours to forget the appearance of something that almost kills you, then a woman you go on a first date with is going to forget you if you go no-contact for three days. It doesn’t matter how amazing that date was. If you wait that long to contact her after a date, she’s not going to miss you or sit around and wonder whether you liked her. She’s just going to forget you outright.
How to follow up after a great first date
Well, the exact rules on following up after a first date don’t actually matter all that much. It’s like obsessing over which font to put on your Resume. Calibri, Times New Roman, and even Comic Sans are all perfectly fine. As long as you’re not using Wingdings, it doesn’t really matter.
So, how do you follow up after a first date? Especially if you are new to dating? Personally, I like to send her a quick text message after I get home. Something along the lines of:
“Hey, [her name]. Just got back home, I had a great time with you tonight and I’d really like to get to know you better :)”
There are two points to remember. First, you always want to be your best authentic self when interacting with her. Specifically, you should be the same you that she liked when she agreed to go on her first date with you. Wendy and I enjoyed texting each other before our date, and I should have continued texting her the same way after our date. However, when I gave her the cold shoulder and did no-contact for three days I suddenly became a very different person than the one she liked.
Second, exactly how you follow up with her matters less than you might expect. This goes back to our job-hunting analogy. If you completely flubbed an interview, the world’s best thank-you note will do little to save you. On the other hand, if you blow them away during the interview then it doesn’t really matter what you say in your thank-you note (that is, unless you write it in Wingdings again.)
What really matters is how you made her feel on the date itself. After all, people tend to remember less about what you specifically said and more about how you made them feel. Show her a great first date and she’d probably love to go on a second one with you!