Why I Keep First Dates Short & Sweet, No Matter How Well They’re Going

How long do you spend on a first date? I tend to cut it off after an hour regardless of how well it’s going. I stick to this tactic for a variety of reasons, but ultimately because it’s one that works for me.

  1. Short dates provide insurance if it’s bad. Knowing that I’m only staying an hour provides me with some reassurance that I’ll be out of the date in no time when it’s awful. It’s like an insurance policy on the date. If it’s terrible, I won’t have to worry about sucking it up and dealing with the rest of it. It’s a total relief.
  2. I’ve been stuck on dates before. It’s the absolute worst to be unattracted to someone and maybe even mildly annoyed but stuck on a date with them anyway. I’m too much of a people pleaser to end a date early unless we’ve established that in the beginning, so I’ve found myself stuck on dates that go on and on while I’m wanting to gauge my eyeballs out. Instituting the one-hour rule prevents this from happening.
  3. It’s good to do something simple like coffee. A dinner is too fancy for me on a first date; I much prefer coffee dates. It’s short and sweet and I can leave at any point. Unlike dinner, we won’t get caught up in waiting for waitresses and checks either. We just get an easy cup of coffee and can chat over the casual vibe. I’m not saying I do coffee 100% of the time, but that is my go-to short date idea.
  4. I tell my dates ahead of time that I have other plans. I let them know either prior to meeting or right at the beginning of the date that I’m going to have to scoot at a certain time. I prefer to tell them before the date even starts so they don’t think that I’m making excuses after meeting them and wanting to run. This keeps my intentions transparent and lets them know that I have good boundaries.
  5. An hour is enough time to get a read on someone. I don’t need multiple hours to tell if I like someone or not. An hour is more than enough time to determine chemistry and maybe even get some insights into compatibility. It’s certainly enough time to identify some red flags, like hearing about how much weed they smoke when I absolutely hate weed. I’m not selling myself short by only spending an hour with them.
  6. I can tell within minutes whether I’m attracted to them or not. Nevermind the hour, I can usually tell within the first minute or two whether or not I’m attracted to them. I can often sense chemistry in that amount of time too. I know when it’s a big “no” and I also can tell when it’s a big “yes.” Sometimes it’s a “maybe” and those take some more time to feel out.
  7. I can handle awkward and bad for an hour. As I said, I’ve been stuck on bad dates for hours at a time. An hour is much more manageable. I can bite the bullet and handle the awkwardness or the badness of that 60 minutes—it won’t kill me. Any longer and it’d be a different story.
  8. This tactic is good even when the date is going well. It’s not only a good tactic for getting out of bad dates (though that’s a great perk), it’s also healthy for good dates. As I said, it shows them that I’m good at setting boundaries and healthy people will love that. It also keeps me from getting too crazy in hanging out with them for hours or hooking up with them when I’m trying not to do that.
  9. It’s worked well so far and doesn’t do any harm. This tactic has served me well. I’ve had a lot of success with it, mostly with crappy dates being able to end early, but also with leaving lovely dates wanting more. Why not keep dates to an hour? It doesn’t hurt anyone as long as I tell the person ahead of time. Longer dates could be harmful in some circumstances, so I like my way.
  10. Sometimes I break my rule. With all of this being said, I’m not a perfect person. Sometimes I break my own rules and go out to dinner on a first date or let the date go longer than an hour. I’m OK with this. As long as I’m achieving my goals most of the time, I’m happy.
Ginelle has been writing professionally for more than six years and has a bachelor’s degree in digital marketing & design. Her writing has appeared on Birdie, Thought Catalog, Tiny Buddha and more. You can follow her on Instagram @ginelletesta, via her Facebook page, or through her website at ginelletesta.com.