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If you’ve botched your first date but still want a second try, here’s what you need to know and do to make a comeback.

How to Recover From a Horrible First DateWhether you’re fresh faced to the world of romance or have been playing the dating game for decades, bad first dates come for us all. Maybe you saw it coming like a runaway train unable to be stopped, or you thought it was going great until they never called you back. Rather than wracking your brain with regret and killing that summer body with a proper (read: terribly improper) amount of ice cream, here’s a revelation.

You can still pull an ace out of your sleeve and get a second date that erases all memory of the former. You just need to know how.

  • Come Clean About It

It’s time to bite the bullet, since dancing around the problem will only get an instant “no.” Text or call them, admit that the date went horribly, and then offer to make it up to them. Once the situation is on the table, they can be honest in whether or not they’re interested and you can pitch why a second date would be better. This gives you a fresh template for round two and saves the awkwardness.

  • Give Some Serious Incentive for the Second Date

Let’s face facts; if the first date went horribly, most people won’t be interested in another try. They’ve given it a whirl and it’s not worth their time to face another bad date just in slim hopes it’ll be better. That’s why you have to catch their eye and give them an added prize to gain for accepting a second date. No, that doesn’t mean promising sex; that means an awesome date idea. For example, is there a new demo VR system available at a gaming store? Invite them to try it out with you. Not only does this give you a fun topic that’ll keep conversation from running dry, they have an incentive: even if the date goes badly again, they got VR!

  • Know Your Weak Points – and Avoid Them Like the Plague

You’ve actually been given an advantage with a bad first date: you know what to look out for. While you will be fighting uphill against a bad impression, you also have a checklist of things to avoid in the second date.

Did things get too serious and literal during a flirty conversation? Make sure to stay funny and casual, and choose an activity or place for the date that encourages light-hearted fun, such as a carnival or a comedy club. Did you get a little too tipsy and silly? Go for a morning date at a café or somewhere that’s far, far away from the nightclub atmosphere.

  • Aim to Make Them Laugh

First dates are for making great impressions and sharing about yourself with each other. Since you’ve lost your chance at a first impression, it’s no longer about showing them the real you – it’s about winning back their favor. No one can resist a person that makes them laugh. While you might’ve been aiming for laughter beforehand, make it your sole goal of the night to earn a laugh from them now. Just be careful not to try too hard, since that’ll have the reverse affect, but always start a topic with an intention to get a giggle at the minimum.

It’s a hard balance to strike, considering this is quite literally your last chance to impress them, but be very conscious that you don’t come across as desperate. Of course you are, otherwise you wouldn’t be going to so much effort, but focus on starting a topic but then letting them take the lead. Monitor how long you talk and make sure you give them equal measures. If strong silence still prevails after your second try at conversation, let it stay for a while; they could be testing you to see how eager you are.

Remember, you only have once chance, but your chance only lasts for a few hours at most. You can keep it together that long, and once you have their good opinion age, you can relax and start from scratch.

Coming back from a bad first date isn’t easy. Some say it’s impossible. But the key is to plan, strategize, and do your best. In the end, if the second date doesn’t win their heart, then at least you tried and perhaps it wasn’t meant to be.

Sandra Baker

Sandra Baker – online dating specialist.Writing about interpersonal relationships, love and finding a partner.

Leading a blog of Flirt.com.

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