How soon should you message after a first date?

The first few minutes after a great first date are heaven. Your heartstrings feel like they’re being plucked by angels. Twenty-four hours later, those heartstrings are being twanged by demons – because your date hasn’t called you, and you haven’t called them, and you don’t know what to do about it.

We asked real daters, with real phones, how they decide when to call.

Is it OK to text on the way home?

Anna: “Yes, if I really like the guy. I texted my current boyfriend about half an hour after we said goodbye outside the pub on our first date. I just said, ‘I’m still smiling.’ Thank fully he texted straight back to say ‘me too.’ If a guy likes you, a text isn’t going to put him off – he’ll probably be really relieved to hear from you.”

Andy: “Only if the date really did go well, and you know that he liked you too. It keeps the momentum going. Also it puts the ball in his court – he feels like he’s got permission to phone you the next day.”

What about calling on the way home?

Sarah: “No way. If a man called on the way home I’d think he was a bit too keen. It’s nice when a guy likes me, but not so much that he won’t leave me alone. If someone’s that easy to impress, they’re not much of a catch!”

Aaron: “It would have to have been a really amazing date! Most of the time I’d rather have a bit of space from someone after a first date. I think you should switch your phone off on the way home from a date and ignore it until at least the next afternoon. You’ve got to leave them wanting more. Don’t be too much in their face, it’s annoying.”

Is it best to keep them waiting?

Adam: “Up to a point, yes. If a girl I’m dating doesn’t phone me, I’m desperate to know why, and it makes her more interesting. But if you leave it a week he’ll give up and go on a date with someone else.”

Erin: “I once got obsessed with a guy because he never phoned me. At first I only fancied him a bit, but the more I waited for his calls, the more interested I got. Should I use this strategy on men?”

Harry: “I think you have to be so careful with playing hard to get. If someone fancies you to start off with, you might intrigue them by making them wait for a call. But if they’re not sure about you, they might forget about you quite quickly.”

So when is the right time to call?

Andy: “It depends on how the date went, and how keen the other person seems to be. If you really seemed to get on well and you got a good vibe from them, ring them the next night. If he likes you he won’t be put off by that.”

Sarah: “If your date texted you on the way home, they obviously really like you, so ring them during the next day. Otherwise, wait until the following evening. Don’t wait three days, because the momentum from your date will have started to fade.”

Matt: “I think it’s best to wait a day or so, not to be manipulative but to give yourself a chance to calm down and think of what to say. If you’re still in that immediate post-date high, you might babble and end up wishing you’d never picked up the phone.”

Moira: “Totally depends on what your date was like. If you couldn’t stop talking, had a snog and both seemed to want to meet up again, ring them as soon as you like. If you’re not sure if they fancy you as much as you fancy them, wait for them to call you.”

Harry: “Most guys are far more shy than women seem to think. If they like you, they’d love to get a phone call. Doesn’t really matter when.”

Rachel: “Waiting a day or two lets them look forward to hearing from you. I’m always wary of letting a man know how much I like him, because I don’t want to seem needy or put him under pressure.”

Aaron: “If you had sex on your first date, wait at least a day or two before getting in touch. Even if the sex was great, they might feel crowded if you get in touch too soon. I hope that’s not sexist – I’m sure it’s the same for girls as well.”

How do you stay sane during the 24 hours after a great first date?

Moira: “Assuming it’s a weekend, I get out of the house and leave my phone at home. The best distraction is clothes shopping, so it can get expensive!”

Sarah: “Staying away from my computer! If you go home and Google him you’re asking for trouble. I once got home from a date with a guy to find a Facebook friend request waiting for me. Way to turn me off!”

Matt: “Beer and friends. Mainly beer.”