Friend’s Question: Does the three-date rule still apply? I’m not sure whether or not I should have sex with Mr. New Guy after our third date.
I texted my friend with my brief, initial thoughts, but her question seemed worthy of a more thorough answer. There’s no definitive relationship guidebook or treatise on dating that everyone reads and follows. As such, these informal rules – such as waiting until you’ve gone out on three dates before engaging in sexual activity – receive more credence than they should.
Most importantly, there is no right or wrong time to have sex. This is a personal and intimate choice to make. No rule and no other person, including the one with whom you’re considering having sex, should influence you to do anything that makes you uncomfortable.
There are other concerns with respect to the three-date rule:
- What is the goal of having sex? Sometimes sex is just sex. If that’s the case, then there might not be the need to wait for three dates or to even go out on a traditional date. But, if you’re looking for a long-term relationship, focus less on the act of sex or timelines and more on getting to know the other person. Take however long you need to build a strong relationship foundation.
- The three-date rule doesn’t take into consideration the timeline for these three dates. For one couple, three dates might happen in three consecutive days. For another, it might take two months to go on three dates. Likewise, what was the foundation between you two before you went out on your first date? If there’s a history of friendship, you may already have an emotional connection before you add sex into the mix. That might cause you to favor having sex sooner than a couple who is just getting to know each other.
- Unfortunately, we live in a society in which double standards regarding female sexuality and slut shaming prevail. That can lead to women trying to justify to themselves or others that they are waiting to have sex. One reader wrote me wondering why her partner wasn’t taking her out on dates since she had waited to have sex with him until after three dates. She informed me that their first “date” entailed them meeting at a networking event. The second date was a coffee date, and for the third “date,” she went over his place to have sex. That’s fine if she only wanted sex. However, her questions indicated that she was open to the potential of a relationship that wasn’t just based on sex. In that case, it might have behooved her to wait until they knew each other better.
- Dr. Susan Krauss Whitborne’s analysis of current research indicates that couples who wait more than a month before having sex have stronger and longer relationships. Age and stage may also impact how soon a new couple has sex. A recent Business Insider survey reveals that approximately one-third of male and female respondents believe that it’s appropriate to have sex sometime after the second-fifth dates. (Note that 37% of the survey’s respondents were between the ages of 18-29.) Over half of the responses favored sometime after the second-ninth dates.
- The three-date rule doesn’t contain any component of verbal communication. Unless you’re using a condom and just interested in a quickie, there are important issues that should ideally be addressed before having sex. How do you define “sex?” Will you get tested for HIV/AIDS and STIs before engaging in sexual activity? What birth control will you use? Will you spend the night after having sex? What, if anything, does having sex mean? Will having sex create an expectation of exclusivity or regular interaction (via the phone, social media, dates or in the bedroom)? If you don’t feel comfortable talking about any of these things with the other person, then it might be a sign that it’s too soon to have sex.
The above list is merely for your consideration. When you have sex with a potential partner is a decision for you and you alone to make. Just do whatever feels right for you and appropriate for your relationship goals at this point in your life. xoxo
Did I miss anything, readers? What are your thoughts about the three-date rule? Have you ever ascribed to it?