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Third Date Rule: Are There Benefits to Waiting Three Dates to Have Sex?

Have you heard of the third date rule? It means three dates before having sex. Here are some good reasons to stick to it, and what research says about it.

third date rule sex

The third date rule is something that we’ve pretty much all heard of before. If you haven’t, we’ll make it pretty simple.

It’s the idea that you wait until the third date before sleeping with someone. Some people say it’s pointless and you should just have sex whenever you want, others swear by it.

So what makes certain people say this is the golden rule?

Well, that’s what we’re here to cover. The third date rule is often a guideline for women to use in order to make a man want to keep coming back for more. It also helps to ensure the man wants a serious relationship and not just sex. However, guys can use this rule, too.

Why you need to set boundaries for yourself – and others

Everyone needs to have certain boundaries in their love lives. It’s okay if you want to have sex with someone after the first date and are ready to do so, but it might still give the wrong impression to the other person. Therefore, you have to set boundaries in order to establish your value.

When someone sees that you won’t just put out for anyone who takes you out, they see you in a better light. They have more respect for you. The people who stick around until the third date are then worthy of you. [Read: The perfect tease – How to keep a guy interested after sleeping with him]

The golden rule – Wait for the full three dates

This is crucial for making this work. If you just say you’re going to wait for three dates and then only wait for two, it will certainly send the wrong message.

Firstly, they won’t take you seriously with much else. Secondly, it shows you’re willing to give in if pressured enough. Neither of which are good.

Why does the third date rule actually work?

This is the big question we have to ask ourselves when we consider implementing this rule. Why does it even work? We know by now that it definitely does since it’s highly popular. But we just don’t know the details of why it’s so effective.

If you’re on the fence about whether or not you should stick to the third date rule, we can help. Here are all the rules regarding this technique and why it works so well with so many people. [Read: How long should you wait before sex? The full guide on timing, dates and sex]

1. You set your standards early

The success of the third date rule really falls on the shoulders of standards. When you set your expectations and your standards early, it’ll only attract the right kinds of people.

You won’t have people who just want to get laid wasting your time. When you have this rule in play, you’re telling other people that you have standards. And if they fail to meet those standards, they’re not worth your time. [Read: 16 signs to know if your date’s only interested in sleeping with you]

2. It shows that you’re not looking for a hookup

All of that being said, it also shows people that you’re in it for something more serious. Some people even decided to extend the third date rule and make it a five-date rule or even longer.

This will let people know right away that you want more. It will make them see you as someone who can be in a serious relationship.

You’ll avoid that awkward moment when they try to get you in bed because they’ll already know they can’t. [Read: Dating material vs. a hookup – how to tell the difference]

3. It lets you see if they want a relationship

When you take sex off the table, it forces you to weed out the people who want something real. When you explain this rule or mention it and they get uncomfortable and act like they’re unhappy, then they’re not for you.

It’s a really quick way of knowing whether or not someone is in it for the relationship. When they accept your rule without question, you know they’re someone worth your time. [Read: 15 signs he definitely wants a relationship with you]

4. It brings out their respectful behavior – or not

Respect is everything in a relationship. Without it, you can’t possibly have a healthy and happy relationship with someone. Therefore, you want to know if they’re respectful right away.

In order to do that, the third date rule helps. When someone learns of this rule, their behavior right after will tell you all you need to know.

Are they respectful about this rule or do they roll their eyes and complain? [Read: How self-respect affects you and your relationship]

5. You’ll be able to get to know them better first

We need to touch on the fact that there are always risks when it comes to having sex. You could get an STD and even get pregnant. Do you really think having a child with someone you know nothing about is a good idea?

Probably not. That’s where the third date rule comes into play. It allows you to spend time getting to know someone better before having sex.

6. You’ll feel more comfortable when you do have sex

Having sex with someone when you barely know anything about them is generally not very fun. It’s uncomfortable and awkward. And honestly, you feel a lot less confident.

But if you wait until your third date, you’ll already have an idea about how much you like this person. It’ll just make the sex much better in general. Which can also leave someone coming back for more. [Read: Stealth sex – What it is, 19 ways to prevent stealthing and why men do this]

7. It makes them work harder to win your affection

Effort is something each relationship needs to have on both sides. When you implement the third date rule, you’ll force the other person to put forth that effort.

They’ll try extra hard to win your affection and it can really make your relationship with them so much better. [Read: How to talk to your crush and make them want you more]

8. It fosters a respectful relationship

Relationships should be built on trust and respect. When you announce that you respect yourself and hold others to just as high of standards, it fosters that type of relationship.

If your relationship with them grows, it’ll be based on the fact that you respected yourself and that they respected your wishes and your rules.

9. You’ll be able to see the real them by the third date

The first date is all nerves. The second is a little better, but not too much. By the third date, you’re always more comfortable around them and you can let your true self shine.

This is especially important to see before you have sex with them. Why? Because when you see the real them, you’ll be able to decide if they’re the person for you. [Read: 60 questions to get to know someone better]

10. It clears your head so you can make sound decisions

Sex has the ability to alter the way you see someone. You end up bonding closer with someone you’ve slept with – and that’s not always a good thing.

The third date rule works because you’re able to have a clear head about how you feel about someone. Your real feelings can come through so you’ll know if they’re someone you even want to sleep with.

What does the research say about the third date rule?

Now that you know all the reasons you should stick to the third date rule, what does the research say about it? Is this the best amount of time to wait? And how long does the average couple actually wait to have sex?

Well, there is a famous study that was published in the Journal of Sex Research. It studied couples who are not married but in a serious, long-term committed relationship. [Read: Having sex with someone for the first time? The 17 must-follow rules]

The main focus of the study was to figure out how long they waited to start having sex. The researchers also wanted to know how this affected how happy they are in their relationship.

Barely over half of the participants – 51% to be exact – said they waited a few weeks to have sex. And another 38% said they either had sex on the first date or within the first two weeks. The last 11% said they had sex before they even went on their first date!

Okay, we know what you’re thinking. How can a couple have sex before their first date? Well, that’s probably because they already knew each other. Perhaps they were friends or co-workers and had a friends-with-benefits situation before they decided to date and become an official couple.

The interesting thing about these couples is that they said that their timing of having sex didn’t really impact how they felt about their relationships.

However, the only slight difference the study found is that the 11% who had sex before their first date were just a little less satisfied with their relationship. But most of the participants were happy in their relationships. [Read: Mutual sexual tension – 44 signs, causes, and secrets to get more horny]

The researchers concluded that it’s not too surprising that the people who had sex earlier were slightly less happy. This is because it’s commonly known that the sexual passion and excitement of a new relationship fade as the relationship progresses. So, if you start having sex sooner, the passion – or honeymoon phase – will wear off more quickly unless you put work into keeping it alive.

But here’s the really interesting conclusion of the study. It’s not so much when you have sex that is important, but how you think about sex that is.

In other words, what do you and individuals think about sex and love complimenting each other – the degree to that you think sex and emotions are *or should* be intertwined.

The people who believe that sex and emotions should exist simultaneously feel that they don’t want to have sex with someone until they are sure they will have a long-term, serious relationship with them. [Read: 23 signs to know if someone is thinking of you sexually and desires you]

On the other hand, if a person can separate sex and emotion, they think that having sex without love is fine. They are more comfortable with casual sex and have a higher sex drive and more sexual partners. Because of this, the amount of time they need to have sex with a new partner is much shorter than it is for someone who needs emotions to have sex.

It’s not that either way is better or worse. The important thing is knowing yourself and your needs and standards. Therefore, the only “right” time to have sex is when it feels right to you.

However, the challenging part of this is that if you have two people who feel about sex differently. One would be happy to have sex on the first date, and the other wants to wait until a serious commitment. So, hopefully, you can find someone who is on the same sexual page as you are. [Read: 90 Day rule – How sex controls men, women, and the way they should date]

The third date rule is, what some might say, a compromise. Waiting for three dates tells the one who needs emotions that their partner is interested enough in them to invest time and energy in dating them. But it’s not too long for the person who could be happy having sex on the first date.

What to do if you and your partner have differing views of the third date rule

Although we just said that the third date rule is a “compromise,” there really is no such thing as a compromise when it comes to sex. The decision to get intimate is a situation where both people have to agree. If one of the people doesn’t want to have sex yet, then sex should not be an option until they are.

The good thing to do is to keep getting to know each other and work on the trust between the two of you. That way, emotions can grow naturally. Both partners need to feel safe and comfortable before they get sexually intimate. [Read: What does a third date mean to guys? A guide to read his mind]

It can be frustrating to the partner that doesn’t want to wait. But it shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. If you really like the person enough, you should be able to postpone the sexual part of your relationship.

Should you follow the third date rule or ignore it?

While there are some good reasons to stick to the third date rule, as you can see, there is no absolute perfect time to have sex. Different timing works for different people. 

The only people who have the right to choose the appropriate time are the two people who are involved. Sex is a mutual experience between two people. What matters the most is that you and your partner both consent, and you are enthusiastic about getting intimate.

[Read: 13 warning signs to keep a lookout for on the first three dates]

Whether or not you believe in the third date rule, you can’t deny how much it’s worked for people in the past. Thanks to this rule, many couples have gone on to have great relationships.

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The editorial team of LovePanky comprises relationship experts and real-life experts that share their experiences and life lessons. If you want the best love ad...