Making it to the third date is no small feat. I mean, not to say you aren’t a catch or anything, but it’s actually very easy to ghost or let things die down before ever actually reaching this milestone. (Especially when you consider all the options everyone has via online dating.)
This is why we love a third date. You’ve enjoyed your time with this person so far, you’ve gotten to know them, you’ve maybe even kissed their face. But now it’s time to get deeper.
There are a lot of myths surrounding the elusive third date we need to address though. For one thing, there’s a tendency to believe that if you’ve made it to the third date with someone, you’re on the right path to finding the one. And while this could be true, it could also not be.
Unfortunately there’s no magic formula on how to nail a third date, but we do have some tips from experts on what you should be talking about, the importance of the third date, and why it matters so much. Here’s what you should know.
Why is there so much emphasis on the third date?
If you’re taking dating seriously and are actually looking for a life-partner rather than a one-night stand, a lot can depend on how the third date goes. Dating and relationship expert Lisa Concepcion, who is also the founder of LoveQuestCoaching, explains that “by the third date there’s attraction, interest and this might be when things get physical, ideally a kiss to see if there’s chemistry.”
And “if there’s no chemistry by the third date, most people shift into just being friends.” So simply put, the third date is the moment when you decide whether it’s worth it to pursue a relationship with the other person or not.
What can you expect from a third date?
According to Concepcion, the third date is all about boundaries and clear intentions. “Expect to be clear about what you’re both seeking out,” she explains.“If there’s more you want to know about them before having sex, this is the date to make that known and clear.”
If you haven’t already made sure that they don’t have any of your deal breakers, make sure now. This can include things like political party, religion, if you want kids, where you want to live, etc.
The third date is also the perfect moment to acknowledge what both parties are looking for. I’m not saying you should go ahead and ask the dreaded question of “what are we doing here?” but it’s definitely okay to address whether you’re looking for a relationship or something more casual to make sure you’re on the same page.
“You can also expect more sexual energy and you should expect to set the pace and be clear about what you want, what works for you at this stage, and what doesn’t,” explains Concepcion. Also, this is the date where you discuss life goals and see if you’re both on the same page or if life will take you in completely different directions.
However, despite the fact that date three means potentially sleeping with each other, don’t feel like you have to. People tend to wait until the third date to sleep together because by then, it’s been established that you find each other attractive, but there is no need to make that jump if you’re not ready.
In fact, Alexis Wolfe, dating guru and founder of NYC Date Nite, is wary of the “rule” to sleep with someone on the third date. “I always caution putting that kind of pressure on a number,” she explains. “Maybe you are ready [to sleep together] by date three, or perhaps you go into the date thinking you are, but realize later that you don’t feel comfortable. Play it by ear and always listen to your intuition.”
What to keep in mind going into the third date:
To be honest, there is nothing you need to do in order to get ready for the third date. I mean, if you’re expecting and hoping to sleep with this person, make sure you have the necessities like condoms, makeup remover, etc. But in general, just be yourself with this person, Cramer suggests.
“Let your potential partners know who you really are. Pretending to be someone you’re not is difficult and exhausting. Being authentic and real is the key to establishing a solid foundation for a sustainable relationship.”
Additionally, don’t be afraid to really ask the important questions. The first date was the most superficial where you tested the waters, the second was the one where you found out if you actually had a good time the first time around, and the third is where the important questions need to be asked.
“Ask questions that can help you get to know the person on a deeper level,” Cramer says. (If you need some ideas, peep this extensive list on deep questions to ask your partner.)
“Listen carefully to their answers. Don’t just hear what you want or mold their responses to align with your ideal match. Actually listen and determine if this is a person that is actually worth investing your time. The third date is where we’re telling each other something about the type of partner we could be – listen when someone tells you who they are, that isn’t changing.”
What type of activity should you plan for your third date?
By now, we’ve established that the third date could be a v pivotal point for your blooming relationship. No need to panic, but what you do or where you go for it might be critical.
Cramer suggests the following:
- Be in a public setting. Get out there into everyday situations. This can range from a walk in the park to a full-blown concert. You’ll get a glimpse of how the person interacts with the world. You can observe their behavior—everything from how they handle conversations with strangers to stress situations (getting pushed by someone or fighting through a crowd).
- Be active. Go bowling or on a strenuous hike. This shows another side of your prospective partner. In this alternative setting, you can see if they’re a good sport and how they deal with competition.
- Be thoughtful. Head to a museum or an escape room. This will show you how a person thinks. You’ll both have to leave your everyday comfort zones and use critical thinking and intellectual conversation. You can ask yourself: How do they interpret art? How is this person in a more serious setting? How do they solve puzzles? How do they react to stress? Do they crack under pressure? Do they work well with others?
But what does the third date mean for a potential relationship?
Wolfe supports the idea that the third date is the “pivotal point” of whether you two are ready for a relationship with each other or not. “Often we could still be unsure about the other person after the first two dates, but it is the third one that really seals the deal one way or the other,” she explains.
Dating and relationship expert Erica Cramer added that a third date simply means there is a genuine interest between the two of you.
“They are investing their time and energy in getting to know you. Most likely, they are not just thinking you’re a good time but someone they would like to get to know and understand,” Cramer explains.
“They are considering how or if you fit into their life. Are you someone they could see introducing to their friends? Are you someone they would enjoy getting to know better? Is there any hope for a future? They are trying to get to know you on a deeper level and assessing if you have common interests, values, and beliefs.”
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