Urban dictionary is my go-to source for all things official. So let’s start there for a definition of the “3 date rule”:

“The third date is generally considered the ‘sex date.’ It is the average number of dates until it is deemed proper and acceptable to have sex with a new mate.”

Ugh. This 3 date rule. It’s just not true.

Neither is waiting a week, a few months, or until marriage to have sex. No timetable is going to guarantee your entry into a great relationship.

What might?

A great connection.

Some people are like Labradors. They can connect with anyone. They’ve got that standard, adorable look that disarms the most defensive among us.

Some people feel they have more “unique” personalities. They only connect with certain kinds of people. They’re the Greyhounds of the world. Some find them fascinating, while others are like, “What? I don’t get the appeal.”

If you’re in the latter category, you may have to wait longer to find a great connection with someone. And that’s completely okay.

Whoever you are, the gist is this: if you want a lasting relationship, establish a great connection before you have sex.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: there are no guarantees in this world. But you can help increase your odds.

I know people who followed the 3 date rule, or waited a few months for someone who was only waiting for sex. The waiting was a waste of time.

I also know people who slept with someone on the first, second or third date. For some, it didn’t work out. For many, it did. People in the latter group almost always said they felt a strong connection early on.

It’s possible to have sex first and establish a great connection later. But if you don’t want to put your heart on the chopping block and see what happens, it’s best to lead with a great connection.

woman laughing with wine and not worrying about the 3 date rule

Signs You’ve Established a Great Connection

You’re both smiling. You feel their jokes are half-way decent. They actually laugh at yours. The eye contact is on point.

You don’t run out of things to talk about. You have weird things in common. When your hands touch, it doesn’t feel like the first time.

Worry doesn’t commandeer your soul if you decide to sleep together. You don’t even think about the “3 date rule.”

Instead, you’re thinking, “Wow. I didn’t know someone who could vibe with me this well existed.”

You don’t think about the “consequences” of reinforcing physically what you’ve already established emotionally. You’re just excited.

Then you take a leap of faith.

The Sex Was Bad

Okay, unfortunate. But not the death knoll.

Why not try working on it?

It’s a lot harder to find the piece that completes your puzzle. Don’t throw it away because the sex didn’t measure up the first time.

A little communication, practice and patience can go a long way.

Maybe the sex won’t be as good as it was with someone in the past. But is that really a deal-breaker?

Some will always be more talented than others, but a strong connection with someone is hard to beat. Chances are, that connection will make up for “not the best sex I’ve ever had” — both inside and outside of the bedroom.

woman texting and not worrying about the 3 date rule

The Sex Was Good. Now What?

Good sex rarely makes a good thing bad. It’s how people react to it that makes it bad.

I’m not going to cite studies about oxytocin because it’s not the end-all-be-all. We can fight a little biology.

Let’s appreciate sex for the invigorating, all-consuming experience that it can be. And let’s stop there, for now.

Someone who has sex with you owes you nothing more than what they owed you before: honesty, respect and kindness. (If they don’t give you these things from the get-go, stop having sex with them.)

This person is not your lover. They’re not your boy/girlfriend. And they’re not your white knight.

If you want them to be those things immediately, you can demand it. But you likely won’t get anything in return.

Patience is the ultimate virtue at this stage. If your connection with your new love interest is truly great, things will unfold naturally. You’ll put in some effort. They’ll put in some effort. And no one will be keeping track.

Over time (which you must give), a relationship will develop.

If you are so incredible in bed that the other person feigns a great connection for more sex, they weren’t being honest. And once you find that out, it’s up to you to stop sleeping with them. 

Not everyone will give you what you deserve.

All you can do is keep your eyes open, identify the bad eggs, and courageously separate yourself from them. Then start over. Repeat until you find a great connection that proves itself truly great.

Alternatively, you might have a good egg. And they might change their mind about you after they sleep with you. But it won’t be because you slept with them “too soon.” In other words, it won’t be because you didn’t follow some “3 date rule.”

Good people don’t judge others for an act that they participated in at the same exact time. They view sex with someone they’re interested in as a positive experience.

The “3 Date Rule” Isn’t the Key

For many men and women alike, sex is an important part of a relationship. Some would rather know sooner than later if that aspect of a potential relationship is solid.

The timing of sex doesn’t guarantee or doom relationships. The 3 date rule doesn’t matter.

Some relationships begin with sex on dates 1, 2 or 3. Others don’t. What creates relationships and keeps them alive is connection. Sex is just one way to express that connection.

Waiting to have sex is like using red food coloring in a Red Velvet Cake recipe.

Some will applaud you for following “the rules,” but really, it’s optional. And it certainly won’t save the cake if you don’t have flour, eggs and all the rest.

So bake the cake you want to bake. Soon enough, you’ll find someone who wants seconds and thirds.