Why I Support the Third Date Rule Even Though It Is A Huge Cliché

Third date rule – myth or reality?

This relationship rule got quite popular in the 90’s sitcoms but there is no rigorous scientific research that proves its value. Of course, it is a huge cliché because you can’t schedule sexual desire and you shouldn’t. Sex is something beautiful and intimate. It is quite enjoyable and it could be both an important bonding mechanism for a future couple or just a great way to spend Sunday in bed and be physically active at the same time.

That said, as a mental health professional I understand the practical purpose of the third date rule and, as long as you don’t take it too seriously, I would rather recommend it.


  • At least three dates (or approximately 10 hours) talking to a person may be enough time to form an informed hypothesis of what you can expect.
  • You should be able to tell by then if hooking up with this person is potentially risky behavior.
  • Some people might recognize a pattern they tend to fall into and break the negative circle.
  • You might see in this new person a potential partner or acknowledge the differences and decide to engage in casual sex instead.

It doesn’t mean that you can’t change your mind later or that this person isn’t showing a false identity just to go to bed with you. But if he/she does, it is also valuable information and maybe even a reason to avoid future contact.

Can we wait that long in the “fast-food like” epoque of the current dating apps? Lovers aren’t commodity and sex is not like ordering pizza; although for some of my friends and clients it is starting to feel like it.

In some circumstances it might be irresponsible to use sex as a first contact with a new person and if this is a practice that one blindly follows just because it is convenient and “everyone does it,” it might be related to deeper issues. Regarding their sexuality, people nowadays are like kids playing with matches. While there are few things as thrilling as an occasional hookup with a stranger, the key to the thrill is exactly in the term “occasional.”

Sex is great and I firmly believe that it is completely fine for it to happen relatively early in a relationship; but even though it is a cliché, the third date rule became so famous because sometimes we find unexpected practicality in it.

Considering that human interaction doesn’t happen only during dates…and that dates are practically outdated…I would call my “rule” (recommendation) is “The 10 hours of meaningful conversation.” rule, or “Do you know what his/her best friend’s name and occupation is?” rule or “What he/she was afraid of  his/her childhood.” rule.

And yes, it is universal – for guys and girls, for people who search for love and people who are looking for quality sex and some intimacy. Everyone can request sex to happen earlier or later and it is up to you to decide how you feel about it. If it feels rushed it probably is.

And remember – you make your own rules!

Dr. Mila Petkova is an online counselor with a PhD in Psychoanalysis and Cultural Philosophy, creator of www.mipsy.net and www.milaswellness.com. She advocates for more accessible counseling and psychotherapy on a global scale. Her passion is to travel and her vocation is to make people see the best version of themselves and help them show it to the world.
You can follow Mila on Facebook.

Related Posts

If you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy these