On Why: The Third Date Rule is Outdated

We’ve all heard it. I’m sure you’ve heard it. You may have even said it. “Don’t sleep with him on the first date.” Or maybe you have a third, fourth, or fifth date rule yourself. I’ve never understood this. It never aligned with any of my other beliefs about dating, sex, and feminism.

If you want to sleep with someone, and they want to sleep with you, then you should. Period. I don’t know when we decided that sex needed to be more complicated than two ready, willing, and consenting adults. We’ve cultivated the idea that sex is currency within a relationship, something that you can exchange to get your husband to do chores around the house. Something you give out for good behavior and withhold for bad behavior. Dating and relationships are not a game to be won and your partner is not a pet to be trained.

Within dating, we have this idea that if you sleep with someone on the first date that they will never call you again. (“Date” in this case means an actual date, not meeting someone in a bar and going home together. That’s a different conversation altogether…) While there are some people who will take you to dinner all with the hope of sleeping together, in my experience, in talking with friends, in talking with you all, I haven’t found that to be true of most people.

Sex on the first date can turn into a marriage (like in the case of my friend Hannah), or a five and a half year relationship (like me), or nothing. To say that someone who you sleep with on the first date will never call you again is a conclusion based on the premise that all that person wanted was to sleep with you. People who only want sex troll bars, they don’t take you out for a $100 dinner. People who take you out want to get to know you. If someone doesn’t call you again after a first date where you slept together it’s much more likely that they just weren’t into you. You weren’t being used, you just didn’t mentally matchup.

I’m not encouraging you to sleep with everyone on a first date, I’m saying that if you want to – do it and if you don’t – don’t. Withholding sex on the first date (when you want to) to get more dates with someone isn’t a healthy way to look at sex within dating. Physical contact and intimacy are the foundation of relationships, don’t turn them into a competition.

The biggest thing I want you to take away is this: Have sex. Have lots of sex. Or have no sex. Have phone sex before regular sex. Have sex before you’re dating. Have sex on the first date. Have it when you want, how you want. Don’t let the social norm of a third date rule prevent you from going for it.


And as a special treat for those of you who read this far down: I asked you all on IG if you have a third date rule for sex and here are the results that were VERY split along gender lines…

34% of people DO have a third date rule when it comes to sex, of that group 11% were women

66% of people DON’T have a third date rule when it comes to sex, of that group 92% were women

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