Do All Guys Have A 3 Date Rule?

Name: Hopeless in Houstonaay-man-woman-on-date-main
Comment: Hi Moxie,

I have a quick question I want to run by you and the other readers.  In the past month I met two men who contacted me via OKCupid.  The first guy I dated at the beginning of August, we went out 3 times in a 1.5 week period before he called it off due to lack of a “spark”.  Thats fine, he wanted to remain friends and still go out but I’m not looking for a man friend so I declined.  The second guy went out with me 3 times in one week and just faded.  I was disappointed but c’est la vie.  However, I can’t help but wonder if going out 3 times in one week contributed to both outcomes.

Is there a limit to how many times a week you should see someone new?

**Both guys were good-looking, a little older (32 and 26), great jobs.  I didn’t sleep with either of them but had a few make-out sessions with the second guy.**

Age: 23
City: Houston
State: TX


I don’t think the frequency of the dates had much to do with it. 3 dates in 10 days isn’t that extreme. When the connection and attraction is there, nothing really matters. If things flame out quick, they were probably going to flame out eventually.

Now, 3 dates in 7 days? Yes, that seems a bit ambitious to me.  Someone with that kind of availability would set off my warning bells. They’re either eager to move things along to get laid, have little going on in their life which could mean they’ll get clingy quickly or they’re the type that crashes and burns.

The real red flag for me in this story is that the first guy wanted to remain friends and still hang out. He may have just been being polite or trying to soften the blow. Or he was looking for something casual all along and only presented himself as looking for more in his profile in order to get dates. Most people don’t mean it when they say they want to remain friends with someone they briefly dated. If they do pursue “friendship” after a few dates, then that’s fishy to me.  That makes me think they’re just trying to redefine the boundaries of the relationship.

It sounds to me like both of these guys were probably in it for the sex or have a 3 Date Rule. If the sexy time does not occur, they bail. Some guys do that. That’s their thing. It doesn’t have to be yours. If you know that you did what you could to show interest and appreciation, and you know you didn’t use the promise of sex to keep them interested, then you probably dodged a bullet.


You’re questioning yourself and wondering what you did wrong. You may not have done anything wrong. This is dating.  People fade, or they stop replying to messages or they tell you they’re not interested in taking things further. All of this happens to everybody until it doesn’t. You just have to keep at it until you meet that one person who sticks around.



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12 Responses to “Do All Guys Have A 3 Date Rule?”

  1. AnnieNonymous Says:

    I’m going to paraphrase something I said recently: Guys will have sex with pretty much anyone once. It’s so whatever. If a woman doesn’t start to feel like she wants to have sex by the third date, it’s not going anywhere. She doesn’t have to sleep with him then, but that’s when she should feel it. If she didn’t want to sleep with either of these guys, she didn’t like them anyway. She’s just annoyed that they rejected her.

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  2. DatingNoob Says:

    Most good looking and successful guys have options, hence they tend to follow the 3 date rule. Why, because they can. There are not that many exceptions to this, but they do happen. In either case it does not seem that these guys are looking for the same thing you are or determined that “no sex by date 3″ means no sex ever, so time to cut the losses. Obviously this strategy is not always correct, but it is pretty reliable most of the time.
    If you are going after the same guys as all the other attractive women in your area, you are going to have a tougher time. You better be better looking then most of them and bring something extra to the table to land and keep one of them. If not, you are better off trying out other leagues.

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    • Howard Says:

      Women themselves should also adopt a three date rule. If the guy doesn’t cut it, cut him loose. What’s happening, is a situation where women just want to have someone to date and stroke their ego, because Mr. Goodbar hasn’t shown up as yet. This is the real reason for stringing guys along.

      In many cases, women do wise up and recognize that their list of requirements was arbitrary, thus relenting to the guy who hangs around well beyond three dates. This is not necessarily the best strategy for getting the best guy. Women have to be keenly aware of where they are willing to compromise. Companies hire people for large salaries with less than three interviews.

      Our modern society has shifted where these dates cost time and money, forcing people to make up their minds much earlier or being creative to keep things going beyond the three date interview, when one can’t make up one’s mind. The large playing field or the myth of that, also affects the time anyone should be willing to invest in situations that are not bearing fruit.

      Women are supposed to be intuitive. It’s a simple list

      1. Is he getting your juices flowing?
      2. Can be trusted?
      3. Will be a good companion, protector and provider?
      4. Do you really like him?

      Figure where you want to compromise on that list, and how much of each you need; and figure it out quickly enough.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 6

  3. D. Says:

    Moxie’s got a pretty good read on this, but I thought I’d offer two other possible explanations, based on my own experiences.

    Sometimes I’d start seeing a woman, and would be attracted to her, b but would be on the fence about whether I wanted something serious with her. As I got to know her a little better, I’d realize that, no, I didn’t want to get serious…but hey, she was still cute and I wouldn’t mind sleeping with her and dating her casually.

    Once I realized this, which could happen around date 3, I’d usually bail if I got the sense she wanted something more serious than I did. This would be true sometimes even if she said she was fine with things being casual, if I sensed that she was hoping I’d change my mind when I knew I wouldn’t. Or if I just flat-out didn’t believe that she really would be ok with things being strictly casual, based on her behavior or other comments she’d made. I didn’t want to deal with the potential drama, so I’d just end things. It might be that’s what happened here — the guys (accurately or not) got the sense that the OP wanted something more serious than they did, so rather than sleeping with her on, say, date 4 and then dealing with the fallout when they stopped seeing her shortly after, they just ended things.

    Another explanation MIGHT be age-related in the case of the 32 year old. When I was 32, I went out on a few dates with an attractive 23-year-old. Things were fun, but by date 3, I knew that we were pretty far apart in terms of experience in life, and that 23 was simply too young for me to be dating anymore. There wasn’t anything objectively wrong with her, I just knew that the age-gap was too big to make it work the way I wanted it to, so I ended it. It just happened to take me 3 dates to be sure about that.

    Other than that, though, Moxie’s dead-on. Many guys DO have a 3-date “rule” where if there’s no sex by then, they assume the woman is either uninterested, or is making them jump through hoops for sex, and they move on.

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  4. Jef Says:

    I have a one date rule.

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  5. RC Says:

    Dear OP, you are 23 and it matters. :D When I hear of a 30-something going out with someone barely 21, I wonder about this guy’s ability to attract a woman his age. As a rule (not always!) we tend to be naive, easily impressed and more trusting and mailable in our early 20ties. By early 30ies we recognize that in ourselves and others and most of us do not use it to our personal advantage… I am not saying a 32 yr old was playing you, but it sounds like he tried and failed. Good for you.

    One realization that comes with age (at least for me), not everyone is going to like us and that’s ok, simply because I will not like everyone. It’s hard to find a person you like/want/ etc… So concentrate on figuring out what tickles you the right way :D and don’t worry if you are not everyone’s cup of tea. Even hot celebs are not liked / desired by everyone.

    Good luck and as Moxie so well put it – that’s just dating.

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  6. LaMotta Says:

    I have a three date “guideline”. There can always be exceptions, but if there’s no sexytimes by then, I question the level of interest, maturity, or as D says, whether the objective is really to “string me along”.

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  7. LostSailor Says:

    Sure there are guys like LaMotta that will bail if there is no sex by the third date, but they are a distinct minority, usually have other options, and probably aren’t looking for anything long-term (not to ascribe motives to LM, but just men like that in general).

    Most guys, as I’ve noted before, if they are actually interested, will stick around even without sex beyond the third date if there is clear indication of some type of physical contact (making out, etc.) that will lead to sex.

    But that’s not what I think is happening in Houston’s case. While we’ve all had one-date wonders, my experience has been that even if two people are basically likeable, if there aren’t sparks indicating that there’s something more going on, three dates will reveal that. It just seems like a natural termination point. One or two dates may not be enough to know if there is anything worth seriously pursuing, but if it’s not evident by a third date, it’s doubtful that a fourth is going to change anything…

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  8. Jane Says:

    I really dont buy into a 3 date rule unless you’re a man/woman who is really only looking for short term ‘relationships’ that have sexual fulfillment as the MAIN goal. For most people, when they’re looking for a serious relationship being an ultimate goal, I think as long as the relationship is continuing to build with each date you’d have to be pretty narrow minded to dump that person just because they didnt put out. Many people need more than just pure physical attraction/interest to get to sex. Things like trust and respect – that arent always built after just a few hours of spending time with someone. And frankly, if someone is going to dump you purely because of this, you’re really better off.

    I dont think OP is doing anything wrong, 3 dates in a week is fast, but I agree with Moxie that when things are clicking, its not so abnormal to move into the fast lane. The trouble is the first handful of dates are always like skating on thin ice. You should never let yourself start to feel too secure in moving ahead because anything can and does happen – which for me is a good enough reason NOT to have sex so early.

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  9. jeff Says:

    I disagree that most guys are just “in it for the sex” because it assumes that that is the only thing that matters. Don’t get me wrong sex is important (for both), but s more accurate way to put it is that no guy wants to end up in a situation where they feel strung along with sex or have a girl who isn’t interested. Like someone said, if it’s not leading that direction by the third date, most guys will assume she is not that interested or uncomfortable with sex. Don’t get me wrong some guys are only in it for sex, but even for guys who are looking for something serious, those are valid concerns.

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  10. GI_JANE Says:

    If those guys wanted to be with you, they would of.

    3 dates and/or 1.5 weeks is not a deterrent to guys who want to be with you

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