Is Sex on the Third Date the New Normal?

Is Sex on the Third Date the New Normal?
Evan, to say I’m frustrated with dating right now is an understatement! During the past six months, almost EVERY man I’ve gone out with expects sex by the third date. Seriously! It doesn’t matter if it’s a man I’ve met on an online dating site or if it’s a blind date through a friend. And the ones that don’t expect sex just kind of fade away. I’ve asked these men WHY they expect sex by the third date. Their response is that they have heard that if they don’t get it by the third date, the woman isn’t into them. Of course, I’m not sleeping with them… and they fall off the face of the earth.

I’m so fed up with this! I’m 45 now and I never experienced this type of scenario until just this year. Is this all there is now? Now that I’m older, is this all I can expect from a man at this stage of my life? –Patti

Dear Patti,

You’re certainly not the first to feel this way, my friend.

I’m sorry you’re frustrated, but in my experience as a dating coach, frustration usually results when someone’s expectations are out of line with reality.

The way to mitigate the frustration is not to change reality but to change your expectations.

The first thing you can do is understand that men look for sex and find love. We are driven by attraction and have zero trouble separating the physical act of sex from the feelings of love.

In this case your expectations are that men should not be interested in having sex on the third date.

And reality is showing you that this is something that men are interested in.

What’s a slower-moving, more traditional woman to do?

Well, the first thing you can do is understand that men look for sex and find love. We are driven by attraction and have zero trouble separating the physical act of sex from the feelings of love. We’ll have sex with women we don’t like and women we’re barely attracted to. Especially if we’re lonely and sex-deprived (sex is always much more important when you’re not getting it!)!

I’m not saying you have to like this facet of men, but at least, at this point, you can stop getting surprised or upset at it. It’s like getting angry at rain or nightfall. Your opinions of it don’t matter much; it’s still going to keep on happening.

Next, you have to forgive these men for their ignorance. They know not what they do. Even if you believe their ridiculous statement, “If I don’t have sex by the third date, she’s not into me,” it doesn’t matter. What a man wants is not necessarily to have sex on the third date, but to have some physical contact that may, someday, lead to sex.

Men are like sharks that needs to keep on moving.

What a man wants is not necessarily to have sex on the third date, but to have some physical contact that may, someday, lead to sex.

If he’s been talking to you for a week, plans a date, picks you up, takes you out, grabs the check, drives you home, and is also attracted to you, you can be sure that if he’s at all confident, he’s going to make a first move.

How far he gets is up to you.

Then there’s going to be a second date. Same thing’s gonna happen. You can’t be surprised by this or blame him for this. All you can do is figure out how much you like him, how much you trust him, and how far you want to go. There’s no right or wrong. Your boundaries are your boundaries. You just can’t get too upset when he tries something.

Then there’s a third date. Same thing’s gonna happen. If you want to avoid sexual contact, you can make sure your third date takes place over a picnic in a park, at 5:30 after work, or at a crafts fair, but understand, he’s still driven by his attraction to you. He doesn’t know that he wants you to be his girlfriend yet.

So as I scripted, word by word, in Why He Disappeared, your job is to a) figure out if your man is interested in you or interested in sex, and b) figure out how to make it fun for him to slow down. Sex isn’t all or nothing and as long as you can take him around the bases slowly, you can buy yourself enough time to figure out if you want to be exclusive with each other. Play it right and he’ll stick around.

Make him feel like a sexually perverted sleazebag for making a move on you and you shouldn’t be too surprised if he doesn’t feel good about his prospects on the next date.

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  1. 181
    Karmic Equation

    I think that going into a date hoping that a guy (or girl) will turn into an LTR be “the one” is really a high expectation to have for someone you don’t know.

    If you date with the hope of making a friend, you won’t be disappointed if the friendship doesn’t work out. The worse you can do is wind up with a friendly acquaintance who fades. I’m sure all of you have had lots of buddies and friends whom you’ve lost touch with and don’t lose sleep over.

    I do recognize that this strategy probably doesn’t work well for online dating (i.e., you want to get what you pay for). But I can vouch that this works IRL. I suspect that’s why my men don’t disappear on me. I’m their friend. Men don’t disappear on their friends.

  2. 182

    Karmic, some of my closest friends in my new city are people I  dated, but you’re right, I met them in real life, and since I recently moved my first priority was making friends anyway. However, I am not friends with anyone I dated online. At the same time, I think the only instance when meeting irl is better than online is if you had friends or colleagues in common. If you randomly meet someone at a bar or the grocery store, that to me is no advantage over meeting through a dating site because you have no outside connections.  

  3. 183

    Mia #189: “At the same time, I think the only instance when meeting irl is better than online is if you had friends or colleagues in common. If you randomly meet someone at a bar or the grocery store, that to me is no advantage over meeting through a dating site because you have no outside connections.”
    Although I have no experience with online dating, I disagree with your opinion, Mia. A meeting through online dating will have involved clicking on boxes, and therefore from the get-go selecting someone based on very superfical traits and treating the process like an Amazon shopping experience. That’s why friendships would be so hard to develop from such “market-based” strategy. You do not consider people the same way you do when you meet them in a real situation.
    In real life, a meeting happens organically, and even if everyone has “tick boxes” in the back of their mind, they will feel attracted to people regardless of those. And even if they try to stick to their online criteria, in real life meetings they will not really know for sure before having experienced the critical naive/unbiaised first impression that you can’t experience if you have read their online data. To take an easy example, I’m 33, and online I would be 33. But in reality I look 25 and therefore attract (and end up interesting) peple whose dating profile might set the limit at 30. (yes, really, no delusion here, I really look that much younger, and it’s actually a problem because I tend to attract men who are too young for my relationship goals). My boyfriend is 34 and was quite shocked to realize on our first date that I was over 30. That’s one thing that for me would be an advantage to date online: I would attract older men. But older women who look younger (a 38 yo looking like a 33 yo) would benefit from organic in real life meetings. And that’s only talking about age. I could go on and on on how much you could make someone instantly feel great around you in real life, someone who would never have “selected” you through tick boxes…
    On the location now. Although people going to bars to pick up women will heavily overlap with people picking up women online (same kind of “market-based” intention), it is still going to involve other hard-to-explain criteria, even in the absence of connexion to people you have in common. Now, to my opinion, the best is to meet people in other real-life places than bars. Bars are simply the worst location to meet relationship-minded men.
    I will stop my ramblings in favor of real-life meetings for now, before I completely aggravate Evan : )

  4. 184

    @Karmic Equation #188:
    “I think that going into a date hoping that a guy (or girl) will turn into an LTR be “the one” is really a high expectation to have for someone you don’t know.”
    I agree. Best to approach it with openess and curiosity instead of desperation and bitterness.
    “If you date with the hope of making a friend, you won’t be disappointed if the friendship doesn’t work out. The worse you can do is wind up with a friendly acquaintance who fades.”
    I disagree. Dating is not about “making friends”. Dating is about looking for a partner, either casual or serious, but more than “just a friend”. A serious reason why people struggle in dating is because they do not clearly define their goals. They do not know what they want, and even if they do, they end up settling on a “friendship”, on a sexual fling, or even on a dead-end LTR. If you want to build a solid and happy relationship that will progress towards a solid and happy marriage, you must start with this mindset, and weed out people who are not on the same page.
    I already have a circle of loyal and healthy female friends. I do not need more “friendships” consisting of old dates or men looking for an ego stroke. If dating does not yield what I’m looking for, I say: “goodbye and have a good life”, and shout: “NEXT!”

  5. 185

    I agree Fusee @191. While I agree with Karmic that it’s not good to hope for an LTR when going on a date, I had no interest in trying to make these guys friends either. I went into a date with a new guy with no expectations really… just that it was a date. Maybe it would lead to a second date, maybe not.
    I had plenty of guy friends and certainly wasn’t searching for any more. If a date happened to turn into a friend, that was fine, but my mindset was more one of the idea that if things didn’t work out with a particular date, that was it for that guy and on to the next one.
    Everyone isn’t meant to be a friend. Approaching dating with that mindset seems to cheapen the idea of friendship, really. And yes, I’ve seen too many women who do eventually want a solid LTR or marriage keep too many of these guy “friends” around — so much so that it prevents them from actually focusing on what they really want.

  6. 186
    Karmic Equation

    @Fusee 191
    I already have a circle of loyal and healthy female friends. I do not need more “friendships” consisting of old dates or men looking for an ego stroke. If dating does not yield what I’m looking for, I say: “goodbye and have a good life”, and shout: “NEXT!”

    I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one. Partnerships should be built on a foundation of friendship, not on a foundation of “we both have to want to get married.” That is a GOAL not a foundation. You can weed out the men who don’t have your goals while learning if they are good people that you could be friends with. Frankly, I’m no longer in touch with my anyone I’ve had sex with (except ex-hubby with whom I’m still friends), BUT I am still friends with many men whom I’ve dated but did not have sex with.

    If you build your relationship-foundation the right way, you’ll probably get your marriage, if that’s what you’re both looking for. If you build your realtionship-foundation the wrong way (i.e., without friendship as a basis), you’ll eventually end up driving the men away with your ticking biological clock/desperation/neediness/don’t want to be aloneness/whatever.

    So I guess the better way to restate my position and yours is “Don’t have a relationship OR sex with a man until you have a friendship AND you both share the same goal, if you don’t want them to disappear on you.”

    This post is a great summary of what we are both proscribing:

    Legend “you” = generic you (all people reading this) – not you in particular, Fusee.

  7. 187

    @Karmic Equation #193:
    I would also be fine to agree to disagree with you, but I do not disagree one bit with you on how a friendhsip must be the foundation of a healthy relationship. I still remember all the discussions I had last summer with my then-new boyfriend about how I needed to get to know him well and see if we could develop a real trust-based and appreciation-based friendship before progressing physically. There was no sex during that foundation-building phase, and not until we knew we completely trusted one another, cared about one another, knew we were compatible in life goals, values, and lifestyles. See, I agree 100% with you!
    What I had a disagreement with was the concept of approaching dating with the idea of making new friends, as if I would be pretending to myself that I would not be really looking at the end goal of building a life-long relationship, or as if I would keep hanging out with men I had already realized were not compatible with my long-term goals. Sure an unexpected friendship could develop, but to my opinion, this should not be the GOAL of dating. The goal should be whatever you want with a partner and from the get go, working on assessing whether this person has the same goal and whether or not you would make a good team to fulfill that goal.
    I think that women are too afraid of rejection/rejecting and end up trying to keep in touch with too many men that they have no business being in touch with. An unexpected true and solid friendship, why not? But keeping men around that are hoping for easy sex or an ego stroke while they chat about their new dates, not really. Most men do not become “friends” with women just to have tea and a good chat. Especially if there is no past context beside a few dates that got nowhere. As SS was writing @192, I think these “friendships” makes women waste their precious relationship energies on dead-ends.
    Since dating is about finding a partner, I prefer keeping my personal long-term goal in mind while I try to develop the friendship-based foundation. But I do not start with the goal of building a friendship or pretend to the guy that I’m fine with a friendship as it would be the best way for me to become derailled and end up talking myself into accepting lower standards. I need less for a friendship than for a boyfriend. And I need less for a boyfriend than for a husband. If I start with the word husband in mind, I can let go faster of men who are only “friendship material”. And I let them GO because I have no energy for those unnecessary friendships, knowing full well how much energy it indeed takes to build the necessary friendship-based foundation for my goal of a solid and happy marriage.

  8. 188
    Karmic Equation

    @Fusee 194

    We’re actually not as far apart as first thought.

    I agree with you that the GOAL of dating is to obtain the relationship you’re looking for (marriage, other LTR, fling, whatever)…But I still think that the APPROACH to dating is to make a friend — not to actually KEEP the person as a friend, BTW, unless you want to.

    It’s always a lot easier for me to get my point across with an example, so please bear with me while I try to explain…

    I was a late bloomer, didn’t have my first “real” kiss until I was 18; no dates (and virginal) until 19, which is ancient by today’s standards! I remember after I started dating but before I lost my virginity…every date I went on, I was thinking is this the guy, will I someday have sex with this one, how will it feel, is tonight the night, etc. Basically because I was so obsessed with my virginity and when I would lose it, that I did not pay attention to my date as a person. Did I like him? Was he fun to be around? Was he a gentleman? I was so in my own head, I didn’t have time to really get to know if the guy I was on a date with was a good person, e.g., someone who could be a good friend…because I think we can agree that the person we end up married to should be a good friend to us and a good person in general.

    AFTER I lost my viriginity, I paid attention to my dates the right way. I dated men and talked to them like my friend (not close friend, but friend) — I asked questions (not where do you live, what do you do, etc.) but things like, What did you do today? Did you have fun doing that? What did you find the most fun? Was that stressful, etc…And in doing that, I got to know my date as a person. This is what I meant by approaching dating to make a friend. Not to actually make a friend, but to make sure that there is no strange agenda in the back of your mind to keep you from seeing your date for who he is, which allows you to more clearly assess how *you* feel about the date and the guy.

    If there is attraction, then there would be flirtation…it’s natural. The conversations get slightly more personal (in a good way), in addition to the friendship questions/conversation. If there is no attraction then no flirtation. And as women and great conversationalists that we are, we can steer the no attraction conversations such that we know that they won’t ask for a 2nd date. If we like the guy, we keep it friendly and flirtatious (in a good way)…and hope our conversation and what we shared and how we shared it in that conversation would elicit a another date. Then each date we show more of who we are and get the guy to be more of who he is…and you go from their to your relationshp GOALS.

    Sorry for the long post. I don’t know how to get this nuance across any other way.

  9. 189

    @Karmic Equation #195:
    We totally agree : )

  10. 190

    @ Karmic Equation
    Wow, I can see I’m late to the party but what a great discussion!  I really loved your contributions.  You and I are so very different in the way we do the whole men/ sex/ relationship thing and I am fascinated by your perspective and the way you go about it all.  Reading such a different perspective was truly delightful and thought provoking.
    It has given me a lot to think about.  I am going to have to go back and read your posts again.

  11. 191

    People talk about sexual chemistry, or how good the person is so therefore they need to do it to find out. Let’s not fool ourselves, anybody can have sex. Animals have sex, there is nothing complicated about it. There is no such thing as incompatible unless you are having sex with another animal.
    When you have deeper feelings for someone the sex will ultimately be good. Communication is the key and what may not be good the first time around will be better the second time.

  12. 192

    Hmm I can see the guy point of view and the girl point of view here.  I think though as a woman it’s very hard to determine if a guy wants you for just sex or more and 3 dates simply isn’t enough time to know if it will “be” something if you do give it up.  Doesn’t mean women don’t want to have sex by the 3rd date with someone they are very attracted to but at that point it really is just too soon to have any sort of real knowledge about who the guy is BECAUSE from my experience a guy is all about making some great impression in those first few dates so you will sleep with him, he isn’t being the real guy.  So in a way you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.  in other words you are sleeping with someone because you fell for his act, not because you really know who he is.  Only way to get past this is to wait, or take your chances. 
    Also, for a guy to make a move first few dates for sex is honestly often a little creepy.  It puts a lot of pressure on a woman to decide right then and there.  And of course women have boundaries but I always find that decision making process difficult and high pressure in a lot of instances.  You give a little and they expect a lot.  Gosh I’ve been called everything under the sun for not giving it up from prude, to telling me I have trust and committment issues, to being called a tease and a flirt.  It honestly can make you feel like “prey”, not a great feeling at all when you are really just trying to get to know someone.  I have to say I’ve had anxiety or paniky feelings about dates 2 and 3 with guys, KNOWING that this sort of behaviour will likely go on and the pressure to decide if I want to or not is strong, so strong that it can freak me out to the point of just not wanting to go out with the guy and not wanting to have to deal with it.  It’s high pressure because a guy wants what he wants HOWEVER if a woman was insisting on the first date that they discuss marriage and babies and being all committed for life and a serious relationship and we were selling YOU and you had to decide in that first date, second or third date if that’s what you want, I kinda think a lot of guys would stay home and not bother with it all.  🙂  just playing devil’s advocate here. 

  13. 193

    Well. People I know have ended up in long term relationships after having sex on the second date!
    One of the two couples I know who had done that is now even married to the guy.
    So in some cases it does work and other cases it does not. The whole thing baffles me with this type of stuff.
    The rules, the waiting. Maybe regardless of what happens. If a guy really likes you even after he has slept with you “too soon” he is going to still go after you regardless. Proof right there.
    Other times not. Just the luck of the draw I guess.

  14. 194

    “Sex isn’t all or nothing.” Please every guy I date, I’m into him and give him some sort of physical contact by the third date like making out a little bit, then on the fourth date, they’re always rude and insult me cause they didn’t get everything they want, it’s such a pain in the ass, I shouldn’t be treated like crap or considered ‘weird’ because I don’t go lightning fast jeezuz and since I’m part of younger generation (I’m 21) it’s considered abnormal if you go really slow…whatever it sucks being single in this day and age…I wished I lived in a different era lol.

  15. 195

    Geez…why can’t people just wait until their married (or at least engaged) before they become intimate? Give me a break.

  16. 196

    I think something important is getting missed here. What I am hearing the men say is that they need to know the woman is interested in them. What seems implied is that they are interpreting how far a woman is willing to go with them physically as the barometer of how much she likes him.

    I think what the LW needs to hear is that just because getting physical is one barometer, it is not the only barometer. I have met many men who are interested in more than sex, who would go away if they thought the girl in question did not like them. Now it is true, many of these men were on the shy side and tended to be less confident, so they waited for the woman to make her interest known. If the woman did not give any visual or verbal clues that she liked him, and in conjunction with this was not willing to be physical, the man in question almost always gave up.

    I happen to know this because these are the guys that kept hanging around wanting me to like them. They hung around me long enough to get comfortable telling me these things, because they almost always got feedback from me that I liked them. I may not have known exactly how I felt about having a relationship with them, but I always made sure I let them know when I had fun, what I liked or admired about them, what I was enjoying about the date and encouraged them to tell me what they wanted.
    I rarely did more than hug any of them. To me, this is just how I treat other human beings. But they had such a good time with me, felt good about themselves when they were with me, that I usually ended up having to gently let them down.

    I get the impression that the LW is unaware that there is a great deal she can do to show interest that is not at all physical. Use your words – tell him you think he is “__”. I am not saying tell lies. Surely you can find something to like about this man if you want to date him. Tell him what you like about him – example, “you are so smart / funny / appealing / kind / interesting”. Ask questions about topics you think he might be passionate about or where he is particularly skilled. He will feel amazing that he gets to tell you about his strengths. If you can’t be verbal, be non verbal. Look them in the eyes and lean forward when they speak. Touch your hair. Smile. Easy, easy, easy. Win-win.

    Notice that everything I am espousing here is totally within your boundary of what you are willing to do (yes to knowing him better, no to sex, maybe to more physical as you know him). I also suspect the LW is doing things that non verbally communicate sexual availability to these men, and this is creating the expectations she mentions. Therefore, it would benefit the LW to seriously review the non verbal cues she is sending:

    Dates at night? Over drinks? Picks you up at your house? You mention the kids won’t be home until tomorrow? You wear a low cut blouse or short skirt? You touch him? You mention anything sexual?
    Many (not all, but many) would see these as green lights for touchy feely.

    Dates during the day? No alcohol? Meets you for the date? You mention someone else is home?
    You dress modestly? You keep your hands to yourself?
    Many (not all, but many) will see this as a red light.

    To close the gap between these two, the woman must show interest. The man genuinely needs this feedback so that he can tell the difference between a woman who is “not really into him” and one that really likes him, but has learned that sex outside commitment does not work well for her. BTW, this is not to say there is anything wrong with people who choose to have sex from the get-go. This is information for those who are making a choice about what is right for them, and sharing that information lovingly.

  17. 197

    I found this site by googling something like expectations for sex dating. . . I was with the same person for 17 years, married him in year 14, and subsequently widowed. Did we have sex the first date? Yep. It wasn’t even a date, I met him in a bar when I was out with my sister. It turned out we had things startingly in common. I’ve been a widow for 10 years now and have been on dates with 3 guys. One went nowhere. The second 2 wanted sex immediately. . . and, missing what I had had with my husband, went along with it.  One of those guys didn’t last too long, we wanted someone who would have anal sex and had some other rather pornographic notions–nothing too extreme but it wasn’t me. I am seeing a guy now who also had the expectation, and–4 years after guy #2–I went for it, but since then emailed him to tell him I was not entirely comfortable. We talked a bit over the phone about it. He regards sex as showing affection, which I understand. In fact, a few of the most intense experiences I had with my husband were on the nights terrible things had happened, such as the sudden death of my dad. It was how he shared his love. The first person I was ever really in love with, we went to bed the first night we were really together. I have some distorted experiences of never really having had a “normal” dating relationship and am really struggling with having been physically intimate with the current guy, it’s tricky because we are both up in years (60), and the relationship does not have the karmic quality my most meaningful relationships have had. I’m not sure about sexual chemistry when the physiology is less reliable than when you are young, either. 

  18. 198

    This is nothing but a numbers game and it’s lame.  The crux of the situation with all these “sex after date number whatever” rules is the value you place on sex and how sex makes you feel about yourself.  To a huge extent in our current culture, sex has been commoditized and therefore, something that can be “given” or “taken”.  Once that gets into your head, your self-worth and ego get wrapped up into it and it no longer is about sex but about winning or losing.  And when that dynamic enters a dating scenario, it’s a total set up for failure, disappointment and heartache.  As Evan said, it’s all about expectations.
    Men expecting sex by the 3rd date are as crazy and desperate as women expecting a commitment and naming their unborn children by the 3rd date.  However, we hear stories about people who knew they found “the one” on their first date, why not sex?  Again, it’s all about expectations.
    And many confuse sex with intimacy.  Is it best when you have sex with someone you feel incredibly intimate with?  Hell yes!   However, women have been taught that sex should result from intimacy, and men have been taught that intimacy is for a girlfriend or wife but sex should be gotten whenever you can.  On a first date, I can have crazy, hanging from the rafters jungle sex with someone and it’s awesome and great and I’ll want it again but it doesn’t necessarily mean I want to get to know them better or build intimacy.  Conversely, if I become emotionally intimate with someone, it won’t matter much which date number I’m on, I’m going to want to continue seeing that person, whether sex is in the picture or not.
    It’s also been mentioned before, sexual chemistry and fit.  For some people, the physicality of sex isn’t as important as what sex MEANS.  For some people, the physicality of sex is of utmost importance.  Why wait 10 dates/3 months to find out someone is a two-inch minute man, or barks like a sea lion, or thinks whispering “oh baby” is too kinky, or thinks being chained up and flogged is foreplay?  Life is too short to waste on incompatible sex. 
    Dating is awesome!  You’re nervous, excited, hopeful.  You get to meet someone new or learn more about a person you like and have a chance at developing a really cool connection.  And every single date, whether it’s with someone you’ve dated before or whether it’s a first date, you learn something about yourself and it makes you a better, happier person.  Those should be the focus.  It shouldn’t be about how many times he buys dinner before the panties come off.
    If you feel like sleeping with someone, do it.  If you don’t feel like sleeping with someone, don’t do it.  No matter what part of a relationship you’re in.  Keep it safe.  Keep it honest.  Don’t be mean.  Be happy.  

    1. 198.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      And if you feel like sleeping with someone and you do it, don’t be too surprised if he never calls again because he was never that into you – he just wanted to get laid.

  19. 199

    Good article and good point. After reading a few comments from ladies I got an impression that there must be something “wrong” with me as i am definitely not a slow mover at all. Kiss on the first date is an indicator of whether there’s been attraction or not (of which I pretty much know before the date is finished). Then i’ve been single (with not much sex) for a year now and I really do get turned on pretty quickly. I just had a 3rd date with a guy today who I am totally smitten with and it’s me who really wants to have it all. I am definitely not a sleep around type of women but somehow I feel wrong for wanting sex with him so bad that I really struggle to stop myself. And yes, we are set to have it next week and although I do want it (and so does he) I start doubting now if we’ll be doing the right thing (even though it feels totally natural to me as we both want it and have known each other for a while now) but not because of how I feel but because of all these ‘rules’

  20. 200

    And yeah, he definitely is interested in me as I could see it by the way he treats me

  21. 201
    Nick in CT

    Haha, this is a fascinating piece and discussion.  Great to see such a passionate debate.  I happened across this piece while googling the 3 date rule out of curiosity – I’m about set up a 3rd date with a girl I’ve been seeing and really just wanted to see what the expectations were (I wish for the sake of easiness that the women posters here would have been a bit more in agreement on the topic ;-)).  Evan, thanks for this article, when did you write the original piece?
    At 32, I’m late to the serious relationship/dating game, as I have had to sort a lot of important life issues out before making myself ready to consider it, but I don’t feel that the 3 date rule makes a whole lot of sense.  Just a few days ago, was date number 2 with some light making-out.  Here are a some quick (male-centric) thoughts on the topic (apologies if I’m rehashing some of the same points, but I only skimmed toward the end of this very long discussion thread…):
    1) Surely when we talk about a 3 date rule we are talking about on average, right?  I’d like to say that there should be a first date rule also, but I am good friends with a married couple (26, 30, when they met) that slept on the first date and are very happily married now and perfect for each other.  So with all due respect (especially the earlier women commentators), that a girl who sleeps with a guy almost immediately is not a slut and not ‘throwing off the curve’ for the rest of you.  It seems to me that it is absolutely impossible to put an absolute value on when it is too early.  For me, I would say what feels right for both, is right – but us guys aren’t mind readers so if you aren’t comfortable with it then just say so!  Despite what you might think, most guys will still respect you!
    2) It feels to me that open communication early on about when sex is on the table is critical – especially if the girl has a set amount of time/dates in her mind.  I may get flak for this, but I would suggest that the women as a general rule of thumb be ones to initiate the discussion.  Maybe that seems sexist but clearly women are the ones who want to wait longer on average and besides, women are clearly better at handling communications, so set expectations for us guys; we can use the help!  I can’t think of a guy friend who would have a problem with this.  Obviously, telling a guy straight up how long or how many dates he has to go on with you is a bad idea, but letting him know you will get him there and escalating along the way will almost certainly do the trick.
    3) Starting with Michael #68, the whole dating two or more people at once discussion: I don’t like the idea of dating more than one girl at once, though I certainly keep conversation going with more than one girl at a time.  However, most guys don’t have a problems with it.  A few of the women commentators clearly took issue with this saying that men should just be up front about wanting to be exclusive.  I have to take exception to this.  First of all, men are programed to want to appear dominant and confident (which really we are taught to display both genetically or socially).  It’s not easy (actually almost impossible in my experience) for a guy to want to appear confident but also able to hang back while knowing or at least having reasonable suspicion that the girl is dating other guys at the same time.  Hence the early physical contact.  I’ve seen comments along the way that say if a guy doesn’t like this, he should simply say so – but that would give the sense he is not confident.  In many ways it’s an impossible situation for us guys to suffer through that women don’t truly appreciate.  If there is a single issue of double-standards that women (who so often complain about in their own right) ignore in dating, it is this!  Which leads me to this next point…
    4) Guys like to make a move early on because of insecurities as I just said, but keep in mind we also feel expected to make a move early on perhaps modern media has had more psychological affect than we are aware.  Growing up I know I hear the 3 date rule early on, but don’t even remember from who or where.  Also, modern expectations of men (and I am speaking from an American cultural perspective) are all over the place.  Several years ago, men were not sensitive enough, now it’s swinging back to us not being masculine enough!  So ladies, you are not alone in having to deal with the media perspective, so give us a little bit of a break here – (on average) we don’t know what you want!  Again, communication up front is so important here – and on this point I’m not just talking about sex 🙂
    5) Guys like sex early on also because its and indicator or longer term chemistry.  Very simple.  I’ve seen a lot of women on here complaining about this point, but it seems to me that I wouldn’t want to be in a LTR with a women who was a horrible kisser – and there is a wide variety out there of both sex and kissing!  The difference is there is a much larger emotional connection to one than the other.  I don’t want to minimalism the issue of sex compared to kissing, but you see my point.  While women might complain about men pushing them into sex too early, guys will say the exact opposite.  Remember ladies, we are programmed to compete with each other for your affection and pursuing early gives us the best chance.  That might seem simplistic but we are animals (as you so often remind us) and if being the guy on the inside track give us the best chance we will at least want instinctively to pursue sex if possible – especially if we suspect another guy is in the running! 😉 
    6) Age differences I suspect on this thread a part of the wide divergence of opinions.  State you’re ages!  Obviously demographically, there are big changes happening in the US – not to mention the media aspect again.  There is no arguing this, so we should consider how this affects our traditional and upbringing beliefs – expectation of both men and women need to adjust depending on what they are looking for specifically.
    7) Couples dating, should define early on what they mean by relationships.  This might seem obvious to women, but I think it is overlooked by men.  Until I was truly ready for serious dating, I took relationship as simply meaning find a good female partner to be close with and see where things went (with the addition of sex).  From what I’ve read of the early comments, women want have an entirely defined, minute-by-minute idea of what that relationship will look like before sex; but as Evan points out correctly, us guys have sex and find love – not generally the other way around.  Sorry to burst your bubble, but that might have been the key sentence in the article.  We’ll push you for sex as early as we can expect it.  True.  You will do your best to hold off our advances until you are willing.  True…  Just the way we were both made I guess.
    As for my upcoming 3rd date…  After reading many of the comments from many of the women early on in the thread, I’ve definitely decided to not try to meet this 3 date rule and will slow things down a bit.  My belief has always been that sex is better when there is more of a connection anyways (whether it is the one night stand or the making love variety) and the first two dates were two of the better dates I can recall in years.  Having said that, when it feels right, I will push and test and when she is willing… well we’ll just see.  We even joked about the 3rd date rule last time I saw her and she responded pretty favorably, so I want will continue to gauge her willingness despite the fact that I’m now going to hold off.  All I have to go off of is my gut, and until someone can create a metric for that, I suspect it will be all I have to go on.
    One other quick note, she and I met through an online service that actually asks the question of how many dates before sex.  She answered 3-5.  She is very well educated, obviously very smart and seems to have great morals and upbringing.  This also sets up an expectation for me to to wait no more than 5, but I’ll let Evan tackle that whole new issue of sex within online answers of this type…  Evan, again, great piece – I look forward to future articles!

  22. 202
    Mikel cassara

      This is what I think.. By the third date.. If the attraction doesn’t exist where you can’t help your selves.. Its time to look else where.. But all girls are different.. I’m not saying it needs to happen.. But if your not having to restrain your selves..  Probally should look else where.. Cause there’s no physical atraction..  And maybe your dating unattractive people.. And that’s honestly is a confidence thing.. Try working out and getting some sun.. Cause maybe youll attract guys that Make you wanna have sex on the third date..

  23. 203

    Gahh had my 4th date with a guy and we got a bit touchy-feely on that date. He’s on a trip now and I’ve been nervous abt how long we can put off sex. I do believe him when he says he likes me and he’s been trying to bring me to events where I’d meet his friends but I’m nervous and so I don’t go.

    I guess I lack experience with all this and perhaps am not ready for a proper relationship…it’s just that at mid twenties, u feel that’s what u’re Supposed to do. Plus when u meet a good guy like him, it’d be a pity to not date him. Just that sex and meeting someone’s friends are a big deal to some of us and it’s not easy to force yourself. I really feel bad that some women are feeling pressure that they Must put out by 3rd date or they’ll never have a relationship–that’s horrible! And untrue!

    1. 203.1

      Oh I almost forgot to say–Thank you Evan for trying to explain all this to us! I think u’re right that women should put effort into delaying sex in a fun way while we’re deciding whether to become exclusive. In a way, it’s harder than just having sex, but it’s easier on our hearts in the long run! 🙂

  24. 204

    I think the OP made excellent points that were spot on.
    “What a man wants is not necessarily to have sex on the third date, but to have some physical contact that may, someday, lead to sex.”
    When you boil it down to the basics, Men trade Love for Sex, Women trade Sex for Love. So that means men are mostly looking for sex, and women are mostly looking for love.
    That ‘3rd date norm’ doesn’t exclusively suggest sex (or anything else below the belt), it just means meaningful contact that one day could reach that stage. I wouldn’t continue dating anyone beyond the 3rd date that didn’t at least suggest they were very interested (this can be as simple as going out of the way to rub arm, resting head on shoulder, light tickling, anything that suggests definite interest).

    Also, you know, angrily rejecting an advance doesn’t help your position either. Often women don’t realize their body language signals don’t get noticed (men biologically are weaker at this than women), so guys often try to ‘test their boundaries’ and judge the reaction. You could simply move their hand to a more appropriate location and warn them you’re not ready to go there. The way you say it makes all the difference.

  25. 205

    I’ve been in my relationship for almost 20 years.  I had a friend encounter someone she was dating actually getting mad at her for not wanting a sexual relationship after a certain amount of time.  So, out of curiosity I did some research and stumbled onto this 3 date rule.  

    Well, if I were single in this day and age I would have serious reservations about this totally arbitrary made up rule.  First, I have no issues with sex.  I think it’s normal and I know men and women have sexual needs.  However, before a woman has sex with a man her need is to establish that he is wanting a long term commitment.  If a woman is looking for just sex I doubt she’s going to wait a long time, so I don’t think that aspect needs discussion.  If a woman is making you wait, she is more than likely afraid to get hurt or overly attached.  A man needs to reassure her that he’s not out to use her.  I don’t know any woman that would set out to put a man in the friend zone from day one, yet continue to date the guy.  That friend zone getting used for dates idea sounds fictitious to me.  

    I don’t know any women that would want to waste months of their time dating a guy to just plan on friend zoning him, yet still go on dating him.  If a guy gets friend zoned it’s because they are not the right guy for that girl.  She friend zones him the moment she discovers there is a deal breaker issue.  It is not uncommon for a woman not to want to have a major emotional attachment unless she sees this guy being a long term partner. Sex makes woman attached over time.  It’s a biological fact.  Woman can rarely just keep having sex and not feel bonded in a very deep way with a man.  

    Woman that want to wait want a long term relationship.  They do not want to be used.  They might also have issues with dating a guy that leaps into bed with women after just 3 dates.  Like hello STDs are very common these days.  I’m pretty sure a lot of women want no part of that.  

    The bottom line is that women like to feel like they are a one in a million.  The 3 date rule sort of makes me think of making a woman feel like one in a crowd.  Good luck establishing a meaningful relationship based on a silly rule, instead of actually caring about what each individual you date actually wants out of life.  

    My advice is become great friends, make sure you want to jump each other’s bones from day one (but you don’t have to actually do it), communicate and treat the person you date like a human being.  This silly rule is a stupid fad.  It’s not going to work for a lot of women.  It might work for men, but if women start objecting it’s not going to stay.  Women do have a say in what they are willing to do.  Ultimately, he can’t dance by himself.  Also, when a couple starts to age.  They need a partner that truly loves them to stay in the relationship.  Sex may some day fade away.  Love is what binds a couple together in the long run.  There is always porn and the right hand man for company, while you establish that long term relationship.  Women also engage in this sort of self fulfillment while they wait.  

  26. 206

    Maybe not sex on a 3rd date , the lady deserves a little respect but if we do not kiss on a 1st date , outta there . I tend to spend a lot of time and money to make a first date special. If I don’t deserve a kiss for my effort , especially if I have expressed an interest in continuing to see her and the possibility of a relationship later down the road , not wasting any more of my time on her . Good luck finding guys who will.

  27. 207

    I see lots of expectations and childish rules. When sex is a price it’ll always be a price. “If you do what I want you’ll get what you want.” Feminine, easy-going woman without expectations has sex when she likes and gets a masculine man and a relationship she wants.

  28. 208
    Tom Leykis

    I find it amusing to read about women complaining that they feel “used” when a man wants to sleeps with them on the 3rd date, as if they don’t enjoy the sex themselves, like it’s some kind of chore.
    At the same token, women have no problem at all to “use” the guy; let him pick you up, pay for dinner, drinks, the movie and whatever else you might be doing.
    When a guy pays he expects something in return. If you don’t want to put out, why are you going out with guys in the first place?
    Why don’t we change it so the woman pays for everything and we guys decide weather we give it up or not? Doesn’t sound too good now does it?
    Most, if not all guys do all those things for you for one reason, and one reason only: to see if you have pubic hair down there. Don’t like it? Stop going out with guys!

    1. 208.1

      Tom leykis, you seem to think all women should think of themselves as hookers and have sex w men for Money, dinner etc.  Your comments are disgraceful.

    2. 208.2

      @ Tom Leykis #208
      “When a guy pays he expects something in return. If you don’t want to put out, why are you going out with guys in the first place?”

      I actually disagree Tom. I think women are perfectly entitled to accept a date/dinner from a guy without being expected to offer anything in return. If you pay and don’t receive your “something in return” then own that decision and be more selective on who you spend your money the next time. When paying, only do so on the assumption that you won’t be receiving anything in return; that way you won’t be upset, you’ll limit your exposure to a reasonable amount and if you do receive something in return you’ll view it as a bonus.

  29. 209
    Matthew Michael

    What we are debating here we will be debating forever. And ever until humans are extinct. Thank you.

  30. 210

    If you can’t even kiss after the first date you’re probably too immature to be dating in the first place. No one really expects sex after a third date, but if you’re interested enough to go out at all then there’s no reason you can’t kiss someone at the end of the evening. I may not even want a kiss, but if you offered one I’d be mature enough to let you kiss me. Personally, if you can’t kiss me at the end of the first date there won’t be a second date.

    1. 210.1

      @Gregg, I’d encourage you to open your mind about no kiss on the first meeting/date. I know many women in relationships with men, married, committed and monongomous who did not kiss on the 1st meeting, 1st date, and maybe not till the 2nd date. Many first dates are actually the firt time you meet a man, I think a kiss on the cheek and a genuine I had a great time is perfectly acceptable. In fact, if you were in college you’d often see a guy around campus 10 or so times and if you saw him at a frat party or he took you on a date and you kissed that’s cool, but adults who date and just meet a man or woman for the first time — well, who needs the requirement that you have to be kissing within a couple hrs of meeting, sure if you want to great, but a requirement like that is a tad bit narrowminded.

      1. 210.1.1

        I’m no spring chicken here. I’m a child of the sixties. I’ve been to college and worked for a Big Ten college for ten years. I also bartended for most of twenty five years. I’m not interested in someone who’s too immature that they can’t share one kiss at the end of an enjoyable evening. I’m also not that naive to know that every circumstance is also different and a certain amount of subjectivity is a possibility.

        1. Tom10

          I’m with you Gregg. If there’s no kiss on the first date it is statistically reasonable to assume she’s not attracted to you/she’s got issues/she’s uptight. Either way it’ll leave you feeling like a chump. Life is too short. Next.

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