Right out of that gate, abandon immediately any idea you have that the third date, as opposed to the second or the fourth has some intrinsic meaning. Everyone has heard the myth that sex on the third date is standard practice. However, there is no hard and fast rule that says that the second, fourth, or fifth date is the wrong time to close the deal with someone you have been dating.
The first date is probably too soon to become physically intimate unless you are dating with only sexual relationships in mind. At times it can be difficult to know whether you want to be intimate, versus merely sexual, with someone you have just met. At the other end of the spectrum, if you let things go on too long, and you find yourself on the tenth or fifteenth date, then you have probably already crossed into the friend zone. Unless you were looking for a new best friend, then you have waited too long.
Also, since this site is not about hookups but about finding you a long-lasting, hopefully permanent, relationship, be very sure that intimacy is something you actually want. Once you are intimate with someone you cannot roll your relationship back. If you have no intention of continuing the relationship, be considerate of the other person’s feelings and let them know before, and not after, you become sexual with them.
Sex does not mean the same thing to everyone, and some of us have so many notches in our bedposts that they are in danger of collapse. Other people view sex as an important shared connection that they give to very few people in their lives.
Emyli’s dating coaching service, and this website, is not about racking up your lifetime score (I should know, since I completed her program). It is hoped you will treat people with kindness and be respectful of their attitudes towards sexual intimacy. You will not find a lifetime partner with an attitude of disrespect towards intimate partners.
For the purposes of this article, assume that the “third date” is a metaphor for that goldilocks moment when it is not too soon and not too late. Hopefully you’ve kissed at the end of the first or second date. If you’re following along with the articles on this site, you know that your second date should be a physical activity and you’ve made the most of that to familiarize the other person with your physical presence. You have given hugs, guided them through the door with your hand, even been old-fashioned and held hands. When you sense the time may be right, you have some work to do.
If careful planning and execution of something you feel should be spontaneous or “natural” bothers you then you are welcome to your beliefs. It is true that things happen spontaneously; we call those things “lucky” or “accidents.” If however you have been studying dating, reading articles, and planning your dates to this point, then planning for intimacy should not be a problem.
Getting intimate with someone you have been dating requires carefully establishing a feeling of safety and security and building the mood. The feelings of connection and intimacy you are working to create will take careful preparation and unfortunately even a minor misstep can pop the mood like a soap bubble. So let’s dive right in to some third date tips for men that will help you close the deal, of course respectfully.
Make a Plan for the Third Date
The third date is not the time to meet over coffee; that is behind you. The third date is also not the time for a hike or an active event that should have taken place earlier in the process. Trust me, that’s bad third date etiquette.
The third date is when you bring out the big guns, the candlelit restaurant, getting stuck on a ferris wheel, the sunset dinner cruise. Do not limit yourself to the classics though, any date that lets you talk, be close, and focus on each other will work. If you have seen it done in a romantic movie then thats a pretty good tip off that a sizable percentage of the population finds that scenario romantic.
You need an activity that lets you be knee to knee, thigh to thigh, and close to your date. This is why quiet, dimly lit restaurants tend to be perfect for this kind of thing; you have to speak softly and people lean in to do it. If you choose a restaurant, call ahead of time or even better, go there and scope out the best spots in the place. If they have a fireplace, be near it. If they have a view of water, get a table overlooking it. If you cannot specify a table in your reservation then go someplace else; you need precision here. Familiarize yourself with the menu so that you can make your selections quickly and make knowledgable suggestions for your date.
After dinner, if you plan on going to a lover’s lane and watch the city lights from the comfort of your car, and perhaps do some preliminary exploration, then read up on where those places are, how safe they are, and how to get there.
Since you’re thinking ahead, plan for any contingencies that could break the mood. If your date has been driving to meet you? Go and pick her up for this date because at the end of your romantic evening, you do not want them thinking about leaving their car someplace and you do not want them forced into making an obvious statement of interest like offering to take one car. If things do not work out, there are always ride services.
Make sure you have enough funds to cover wherever you’re going because few things kill the mood faster than having to ask your date to cover the tab.
Never, ever, book a hotel room for the third date. That says that, although you are, you were expecting that the date would become intimate. You are going to pretend that sex is not your immediate goal, and your date is also going to pretend, and neither one of you can maintain that consensual game of make-believe when you’re booking hotel rooms ahead of time.
Prepare Your House
If things go according to plan on your third date, then there is a good chance you will end up back at your place. Clean your house or apartment. Even if your date never makes it back to your place, you at least have it clean and there are no single people who could not benefit from a cleaner residence.
It does not matter how clean you think it is: it is not clean enough. Understand that from the moment your date steps through your front door- you are being evaluated. Everything counts here and there are few second chances if you blow the first visit to your domicile. If at any point reading this you think “but mine is already…” just stop, it isn’t, and do it anyway. Your chances of having sex on a third date drops dramatically when your home is a wreck.
Clean Your Bathrooms and Kitchen
Clean the bathrooms thoroughly with actual cleaning products that you buy from an actual store. If you date women, it cannot be expressed how important a clean bathroom is; assume your place is being rated on a 100-point scale, and assume that a female judge is assigning half those points based on your bathrooms. Make sure there is toilet paper and not the cheap stuff made from recycled paper with splinters in it; the good stuff from the top shelf with little teddy bears or angels on it.
Make sure there is actual soap in the bathroom, both in the shower and at the sink. Clean the sinks, clean the toilets, clean the bathtub, and mop the floor. Go all out and get some potpourri or an oil diffuser because your bathroom needs to smell like the candle store in the mall. You might get lucky and end up married for 50 years and it is a sure bet that if your bathroom failed in any aspect of preparation, your spouse will be repeating the story in the senior center.
Clean your kitchen. Remember, you are being evaluated on everything and the kitchen is part of everything. If your date walks into the kitchen there should never be an accompanying gasp of horror. Clean the dishes in your sink, sweep the floor, and clean out your refrigerator including the onions that are now topped with two foot onion plants.
You might think that your date will never see your refrigerator but if all goes well, they might be thirsty later and even after you close the deal, you do not want that shocked silence from the kitchen. As long as you’re focused on the refrigerator, put bottled water, diet soda, beer, juice and wine in there. While you do not need a full wet bar, you do need to be able to offer your date any of the basic beverages.
Your Bedroom, Living Room, and Other Basic Items
No matter how clean your sheets are, change them; satin or silk sheets are not required but they must be clean and although cool and kitschy, avoid anything reminiscent of a child’s bedroom. One teddy bear is acceptable but a bedspread with giant robots is probably not going to help you out.
Obviously, pick up your living room, vacuum or sweep, and artfully arrange your collection of throw pillows on the couch. If you have gear like a rowing machine or a home office in the living room, and given the rents in some areas this is inevitable, then tidy them up. Bury all of your pornography in a hole in the backyard and any of your bikini posters left over from 1986 also need to go.
As long as you are shopping, buy condoms. It is not your date’s responsibility to provide protection; it’s yours. Open the box and squish it some, so it looks less like you bought them for the occasion, and place them discreetly in the nightstand or bathroom cupboard. Having protection on hand says you care about your health and safety and that of the people with whom you are intimate. In the future, you and your partner can discuss alternative methods but right now, buy condoms. Just an aside but if you are still carrying around a year-old condom in your wallet do not rely on it; the material degrades over time and the constant heat-cycling of your wallet going in and out of your pocket accelerates material failure. There is no fourth date less sexy than the doctor’s office trying to explain that the condom broke.
The other thing that needs to go is your roommates if you have them. Hopefully when you started dating you discussed the potential need for the exclusive use of the residence at some future point. That distant future has now come and it is time to request that you be given the sole and exclusive use of the group space for a couple of hours.
If you have not discussed this with your roommates then now is the time, while you are reading the article and still planning the third date. Do not wait until the day comes to ask and explain that you too are open to accommodating their future, exclusive use of the residence. If your roommates are of the jerk variety, then consider a bribe. Since you will not be renting a motel room, you have some extra room in the budget. A couple of movie tickets and some popcorn money can budge reticent roommates into giving you the use of the common areas for a few hours.
Finally, if your roommate is of the obnoxious, sitting on the couch, eating chips and watching cartoons even though they’re 38 variety, and simply will not budge, and you cannot simply evict them for legal reasons, then you will have to make do with converting your bedroom into something else. Definitely consider an intermediate stop before heading back to your house and yes, you still have to clean the bathrooms and kitchen.
Consider your lighting scheme -this is one of my favorite third date tips. If you get a woman come over to your house then the last thing you want to do is turn on a bunch of bright spotlights. Remember the candle light at the restaurant? You want to recreate that. If you are technically inclined, consider swapping out your lights for spiffy trendy color-changing LEDs and then set up your house in soft pastels, browns, reds, soft pinks and purples.
LED lights also have the advantage of being controlled from your phone; instead of greeting your date with a blaze of light, let them enter a comfortable scene. There is no need to spend hundreds but a few colored bulbs and a few scented candles will go a very long way towards keeping your date in the mood you’ve been establishing all night.
Prepare Your Body
After you prepare your residence, you need to prepare yourself because someone is going to be evaluating you carefully and they might even want to take a look at you without your clothes on. If you are studying the art of dating then it may have occurred to you that diet and exercise are important aspects of your dating plan.
Do not believe any articles that you read about how women prefer “dad bods.” The only people who actually prefer “dad bods,” to something a bit more sculpted from the gym, are “dads” and the women who are worried about insulting the “dad” they are married to. No one is saying that you need to get ready for a body building competition but think about the bodies you like to look at; they probably reflect a firm commitment to diet and exercise. It should not surprise you that the people you date likely prefer the same sorts of bodies.
No matter what shape you are in, you will need to groom yourself for the third date. Get your hair cut several days or a week in advance so it has a chance to grow out of the immediate aftermath. Groom your body hair into some semblance of neatness; where you shave is up to you but ignoring your grooming is probably not going to end well.
As an aside, ears and nose are always on the hairless list. You need to have a completely put together look. If you are going to something formal for a third date, then you need to be groomed accordingly. If you are going for more of a ferris wheel, catered picnic on the beach vibe then a bit more rugged will work.
Prepare Your Attire
Just like you have planned the date, you need to plan your outfit. No matter how cool your vintage skating t-shirts are, you are not wearing them on your date if it’s inappropriate and you are going to dress them up with a jacket if they do fit. The idea is that, like everything else, you will plan and you will not be wondering what to wear or how to look an hour before your date.
Consider where you are going and then dress appropriately for that venue. Because the venues are carefully chosen for effect, pick an outfit to compliment that venue. You may never have done it before, but for the third date, try on different outfits and look at yourself in a mirror. Put your ego aside, admit you do not look good in everything.
If you are in some sort of dating program, hopefully you and your coach have worked on your presentation a bit. If not, get some new clothes that will get your date’s attention going in a good way. If you have only old clothes, or nondescript work clothes, then for a third date consider actually getting in your car, driving to a clothing store and telling a salesperson that you have a date coming up and you want an outfit; this may seem obvious to women but many men are seemingly unaware that stores will help you put together an outfit for a special occasion. One more note on clothes, for this date your underwear counts; show up in some nice colorful undergarments and leave your white cotton drawers in a drawer.
Finally, before you put on your date clothes, take a shower. Use soap. Wash your neck, wash behind your ears, and make sure you actually get soap onto and off of everything between the bottoms of your feet and the top of your head. Brush your teeth twice and floss. Use cologne sparingly; spray it in front of you and then step into it, spritz the back of your neck and that is it. You should not reek of anything for your date. Do however place a tin of mints in your jacket pocket, offer one to your date after dinner and take one yourself. Hopefully you will need it.
Third Date Music: The Art of the Mix
Whether you opt for an intermediate stop at a lovers lane or go straight home, you cannot leave your musical selection to chance. Your choice of tunes can make or break the evening; few things will kill the evening faster than leaning in for a kiss while your stereo decides now is the right time for thrash metal.
Once upon a time, when you liked someone you made them a mix tape of your favorite songs. Assume for the moment that a tape is an archaic storage format known for its linearity and marginal sound quality. To make a mix tape you had to copy each song in order from its source and you could only play them in that order; shuffle did not exist. You are going to resurrect this practice and make a play list to be played, quietly, for your date while you talk in your car or home and for when you lean in for the kiss that gets the evening rolling.
Eliminate your favorite gangster rap, metal, or punk; save it for your first road trip. Also eliminate any songs with graphic lyrics; this is about setting the mood on a 3rd date and not an overt suggestion of what you have in mind. Songs with sexual themes are entirely ok, songs with explicit lyrics are too obvious.
Think high school prom and think slow dance. When you get parked or get to the safety of your couch, you want to talk and you want the subliminal power of the music to assist you in keeping your date in the mood. Since you will not be putting your music collection on shuffle, and playing the songs in series, choose carefully.
Ask yourself, how does this song make me feel, what memories does it bring up, how will my date respond to it? When you place a song after it, ask yourself if the speed of the song is a harsh break from the last one, is the volume consistent? You cannot afford anything that breaks the focus between you and your date and the wrong song at the wrong time will do it every time. Conversely, the right song at the right time can set the perfect mood. Hint: if “do me baby” by Prince is not on your playlist, go back and correct that before continuing.
The “Their Place” Curveball
Based on film evidence, in the 1970s, “my place or yours” was once an acceptable pick up line. While that is no longer be true, and those films may have mislead us about social and sexual practices of neolithic man, there is a solid chance that having prepared your residence to a level of surgical cleanliness and crafted not only a mix tape full of the most suggestive Prince songs, but also a matching colored light mood scene, that after your carefully chosen event and maybe some heated time in a secluded car, that your date will suggest that you drive them home; their home.
This is generally good news even if you just spend two days cleaning your house; first, your house is clean and admit it, it wasn’t when you started, and second, your date is considering being intimate with you.
You are not guaranteed anything and you can still end up sleeping alone if you play this wrong. The first thing to do is agree. You can suggest your place, and never suggest their place; the proper message to send is that “i’m really enjoying your company and wherever we go, I want to continue spending time with you.”
With that in mind, it is fine to agree to their place. This may very well be a test to see if you can be trusted to cuddle on the couch without becoming aggressive. In the same league of testing behavior is the classic “I want you to spend the night, but nothing can happen.” These are tests that can be passed and can get you from third date to long-term relationship in very short order because they are often the last tests that very cautious people put intimate partners through before allowing themselves to form an emotional bond.
The way to pass these tests is not to sit on the couch with your hands neatly crossed in your lap. Your date is not asking you back to their place because they want your opinion on the latest hit Netflix series. Instead, you will have to be extremely attuned to the limits they place on you. If your hand is gently removed from a zipper or bra strap, then scrupulously honor those territorial limits and let your date lead. This actually applies to encounters at your place but at their place it is even more critical as they have invited into their sanctuary and you must prove the safety of that decision.
While you should never assume that you will end up in someone else’s bed, you should prepare. Hopefully you have brought some form of contraceptive with you; the glove box of your car is a good place to stash some protection as long as you remember to replace it from time to time and remember to shake out your registration papers before handing them to the nice police person.
Remember, No Still Means No
After you have done all of this work, planning the date, setting the mood, crafting a lighting scheme, and unleashing your potent mix tape you can still wreck the evening by not doing well sexually or even worse, by not respecting your partner. While the mechanics of sex has been the subject of many books and articles, and an in-depth exploration of the topic is well beyond the scope of this article, it bears repeating that this website’s service has a philosophy that is centered around assisting you to find a girlfriend and/or long term partner with a respect for people and a concern for their well-being. We are not here to hook up or help people to hook up.
If your date says yes, keep things simple. The third date is seldom the time for your really exotic maneuvers; stick to the basics. For women this is easy; there are a handful of things that work for almost every guy. For guys, it’s like trying to play a piano where someone changes the keys around every time you play a new one.
If you are not experienced, and you want that third date to work out, then study. Sex is a skill that, like dating, can be learned. While outside of the scope of this article, it is suggested that you skip things like the kama sutra and read something practical like Dr. Alex Comfort’s Joy of Sex.
When you were a kid you did not jump into a car and start driving and you should not jump into bed without a little preparatory studying first. Sex should always get better and better as you come to know your partner but there does have to be a first time for everything. Just assume that you can always get better and read.
As an absolute rule, no means no. No does not mean maybe; it means no. In 2018, if you are not sure, it is entirely acceptable to stop kissing and say “look, I really want this but I also need you to want this.” If you plan the perfect date, execute the perfect date, and have basically written the script for an award-winning romantic blockbuster, you are still owed absolutely nothing by your date. He or she can still just say no and they can do it for any reason; without an explanation. If you force the issue there will not only not be a next time but you may have other more serious problems to deal with.
Adjust, Adapt, and Have Fun
To paraphrase a German field marshal, “no battle plan ever survives first contact with the enemy.” While your date is certainly not the enemy, the saying remains valid in the dating world and is especially true in reference to the third date upon which you have placed so many expectations and for which you have made such elaborate plans. Sometimes, no matter what you do, things will just not work.
Be prepared to fail in the attempt. Sometimes the best-crafted seduction will fail for causes entirely out of your control. If you date women, there are certain times of the month when things are not likely to work out for you and no, you cannot ask ahead of time. Be gracious and adapt; dial back your expectations to cuddling and demonstrate that you are safe to be with and around. Do a review after the date. Ask yourself what worked, and what did not work. If you were successful, then be a considerate lover and take note of what they responded to and what they did not.
If you are serious about this person, and hopefully you are seeking to be intimate with people with whom you are serious, then the best thing you can do when you are told no is to adapt. Do not get angry, do not make a statement about what you feel you are owed, and never force the issue.
Just let it roll off you, let your mix tape play, and have a good time. Even if you haven’t consummated the relationship, you are still listening to music, having beverages, and talking to someone you care for. There might be a next time where it all works; with this person or with someone else. Your ability to adapt practically guarantees it.
Author Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article do not represent the views of the Social Security Administration or the United States Government. They are solely the views of Ted Stalcup in my personal capacity or as a representative of EmLovz. I am not acting as an agent of the Social Security Administration or the United States Government in this activity. There is no express or implied endorsement of Ted Stalcup or of EmLovz by either the Social Security Administration or the United States Government.