The three-date rule?

I have to confess, I’m terrible at dating. Just terrible. I don’t really know the rules, or how it’s supposed to take place, or how quickly it’s supposed to progress… it’s confusing.

When I was younger (’cause I’m such an old fart now), I just fell into relationships. I’d like someone, he’d like me in return, and somehow we’d go from that to cuddling, to kissing, to being boyfriend and girlfriend. There was really no transition time, no “dating” or “seeing each other” or whatever… it just went from “just friends” to “hanging out a lot” to “boyfriend and girlfriend.” That’s the world I understood. It was familiar, and not foreign and scary — like when I cross one province over to go to work.

After the final round of breakups with my First Love, I felt that I wanted to just try dating for awhile, and not just have ‘relationships.’ Well, several half-hearted relationships later, I finally reached a point where I was actually dating. And it was weird.

Don’t get me wrong, I can handle the dating part just fine — going out, having coffee or going to a movie with someone, going to events and getting to know one another — but it’s the rest of it that confuses me.

Like, if you never talk about seeing one another exclusively, are you obligated to do so? Even if you’re sleeping together? Is it necessary to talk about seeing other people, or do you just do it until someone happens to raise the question and want to have The Talk? How long do you have to be seeing someone, either exclusively or not, before they become a boyfriend or girlfriend (which tends to require another talk)?

Fortunately, it’s never really been an issue with anyone I’ve dated. The last few years have given me a great deal of practice in the dating scene. Lavalife helped that one — it was a fairly easy matter to talk to someone online for awhile, decide they were worth meeting, and arrange to meet someplace close by for a coffee. Rarely did those evenings progress beyond that first coffee, but it was good practice for dating and for getting used to being blown off.

But it’s been going from that initial meeting — be it with someone I’ve met online, or someone that I’ve met in my regular days — where the confusion lies. I never really considered the initial meetings dates, but I’ve since learned that some people do, so apparently I spent a few months dating an awful lot. So I’m practiced at it now, right? Not so much.

My radar got totally thrown out of wake by those dates. I stopped being able to tell when someone was actually interested in me in return, and I got tired of having pursuing people who were only moderately interested in me — or who had no interest in dating, and were only looking to have sex. That’s a whole other “Things I don’t understand” article right there, lemme tell you.

And that’s where the three-date rule comes in. Now granted, maybe this is an old throwback to when dating was just like in television and the movies (hah!), but I’ve heard this phrase tossed around before; that on the third date is when a couple will usually have sex for the first time.

Now, with someone you’ve known for awhile as a friend or something, I can see where that wouldn’t cause a problem. And sure, I’ve had sex with people I didn’t know almost everything about, but yet, I rarely feel as if I’m close enough to someone after only three dates to drop trou with ’em. Maybe that’s just me, but I prefer to have some kind of connection with someone before I try to have great sex with them.

Basically, it has been my experience that casual sex and I don’t really get along well. I can be a great time in bed, for sure, but I don’t tend to want to be that great time with someone who just happens to be another warm body. I want to actually like the person I’m naked with, to feel something for them beyond “Well, I don’t hate you,” before I feel comfortable enough loosening up and showing them all of my moves.

Or at least, some of them. Can’t shock the poor souls too early on, y’see.

I have problems sometimes revealing the extent of my kinks to someone I care about. You’d think that’s when it’s easier, but it’s then that their opinions matter more and I’d hate to run the risk of scaring them off. That’s where flirting comes in handy, for sure. However, it’s only with someone that I care about that I’m interested in actually acting on my kinks, ’cause then I’m more likely to wind up enjoying the whole experience. I swear my head’s against me all too often.

So, does anyone know of any hard-and-fast rules at which point someone becomes a boyfriend, or a girlfriend? Anyone have any experience with culling the herd to focus on one particular person? I mean, it must be fun to have that conversation with other people you might be seeing, when you decide to concentrate on that really special guy or girl. How serious do things have to get with one person before you decide to inform him or her of other people you’re seeing? Is it acceptable, if you haven’t had the “it’s just going to be us two/three/four/etc.” talk to still be seeing/sleeping with two, three, four, etc., other people?

This is why, with a few more years and a few more experiences under my belt, I prefer the relationship scene. So much less complicated.


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