Navigating The Pivotal Third Date And Why It's So Crucial

Dating in the modern world is difficult, to say the least. With dating apps that have replaced conventional methods of meeting someone and WhatsApp and Instagram DMs replacing the act of picking up a phone and talking to a person, there seems to be a whole new world of rules out there. Is the person interested in me or not? Are they flirting or am I reading the signals wrong? Do they want a causal relationship or is this person looking for marriage? The questions are endless and the potential suitors so varied. 

Licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Tirrell Degannes told the Thriving Center of Psychology that part of the problem of modern dating is that people don't seem to know what they want when they get into the scene. Given such a climate, if you or someone you know has managed to secure not just one or two but three dates with someone, there is definitely some cause for celebration. 

If you're this person, you may recall advice from well-meaning friends about things you should never do on a first date. However, not a lot is said about how to navigate a third date. What are the rules (if any)? Does it mean you're in an exclusive relationship now? Is there any truth to the third date rule and can you sleep with the person at the end of this date? It's a pretty pivotal occasion, for sure. Here's why the third date is so crucial.

A third date is when you start discussing the important stuff

Dating expert Lisa Concepcion told Cosmopolitan that a third date is when you assess whether or not you're going to continue seeing the other person or not. "If there's no chemistry by the third date, most people shift into just being friends," she added. 

Speaking of chemistry, there's no need to conform to the well-known third date rule and sleep with the person unless that's something both of you want (via eHarmony). Concepcion shared with Cosmopolitan that when it comes to intimacy, discussing what you want and don't want at this stage can be done on a third date. 

New-York based relationship therapist Chloe Carmichael wrote in Women's Health that you should avoid placing too much importance on the third date. However, she does think that the third date is when you discuss some important things like your dating expectations and life values. Understanding if they're looking for something serious or casual and talking to them about things like career goals, lifestyle habits, faith, and family can all be part of this crucial juncture. So can topics like punctuality and personality types, two things that could be the cause of strife if you were to do life with this person. "There's no point in wasting time with someone who you don't enjoy being around, at least on some level," noted Carmichael.

Navigating the third date: Things to keep in mind

Since you want meaningful time to draw out the deep stuff from the person you've gone past first and second dates with, try and choose an activity that allows for that (via Marcus Lemonis). Since you should have a good grasp of what each of your interests are at this point, try and choose something both of you would find pleasurable. 

Dating expert Erica Cramer told Cosmopolitan that it might be good to choose something that involves an everyday setting so you can learn how your date responds to common situations. It is also crucial that you ask pivotal questions that draw out who your date really is. Listening to what they're telling you without bias is also important. "The third date is where we're telling each other something about the type of partner we could be — listen when someone tells you who they are, that isn't changing," she explained. 

No matter the venue or activity you're thinking of as you plan a third date, the goal is to get to know the other person on a deeper level. If you can't decide if you want to see them again or not after the third date, there's no need to fret, according to relationship therapist Chloe Carmichael (via Women's Health Mag). "The third date isn't some monumental milestone that should be a make-it-or-break-it, event for a potential relationship," she wrote.