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The Third Date: Make the Most of This Pivotal Moment

A fireplace and wine and two glasses sitting out on a couple's third date.

First dates are exciting and nerve-wracking: Will you hit it off? Will the conversation flow? How will you leave things? Second dates are a true test of compatibility: What will it be like the second time you see each other? Did you really hit it off on your first date, or was the chemistry a fluke? But perhaps the most important date of all is the third date.

Third dates are no accident. By the time you reach the third date, you’re clearly both interested in spending more time together and getting to know each other better. So, how can you make sure your third date goes off without a hitch? Here are some dos and don’ts for making the most of it.

Do more than get drinks.
If you got coffee or drinks on your first and second date, it’s time to step up your game. Going for drinks three dates in a row reads as a bit lazy and boring. For your third date, get dinner. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but you should put some effort into it. And there’s nothing wrong with going the classic “dinner and a movie” route. If you really hit it off, you can always skip the movie. Which leads me to…

Don’t expect sex.
For some reason, there’s still an expectation that getting to the third date automatically means that sex is on the table. This unwritten rule needs to be erased completely. There’s no such thing as a time when you’re “supposed” to have sex. While a third date does signify that things might be heading into more serious territory, that doesn’t have anything to do with sex. Some couples have sex on the first date while others have sex on the tenth. Every relationship is different, so don’t go into the third date assuming it’s a sure thing.

Do show that you’ve been listening.
One of the most important parts of a successful date is listening to what your date is saying. But it’s not enough to just listen; you also have to remember what they said. Don’t ask where he’s from and don’t ask what she does for a living if you’ve already covered those topics (which you probably did very early on). Misremembering details is a sign that you’re not interested and suggests that you’re juggling a lot of dates and you can’t keep them straight. Simply put, it’s not a good look.

Don’t get too comfortable too quickly.
While making it to a third date is a good sign, remember that you’re on your third date, not celebrating your third anniversary. You still need to use your manners, be polite, and be on your best behavior.

Do hint at where you’d like to see things go.
If you’re into this person and want to keep seeing them, it’s okay—and encouraged—to tell them. You don’t have to go as far as defining the relationship or making it official by any means, but the third date is definitely the right time to stop playing coy and be more direct about your level of interest. If you’re wondering where things are going, they probably are, too.

Going on a third date is a sign that things are headed in a good direction. If you follow these third date dos and don’ts, you’ll be planning your fourth, fifth, and sixth dates in no time.

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