Progression of Dates
Sadly, even dating has become formulaic in many respects. After you meet someone and agree to go out together, the first few dates you go on are supposed to follow a pattern.
The first date involves trying to impress each other in a subliminal, resume-writing sort of way. You'll both go out of your way to look extra nice and be squeaky-clean. You'll demonstrate financial well being by arguing over the tab at a nicer place than you usually go, and you'll try to convince each other of your respective attractiveness and confidence. You'll watch your manners and go through the courtship rituals of holding doors and over-tipping your server. Your conversation will revolve around what you each do for a living, where you grew up, your families, and your hobbies. Much like at a job interview, you get extra points for volunteerism and community service. If the first date goes well (and it will unless one of you has a major personality flaw), you'll go home floating on clouds and anxiously awaiting the next date.
The second date is the make-it-or-break-it date. Sure, you'll still look nice, but you might not spend two hours getting ready for this one. Likewise, you won't be so guarded when it comes to what you talk about. You may delve into personal political or religious beliefs, which opens up the possibility for disagreement. If one or both of you has skeletons in the closet, the second date might be when they come out. Previous run-ins with the law, stalker exes, and hefty child support payments are all examples of things you didn't necessarily want to know about your date. As magical as the second date isn't compared to the first, this is the one that really helps you examine whether or not the person you're eating dinner with is someone you want in your life. If you make it through the second date still pretty happy with each other, it's time to start thinking about the dreaded third date.
What the Third Date Means in Super-Secret Dating Code
Strangely enough, the third date is supposed to bring physical intimacy. Where you go and what you do isn't as important as the sex that's supposed to follow. For many men, sex on a third date is a realistic expectation. A woman that has sex with a man before the third date is often written off as promiscuous, but men who are looking for a relationship will want something to seal the deal after a third night on the town together.
Why "third date" is supposed to be super-secret dating code for sex is beyond me, but it's an expectation you'll have to deal with as a single person.
What Do You Want Your Third Date to Mean?
People don't function like mathematical equations in real life, and it's a good thing, too. Although there is a prescribed dating pattern floating around out there, your dating life doesn't have to fit into the mold if you don't want it to.
While many people are perfectly comfortable having sex on or before a third date, you don't have you if you don't want to. That's not a novel idea by any stretch of the imagination, but keep in mind that the person you're dating is also aware of the typical dating pattern and the third date stereotype and dealing with the same choice.
The Moment of Truth: To Go, or Not to Go?
When trying to decide whether or not you want to go on a third date with someone, keep sex out of the picture when you make your choice. If you like the person well enough and you are attracted to him or her, go on the date regardless of any social pressure you might feel to perform. Just be sure to have an honest talk with your date if you don't feel quite ready to hop into bed. That way, your date won't feel rejected and you won't feel obligated. Not having sex on your third date might also be a good way to evaluate his or her motives for dating you in the first place. If you genuinely like each other and are continuing to go on dates for the right reasons, when and if you have sex together won't be as important as enjoying each other's company.
Ask yourself more relationship-oriented questions than sex questions when making your decision. For example, do you have similar interests and compatible lifestyles? Are your values and priorities close enough for you to be comfortable? Are children going to be a factor if you pursue a long-term relationship? Do you have good chemistry and enjoy conversations with each other? Can you see yourself going on more dates in the future, or are you just killing time?
Whatever you decide, going on a third date means that you're willing to put forth effort into forging some sort of relationship. Whether you intend to commit right away or keep testing the water, whether sex comes into the equation yet or not, a third date implies a little something more than just dinner and a movie.