The Three Day Rule and Online Dating: Does It Still Apply In 2023?

Wondering if you should still follow the three day rule? Well, let’s start at the beginning…

Have you ever asked your parents for relationship advice?

If the answer is ‘no’, I’m not surprised. Chances are, the dating norms  of your parents’ days were completely different from the dating world you’re part of now. Your mother would probably never dare to meet a gentleman from the internet, and your father might be appalled at Bumble’s insistence on women making the first move.

Because dating has changed so much in the last ten, and even in the last five years, it can be difficult to know which dating rules still apply. Of course, in an ideal world, we wouldn’t have to overthink any rules and we could simply be ourselves and tell someone when we like them. But, that’s easier said than done.

The three day rule is a dating strategy that suggests waiting three days to call your date after you go out. The theory is that waiting three days makes you look less eager and/or desperate, and gives your date time to realize how much they liked you when they think you might not contact them.

Essentially, the three day rule is all about playing hard to get. But, is it still relevant in today’s instantaneous dating landscape?

Is the three day rule still relevant?

In a simple word, no.

The speed of dating has changed

Dating apps, texting, and other technological advances have made dating quicker and easier than ever.

There was once a time where you wouldn’t dream of seeing a new dating partner more than once in a week. Nowadays, some people go out with a Tinder match that they swiped on just hours ago. If things go well, they may spend the whole weekend in bed together.

Will waiting three days ruin your chances?

While waiting three days to call (or more likely, text) your date may not completely ruin your chances, there’s also a good chance that your date may write you off as being wishy-washy.

There’s also a chance that in those three days, your date has matched and/or gone out with someone new that they’re putting their energy into instead.

Your date’s other matches are probably not waiting three days to message them back, so if you’ve already met them in person and liked them, why should you?

Even if your date isn’t chatting with tons of matches on their app of choice, there’s also a chance that they’re simply just busy. Studies have found that today’s teens and millennials are busier than ever.

Many single people not only have an active dating life, but they’re also likely busy with work, side hustles, a bustling social life, and potentially a recreational hobby like an intramural softball league or tantra training class. Even if your date is still interested in going out after you wait three days, they might be booked for the next two weeks before they can see you again.

Many 20-somethings haven’t even heard of this rule

I’m going to be honest here and tell you that I actually didn’t know what the three day rule was when I first heard it, and I write about dating for a living.

Instead, I thought about the matchmaking service that goes by the same name. Then, I thought maybe the three day rule is similar to the 3-date rule, an unwritten rule that you should wait until the third date to have sex.

I’m in my late 20s, so the fact that I didn’t even know what this rule was is a pretty good indicator that it’s past its expiration date. In 2018, a writer for Elle asked about her peers about the three day rule and two 26-year-olds also claimed they’d never heard of it. The writer, Chloe Hall, went on to officially proclaim the three day rule as “dead.”

What’s the new expectation for texting/calling after a first date?

I think many of my female peers will agree with me when I say that I expect a text from my date immediately after, or the morning after a dinner date. If he doesn’t send me that cliche, “I had a good time,” text, I assume he’s not going to.

And if he waits three days, I assume he’s playing games, which is not really something I’m interested in. Women interviewed by Men’s health on this subject echoed my feelings: if he waits three days, they assume he’s playing games.

It’s also not uncommon in today’s dating world that you plan the next date while on the first date if things are going really well. Tripp Kramer, host of the podcast How to Talk to Girls, told Men’s Health that he suggests bringing up that you’d like to go out again while on the date, then texting within 2-3 days to officially plan the date.

For example, towards the end of the date you can say, “This was really fun, I would love to do this again sometime if you’re interested. Maybe we can go to that arcade you mentioned always wanting to visit.” If your date says yes, you can text them within a day or two something like, “Hey! Hope you’re having a good week. Wanna hit that arcade Thursday night?”

Just because you’re texting your date sooner doesn’t mean you have to chit-chat. Getting straight to the point makes it clear you’re interested and gives you time to bond IRL on the date rather than over text where things can get misinterpreted more easily.

The bottom line

While there’s no denying that playing hard to get and leaving a little mystery works at times, today’s singles are tired of playing games and can see through silly dating rules more quickly than our parents did. We’re also impatient and we like to get what we want with a click of a button.

Our advice – keep the mystery alive by not texting a new match every detail of your day and instead focus on making concrete plans as evidence that you definitely want to see them again and get to know them better.

About the Author

A prolific love author who specializes in creating love stories often focused on the romantic connections between people which readers can identify with.