We’ve all heard stories of people who slept together on the first date and it turned into a happily ever after.
How often do you think that happens? Honestly, it’s not nearly as often as you might think — about one in every million one-night stands. Those odds aren’t great, so how can you improve the chances of your forever after in the age where casual dating is the vibe?
How many dates before you become exclusive?
Global market research and consulting firm Ipsos surveyed roughly 1,000 adults over the age of 18 in a recent poll to determine the number of dates singles should go on before becoming exclusive. The poll found that about 39 percent of the participants thought three months was a good time frame before becoming exclusive.
If you go on one date per week, that turns out to be around 10 to 12 dates in that period of time. If you’ve been going out for a few weeks and are on date number 9, for example, one or both of you may be anticipating becoming something more serious and having the DTR (define the relationship) talk.
Though some people agree three months is an acceptable time frame, you should go on as many dates as you need to see if you want to make that decision of commitment, no matter what a survey says. If it’s date 14 and you still aren’t sure, then don’t ask — and probably start seeing other people at that point.
You might want to have a conversation just so you’re both on the same page.
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How many dates until you are in a relationship?
This is tricky because everyone has their own time periods and rules in the dating world. It depends on the people in the relationship, and where they are in their emotional and physical connection, as well as the amount of time they spend with each other.
Some daters go by the 3-date rule, a dating rule that dictates that both parties withhold sex until at least the third date. This gives the impression that neither will have to worry about being abandoned after being intimate.
Others use the 5-date rule, which has two interpretations. Either the woman will withhold sex until the fifth date, or the fifth date is where exclusivity is brought up. However, the fifth date doesn’t mean putting pressure on your own situation; it may not be time for that conversation.
As long as you have a connection and a spark, see where things go without rushing it.
What is the 10 date rule?
Similar to the 3- and 5-date rules, the 10-date rule indicates how many dates to go on before getting a girlfriend or boyfriend. However, this isn’t a time clock saying you have to fall in love in only 10 dates.
The 10-date rule merely states that men are most likely to seek relationships with women they’ve dated at least 10 times. These are real dates, not hangouts or coffee meet-ups. They are dates in which you go and do something together in public.
Men want connection, true connection, as much as women do. In general, they’re a little slower at forming that connection than women are, and 10 dates is a good rule of thumb. A man is not going to continue asking you out if he’s not interested, and if he asks you out on 10 dates, he’s into you.
It all makes sense when you think about it. Why would a guy (or a girl) rush into a relationship without testing the waters first? The 10 dates normally happen over the course of several weeks to a couple of months. That’s being prudent and taking things as they come.
Of course, sex typically happens sometime during the 10 dates, but if you sleep with a man too soon, it’s hard to tell if he was in it for the conquest or was seeking a relationship, no matter how intense the chemistry was.
Take your time and have sex when you are ready and can handle whatever happens afterward. (Yes, he could dump you after sex on the 10th date, but if he’s just out for a conquest, he’s not likely to last that long without sex.)
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How many dates should you go on before you make a decision? If you can keep your cool for those 10 dates and not let your heart take over, you’ll see him clearly and objectively, and can make a decision whether you want him as your boyfriend.
You do the choosing, not the men. Staying calm and collected during those dates will help you make a good decision instead of being ruled by chemistry. And you can weed out the good guys from the players.
But how do you read the signs? Is there a way to tell on date 5 if he’s good boyfriend material? After all, you don’t want to waste time if you don’t have to.
Here’s how to tell if he’s seeking a relationship, not a conquest:
1. He takes you out on dates instead of always staying in.
2. He stays in regular contact between dates.
3. He introduces you to co-workers, friends, and family.
4. He says “we” and “our.”
5. He can wait for sex until you’re ready, with no pressure.
6. He takes an active interest in your life.
7. He tries to fix things for you, whether it’s a leaky faucet or an issue with a coworker.
8. He posts about you on social media.
9. You aren’t the only one to initiate a date, he steps up often.
All of these actions are more likely to happen if you’re following the 10-date rule, but each person and couple is different Most men will not act like this with a one-night stand or a woman he just wants as a friend with benefits.
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What things should you consider before becoming official?
1. If this person is right for you
When deciding if you should pursue a relationship with this person, ask yourself if they make you happy, support you, are interesting to you, and are desirable.
You need to decide if you want to keep this person in your life long-term before pursuing a relationship with them. Also think about whether or not this is a person you can see yourself falling in love with.
2. If they are still using dating apps
Before becoming exclusive, find out if they are still on dating apps. If they are still curious about what’s out there and you want to be exclusive, things may turn sour or there might be infidelity in the future. Unfortunately, this is the reality of online dating.
Also consider if he’s dated a lot of women in the past, whether it was before or during you two dating. That can be a sign of his curiosity or immaturity.
3. If you’re happy being with them
Think about how this person makes you feel. Are you happy when you’re around them? Do they make you a better person in all the right ways? Consider those questions, as well as what each of you would bring to a potential relationship, before committing to each other.
4. If they have true feelings for you
Find out how he truly feels about you before locking him down. Is he serious about the emotions he has for you, or is he just saying that to get something from you? Check to see if he’s emotionally mature enough to handle an official and exclusive relationship.
5. If you share the same values
Do your values and dreams match up or do they clash? Does he support or complement your core values? Are you both on the same page when it comes to life and how to live it? If they don’t, these can indicate major problems down the road.
Don’t be in a hurry when it comes to dating, and don’t let your heart run away with you. He’s out there and if you stick by these rules, you’ll create the relationship you want almost effortlessly.
Jonathon Aslay is a coach, speaker, mid-life dating and relationship coach, and author of two books. Visit his website, Understand Men Now, for tips, teleclasses, and coaching for daters looking for better relationships.
This article was originally published at Jonathon Aslay. Reprinted with permission from the author.