You've bonded over drinks and swapped biographies over dinner. But the next step might not be what you think.
Although modern dating mythology has long thought of the third date as the date when sex becomes a realistic possibility, heading into it with that assumption won’t do you any favors if you’re looking for a real relationship. “Sexual pressure kills romance,” explains Whitney Casey, a relationship expert for Match.com and author of The Man Plan. “Planning a day date shows you want to know her, and shows you’re willing to put in the effort to do so.”
So instead of the oh-so-cliché Friday night dinner, suggest one of these five third-date ideas. Sure, they all start in the afternoon—but don’t be surprised if they end the next morning.
1. Head to an amusement park. Nothing says "I like you" more than spending the equivalent of a tank of gas to win an oversized stuffed animal. Plus, research has found that adrenaline-spiking activities like riding a roller coaster mimic the feelings of falling in love—and might even be transferred toward how she feels about you.
2. Meet for brunch. Less cliché (and less expensive) than a dinner date, getting to know each other over eggs sends a signal that you want her in your daytime life. For added points, plan a couple of options for after, suggests Casey. “Suggesting a walk in the park, a cool street festival, or hitting a museum exhibit shows her you’ve put thought into an itinerary.”
3. Go on a tour. A cemetery? A neighborhood? A brewery? Chances are, there’s something cool in your town that neither of you have done before. And while a tour isn’t ideal for a first or second date—it’s too hard to talk to each other—by date three, you know each other well enough to decide if something sounds cool to both of you. “Relationships are built on common experiences,” reminds Casey. Even if a tour’s a bust, the terribleness of it can become something both of you can bond over.
4. Let her see you sweat. Suggest a run, spin class, or hike. And if you’re feeling flirty, face off against her in a mid-run race. Competition raises testosterone, which can amp up both of your libidos. (See Partner Up for more playful date ideas.)
5. Head to the zoo. Going to the site of a third grade field trip makes it clear you’re not planning to attempt any, uh, monkey business. Plus, studies have found that triggering feelings of nostalgia can increase self-esteem and foster feelings of connectedness—both of which will make your date feel even more comfortable with you.