Dating is hard. Sometimes you’re swept off your feet. Other times you’re underwhelmed. And occasionally, you have no idea what’s next. There can be a lot of uncertainty, frustration, and even fear while dating. If you’re dating to find a long-term partner, you’re likely looking for someone to spend the rest of your life with. You’re effectively trying to decide if this new partner is a good fit for you and if you’re getting to know the real them. Whether you’re an anxious dater or someone who tends to get swept up in the spark of new relationships, everyone deserves a reminder to slow down, come back to the present, and refocus on dating consciously.
We’re here to help you unpack the famous (or infamous!) third date. You may be feeling the thrill of a deep connection. Or you may feel pressure or anxiety, wondering if there’s real potential with this new partner. Fret not as we’ve compiled a list of five questions to ask yourself after your third date.
How do I feel when I’m with them?
If you’re unsure what words to use to describe how you’re feeling with your date, try checking in with your body. Your body sensations, posture, range of expression, and behavior patterns are powerful indicators of your feelings. Here are a few body sensations to pay attention to:
- Stiff and uncomfortable vs Energized and excited
- Calm and present vs Anxious and ‘in your head’
- Open and curious vs Detached and skeptical?
And then, there are outward body postures and expressions. Did you find yourself leaning in towards your date or closed inward toward yourself or away from them? Did you notice yourself smiling or laughing a lot throughout the date? Or did you notice your body wasn’t connecting to the conversation as you would have liked?
Pay close attention if you noticed your body had reacted with disappointment, skepticism, disrespect, disgust, annoyance, inadequacy, or worry. Your body may be trying to tell you something important about your date, yourself, or your future connection. Try to get more specific about what you think your date is doing to make you feel a certain way. This will help you better understand your needs from them to feel more comfortable and connected.
Have your conversations continued to improve and deepen?
Third dates are about deepening your connection and understanding of each other. When you get to your third date, it’s time to connect beyond surface-level conversation and questions. You may need to be more intentional and direct to get to know your date on a deeper level. Remember that some people need more time to feel comfortable opening up. If the pattern of your conversations remain superficial, it may be a sign that you each have different goals for dating/relationships right now.
You want to discover who they are on a deeper level and what has made them into the person they are now. Great, exploratory third-date questions that aim at the above may include:
- When are you the happiest and feel the most alive?
- What kinds of things excite you the most?
- What has been the best phase of your life and why?
The third date conversation helps you both learn about each other’s passions. If your date likes to travel, you can ask them, ‘What trip impacted you the most?’ Or, if they love music, ‘Which concert has been the most memorable?’ If you’ve learned that your date is close with their family and friends, ‘What relationship or friendship has shaped you the most?’ Every question holds the opportunity to take things one step deeper.
How attracted do you feel in their presence?
This question is not about if your date is your typical physical “type.” Instead, this question asks you to explore what about your date you’re attracted to, whether your attraction has grown as you’ve learned more about them, and how strong your attraction is. Let’s be clear; you should allow yourself to enjoy the physical features of your date that most stand out to you. But also pay attention if you feel captivated, interested, or even bored around them. Does your date make you laugh? Did you find yourself smiling more on the first date or the third? How excited are you for the next date, text, or call?
Was there anything your date said or did that made you more or less attracted to them? When you answer these questions for yourself, you’ll better understand what turns you on, makes you feel safe, and gives you a clear picture of the kind of person you’re looking to date.
Are your values aligned?
The third date is a valuable time to ensure you understand your date’s core values, like religion and politics. If you have a value system that is very important to you, you should be talking about it by the third date. The value-alignment conversation will give you a strong indication of long-term compatibility. It’s good to ask some open-ended questions to understand how your date integrates a value system into their life. What values are most important to them? What value-related actions or activities affect them the deepest? What is it about their value system that helps them to navigate the world more effectively or confidently?
It’s okay to think differently than your partner and even good to be passionate about very different things. But when values are misaligned or contradictory, it can feel like entire parts of your life and personhood are off-limits. A complete misalignment of values can make you feel that your partner can’t fully understand or appreciate you for who you are.
Did you feel heard and that your stories were important?
When dating someone new, it’s essential to assess how equal you’ve felt the conversation has been. Do you feel like you’ve been asking all the questions and your date mainly talks about themselves? Or do you feel your date has been just as equally interested in learning about you, listening to your thoughts, jokes, and stories?
By the third date, have you felt comfortable opening? Has your date helped you to feel valued and understood if you shared something vulnerable? Or did you find that your date wasn’t very reassuring or validating? Have you noticed traits of curiosity and empathy? Along the same line, have you had any opportunities to show your date empathy, understanding, and validation? These are some of the most important skills to nurture while building a successful long-term relationship.
But what if I’m still unsure of our connection after three dates?
Two things are true: 1) No one wants to waste time trying to connect with someone who isn’t a good fit. And 2) Three dates aren’t always enough to decide if someone is a good fit for you. When you evaluate your relationship potential and connection honestly, you will stay true to yourself and date with intention. So, if you answered the above questions and are still trying to figure it out, feel free to enjoy their company as you get to know them better. You might need more time to build trust, friendship, or romance and to experience your date in different contexts.
How can therapy help my dating life?
You may feel that past anxiety or trauma makes it difficult to authentically engage with your date. Feelings of social or relationship anxiety, worries surrounding self-esteem, and a lack of trust or vulnerability are normal and understandable, as we all experience limitations in different ways. We would love to help you so you can bring your best self into your dating life or a new relationship. Reach out to us to get started.