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The Third Date: What It Means to a Guy or Girl & 44 Best Ideas, Signs & Secrets

A third date means that you’re moving toward something, but you’re not quite there yet. So, you’ll need some third date ideas to keep impressing your date!

third date meaning and ideas

Are you confused by the dating game? Who isn’t?! After all, there are so many unspoken rules. And if they’re unspoken, how are you actually supposed to know about them? For instance, what does a third date mean, and what third date ideas will give you the best chance of success?

How do you know if you overstep a rule? How do you know if you didn’t do something you were ‘supposed’ to do?

There’s no way around it – dating is confusing. But you can get one step closer to mastering the dating game by simply learning some of the most important rules, such as what a third date signifies. When you know what it means and where you stand, you’ll find it easier to avoid making a big mistake. [Read: The clues to knowing if your first date went well]

The stages of dating

You meet, talk a little, flirt, go out on a first date, and it’s great. You’re terrified, of course, but it’s great. Hopefully, you get along well and manage to not make a fool of yourself. Then, it progresses to date number two.

Date number one is pretty easy to figure out, you’re trying to make a good impression on each other. On this first date, you really can’t totally trust what’s being said or shown.

Not to sound pessimistic, but on the first date, people tend to put their best foot first, whether or not it actually demonstrates who they are and what they’re like.

On a first date, you learn more about the image of themselves that they want the world to see rather than the real them. You have to keep an open mind and avoid making rash declarations of love before you actually get to know the person. [Read: Warning signs to look out for in the first few dates]

So, date number two. This is where it starts to get a little worrying. There is debate about whether you should sleep together on the second date, and whilst it’s more than fine if you do *many of us have at some stage*, it’s usually better to wait and figure out what’s going on.

If jumping into bed at this stage is still too soon for you, then the second date is about becoming a little more familiar with one another. Perhaps now will be the time when inside jokes start forming, and overall you’re both laughing more than on the first date.

This is about feeling your way into whether this is actually going somewhere because you’re not on your best behavior like you were on the first date.

And that brings us to date number three. This is where it gets super-confusing, and if you want to have the best chance at date number four, you’ll need some great third date ideas. [Read: Decoding what a third date means after dates one and two]

Why the third date matters

We often let our guard down by the third date, which can be both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s good because we’re showing the other person far more of who we actually are deep down. After all, relationships are supposed to be about real-person connections, not false identities.

The downside? You’re not out of the needing-to-be-on-your-best-behavior stage yet. By becoming too relaxed, you’re possibly going to say something which could offend the other person, make a joke they won’t appreciate, etc. Remember, you don’t really know them by this point, either.

It’s tricky. Third dates can be the difference between date number four and five and many more, or, “That was nice, let’s not do this again sometime.” [Read: How to plan a date to knock the socks off anyone you want to impress]

What does a third date mean to a guy?

In general, guys do not see this as moving toward the exclusively-seeing-each-other territory but simply as an extension of the getting-to-know-you phase.

Although everyone is different, here is a general guideline for what a third date means to a guy and what you can expect. [Read: Why do men love a chase and how to use this in your favor]

1. The third date should be more relaxed

The stress of the first date is over, and you’ve gotten to know each other a little on date number two. By the third date, things are more chilled out and relaxed. There’s less pressure to learn about each other and more freedom just to have fun.

This is where some great third date ideas will come in handy.

2. It’s okay to show a little PDA

But only if you’re comfortable with it! This depends on the person, but by getting to know each other a little, perhaps hand-holding or kissing is on the table by now.

3. It’s time to ask questions

It’s okay to start delving into your date’s personality and life a little by this point, but not too much! You can start asking questions and allowing those questions to lead to deeper conversations. [Read: 50 warm, feel-good questions to ask a girl to get to know her better]

4. He’s somewhat into you

What does a third date mean to a guy? It means he, at least, likes spending time with you.

If you’ve reached the third date, you can pretty much safely say that he’s into you. If he isn’t, he wouldn’t be wasting his time going out with you three times!

5. But it doesn’t mean you’re in a relationship

Be careful in assuming that a third date means you’re coupled up. It doesn’t – not yet, at least. You’re still getting to know one another, and it’s still casual at this stage for men.

So, avoid jumping ahead and assuming things are moving fast. At this stage, it’s too soon to label the relationship and you could scare him off. [Read: Are we in a relationship? How to know for sure if you’re a couple]

6. He might still be deciding what he wants

It’s clear that he likes you somewhat, but he might not be totally decided on what to do about it just yet. He’s still feeling his way through the situation and trying to get to know you more.

7. He doesn’t have a set timeline

We’ve mentioned that everything is still quite casual at this point, so don’t expect him to have a timeline of what’s going to happen next. He’s going with the flow. So should you.

8. He’s watching how you treat others

At this getting-to-know-you stage, how you treat others really matters. He will judge you on how you act around and to other people.

After all, no one really likes being with a person who thinks it’s okay to yell at waiters. [Read: How to be nice – 20 easy tips to make everyone love being around you]

9. He might be thinking about intimacy

Let’s be honest, some people sleep together on the first date, and if that’s what they both want, that’s fine! So, by date three, if you two haven’t gotten intimate yet, he could very well be thinking about taking things there.

10. Things might not be sexual, yet

But that might also mean that nothing sexual will happen just yet. The third date is a grey area in terms of the whole sex question, so if it doesn’t become sexual by this point, it’s nothing to be concerned about.

Many people think of the third date as being the point where a dating couple will definitely have sex. It doesn’t. It might, but not necessarily. It’s down to the individual couple when they decide the time is right.[Read: When should you have sex? The essential questions to ask yourself]

11. No sex on the third date doesn’t mean goodbye

If the question of sex hasn’t come up on the third date, that doesn’t mean it’s over or that he’s not interested. He could be trying to work you out still, or he might be worried that if he mentions it, you’ll be scared off.

Now you know what a third date means to a guy, let’s confuse ourselves entirely and find out what it means to a girl! [Read: How long should you wait before sex? A guide on timing, dates & sex]

What does a third date mean to a girl?

When asking what women think of the third date, we need to think slightly differently from a guy. While the third date is still the grey area territory of getting to know one another, it typically means something slightly different to women.

1. She’s decided whether she likes you or not

While not every girl will 100% know whether this is a guy they want to spend a lot more time with, most women will decide at this point whether they like the guy they’re seeing or not.

2. She might be thinking about sex but doesn’t want to be judged

Whether you’re wondering what the third date signifies to men or women, it’s important to remember that to both, sex is a grey area. It’s possible that she is thinking about having sex on the third date but doesn’t want to rush because of the fear of being judged.

Women tend to be more harshly judged when they’re ‘too’ enthusiastic about sex, so it makes sense why she might be more cautious about this topic. [Read: Having sex on the first date – should you give in to the urge?]

3. She is wondering whether this might turn into something

In some cases, a girl’s mind will jump ahead to the future, and she might be wondering where this will lead. However, it’s important to stay in the moment and enjoy the present. Again, third date ideas will help a lot here!

4. Not all girls are keen to rush

If she’s been through a bad breakup before or she’s carrying baggage, she may be reluctant to show her true self by this point.

What does a third date mean to a girl? It means a lot in this type of situation, it means she’s opening up to you, but you need to give her the time she needs. [Read: Taking it slow in a relationship – how should you do it]

5. Lots of questions to learn more

By the third date, a girl is inquisitive and wants to learn as much about a guy as possible. That means asking lots of questions to delve deeper and work him out. After all, she doesn’t want to waste any more time on someone who is incompatible.

6. She feels more comfortable

The fact she has been on three dates with you shows that she feels comfortable. For that reason, you may find that dates move away from very public spaces and toward more intimate settings. [Read: How to be comfortable with yourself]

7. You will only see her looking her best

Date three is still very early, and at this point, she’s keen for you to see her only looking her very best. She will always try her hardest to look good because, in turn, that makes her feel more confident.

Does a third date mean a little more to a girl than a guy? It depends on the girl, but in some ways, yes. By this point, a girl may be a little more invested than a guy.

Not always, but often!

So, now you know what a third date means to both men and women, what else do you need to know? [Read: The early stages of dating and how to navigate the do’s and don’ts]

Third date ideas and tips to look forward to success

The third date is that awkward jumping point between not knowing anything about one another to know enough to decide whether you like them or not. Is it make or break? It could be.

So, to help you out, here are a few third date ideas and tips to help you nail that date and look forward to a fourth.

1. Choose the right place and plan carefully

By this point, you know each other a little better. That means you can choose a place that calls out to their interests and allows you to speak more privately. [Read: Top fun and romantic summer date ideas]

2. Win them over with humor

A little humor can help them to relax and allows everyone to feel more comfortable on the third date. Don’t throw a stand-up routine at them, but a few carefully timed jokes could be all it takes to make this third date magical.

Great third date tips should revolve around laughter, so keep the humor coming!

3. Forget so-called date rules

You know the ones – you’re supposed to have done this by the second date, that by the third date. There isn’t a checklist to tick off here. Just go with the flow and see what happens.

Don’t put pressure on yourselves! [Read: Rules of dating – the unspoken guidelines that create the best dates]

4. Don’t force anything

The third date can be frustrating because you probably really like each other and you’re feeling an attraction, but it’s important not to force anything. Keep things slow and casual, and whatever is meant to be will be.

5. Follow your gut feeling

Your intuition will never steer you wrong. If you’re not sure what to do or what to say, listen to your gut and let it guide you. When you’re thinking of third date ideas, tailor them to what your date likes.

If you’re a guy, avoid thinking too much about what your date could think this third date should mean, and just go with your gut on this one. And if you’re a girl, the same advice applies! [Read: How to listen to your gut and give strength to your inner voice]

6. Most importantly, be yourself

There is nothing worse than trying to be someone you’re not. If you do this, you’re going to have to keep up the act for a lot longer, and it will be exhausting. Just be yourself. Let that wonderful personality shine through, and they’re sure to be charmed by you. [Read: How to be yourself]

7. Don’t go over the top

Be casual and fun on the third date. Be the real you, like you were spending a lazy day with your partner doing anything that both of you love.

The best third date ideas aren’t about spending a lot or making some big romantic gesture. Speak about your goals, passions, and future. [Read: Things to keep in mind to have a perfect date]

8. Make it longer

The best third date is when both of you free up an entire day to be with each other. Okay, maybe not the whole day, but extend the date beyond an hour or two.

A great third date idea is to drive to someplace about an hour away from the city and spend an afternoon picnic in a romantic spot.

Whatever you choose to do, try to spend more time with each other. The longer you’re together, the most comfortable you’ll feel and be able to open up.

9. Kiss when you meet

If you’ve kissed already and share great chemistry, it’s completely acceptable to kiss each other when you first meet for this date. You may have missed them or have been anxious to see them. You don’t need to make out, but a quick kiss to greet each other is sweet at this point. [Read: How to kiss passionately and romantically]

10. Do something fun

A great third date idea is to go to an amusement park. They have loads of fun things to do, and every scary ride would only get the adrenalin pumping, increasing the chemistry and sexual attraction between you.

A few other third date ideas include mountain climbing or doing something else a little less generic. Changing things up gets you to be a little more vulnerable. It forces you to be yourself and really get to know someone in a setting that isn’t a coffee shop or restaurant.

11. Tease each other

You might be extra polite for dates one and two, but teasing is wonderful by date three. Teasing is a great way to build banter and tension between you. It is silly and fun and makes you feel like a teenager again. 

Flirting isn’t just for before a date, but during dating too. Sure, you can be romantic, but teasing makes everyone smile. Just keep it light and be sure not to hit below the belt, so to speak. [Read: 15 clear signs they are flirting with you]

12. PDA

One of the best third date ideas is about PDA. Hold hands while walking around. Cuddle each other if you see a show or at a concert. Kiss each other when you have a few seconds of alone time in the parking lot.

Bring out the fun teenager in you, and you’ll create a date that’s both romantic and sexy.

On the first couple of dates, you are still figuring out what they are comfortable with and how you feel. On the third date, you can put your arm around your date in public, and it shouldn’t be a big deal. If you’re unsure, ask first. [Read: Public display of affection – how to do it, PDA etiquette, and 26 must-knows]

13. Open up

Don’t hold your questions or doubts back. Talk about anything. You can open up about your past relationships, your family, or your dreams. Be vulnerable and willing to answer their questions. It is also a good idea to have a few of your own at the ready as well. 

You still have loads to learn about each other. Don’t let the comfort you may feel with them override that you still need to learn more.

14. Try to bond

Third date ideas and tips aren’t all about adventure, it’s about bonding. Take pictures together or buy something for each other when you’re out shopping. If you’re at an amusement park, win something for each other.

No matter where you are, look for ways to have fun and create memories with each other. 

Having sweet moments like this will clue you into how you feel. Do you want a photo with them, or will you just toss it? This can let you know how far you want things to go. [Read: How to be romantic without being cheesy]

15. Do regular things

Reveal more about yourself through doing more casual things together. Cook them dinner at your place. Head to your favorite local spot or even run errands together. It may not be sexy, but being a little more personal with each other can show you how far you’re willing to take this.

Do they make mundane tasks more fun, or do they complain about lines and service workers? This is a good time to find out the answers to questions like this because you can’t really ask that. If you did, they’d probably lie.

16. Share your expectations

By the third date, you may want to clue your date into what you have in mind. You don’t have to have the “what are we” talk, but try to let them know what you want before you two get any closer.

Do you want a friend with benefits, are you looking for something casual, or would you rather be exclusive? One of the best third date ideas is to get a little clarity at least. [Read: 20 healthy expectations in a relationship that define a good love life]

17. Change up the plan

Do something a little spontaneous. This is totally up to you, but changing the plans at this point can help you see how they deal with sudden changes. At first, you make a date and stick to it, but now maybe you heard of a different restaurant at work and would rather try that than where you originally decided.

Planned just for dinner? Ask if they want to go for ice cream or go dancing after. See if they are down for whatever or if they prefer a strict plan. [Read: Romantic and spontaneous moves men should try]

18. Do you like them?

Stop worrying so much about if they like you. You can get so swept up in that question that you forget to pay attention to whether or not you like them.

Think about any jokes they made. Did something make you uncomfortable? Were they rude to the waiter? Did they comment on a stranger’s looks?

It is easy to brush those things off when you want something to work out, but before getting in any deeper, really pay attention to if you like them. [Read: 4-month relationship – what should you expect when you hit this mark?]

19. Do your schedules align?

This can be a huge issue if you plan on seeing this person more regularly. Maybe you planned out some dates when you both had time off, but now, how will this work? Do you live far apart? Do they work nights while you work days? 

Talk about this. It may seem boring and not romantic, but it can make things complicated fast. Nailing out these bumps in the road now can save you a lot of trouble later, even if you want to be casual. [Read: 60 get-to-know-you questions for a new romance]

20. Bring up things you’ve talked about already

One of the best third date ideas is to talk. Show your date that you remember and pay attention. Bring up something they mentioned.

Was it their mom’s birthday last weekend? Did they have a big presentation at work? Ask how those things went. 

This shows that you care and really listen to what they have to say.

21. Tell them how you feel

It may not be time to confess your love, but it is time to let them know if you like them. If you don’t want to say that, let them know you’re interested.

By the end of this date, you should be able to let them know if you want to see them again or not. [Read: Warning signs to look out for on the first few dates]

Who should ask for a third date?

Before you start paying attention to third date ideas and tips, who should do the asking?

Either of you or both of you! There is no rule here.

Forget the outdated guidelines that tell you a guy should always do the asking. We’re in the modern age! If you’re a girl and you want to ask a guy for a fourth date, go ahead and suggest it.

If you’re a guy and you’re keen to take the lady in your life out again, ask!

By this point, you should be feeling more relaxed, and wondering whether they like you or not is over. They wouldn’t have been on three dates with you if they didn’t. Just ask! [Read: How to ask someone out over text and get that satisfying ‘yes’]

Signs they don’t want a third date

But of course, having been on two dates doesn’t automatically mean they’re keen on a third.

So, how can you tell if the person you’ve endured the first date with and been out for a second time with really wants to take it to that third level?

They’ll tell you, basically. They’ll be happy, chatty, and smiley. Overall, they’ll seem comfortable, and you’ll feel it.

If you notice any of the points below, likely, they’re not feeling a third date: [Read: How to learn from the rejections you’ve faced]

1. They’re displaying closed body language, e.g., lack of eye contact or crossing their arms over their body.

2. They make constant references to being busy.

3. They keep checking their phone or looking at the clock on the wall.

4. They tell you they’re not into dating right now. [Read: Positive ways to deal with rejection in any scenario]

5. Conversation is stilted, and there are lots of awkward silences and one-word answers.

If you notice any of these points, or even worse, more than one, it’s not worth looking forward to date number three.

What is the third date rule?

Let’s make it clear – there should be no expectation or pressure to sleep together on the third date. Some people use the third date as a general guideline for when it’s so-called acceptable to become intimate with someone.

But who made that rule?

Some people sleep together on the first date and stay together for many years. Others wait for months and are extremely happy about it. It’s a personal choice and one you both have to be comfortable with. [Read: Third date rule – are there benefits to waiting for three dates to have sex?]

If you’re both into it, go for it. If not, wait.

Forget the so-called third date rule. Nobody knows who made it up anyway.

So, what does a third date mean?

Dating is a totally “one size doesn’t fit all” thing. For one person, a third date might mean it’s time to jump into bed. For another person, it might be a last-chance audition to decide whether or not they’re future material.

Or a third date could simply be that they enjoyed the other two dates, and they want to see if they enjoy the third. [Read: Getting to know someone – how long does it take?]

Avoid putting pressure on yourself and impressing them by simply not being who you are. Hold back the extreme bits, of course, but just go in there and be the person you know yourself to be. Be open, be honest, and be real.

Hopefully, the other person will have the same mindset. From there, you can really get a glimpse of whether you want to continue seeing this person into date four and beyond. Not every dating experience is meant to last, but the ones that do are often more laid back, to begin with.

[Read: What you need to understand about dating]

Understanding some interesting and key third date ideas and tips helps you to relax and enjoy seeing this person for a third time. That’s really all you need to think about. Avoid putting pressure on yourself or putting a label on it. 

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Preeti Tewari Serai
Preeti Serai
Preeti, the founder of LovePanky, is an eternal optimist and believer in the beauty of love and life. With an exhaustive experience in love, relationships, and ...