Attraction is why she went on the first and second dates. Interest is why she said yes to the third. This is why you can’t make it to the fourth.
By Reta Walker — Written on Apr 22, 2023
Photo: NPS_87 / Shutterstock
Attraction is why she went on the first and second dates. Interest is why she said yes to the third. When something happens to turn her off, she moves on.
So what do you, as a man who is interested in her — not just for her beauty, but for all you know her to be so far — need to know in order to help her see what’s so great about you … before she turns on her heel and doesn’t look back?
It takes approximately three different kinds of romantic encounters for her to be sure you are the one.
Let’s be fair. Every woman wants someone just right for her at that time and evaluates her date accordingly. For one it’s a companion, for another, it’s a weekend someone, but there are many who are looking for a life partner. In every case, she has a mental checklist of the one she wants to spend her time with.
You must meet these qualifications — or you are out the door.
The three-date cycle — and how to measure up
Her dating and relationship checklist is informed by the norms of her culture or peer group. It reflects some differences fundamental to women and is also a result of an unconscious mental file she has had for a long time. But the checklist is certain, and it is there to stay.
On the first date, she is nervous and a bit awkward but very curious. Though you have had several conversations by text or phone, it can feel like an interview for both of you. Her list at this stage is mostly superficial and she makes mental notes if you are tall with dark eyes and straight teeth or if your shoulders sag, your handshake is limp and your expression is hollow.
She says check check check. She will also notice if you are slow to pay the tab and instinctively place you just below her personal watermark. But when you surprise her with a story about saving a dog, or a recent promotion, she says yes to a second date.
You made it to the second date! (Now what?)
The positive experiences of the first date are fodder for her warmth on the second. So she is relaxed and ready to have a good time whether sipping cocktails, hiking a hillside, or enjoying a picnic in the park. She is aware of chemistry and pheromones and looks for clues that you are compatible, will share the chores and someday be a good parent. With all going well everything points to a yes for the third date.
By now you have been texting, and calling and have begun to know each other quite well. But don’t misunderstand your comfort for a done deal because the third date is when the level of scrutiny goes up. You have no way of knowing if she is on the fence or on the way to the door. What you do know is that you have this third time together to influence the relationship potential.
Here are five reasons why the third date might be your last with her
1. You are not engaged or engaging
On the third date, she notices if you listen attentively, compliment her and if you are appropriately tender when she tells a sad story. You escalate substantially in her esteem when you acknowledge her feelings and ideas.
She also wants to know you are into her and you can do this by making “special” arrangements for at least one of the dates, remembering details about her life and work, and share your deeper and truer self as well as your vulnerabilities. Making her laugh may be the most memorable part of this date. Drifting attention, obvious boredom and overfocus on your phone all say, “disaster.”
2. She has seen your negative side
You may not deal well with stress but your harsh response to the guy at the take-out window, quick defensiveness and angry overreaction in traffic have caused her to do a double-take. She now evaluates you with a microscope, worries that you are not safe to be with, and her insides scream “No, no no.”
3. She has met a deal breaker
This is the date when there is more freedom to reveal your history and who you are. She has asked some questions, your guard is down, and soon you have revealed too much too quickly.
By all means, be real and authentic but think carefully about how you frame your childhood trauma or the worst parts of your life story. Be prepared that your whole truth may be the reason there is no fourth date.
4. You are not a knight in shining armor
Although she is not a damsel in distress, your date is impressed by chivalry, generosity, kindness and, at the very least, politeness and impeccable manners. Therefore her eyes are wide open when you step ahead through the door, don’t leave a tip, or eat with your fingers.
She has visions of future embarrassment in public settings and especially around family and friends. Consider bringing a small thoughtful gift, say please and thank you to everyone, and apologize for the unexpected faux pas.
5. The move toward intimacy — physical or emotional — was disappointing
Flirting is a must by the third date and if you navigate the conversation tastefully, she will be in tandem, and sometimes the instigator. Don’t misunderstand this and expect her to maintain a lead in all things intimate. Read the eyes, touch, and all body language to stay in sync.
Accept that this date may end with a passionate kiss, a lingering embrace or a meaningful moment, there is no pressure to go beyond your immediate and mutual comfort.
She has already perused the question of sex and intimacy in her mind, and though you may have engaged affectionately, it is important to ask the question and know for certain that she is ready for the next step. You have a toothbrush in your back pocket but allow her to say yes and when. Don’t let pressure and nervousness steal the date.
The big question in a woman’s mind is “Are they worth the investment in time? Do I move forward or start over with someone new?” She weighs the cost and benefit and until she is committed she is fickle.
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Reta Walker is a therapist who specializes in healing relationships. She offers one-on-one sessions, couples retreats, and courses to help couples get back on track.