Does The ‘Three Day Rule’ Still Apply?

You went on a great first date with a guy and then held thumbs that he would call or text you. One day passes, then a second day, then it’s day three and still no message! Before you speed-dial your bestie for analysis, ask yourself: is he even following the three day rule?

Two sides to the three day rule

The three day rule is quite popular, but I have heard two versions of it. The first one I heard was on a reality TV show called Laguna Beach (insert embarrassed smile) where a young guy was advising his female friend that if she didn’t hear from a guy after a date within three days, he was definitely not interested romantically. However, the three day rule is seen as something completely different, too:  it refers to forcing yourself to wait three days before calling the person after a date. According to a study by, most guys surveyed (78 per cent) do not follow this rule. They will call or text within three days or less after a great first date.

You see, escapist television can be wise! Most people want to reach out to their date within three days. It makes sense. Why wait so long and risk the other person thinking you’re not interested in them?  The whole point is to want to hang out with the person again and show them that, although you’re not desperate, you are keen to see them again.

One rule does not fit all, though

Maybe we like rules in dating because they give us something to work with in a very unpredictable situation. However, the danger is that following the rules too strictly can have us missing out on some great dating experiences. You might meet a cool guy who doesn’t call within three days after a date but then gives you a shout over the weekend and invites you out for impromptu pizza. On the other hand, you might have a guy who ‘follows the rules’ and invites you to a second date immediately after your date – the guy who makes sure you’re available before he even says goodbye to you – and yet that doesn’t really mean he’s interested.

The Three Day Rule

Why he waits longer than three days

There are no hard-and-fast rules because people will be following their own ideas. So, when dealing with the three day rule, if you’re constantly checking your phone during work meetings to see if the guy will make his move within 72 hours, bear in mind that everyone will see this rule differently.If he is taking his sweet time to get back to you and your alarms have notified you that he’s way over the 72 hour mark, there could be reasons other than disinterest. These include:

1.  He doesn’t want to look desperate

Guys feel the same thing we do when it comes to desperation: you can sniff it a mile away and it’s not a good scent. No guy wants to show interest too quickly, so he might wait extra long to show that he’s got other things going on in his life or that he wants to start a relationship off in a relaxed way.

2.  He wants you to make a move

Some guys really like it when a woman makes the move. And, if he has asked you out, he might be thinking that it’s up to you to text him and invite him for a second outing. There’s no rule as to who should make the first move after the first date, so it’s really up to the people involved. Just bear in mind that he could be waiting on you.

3.  He’s not keen on anything serious

Maybe he felt the chemistry, but he doesn’t want to sweep you off your feet and fall in love – yet. He could want to take his time to get to know you in a slow-motion sort of way, and that could mean not overdoing the whole calling/texting thing right off the bat. He might also be interested in having a light-hearted dating experience with you at this point with no emotional strings attached.

4.  He’s not sure how he feels

This might feel like a rejection, but it doesn’t have to be. A guy could have had a wonderful time with you but he isn’t sure if he sees potential for a relationship, so he backs off a bit to see where he stands. Maybe he’s just out of a relationship or he’s afraid of heartbreak, or he’s just confused, so he takes a bit of dating injury time before getting back to you.

Final thoughts 

The best way to tackle the ‘three day rule’ is not to over think it. If you do hear from the guy again, whether within three days or longer, take it as it comes. You’ve only been on one date, after all, and this is the time when you should not be taking things too seriously. Focus on other interests and enjoy a second date if that occurs – or take the reins and tell him that you’d like to see him again – but don’t try to control everything. Let him show you who he really is – without something as silly as time getting in the way.

photo credit: debaird™ via photopin cc
Header image courtesy of Witthaya Phonsawat /


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I am a writer living in South Africa. I have been working as a journalist and blogger for ten years. I am passionate about writing, and I have to confess I love it even more than my favorite high heels and Lindt chocolate. Writing on the topics of dating and relationships is an interest of mine, and I love keeping my finger on the pulse of the latest dating trends.

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