You go on a first date Tuesday night, and you think it went pretty well. In fact, you’re sure it went pretty well. I mean, why else would your prospective new lover constantly let his or her knee graze yours all night or share your drink as if you’d known each other for more than, oh, 45 minutes? You go home happy. Wednesday morning comes and goes, and by Wednesday at around 3 PM, you think the potential new relationship is doomed. It’s been 17.26 hours, and not even a measly text??
The advent of modern technology – texting, Gchat, and e-mail – has completely changed the “three-day rule” into more like a “three-hour rule.” So many relationships end before they even start because no one knows the answer to the simple question: How soon do you follow up after a date?
A survey performed by the company LoveGeist was commissioned by Match.com last year, and it found that after a first date on a Saturday evening, most daters will get in touch by 11:48 AM on Monday with a call or text. Thus, 1.52 days is now the average time spent waiting for a follow-up message. The three-day rule is now cut in half! (I don’t, however, recommend a first date on a Saturday night, especially a first online date. A weeknight or Sunday evening date works well, and then if you want to see each other again, you can plan for the coveted Friday or Saturday night slot when you already know you have some chemistry. Remember, sometimes it’s better to be a PSP than a DO.)
In this day and age, we are all basically surgically attached to our phones. I know someone who texted from the hospital bed just minutes after she had a baby, and we all know someone (and that person likely stares at us in the mirror) who checks his or her e-mail every morning on the iPhone before even getting out of bed. When it comes down to it, if you like someone, it’s so easy to get in touch. If you wait the antiquated three days, it’s already a foregone conclusion that you’re probably just not that into the other person.
In most cases, if he’s interested, the man will contact the woman after the date to ask her out again. But I do encourage the woman to send a “thank you text” the day after the date. Why not remind your date of you the next day? Assuming he also had a great time, it’ll put a smile on his face and give him the “nudge” he needs to know that you want to stay in contact with him.
The rules are simple: If you like someone and want to make plans for date #2, then make the contact in a timely fashion. A short and sweet text, e-mail, or call will work. And ladies, if he has the courtesy to ask you out again and you’re not interested, do the kind thing and thank him, using the honest answer that you didn’t feel a spark. Ignoring it will only make a possible future encounter (remember – it’s a small world) that much more awkward.
And there we have it – the three-day rule debunked. Somehow the “1.52-day rule” just doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. Let’s call it the “36-hour rule” and be on our way.
Erika Ettin is, as the Washington Post has noted, a “modern day Cyrano.” She is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people with all aspects of online dating. Check out her interview on NPR here. An archive of all of Erika’s columns is also available. Want to connect with Erika? Join her newsletter for updates and tips.