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Man up and ditch the three-day rule, gents

Date
Call waiting: three days or less?

Call waiting: three days or less? Photo: Rob Young

Die, three-day rule, die.

The concept gave rise to a whole episode of How I Met Your Mother, apparently. But it’s formed the basis of tortured conflict in sundry rom-coms. Boy meets girl, boy likes girl, boy waits three days before calling.

Am I alone in thinking it’s time we buried this ridiculously outdated idea?

You shouldn't leave a woman waiting.

You shouldn't leave a woman waiting.

In fact, does anyone abide by it any more?

“Yes,” writes a male mate. A personal trainer who is hardly hard-up when it comes to female attention, the lad reckons it’s a smart strategy because “it helps clear out the over-eager”.

“Last thing you want is to get a woman over-excited. Especially if it turns out you’re not really that interested," he says.

“My philosophy? Under-promise, over-deliver.”

Sigh.

Sure, there’s something to be said for clever flirtation and intelligent seduction. Happy lovers will know just how far a bit of titillation in the early stages of a new romance can go towards pleasurable experiences.

And yes, the ‘under promise, over deliver’ stratagem is indeed adroit, in a general sense, when it comes to interpersonal relations and the effective management of expectations.

But, generally speaking, the three-day rule is beyond juvenile and vaguely offensive to women. And, as I gently and carefully told my PT buddy, that immaturity and impoliteness was reflected in his attitude.

The sexist monster lurking in this scenario relates to the fact that the three-day rule is something that generally applies to men, because men are the ones who are supposed to take the romantic lead, which is nonsense.

Further, it holds up that daggy idea women are only interested in hooking a man, and are commonly silly about this process to the point they will confuse signals out of sheer desperation and unwillingness to concede that ‘he’s just not that into you’.

The infantilism, meanwhile, arises from the suggestion we must wait for it to be ‘safe’ before initiating the rest of the romantic launch sequence. Granted, feeling secure helps us to progress along the sometimes terrifying road towards A Potential Relationship, but there’s a difference between taking care of yourself and creating false walls which limit your potential.

Such walls include notions about ‘appropriate timing’. Why three days, for example? Why not two? Or five? Or 1.52 days, the average amount of time passed before members of one online dating site contacted each other after a successful date.

Now, clearly our PT is not overly interested in establishing a long-term-relationship with anyone. So in that sense, he’s probably less interested in whether he misses out on a special someone because he played the three-day game than whether or not a good score is on the cards.

But even he may toss away a chance at something he’ll regret later in life – something real in a world of fake.

So do you dare use the three-day rule? Why, or why not?

kfeeney@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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319 comments

  • It's been so long since I was part of the dating world I'm not sure that I am fit to comment. But when I was dating, I didn't follow any "rules" - worked out just fine for me! I would prefer honesty over some calculated approach designed to...what?...maximize interest? Start a relationship the way you want to continue it: with respect and authenticity.

    Commenter
    TK
    Date and time
    April 24, 2013, 12:36AM
    • Succinctly and aptly put TK. Anything other than being straight-up with a prospective partner is moving away from the realm of adult dating and into the orbit of childish behaviour.

      Commenter
      Frank McFarlane
      Location
      Daylesford
      Date and time
      April 24, 2013, 8:20AM
    • @ TK

      I suggest you are missing the point.

      Some time ago, the subject matter for CityKat trended to the pathetic orientation of American crap. At times, some article in an obscure US journal was cited as 'cred'. Long gone has any reference to the habits of those inhabiting the rest of the world. And, reference to Australian values, traints, norms and practices... what are they?

      Occasionally, very occasionally, CityKat would write on a topic one would typically overhear in an Ausralian nightclub toilet room. These tended to elicit polarising responses.

      Perhaps the 'cause' is the electronic dummy - whatever the US media feeds us MUST be the dominant social norm.

      Sad, isn't it! CityKat used to be a great site.

      Cheers

      Commenter
      Dalliance
      Date and time
      April 24, 2013, 8:42AM
    • I had some rules. There had to be an evident spark there on the first date. By the second (if not the first) the spark should ignite. If it didn't, I would give up the idea as a lost cause. Few regrets ever resulted.

      Commenter
      rudy
      Date and time
      April 24, 2013, 8:56AM
    • Dalliance:

      @ TK I suggest you are missing the point.

      It's not TK who's missed the point. Vacuous you may find the topic, and the post. It's a free country and you're welcome to post your viewpoint on that. You've not done so. You've suggested that someone who decided to engage with the topic, and respond to the question at the end, has missed the point.

      Fortunately, Dalliance, it is not you who decides the topic.

      I have no doubt that if you respond you will find some convoluted way of attempting to prove yourself right, and me wrong. 'Attempting' being the key word in that sentence.

      Again, fortunately, I couldn't care less, so save your energy.

      Commenter
      Regular
      Date and time
      April 24, 2013, 9:06AM
    • dalliance,

      Rightly or wrongly (a different argument) the American crap you speak of has become a significant, if not dominant, element, in Australian social culture. Youth buy into all sorts of strange ideas about dating, sex and relationships. That happened prior to the American cultural hegemony as well but the misinformation resulted from the uninformed filling a vacuum for the unquestioning because certain topics weren't discussed. Whether behind the school shed or in a nightclub toilet information passed on in those contexts by peers tends to sink deeper than finger wagging lectures from superannuated parents. So trite rules make their way into the dating scene. The ability to give them an airing, and a hosing if required, in public forums is probably not a bad thing overall. I believe CK responds to suggestions so if you feel the dating public could be better served by pursuing other topics ...

      Commenter
      semi regular
      Date and time
      April 24, 2013, 9:47AM
    • Ladies and gentlemen we are gathered here today to discuss the very serious motion moved and seconded by the good commenters of the City Kat blog. The motion reads:

      "That Dalliance, whoever he may be, be encouraged to no longer read and comment on this blog due to the fact that he continues to perpetuate hate, vilification and trolling."

      All in favour say "aye".

      In other words, Dalliance, eff off, start your own blog and stop wasting electrons here, where people find your input offensive and reprehensible.

      Commenter
      Enough!!!!
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      April 24, 2013, 11:38AM
    • AYE!

      Commenter
      Phil
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      April 24, 2013, 11:46AM
    • I try avoid following any rules unless they seem sensible and/or reasonable. Very few are so I do what I feel.

      Commenter
      Hugo Thundercrotch
      Date and time
      April 24, 2013, 12:21PM
    • Same here. I didn't even know there were any "rules" back when I was dating. Be yourself and date genuine people instead of players (or female game players).

      Commenter
      MO4
      Date and time
      April 24, 2013, 12:54PM

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