There is no “normal” length of time for a couple to become exclusive. Some couples never do, while others establish monogamy after only a couple of dates. However, the 10 date rule exists to give a guideline for where you should be after a certain amount of time. Even though this is not a one-size-fits-all formula, there are reasons to follow it. Here’s why it’s still a rule to live by:
It’s all in the data.
Studies suggest that 39% of couples declare their relationship at around the three-month mark, which works out to approximately 10-12 dates if you’re seeing each other once a week. This is in keeping with the long-standing theory of the ten date rule, which states that it takes straight men ten dates with a woman to know that he wants a relationship.
It takes a while to let go of other options.
If you’ve been pursuing other dating opportunities, you might not want to cut them off right away just because you’ve had a good first date with someone you like. You’ll want to keep your options open until you know which person is right for you. By the time you reach a tenth date with someone, you’ll probably be ready to cut ties with everyone else if you haven’t already. Keeping your options open for a while ensures that you don’t get too attached to a person you don’t know very well.
If he wasn’t interested, you wouldn’t make it to ten dates.
The ten date rule is more of a fact than a rule–it works even if you don’t know exists. That means that you can just relax and let the natural order of things take over. There’s no need to obsess about what he’s thinking after every date. Just enjoy each one as it comes and remember that, if you make it to date number ten, you clearly like each other a lot. By then, you can initiate a conversation that formally establishes your relationship. Until then, just enjoy getting to know each other.
It takes longer for men to choose one partner.
There is a lot of research about gender differences in emotional attachment and sexual promiscuity. The stereotype is that women fall in love first, while men take longer to catch feelings. This has been disproved. On average, men fall in lust faster than women and say “I love you” earlier than women. But studies also suggest that in the early stages of a relationship, women become more focused on one partner than men. While it may take a woman only a few dates to decide that she wants monogamy, it may take a man ten dates to reach the same conclusion.
It benefits you to wait a few months, too.
Setting ten dates as a threshold benefits you as well. You can’t throw all your feelings and trust at everyone you go out with a few times without exhausting yourself and getting burnt out on dating altogether. Most relationships won’t last past the first few dates, and wasting emotional energy on them will disillusion and discourage you. Forcing yourself to withhold investment until the tenth date is a much more sustainable approach to finding love.
It gives you time to tie up loose ends.
There is an understanding these days that a first date is not an agreement to be exclusive. It is likely, therefore, that even if you decide that you want to be exclusive with someone after only a couple of dates, you will have some loose ends to tie up. Breaking things off with other people you’ve been seeing may take a few weeks, and the ten date rule ensures that you can do this with a clear conscience. If neither of you discusses your relationship intentions and expectations until the tenth date, no one’s feelings will be hurt by external romantic activity that happens before that point.
You’ll have time to see each other’s living situations.
Everyone’s gone out with a person who seems impossibly sexy and mysterious only to discover that their living situation tells a different story. They might be in their mid-thirties and living out of their childhood bedroom with parents who still treat them like a teenager, or crashing at their younger cousin’s college dorm. Experiences like these illustrate how much a person’s living space reveals about them. By ten dates, you’ll likely have gone to each other’s houses and learned the crucial details.
Your sexual chemistry has time to develop.
Your first time having sex with a new person probably won’t be the best. It takes a few tries and a deeper understanding of each other before you’ll see your potential. In contrast, some couples have an amazing first experience together, only to find that their chemistry fades with every encounter. If you’ve had sex a few times within ten dates, you’ll have a good idea of what you can expect in the long term.
It’s long enough to decide if you even want a relationship.
Seeing the same person may make you realize that you don’t actually want to be in a relationship. You may have been attracted to them at first because they were sexy and exciting, only to discover that the prospect of being partners makes you cringe. Maybe you’re craving the single life and want to date around. Suspending your judgment about the relationship until the tenth date will give you time to discover what you actually want.
Honesty will come more easily.
At the beginning of a relationship, people can be so eager to please that they will do everything they can to make the other person happy, even if it means hurting themselves. This is how some people end up letting their partner see other people or having sex before they want to. But once you reach the tenth date, you’ll hopefully be comfortable enough with the other person to express your wishes. If you try to define the relationship too early, you may end up agreeing to a relationship you don’t want.
Using the 10 Date Rule To Define The Relationship
The ten date rule isn’t set in stone, which means that, unfortunately, you won’t automatically become exclusive upon the tenth date. You’ll have to talk about it. Here are a few tips for getting this delicate conversation going:
By the tenth date, you can be direct with each other. Tell him how you would like the relationship to progress. It doesn’t have to feel like a business meeting or a job interview. You’re taking your relationship to the next level, not closing a financial deal. Be open about how you feel, and give them plenty of space to do the same.
Don’t sound as if you’re asking for a favor.
Discussing the trajectory of your relationship at this stage is not pushy. You’ll have been going out for at least a month, and talking about where things are headed is an important part of building on the connection you’ve already established. You’re not asking them for a favor. They are just as lucky to have you as you are to have them. If they make you feel like monogamy is a gift that they’re giving you, make the tenth date the last.
Be prepared to walk away.
Don’t initiate the DTR conversation unless you’re willing to leave empty-handed. If you broach the topic knowing that you will agree to whatever they want even if it is the opposite of what you want, you either aren’t ready to have the conversation or aren’t ready to be in a relationship. You need to be able to stand up for your needs before entering a partnership with someone. If, by the tenth date, you can’t get what you want from the relationship, it’s time to walk away.
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