The focus of chapter two was the proper initiation of a first date. Assuming the first date goes well enough to merit a second one, where should the relationship go from there? The focus of chapter three will be on developing, maintaining and defining a healthy relationship that, hopefully, matures into something more.

Once a second date is agreed to, there are five basic principles that should govern the first phase of the dating relationship (the first 5-6 dates or so) in order for it to grow in a healthy direction and at a healthy pace.

Principle #1:  The Approach Should Remain the Same

Whether the man is asking for date #1 or date #10, his approach should always remain the same (see chapter 2.4 ): he should have a plan in mind before he asks, he should ask at least 3-4 days in advance, he uses good eye contact, he should pay her a compliment, and he should be sure to use the word ‘date’ in his asking. He must resist using the back-door (see chapter 2.2).

The same remains true for the woman (see chapter 2.5): she should play a little hard-to-get, she should be flattered by the ask and thank the man for asking, and, unless her feelings have changed, she should say yes. She must also remember not to allow boys in through the back door (see chapter 2.3).

So, whether it is the first date or the 10th date, the approach remains the same.

Principle #2:  Avoid the Feelings of Ownership 

The approach remains the same because neither the man nor the woman belong to each other. Even after a few months of dating she is not “his” nor is he “hers”. Neither the man nor the woman should have a right (or any sort of entitlement) to the other person because they have not entered into any sort of formal commitment to one another.

The temptation to possess another person is strong because our fears of loneliness, rejection, and insignificance are substantial. Dating relationships seem to quench these fears initially, but ultimately they flare back up when we are not certain the other person will want us much longer. Thus, we work harder and harder at possessing & keeping the other person rather than dating them.

Principle #3:  Don’t Waste Time

Even though the process of developing a relationship should be taken relatively slowly, neither the man nor the woman should waste time by not being intentional with the dates they have together. Instead of the first six dates being variations on a theme of dinner & a movie, there should be a wider variety of experiences that aren’t just designed to entertain or impress, but also to help both the man and the woman learn more about each other (and, ever-so-gently, to create moments of romance here and there).

Principle #4:  Don’t Become Isolated

One of the easiest things for a new couple to start doing early on in a dating relationship – especially if they are both very fond of each other – is to begin spending all of their free time with each other (especially if the have given in to the temptations of ownership in #2). As time passes, the man and the woman find themselves spending less and less time with friends and more and more time with each other until eventually they are alone together all the time. If anything else unhealthy crops up in the relationship (which becomes more likely the more isolated the couple becomes) no one will be there to observe it or help if the situation worsens.

The man and the woman should not only protect time to spend with friends apart from one another, they should also plan to date in front of their friends and family. Double dates, group dates, hanging with large groups of friends are all healthy ways to not become isolated.

Principle #5: Don’t Initiate Physical Intimacy

At the risk of sounding prudish, it has become my strong opinion that a couple in this first phase of dating should avoid intimate physical contact altogether (even hugs and hand-holding). The abstaining of physical contact between the man and the woman should not be perceived as prude, however. There is a time and a place for physical intimacy – just not within the first 5-6 dates (even if the couple has known each other well before dating).

If the man or woman cannot go 5-6 dates without initiating intimate physical contact with the other person, that should be a significant indicator to both parties that he/she is more interested in using the other person for physical self-gratification than building a healthy relationship.

This first phase of the dating relationship should last somewhere between 5-6 dates over the course of 2-3 months. By the time the 7th date comes around or the end of the third month (whichever comes first), it’s time for the man to define the relationship. We’ll cover that topic in chapter 3.2.


Do you agree or disagree with these principles? 

Do you think that abstinence from physical intimacy (hugging, holding hands, kissing) is really all that necessary?