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March 31, 2011 10:42 AM   Subscribe

Does the three day rule no longer exist in dating? I kinda liked it. What's the protocol in the time of facebook and texting?

So snowflake precipitous story: Met a guy at a bar on a Thursday. We hit it off, he walked me home and we exchanged numbers. He sent me a text when he got home saying how nice it was to meet me. That was cute, I told him the same. I was perfectly ready to wait til Saturday (or so) to hear from him or I would call him (I'm not a damsel waiting to be chased). He added me to facebook the very next day. And he sent me (multiple) texts everyday til Sunday. Not making plans texts; I tried calling him because it seemed like he was trying to get to know me through an inadequate medium, but he seemed really uncomfortable talking and we ended the convo kinda awkward. Then the texting resumed. I'm not unwilling to talk to someone so soon, but he was all over the place. (My responses to the texts were friendly, but tried to convey the message that I was busy and looked forward to talking to him later, I was after all at work and so was he).
This creeped me out. This is weird, right? I need a day of space to a) acknowledge I've met someone I like and b) go over our interaction while sober to make sure it wasn't drunk-infatuation. He didn't give me any space at all and by Sunday the texts were over-familiar (to me) in the vein of 'hey baby'. I DON'T KNOW YOU I AM NOT YOUR BABY. I told him something along those lines and he told me to fuck off. He made it real easy to be comfortable with my decision there.
I've had a few similar encounters where the guy makes electronic contact almost immediately and I have no time to get my bearings (or feel excited anticipation!) and it makes me feel like a prudey old lady (I'm 26) to be turned off by this.
My friend tells me I'm completely overreacting and this is how dating in the time of facebook and texting works (although she admitted the 'baby' talk was pushing it). Am I being unrealistic to expect a little space from someone whose last name I haven't learned yet?

FWIW, I usually date people I've met through work or school, more often than not we're at least acquaintances before one of us asks the other out. But I have done this new person dating before, with a nice 2-3 day period of twitterpated anticipation before calling the new person and things have progressed well from there. Haven't gone this route in a while and I'm wondering if things have changed completely in the few years I've been dating known parties.
Does anyone know what they're doing out there?
posted by Carlotta Bananas to Human Relations (36 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Break off contact with the guy. This isn't because of the three-day rule but because of more or less every single thing he's done. You are not overreacting at all. If he's like this after a couple days then just imagine how it would be after any appreciable length of time at all.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:45 AM on March 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

I don't think this has anything to do with the 3 day rule (which I've never heard of anyway.) It's more a communication thing. He likes to text, you don't.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:48 AM on March 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

The three day rule is stupid, but excessive texting/calling you baby before a second date/etc etc is crossing the line.

You don't need to accept the friend request right away. You don't need to answer every text. It's ok to work on your own timeline even if they're not working on your timeline. If you were "busy and looked forward to talk to him later", then you don't have to send a text saying so! Later, when you talk to them, say you were at busy and couldn't talk then. This is all OK. Really.
posted by brainmouse at 10:48 AM on March 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Oh no! Yea, I'm not in contact with him anymore, but the encounter with him and my friends take on it made me wonder (along with the similarities with other, less-creepy, guys) if I should expect immediate contact from prospective suitors in general. Sorry if that wasn't clear: he told to f* off, so I gladly did.
posted by Carlotta Bananas at 10:48 AM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm with you on the three day rule, but I think that texting/facebook/gchat/whatever has made that rule less commonly followed. This fellow you describe is crossing the line from 'internet-age dating' to 'creepy jerk', but in general, I think that getting a text or two during that '3 day period' is now somewhat accepted. Brainmouse is correct in saying that you aren't obligated to return any communication when you are busy, or if you simply aren't yet prepared to, but the three day rule is not stupid--especially if it's something you like. It's a bit old fashioned, but there's nothing wrong with that!
posted by eggyolk at 10:51 AM on March 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

I think friending or texting within the first 24 hours is normal. If I wanted to facebook friend someone it would be weird to wait 3 days after I met them to do it.

The problem here is too much and overly familiar communication, not the timing of the initial contact.
posted by justkevin at 10:55 AM on March 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

(to be clear, I don't think waiting 3 days is stupid, I think having a "rule" where you're supposed to wait that long and if you don't you're doing it wrong is stupid. People are comfortable with different timelines, and that's all ok, but it means there might have to be a little bit of dancing around at the beginning until you work into a more comfortable rhythm.)
posted by brainmouse at 10:57 AM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

I dunno if any of that was "creepy", but it was definitely a little too aggressive for my taste, too.

Did you ever give him an explicit "slow down, we just met!" sort of response at any time, or mention that he was interrupting your day a little too much?

Or were your rejections all of the "tried to convey the message that I was busy and looked forward to talking to him later" variety?

I'm sure you're in the right here, but seriously, some people really don't understand "subtle" very well, and it's possible that all he heard was the positive side of those signals. You need to escalate to clear and simple messages if your subtle polite subtexts aren't getting picked up.

Otherwise there's a guy next week, in another AskMe thread, complaining about "this flaky girl who vanished after saying she looked forward to talking!"
posted by rokusan at 11:02 AM on March 31, 2011

If you actually really liked him, would you care about him breaking a stilted rule? Look: his weird overbearing texts -- and his immediate change of tone when you complained! -- transcend technology. You're better off, but it's not because he broke the rule. It's because he's a weirdo with no sense of social nuance.
posted by thejoshu at 11:05 AM on March 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

hey baby

This is just kind of a sad case and tells you more about the particular dude than evolving mores. Too many messages, too much hunger for an unearned intimacy. (To call it "creepy" is I think unfair -- perhaps lonely, desperate.)
posted by grobstein at 11:06 AM on March 31, 2011 [8 favorites]

Oh good lord. This guy sounds like a nutter. Well, maybe not, but as others have said, certainly too aggressive. I also like the idea of the 2-3 day pause, but maybe I'm old fashioned. I haven't been on any recent dates, either, so who knows. But I totally hear you on the excitement/anticipation factor. That's half the fun!

I'm glad you're rid of him and I hope his behavior was a fluke. Good luck!
posted by sucre at 11:12 AM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

The three day rule -- wait three days before calling or otherwise contacting -- is definitely dead. Some people adhere to it. Some don't. But it's not this thing that everybody does anymore, if it ever was, and if you write people off based on that you're going to be writing off a lot of potentially great people.

This guy's problem clearly had nothing to do with the three day rule. This guy was just awkward and weird. (You don't have to text back immediately just because someone texts you, btw, especially if you're at work.
posted by J. Wilson at 11:14 AM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yeah --- nth everyone that this particular guy was obviously bad. But thats more about tone than form of communication.

3 day rule is definitely dead, although like others have said I don't think it ever existed as a "rule" (at least it didn't as far back as 14 years ago or so). More of a guideline. But in the pre Facebook/text era, a call was the main form of communication and it's a lot more heavyweight, so you'd usually wait at least a day or two, find a reasonable time to call, etc.

The "new" rules are still being worked out, I think. Some people start texting like mad from the first date on. Personally I avoid texting as long as possible, since I agree that it's a terrible way to get to know someone.

I also think Facebook adds should wait until much further into a relationship, but I suppose that depends on how comfortable you are either de-friending someone or having a short-term ex on your list.
posted by wildcrdj at 11:24 AM on March 31, 2011

being comfortable enough to say "hey baby" over a text but not being willing to actually talk to you over the phone is just plain weird. End of story.

and ditto on the 3 day rule being outdated.
posted by Neekee at 11:28 AM on March 31, 2011

I'm 39, male, and married, so my input may not be very valuable to you, but this guy sounds like a chump to me. The 'Hey Baby' thing is way too familiar so soon, and the FB friending is a bit premature as well, IMHO. Also, txting you multiple times a day for no good reason is creepy stuff - or at the very least pretty annoying.

Your 3-day 'rule' might be kind of needless to most people, but if it's what makes you comfortable there's nothing wrong with it.
posted by Pecinpah at 11:28 AM on March 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

Sounds like maybe next time, you could say something like, "Hi back! Thinking of you, too. =) Listen, give me a couple days, okay? Text me [Tuesday]. "

I dunno if that's what the kids these days are doing, but it's an idea.
posted by castironskillet at 11:33 AM on March 31, 2011

"Hi back! Thinking of you, too. =) Listen, give me a couple days, okay? Text me [Tuesday]. "

If I were a guy (and I'm not), I would think this probably meant "not very interested."
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:35 AM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

The famous three day rule is referenced in the movie Swingers, which came out in 1996, so it's been around at least as long.

Putting aside this particular guy, I will say that I have known a few guys, as buddies, who would aggressively text/call girls even later the same night they met them in a bar. I think you're spot on about the "the guy makes electronic contact almost immediately and I have no time to get my bearings" bit - these guys were taking advantage of the here and now excitement to press forward and, you know what? I saw these guys have more "weekend relationships" than I could shake a stick at.. by weekend relationship I mean that they would meet for the first time on Thursday or Friday, be in bed by Saturday, first big fight either before bed or by Sunday morning, and then basically broken up by Sunday night. They somehow managed to squeeze a 6-month relationship into one weekend.. I doubt many of those girls walked away satisfied.
posted by mbatch at 11:49 AM on March 31, 2011 [4 favorites]

I also like some time to think and collect my thoughts about a guy after a first date. I often feel overwhelmed by the texting and have dropped several guys who seemed nice because of the constant communication after the first meeting.

I don't have any rules laid out, but when I start to feel overwhelmed, I stop communicating. On the other hand, the few times I have met someone I really clicked with, I didn't mind having more communication than my ideal and I didn't need as much time to think about whether I wanted to get to know him better. I just knew.

These days it seems like people either engage in excessive communication or stop communicating completely. I find this very frustrating, but I figure that if I ever click with someone again, I won't be overwhelmed by texting them more than once a day.

(Also, the guy who used "hey baby" so soon after meeting sounds really creepy.)
posted by parakeetdog at 12:02 PM on March 31, 2011

if a guy waits three days to get in touch, he's trying too hard. it's either "i'm too cool to let you know i like you" or "i like you so much i don't want to blow it so i'm going to play this cool, etc ..." etc. both boil down to posturing.

i learned no facebook, no IM until we're actually friends/dating/whatever. otherwise it's too much access, too much information too soon. feelings get hurt because something is misinterpreted and it's a recipe for disaster. i'd rather get to know someone, not get to know their facebook profile.

you shouldn't feel guilty for wanting some boundaries. slow down the texts/emails on your end; if that doesn't work, "i'm awful at texting on my iphone, but i'm excited about seeing you saturday" or "it's hard to text at work because my boss gets pissed." email works better for me because it lacks immediacy. just be reassuring about being glad to have met them so it's clearly not a brush off.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 12:35 PM on March 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

I've had a few similar encounters where the guy makes electronic contact almost immediately and I have no time to get my bearings (or feel excited anticipation!) and it makes me feel like a prudey old lady (I'm 26) to be turned off by this.

This is your comfort level, your call. Don't worry what others think. If every single dude did it, okay, sure you are less likely to get success with such a policy, but unless that is happening, look for what you want and if you don't get it, move on.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:50 PM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

This is just kind of a sad case and tells you more about the particular dude than evolving mores.

This. But I'm also not sure the 3 day rule is quite as standardized as you seem to suggest. Playing it cool by waiting three days is kind of lame too.
posted by the foreground at 12:51 PM on March 31, 2011

I'm with people who think the 3 days rule is a little off - I think a "great meeting you last night" text/call with a suggestion for hangout is ok within the first 24 hours (I find that if I was particularly charmed by a person I met I'm actually pretty jazzed to hear from them), with no expectation of an immediate response.

I think the Internet has indeed caused some people to be too familiar, too fast. The red flag for this guy seems to be the quantity and tone of his messages, not so much the length of time waited.

Also, RE: Facebook, my rule, having learned from the past, is to NOT friend anyone unless 1) "Find me on Facebook" was the proposed way of getting in touch or 2) You've been on at least a couple of days. I have at least 2 friends who are people I went on 1 or 2 dates with and then never spoke to again.
posted by ktpetals at 1:00 PM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Personally, I don't agree with a lot of these responses, and I certainly would have reacted differently to the situation. I detest speaking on the phone, and many people I know feel the same way. Texting back and forth is a low-key way of communicating. Maybe this guy just forms crushes easily, and liked the casual warmth of jazzing up a boring work-day with a bunch of texts. Also, the 'hey baby' thing doesn't sound like a crime, just different comfort levels and varying levels of analysis with regard to chosen vocabulary. If someone I was crushing on had sent me a sharp remark in reference to a casual text interaction, I would have known that person was not a good match, and I would probably be pretty shocked and feel like you were being quite patronizing. I therefore might also be pissed off. I may be the only with this viewpoint, but your response to that sounded a bit tone deaf to me. Also, the fact that you called him in response to the texts would have actually creeped me out if I was on his end. I would say that is not the expected response to casual texts (you even stated that you called him because you thought he was trying to get to know you through an 'inadequate medium,' which just sounds condescending and out-of-touch with modern communication approaches.) I am a woman in my early-30s, and I love analyzing language and social interactions. I can also be an antisocial, old-fashioned curmudgeon. But everything I've read in your question makes me think you have particular methods of interaction. Which is totally fine. You get to choose what makes you comfortable. But to me, most of his actions sound firmly normal and totally expected at this point in time.
posted by asimplemouse at 1:12 PM on March 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

I HATE talking on the phone, so I understand where this guy is coming from.

Make some time to meet in person for dinner. If it doesn't click, break off contact. If you're already annoyed after 3 days, imagine how you'll feel after 3 months.
posted by smithsmith at 1:30 PM on March 31, 2011

Response by poster: I'm glad there are some 'old-fashioned' (if that's what I am) people out there too! Thanks for the advice, I guess I'm not so far out of touch as I thought, just a bad run and need to be more adamant about my preferred mode of contact.

Three day rule: not necessarily 3 days, not necessarily a 'rule'. The three day rule refers to the buffer period after meeting a new person that a) gives you a breather to think over your new friendship and/or b) give them the benefit of the doubt in the event they don't call/contact you immediately; fits in the time frame of your choosing (usually about three days, give or take; maybe 2 days, maybe 4, generally I think if you haven't heard from someone after 4 days they're probably not interested, but maybe their dog got hit by a car.)
posted by Carlotta Bananas at 1:43 PM on March 31, 2011

Sounds like you've read a few too many books on dating. Don't treat love like an equation. Either there is chemistry there or there is not. The only rule you should be applying to this situation is the Golden one.
posted by smithsmith at 1:53 PM on March 31, 2011 [4 favorites]

I agree that your responses sounded really condescending and prescriptive of other people's behavior. It's not a matter of being old-fashioned or not. It is about understanding that different people connect in different ways, and communication norms are always changing. Telling us "I tried calling him because it seemed like he was trying to get to know me through an inadequate medium," really raised a red flag for me too and made it seem like you are being purposely obtuse. Good luck finding a better match, but I would really drop some of your expectations of, and judgements about, how people communicate and what you think it says about them. I would say that none of his actions sound remotely as strange as your "three day rule" assumption (which I have never heard of, and I've been around the block a few times.) Again, good luck.
posted by wombat stork at 2:49 PM on March 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'm probably guilty of this too. I am of the opinion that silly three day rules are silly, and only necessary if you don't really like someone. It is a rule that (somehow) got built in to allow people to triage and sort dating prospects. "Don't call right away, I might meet someone better and don't want to commit to even a date with you just in case."

You don't build a friendship by not communicating. If I have gone out with someone and I don't hear from them for three days, it almost always means they aren't that into me. (Unless there is some known reason for it- they are a busy person, they have stated an aversion to communication, etc.)

(Although, anything approaching "constant" texts is no good, nor is "hey baby". That's just terrible.)
posted by gjc at 3:35 PM on March 31, 2011

I'd think someone texting all the time, and never talking on the phone (which is different from just being awkward) is perhaps stepping out on someone else. It's way easier to hide your cheating through text vs. being overheard on the phone.

But if you really like him, just ask him out.
posted by loriginedumonde at 3:52 PM on March 31, 2011

Response by poster: Wow, I'm really surprised by how many people think I was condescending and "purposefully obtuse". Is the general consensus here really that I'm supposed to be able to get to know someone in a meaningful way via text msg and my decision to call him because it is a way easier form of communication was patronizing? Are you serious? I'm never dating again, that's a horrible way to get to know someone. I can't call him to speed up a process that we were both supposed to be excited about, getting to know one another? I'm not a star-crossed teenager, I don't think shyness to the point of being unable to hold a phone conversation is an appropriate excuse for a 30 year old man.

And the rule is not a rule! It's like mbatch said, it was a phrase coined in a movie to refer to a usual practice when meeting a new person. I'm not saying anyone who breaks the rule gets ditched, I'm not saying anyone who doesn't follow it in any form at all is doing anything wrong. What I'm saying is the last I heard, this was fairly NORMAL. Is it NO LONGER NORMAL? Apparently the answer to that is no, it isn't normal. So thank you. Your condescension towards my hang ups, while not reassuring me in any way, have at least answered my question.
posted by Carlotta Bananas at 5:31 PM on March 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

The bottom line is this guy gave you the creeps and that is perfectly valid. Your instincts are more reliable in this situation than the comments here can get at second hand; I think most people are commenting on texting vs. calling which is not really the issue here as I see it.I don't think you were creeped out by the texts per se and I don't think that's really what your question is about. In my experience if a guy acts over-familiar or if I feel weird about it in the beginning this is a sign of things to come. Trust your instints and don't overthink too much.
posted by bearette at 7:57 PM on March 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

You're fine. Do as you please. Don't waste your time on griefers.
posted by flabdablet at 12:20 AM on April 1, 2011

Oddly, I seem to have the best "luck" when I call the next day. Why? Because I'm some random guy she met when she was out somewhere. She meets tons of people. She probably met at least 3 other guys that very night. I'd rather call her while she still at least has a chance of remembering me. And anyway, if she's into me, she'll call me back.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:46 PM on April 1, 2011

Best answer: I'm your age and gender. The three day rule is totally dead, yep, agreed there. In fact, I only ever knew it as the 24 hour rule and even that's really gone by the wayside.

I'm also a slow dater, and I don't like a lot of texting/Facebook/excessive early contact. It seems, though, that most guys I meet do like to contact that way. There's a lot of pressure to give out a phone number and then to text (my reaction is always, 'dude, my texting plan is not unlimited. Chill out.').

One easy way out is to be slow to respond (and tell him that you will be slow to respond so he won't think you're not interested). That way you're not exchanging texts all the time because he's still waiting for you to respond to the first one he sent. If a guy can't handle the fact that you're not up to texting every 15 minutes while at work, then he's not the guy for you (or me, either...we're not teenagers, people).

I think there's plenty of guys out there who will be fine, even secretly relieved, if you slow contact down a little. I know it's possible, as I found at least one guy willing to do it!
posted by librarylis at 8:00 PM on April 4, 2011

I still follow the three day rule for phone calls. Texts and Facebooks are ok tho
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:20 AM on April 5, 2011

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