Dating can be confusing. Getting to know another human being with whom you intend to spend your life is no small feat. It’s no wonder why there are so many dating strategies out there that claim to make the process simpler.

For many singles, keeping on the lookout for relationship red flags has been a helpful way to date mindfully. The problem, however, comes when we’re flooded with overwhelming, and often conflicting, red flag advice. Focusing too much on the negative aspects of dating could also just be setting us up for failure.

At The Setup, we believe the simplest and most effective dating strategy is the 3 Date Rule. What’s that? Glad you asked. In this blog, we’ll go over how the 3 Date Rule works and why using it makes spotting relationship red flags a breeze.

Seeing Red

What are red flags, anyway? In most contexts, it’s a signal to “stop.” For example, you might see a red flag thrown in a sports game after a player makes a foul. While driving down the road, red lights signal us to stop our vehicles.

In the game of love, the rules don’t always appear so cut and dry. Relationship red flags vary greatly depending on whom you ask. Some sources say red flags include constant bickering or picking fights. Others say something as simple as not sharing the same taste in music could be cause for pause in a relationship.

With so many sources giving conflicting advice, it’s hard to know what information you can really trust. Overwhelmed with so many potential red flags, singles risk focusing too much on the negative aspects of dating. Then, even the slightest human behavior is at risk of being construed as toxic and reason to end what could have otherwise been a good thing.

Though confusing, red flags can be helpful. In general, red flags should be viewed as warning signs of the other person’s inability to form a healthy relationship. Thus, ignoring those red flags would mean going down an emotionally dangerous path that could be difficult to get out of later.

What is the 3-Date Rule?

The 3-Date Rule is a method to break unhealthy pressure and anxiety-based patterns that we have placed on ourselves in modern dating. A clear action plan for singles to follow, this strategy takes the pressure off the first few dates. It is to help you understand the other person and yourself and see if there is a possibility of going steady.

Here’s how it works:

Date 1: Keep it Light

The first date should be light-hearted, fun, and focused on simply getting to know each other. The best locations for a first date are more casual in nature. Coffeehouses, parks, or an outdoor patio for brunch are great settings for the first date. It should not last more than 2 hours. The aim of this date is to get to keep an open mind, get to know the other person, and share some light conversation.

Date 2: Have Fun

On the second date, the aim is to find out if you can have fun with your date. Activities like bowling, hiking, mini-golfing, museums, or sporting events are all great ideas for the second date. The activity aspect of the second date creates a comfortable and laid-back environment in which you can get to know each other. Conversation can step up a bit from date one. On the second date, don’t be afraid to ask about the person’s values or goals.

Date 3: Wine and Dine

The third date is the showstopper. After the casual coffee shop meeting on date one, and the laid-back activity on date two, date three calls for getting dressed up! Elegant, classy, and romantic evening events, like dinner and a show, are great third-date ideas. By now, you and your partner should have established some rapport. The third date is when you can dial up both the romance and depth of conversation.

The 3 Date Rule and red flags

The 3 Date Rule is a revolutionary dating method created by The Setup’s own, Genevieve Gresset. As a matchmaker, noticed that many of her clients struggled with the initial phases of dating, despite being matched with singles with similar interests, relationship goals, and life values. She realized that the problem wasn’t with her clients’ matches, but their mindset. Many entered the date feeling anxious, fearful, or judgemental before even meeting their match. Those feelings inhibited them from investing in the opportunity before them.

For Genevieve, implementing the 3 Date Rule for her clients has brought an immediate increase in long-lasting relationships and healthier connections between couples. She found that the method took the pressure off of dating, allowing singles to enjoy the process. Couples were less likely to focus on negative aspects of their partner and more likely to enjoy their company.

In short, the 3 Date rule made the dating process simpler, easier, and more fun. Singles didn’t have to worry about scrutinizing their date’s every move—they could just sit back, relax, and focus on building a connection.

Focus on the Green

Identifying red flags early on in the dating process can be a helpful way to avoid entering into toxic and unhealthy relationships. However, focusing on the positive aspects a person presents is better for establishing strong, genuine connections.

In the early stages of dating, it’s hard to establish someone’s true character. As long as the person isn’t exhibiting any obvious signs of danger, such as stalking, asking for money, insults, or alcohol or drug use, it’s best to focus on the positive during the 3 Date process.

Does your date show you respect and common courtesy? Do they look you in the eyes while speaking? Are they empathetic and warm while speaking? Do they seem genuinely interested in what you have to say?

Asking yourself these ‘green flag’ questions after the first few dates will allow you to better analyze your connection with your match and build better connections.