When you picture a sexy date, it likely includes a few candles, some soft music, and *just* the right amount of moonlight to cast the whole evening in a sensual aura. And while sultry date nights are great, they’re not the be-all, end-all when it comes to getting to know someone. In fact, I’d argue that you need to take things into the sunlight to see the potential in your future relationship. That’s why from now until forever, your fourth date should *always* be a day date.

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I mean, think about it. The purpose of early dating is not only to get to know the other person, but to find out whether you really mesh as a couple. Typically, the first date is reserved for coffee and small talk while the second date is dinner and a nice lil make-out sesh. The third date is known for being ~the sex date~ (although, hello, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do!), and this, of course, brings us to the fourth date. You’ve already gotten intimate to some extent—whether it was physically or emotionally—and now it’s time to take things to the next level. Enter: the day date.

Since being in an exclusive relationship typically means spending many days (not just nights!) together, think of this as a test run to see how you connect outside of sexually-charged dinners. “A day date is full of possibilities,” explains couples therapist Adrienne Michelle, LMFT. “Everyone has the evenings free, but in the daytime, you can really get to know someone.”

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From why your date should start during the a.m. to tips for planning an outing that you’re both excited about, here’s what to know before taking your fourth date out of the bedroom and into the light.

What Is a Day Date and What Is It *Not*?

As the name suggests, a day date is one that—you guessed it—takes place during the day. The catch is that this isn’t just a quick little meetup—we’re not talking about a brunch-then-bounce type of thing. The purpose of this date is to spend the whoooole day together doing something(s) other than watching Netflix on the couch or hopping into bed.

“The best way to get to know someone during a day date is to plan a few different activities,” Michelle says. This means when you approach the topic of your fourth date, you’ll want to make it clear that the expectation is to spend the entire day together out and about. Consider grabbing a late breakfast, then hitting up a museum, taking a walk in the park, and then getting some coffee before casually transitioning into the night portion. Because yes, Michelle says if things are going well, the day date can turn into an evening date.

Why the Fourth Date, Specifically?

By the fourth date, you probably know if there’s sexual tension and chemistry between you. And while a physical connection is important to many folks, figuring out whether you have an emotional one is just as vital, especially if you’re considering being with this person exclusively or long-term. The fourth date is also late enough that you’re probably pretty comfortable with each other but early enough that if any red flags come up during the date, you’re still in prime “This has been so fun, but I don’t really feel a connection” territory. Aka not too late to let ’em down easy.

Plus, you’ve already had three previous dates to turn up the sex appeal. By date four, you’re ideally comfortable enough to show them the baseline you. Chances are you’ll be in a comfier outfit (especially if you’re going to be walking around all day), and you don’t have the liquid courage that comes from pre-dinner drinks to keep things flirty. Instead, you have to rely on the banter between you and your ability to connect over things like people-watching and waiting in line for your late afternoon Starbucks order to see if your personalities align.

Beyond that, being in a relationship usually involves spending day after day together. You’ve got a lot more daytime versus nighttime hours in your potential future, so finding out if you can have fun doing couple-y things is major. That’s why we have to take the notion of sex *off* the table (at least for a few solid hours) to determine whether or not this person can be your friend in addition to your ~luvah~.

What Are the Benefits of a Day Date?

First, you don’t have to wait around all day to see your special someone. If you’re prone to experiencing pre-date anxiety, this can make the whole situation less stressful.

But beyond jitters, day dates are usually a little more low-key, with less emphasis on the sex of it all. You’re just enjoying each other’s company, looking at art, perusing a farmers market, or playing arcade games. Maybe you go to a sporting event, an amusement park, or hit up your local thrift market. The concept of hooking up isn’t hovering over every conversation and action as much as if you're, say, sitting across from each other over a bottle of wine and some aphrodisiac-filled appetizers. While sure, things can still get hot and heavy under the sun, chances are you’ll at least have a few hours of real bonding before any potential boning happens. Instead, you get to simply have fun together (which is one of the most important components of almost any type of relationship).

Another big plus is what you actually do together. It’s easy for nighttime dates to follow the typical drinks + dinner + Netflix + sex formula. That’s because there aren’t really as many options during the evening. During the day, though, you can pretty much do anything, which will give you the chance to see other sides of your date’s personality. Do they get super competitive over amusement park games? Do they take forever to get through a museum because they have to read every single display? These are important things to know!

What Can You Learn from a Fourth Date Day Date?

Surprisingly, a lot! “Day dates show that you and they can prioritize dating,” Michelle says. These dates involve more planning and commitment since days are quickly filled up with to-dos or friend outings. Is the other person willing to devote their whole day to you, show up on time, and be present?

Before even going on the date, the mere concept of getting together during the day will give you an idea of how the other person likes to spend their time. If they suggest hiking while you suggest shopping, you might have to make some compromises. This isn’t a bad thing, it’ll just reveal if finding activities that excite both of you is possible! And once together, your date will highlight whether you can spend uninterrupted time together without getting bored and if your conversations still flow without the mystique of the night. It’s easy to toss back a shot or resort to hooking up when things get quiet in the evening, but during the day, you have to be more engaged and adaptable.

The most important thing you’ll probably learn from your day date is how you handle conflict together. How does your date react if the lunch spot is closed or someone cuts them off on the highway? How do you respond in that situation? Conflicts happen, so seeing how you navigate them together can give you a look at their temperament and your ability to find solutions together. Not nearly as sexy as flower petals on the bed, but arguably just as—if not more—important!

Just a Few More Day Date Tips:

As you’re approaching the topic of a day date, it’s essential you mention that you want to spend an uninterrupted day together. If either of you has a hard stop time, it limits the fluidity of the experience. To make your intentions clear, you’ll want to simply say something like: “It would be so fun to spend the day together! What if we grab brunch then check out that art exhibit and see where the day takes us?” That way your date knows this isn’t a one-activity type of situation.

As you plan, feel free to be as structured or spontaneous as you’d like. In fact, this might be another area where you’ll learn about each other and your abilities to compromise. If one of you is more of a planner while the other prefers to be more in the moment, what does preparing for the date look like? Chat about what each of you would like to do, and see what sort of middle ground you manage to meet at.

Last, keep an open mind as you embark on your daytime adventure together. The point of the fourth date is to see what being a real-life couple feels like, and that means taking the hiccups in stride and arguing for far too long about what type of food you’re in the mood for. While the earlier start time means you can always peace out if the vibe isn’t working, it also means you have 12+ potential hours to move your relationship forward. Who knows? That fourth-date sunshine might just make you see your new soul mate a little more clearly.

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Rachel Varina

Rachel Varina is a full-time freelance writer covering everything from the best vibrators (the Lelo Sona) to the best TV shows (The Vampire Diaries). She has over 10 years of editorial experience with bylines at Women's Health, Elite Daily, Betches, and more. She lives in Tampa, Florida, but did not feed her husband to tigers. When she's not testing out new sex toys (100+ and counting so far!), she's likely chilling with her dogs or eating buffalo chicken dip. Ideally at the same time. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter