I have what I refer to as the Three Shag Rule. I’ve coined it. It’s mine. But I’m willing to spread the love of the Three Shag Rule because, I believe, it has the power to save many a heartbreak. Are you ready for this?


The Three Shag Rule:

After shagging the object of your sexual affection for the third time in a row, ye shall have a conversation about what ye expectations are regarding fidelity and future shagging arrangements.

The end.

You’re welcome.

Oh, you want more? Ok then. Here’s a worst-case scenario for not doing so.

A friend of mine, let’s call her Jay, meets the woman of her dreams, Dee, and they hook up over drinks. Drinks becomes sex, which becomes lots of sex, which becomes serious sex over the course of a few weeks. Jay lives in Cape Town and Dee in Jozi, so they commute to see each other. It’s love at sixth shag and Jay is full of stars in her eyes. It’s a beautiful thing.

Then one not very particular weekend, Jay flies up to Jozi only to be greeted by the following conversation: ‘Gosh so hungover, dear,’ says Dee, ‘had a wild crazy night last night where I hooked up with Bob.’

Uhm. Say what?

You see, turns out, Dee is not only bisexual but also not really into monogamy and exclusivity.

Ding ding. You’re out.

Jay calls me up confused, sad, and hurt because this is all a bit of a surprise and my only response can be: ‘Did you adhere to the policies of the Three Shag Rule? Was this something you discussed before you threw your heart into the ring?’

You see, monogamy and exclusivity are not to be taken for granted. Just because you think you’ve shared True Love’s First Kiss doesn’t mean that you have or that your frog is a prince. And even if he or she is, you can’t be sure they’re going to want to change shape or leave the pond.

Think of it as managing expectations.

The first time you have sex, you’re checking shit out. Maybe it went well. Maybe it didn’t. Either way, the second time you’re making a decision about further hook-ups.

If the first shag was an incompatible mess, you might try a second time to mitigate for first-time jitters and awkwardness; if the first time was great, the second time is to confirm it.

If you’re shagging a third time, you’re clearly there for more. So now is the time to have a chat about ‘for more what?’. Sounds reasonable right?

Well, that’s where the Three Shag Rule comes in. If you’re planning to stick around, you need to discuss where you stand regarding exclusivity and monogamy.

It doesn’t mean you have to decide on where you’re both at emotionally with each other, but it is the time to be honest about which rules you play by: whether monogamy is something you’re into and whether you’re still dating other people are top conversation topics at this point.

Other good conversation pieces are what kind of sex you like having – it’s no good bringing up a sexual preference or serious kink after a year of playing hide and seek with your partner about what turns you on.

Look, the ‘three’ might be more like ‘four’ or ‘five’ to you, but I’m willing to bet that it’s a safer call moving into this conversation sooner rather than later. I find a lot of people assume togetherness after sex – or even a kiss. If this assumption is mismatched, one of you is going to have to prepare for a painful freefall from cloud nine.

Much like Jay.

Save yourself the pain, like I do, by getting all that stuff out in the open upfront. Just don’t do the ‘how’ part of it like I do it, which is usually at stupidly inappropriate times. It’s not something you discuss between movie credits (‘So, we’re not exclusive right?’ *Angry stare at screen for a 90 minutes*) or post-coital cuddles (‘Gotta run, meeting James the other guy I’m fucking’ *never hear from boy again*).

Do as I say, not as I do etc etc. Except the Three Shag Rule. Definitely do that.

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