Guidelines for Dating, Physical Contact, and Progression

By Greg Baer M.D.

February 1, 2017


One advantage of being old is the years of observing where so many behaviors lead. Some behaviors appear innocent in the beginning, but they are just the precursors to disaster. Others have proven over time to be safe and wise.

My comments here are specifically about dating. Real intimacy is emotional, not physical. Physical contact has the VERY strong tendency to inflate a sense of intimacy that is not real, and then more and more is required to maintain the false intimacy. This interferes with the development of a genuinely loving relationship.

Physical Contact Guidelines

Following are suggestions about physical contact during dating. They are guidelines. Do not turn them into inflexible rules.

  • No lying down together where you’re touching, other than incidental touching side to side, as might happen during reading.
  • When sitting together, guys, keep you elbows and upper arms off her boobs. It may be innocent—especially to her—but it can be quite arousing.
  • Embracing. Two times per interaction, once when greeting and once when departing. Full hugs are lovely, but only for a maximum of ten seconds. Not kidding.
  • Kissing. Very passionate potential, which is exactly why the guidelines are more explicit:
    Kiss only when greeting and leaving. (And no, don’t count each going in and out of a room as greeting and leaving)
    Each kiss lasts no more than 1.5 seconds. Not kidding.
    Closed lips. No tongue. Really not kidding.
    Kissing on cheek, forehead, hands acceptable—even desirable—anytime.
  • No touching of body parts—ever—normally covered by underclothing.
  • Holding hands. Go for it. Very intimate and sweet.
    Playing with each other’s hands. Go for it.

Suggested Order of Physical Progression & Intimacy

SUGGESTED order of physical progression:

  1. Hug on greeting and leaving, first time
  2. Hand holding, immediately
  3. Hand on knee, immediately
  4. Touching shoulder or back, immediately
  5. Kissing, pretty soon

Suggested order of intimacy:

  1. Text and email
  2. Do things together in person.
  3. Read the book, Real Love in Dating, together and out loud. Begin this by the third date. How could you seriously be looking for a partner and not do this?
  4. Date exclusively when you’re interested in really getting to know someone as a potential partner.
  5. Read the book, Real Love in Marriage and the 40-day Workbook that goes with it. Together and out loud.

Don't know where to start?

Start here:

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

About the author 

Greg Baer, M.D.

I am the founder of The Real Love® Company, Inc, a non-profit organization. Following the sale of my successful ophthalmology practice I have dedicated the past 25 years to teaching people a remarkable process that replaces all of life's "crazy" with peace, confidence and meaning in various aspects of their personal lives, including parenting, marriages, the workplace and more.

Subscribe to our newsletter now!