The rule of three

‘The “rule of three” is a principle in that suggests that things that come in threes are inherently funnier, more satisfying, or more effective than other numbers of things.’


It’s often said that things come in threes. Bad news, deaths, men… Wendy Cope poeticised the adage that men are like buses – you wait for ages for one and then three come at once. In terms of dating, it really does feel like the rule of three is playing itself out around me. But where Wendy Cope’s dilemma was about which of three perfectly good buses she should board, I find, either because life is a little more cruel or I’m a little too picky, three men come along none of them are end up being boyfriend material.

Man number one, is entirely eligible, attractive, compelling and fascinating. If the dating single person is looking for chemistry, this man has laboratories full of it, rather than mere test tubes. He’s the man who plays on your mind, who is constantly on the periphery of your thinking, who your imagination slips to when you’re daydreaming. He’s also entirely disinterested in me. Eventually he demonstrates that he’s a bit of a bandit, or if not, you decide to believe that’s what he’d have proved himself to be, to get over the fact that he just wasn’t that into you.

Man number two, on the other hand, IS into you. He’s attentive, he calls regularly, he wants to know how your day was, he replies to texts even when you’ve not asked a question, he’s solvent, hardworking, entirely reasonable and he should be attractive to you. And yet… somehow, something indefinable makes him just not quite right. Poor man number two. He’s the kind of guy you really wish you fancied, who your friends wish they fancied, but who you don’t feel anything more for than friendship.

And that leaves man number three, who is invariably TOO present in your life and is just all wrong. Weird, slightly needy, slightly mental, slightly awkward guys, who mistake your polite conversation out of kindness as a green light to pursue you, or sometimes just outright sex pests. There are endless variations on this man, and we’ve all met him in all his forms.

The point being that as if it’s not enough to have a guy you’re interested in who doesn’t like you AND a guy who does like you who you’re not that bothered about to contend with, you’ve got this third wildly inappropriate guy hanging round too. And nearly always after some kind of wasteland of manlessness, where life in it’s perversity hands you three men who are all no good for one reason or another.

Or maybe not. Maybe if I didn’t see in threes, I’d spot eligible man number four, with the best qualities of man number one, the interest of number two, and none of the weirdness of number three. Perhaps the rule of three is actually that when there’s three men floating around, number four is just round the corner, waiting to be the one who’ll come good?

Or am I clutching at straws?


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