What Are the Four Bases in Dating and What Do They Mean?


Even if you don’t watch baseball, you’ve probably heard the terms first, second, or third base used in relation to dating and wondered what they mean. This guide will explain what are the bases and what each of them involves. Keep reading to finally understand what these expressions mean, and get ready to join in on the conversation!

The Origins of the Term ‘Base’

The term ‘base’ is an American expression that started being used during the 1980s to describe different stages of physical intimacy. The ‘base’ is a baseball metaphor, and there are numerous references to it in popular culture. Due to the popularity of American films and songs, the term gained popularity even outside the US.

The ‘bases’ are particularly popular among teenagers, who use this slang term to define where they are in the relationship, and although there are different definitions as to what are the bases in a relationship, we’ll talk about the most common definition of each of the bases—in the following section, you can find detailed explanations of each base and quiet your doubts about their meanings once and for all!

DID YOU KNOW? Brits are known for their use of slang in all aspects of life, relationships included. The latest trends in dating slang show ‘fleabagging’ is a popular expression derived from the TV programme Fleabag, and it means constantly dating people who aren’t right for you.

What Are the Bases of Dating?

Now that you know where the term ‘base’ stems from, it’s time to understand the particulars of each base. It’s generally considered there are four bases of love and sex, and you can read about each one in more detail in the following sections.

First Base: The Kiss

Kissing is one of the most important steps in a new relationship, and it’s also what people call first base. As the starting point of physical intimacy, the first kiss is an important milestone—as they say, it all starts with a kiss.

The first base meaning encompasses all types of kisses, from soft pecks to passionate French kisses. In addition to this, the first base includes gentle touches and caresses to the face, neck, and shoulders. People usually get to first base on the first or second date, and it’s a good way to see if there’s any chemistry and whether things can go any further. This stage is very exciting and sensual, so don’t be in any rush to move forward—enjoy yourself!

Second Base: The Touch

Second base continues where the first left off, moving on from mere kisses to more intimate acts. So, what is second base exactly?

The second base involves touching in an intimate way, although these touches are limited to above the waist—the chest, breasts, and nipples are the body areas that get special attention while this base is unfolding. This is often regarded as foreplay to sex, but it’s also a great way to become more intimate with your partner and create a stronger bond.

When you reach second base with someone, you can see how much they like you, and at this point in the relationship, you can consider becoming exclusive—if you’re trying to get a girlfriend, this is an important stage.

Third Base: Mutual Pleasuring

The third base meaning is of key importance, as this is the stage where you’ll be able to see whether your partner is interested in ‘going all the way.’ At this point, clothes start to come off, and different sexual acts can take place. During this first encounter with your partner’s genitals, you can engage in oral sex, or stimulate each other by hand—fingering and hand jobs are third base staples.

Although you can engage in various sexual acts, it’s crucial you both consent to everything—if someone wants to proceed without your consent, you should see it as a relationship red flag.

In case you’re still unclear as to what is third base in dating, that’s okay—as this base can mean different things to different people, it’s best to tell your partner what third base means to you.

Fourth Base: Home Run

Also called ‘home run,’ the fourth base is used to describe the ultimate act of intimacy—sexual intercourse. When we talk about fourth base, we’re talking about sex with penetration, which is considered the greatest sexual act and the highest form of intimacy between two people.

People sometimes reach the peak of sexual pleasure during third base, but the bases in a relationship are about more than physical pleasure. The further you progress through the bases, the higher the levels of trust and comfort.

It’s also important to remember there are no rules as to when you should have sex, and you should do it only when you’re ready and not let anyone pressure you. However, as some say that the lack of sex and physical intimacy is why they cheat on people they love, discuss your libido with your potential partner before starting a relationship.

DID YOU KNOW? Although online dating is super-popular, there are plenty of other ways to meet potential dates. The most common ways to meet someone are through work (18%) or through mutual friends (18%), followed by being out on the town (15%). Only 7% of couples met on online dating sites or apps.

The Different Interpretations of the Bases

The bases meaning can differ from person to person, as different people experience arousal and sexual pleasure in different ways. That’s why it’s very important to communicate with the other person about where you are in the relationship and how and when you want to progress.

Some people need more time to relax and become intimate with another person, and some take certain sexual acts more seriously than others. To avoid any misunderstandings or unwanted advances, you need to tell the other person what each base entails for you.

For example, the second base meaning for some people entails French kissing, while some consider oral sex part of the fourth base. Remember, the lines that separate the bases are blurry, and the only way to clear them up is by talking to your partner!

DID YOU KNOW? If you want to get to the next base with the person you’re seeing, create a private and intimate setting where you’ll be able to relax. There are plenty of ideas for dates in a home environment that can help you move on to the next base.

Final Words

Knowing what are the bases in dating can be very useful when you want to tell someone how far you’ve got with your romantic interest without using explicit language.

As some people are shy and some just want to protect their privacy, having a fun baseball metaphor you can use to talk about your sexual escapades is always welcome.


What are the 4 bases of dating?

The first base is kissing, the second involves touching and caressing above the waist, and the third moves on to hand stimulation and oral sex, while the fourth base (or the home run) is used to describe sexual intercourse.

What are the bases in a teenage relationship?

Teenage relationships are much like all other relationships, so the bases are defined the same for teenagers as for adults—what is first base for an adult is first base for a teenager. The only difference is that teenagers are expected to progress through the bases more slowly.

Is there a fifth base?

Some categorisations also list a fifth base, anal sex. This is considered the most intimate sexual act between two people, but also quite a controversial one that not everyone practices, which is why you need to ask before you try to take someone to fifth base.

What is the third base in dating?

The majority of ‘what are the bases’ classifications agree the third base involves manual stimulation and oral sex, i.e. sex without penetration. Make sure to check with your partner what third base includes for them.

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