Baseball is a never-ending source of analogies and metaphors. “Not even getting to first base,” for example, came to refer to lots of things today – a failed business deal, sale, or job interview – generally referred to failures to get something accomplished. Over time, young people also began to use the baseball analogies for the level of physical connection they had in a relationship with a dating partner. That’s how relationship bases as concepts appeared.
These concepts are actually decades old but are still used by some people to describe how far they have gotten with their latest relationships from a physical standpoint. So, it’s time to unpack what these bases are all about, both in sexual and romantic terms, in a dating relationship.
In the dating world, there is a progression of physical intimacy, which occurs differently for each couple at their own pace. To describe these differences, there exist various relationship bases that refer to the different stages in that physical intimacy progression.
In reality, these baseball metaphors are used far more often by guys than girls. Usually, girls tend to describe the sexual stages in their relationships with their partners without a need for these baseball metaphors.
But in no way should this progression be compared to a one-night stand. That is sexual intercourse without moving through the bases in a relationship. The following sections will fill you in on other baseball metaphors of progression.
The first base is the first kiss, and most reach it on the first or second date. It can be mild kissing at first and is usually a way for two people who have enjoyed a date to end it. That kissing base could even come in the middle of the date as a way of showing special attention and if both seem to feel the attraction. It’s usually a good kiss that may linger a bit longer and come with a hug at the end of the date.
Related reading: Should You Kiss on the First Date
First base can also mean more intense kissing if the two are really attracted to one another. It can actually be a session of French kissing with plenty of tongue action. It can be super sexy and can even result in sexual arousal, although the relationship may be too early to act on it.
A successful first base means you swung the bat and, just as in baseball, hit the ball and made it to first without a missed swing or strikeout (being rejected). The message is clear: “We really like each other, so let’s set up another date and see where this goes.” And unlike a teenage relationship, you don’t feel nervous, and you don’t have to be coy with silly games (especially on the girl’s part) or start bragging to your buds (especially on the guy’s part).
And here’s another thought. If you’ve watched baseball (and who hasn’t), the players are anxious to get to second, once they are on first. First-base kissing, though, can be wonderfully sensual, so, unlike baseball, there doesn’t have to be a rush to get to second. Plenty of couples remain on first for several dates – relationships for different people progress in their own unique ways. There can be lots of intimacy while on first before they go to the next stage.
Now a couple is moving into new territory. After the first or second date, things are getting more intense. There is definite arousal from the kissing, and the partners’ body language says they are ready for some sexy hand stimulation. The common meaning of second base, though, is anything above the waist. So, a guy will fondle a gal’s boobs, with or without clothing. A gal may fondle a guy’s bare chest and upper torso. And don’t forget the neck and ears. These are highly sensual erogenous zones for kissing and nibbling.
Second base is part of the normal progression of a healthy relationship. Just how soon a couple gets there depends on a lot of factors – age, embedded cultural norms, and attitudes toward sex in general. So far so good if each partner feels comfortable and has given enthusiastic consent to the whole experience.
If you want the relationship to move forward, it’s important to respect each other’s boundaries and observe red body language flags at any point in the relationship progression. If you’ve just started dating, stealing first and moving right on to second may turn a partner off.
But if all is going well in your dating progression, and second base has been a pleasure for both of you, then it may be time to move to the manual stimulation of third base.
In attempting to describe relationship bases, this one is probably the most complex because the third base have different definitions for different people. Mots broadly, it means moving below the waist. But at that point, the types of sexual pleasure in practice branch out:
So, as you can see, there are different ways the third base works. Just be certain that you and your partner are on the same page before you share this intimate moment. This kind of sexual relationship will require discussing sex on a deeper level and can cause relationship issues if both partners are not together on this.
And after going to third base? You may be ready to go home and take a cold shower!
So, here’s the final base, which is sexual intercourse. You get to home plate, reach sexual arousal. All the bases’ stages are leading up to this as a relationship progresses. How soon or long it takes is an individual matter. But here you are, at home plate, not just exploring each other’s bodies but carrying out penetrative sex. The conquest of the four bases is now complete.
As you both make the decision to go to home base, there are some important considerations. This final stage of fourth base must be the result of mutual consent while both partners are sober.
An agreed-upon home run must also include a mutual agreement on the practice of safe sex. In the heat of the moment, this can be thrown out the window. The better plan? By the time you are ready for third base, you and your squeeze should be having this conversation. You know where this is probably headed, so plan ahead before you get to fourth base.
So far, we have talked about how the baseball analogy, which still seems to still be a part of popular culture, has related only to sex. But sex is not the most important thing; relationships and intimacy also matter.
When it comes to relationships, the meaning of their bases changes. Since sexual intimacy is just one thing, you cannot rely on it solely. People can have it all day long without any emotional or romantic commitment; and they may get to the home base pretty quickly.
But long-term love and romance are usually slower in developing and, again, will progress at different rates. So, let’s try to apply those bases in a relationship of romantic love for most people.
Related reading: Dating vs Relationship – What Are the Main Differences Between Them?
You have that first date, and things have gone well. You have enjoyed each other’s company and gotten to know a little bit about one another. You’re both interested. And so, you arrange a second date and then a third or more. You are getting to know each other better with each date, phone call, and maybe a few texts. By this time, you have probably had a few kisses, maybe even some intense ones.
Second base involves dating which is more than just the standard going out in the evening kinds of things. By now, you know one another’s interests and hobbies and arrange to share those with each other. At this stage, you probably engage in social events with friends and possibly some family members. Your dating has become more serious, and you may very well be at second base sexually, if not a bit further.
Now, your emotional and romantic attachment has gotten to the point that you are ready for a commitment to one another. You have most certainly had sex, and now you want to be exclusive partners and are willing to include your SO in family events. So, you make the decision that you will be exclusive and monogamous.
You are now in a position where you are either going to get married or move in together. Either way, you have hit the home run in the romance department, and it’s a great thing. You have the whole thing – wonderful sex and a healthy, solid relationship.
Important to Note: There is no timeline for relationship bases that move into a serious relationship. There isn’t for sexual bases either. But, in general, there will be a connection between the two.
Strike Out: In actual baseball, you’re out after three attempts. In relationship bases real terms, these three strikes mean that you didn’t even get to first base.
Picked Off: This refers to not even getting to first or second base because someone or something interrupted you.
Grand Slam: This is sexual intercourse that ends up with an orgasm, especially for your partner. It can also refer to anal sex.
Double Header: Wow – you hit home base twice in a single night.
Balk: Premature ejaculation once a couple moves in for the home run.
Playing the Field: Still a current term. Someone is dating multiple people, and they don’t pay special attention to one in particular.
Today, sexual activity that involves touching and kissing all the way through to a grand slam is fully up to the individuals involved. And how quickly that all happens is up to them with very little judgment from their peers. At first glimpse, this may seem abhorrent to older generations, but we are living in new and uncertain times. Moving from one to the next base just seems almost silly.
You are in charge of your own dating and love life and how you move through relationship bases – sexual and romantic. Here are some “rules” you should follow:
Young people today have lots of terms for types of physical intimacy. And if they know of the analogy to baseball, most probably find it interesting but humorous.
We live in a time when physical intimacy does not carry the weight it did with older generations. We have gone from a time when “no sex before marriage” was the societal norm as recently as 60 years ago, to an age in which it’s much more casual and without any need for commitment.
According to the 2020 US census, marriage rates have declined over that 10-year period. Divorce rates declined proportionately too. And other studies show that young people are delaying marriage for a variety of reasons. Given that young people have pretty strong libidos, the thought of refraining from sex is just out of the question.
So, relationship bases have pretty much lost their meaning today. And they do bring some humor and levity to what can otherwise be a serious subject. Going along with that humor, here are a few terms that relate to the relationship base analogy.
Having a fun conversation about sex makes this usually awkward subject feel comfortable for both you. Especially if you’re discussing the relationship bases in terms of a favorite American sport. So, don’t be shy, this talk with you partner can remove some of the stress both of you may be feeling! Just be yourself and have fun.