The 4 Bases In A Relationship

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The term “relationship bases” has gained popularity in recent times. Americans have popularized the phrase. The phrase and its references have made their way in American pop culture and are often found in teen movies, songs, and TV shows with metaphors. But what exactly is it? It has become an integral part of the Gen Z lingo as the youth uses it many times in their conversations. Knowing such popular lingos can help you stay up to date with the current scenario and enlighten you about the subsequent steps into the dating game. Read this post about the different meanings of relationship bases and learn the tips to keep in mind before exploring these options.

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What Are The Bases In Relationships?

In baseball, the bases are key to scoring runs. The player who bats has to hit the ball and touch first, second, and third base in the correct order and then return to home plate (fourth base) to score runs. In the US, people describe physical intimacy in terms of baseball. They use baseball analogies to describe the level of physical intimacy achieved in relationships.

You may have heard these references in high school or college. These terms have been around for decades but are now often used by teenagers. They became popular as the baseball terms were relatable and easily understood by the masses. While the definitions of bases might slightly differ across sources, this post will help you know the commonly used descriptions that help build strong partnership among couples.

There are primarily four bases in relationships. Keep reading to understand the concept of American bases.

1. First Base

Kissing is the first base of a relationship

Image: IStock

Kissing is the first base of a relationship that reveals a lot about their physical attraction. From a peck to a French kiss, it includes everything. Beyond this, touching the neck, shoulders, or face while making out is acceptable. Most physical relationships begin with a peck, and it is an amazing way to express affection.

Its significance is highlighted in Hollywood romcoms and fairytales. It is the ultimate symbol of love and romance. This stimulates the release of various ‘feel-good chemicals such as dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin. Oxytocin makes you feel affection and attachment, dopamine causes euphoria and addictive behavior, while serotonin makes you feel relaxed (1).

Kissing is ideally initiated on the first or second date to assess the chemistry. It is a powerful tool that can decide the future course of any relationship. A good kiss can speed up things between the couple, while a bad one can end things.

protip_icon Did you know?
The first base is a test many couples employ to determine if there is physical chemistry and whether or not to advance in the relationship.

Tips to remember
  • Read the body language of the person before moving in for a kiss. Your partner has to be comfortable with intimacy.
  • Find the right time and place. Everyone doesn’t like to snog in the middle of a crowded restaurant.
  • Ensure you smell fresh. You have to impress your date, not scare them off. Use deodorant or perfume before kissing.
  • Avoid eating onion or garlic just before the kiss. If you have consumed any of these, use a mint or mouth spray. A stinky mouth will turn off your partner, even if you are the best kisser in the world.
  • Consent is critical in physical intimacy. Don’t touch your date without their explicit permission. Keep your hands on the face, neck, or shoulders while you kiss. It will help bolster loyalty and mutual respect.

2. Second Base

Second base allows you to take it slow while experiencing the pleasure of intimacy

Image: IStock

The phase goes beyond mere kissing. It involves quite a bit of prelude before physical intimacy, such as fondling breasts, nipples, and chest. However, the make-out is limited above the waist.

The second base in a relationship is the perfect way to blow off some steam if the two of you are not ready to go all the way or have time constraints. Moving to the second base means you are halfway to the finish line. The action deepens the connection between the two of you, bringing you closer. Even if you want to take it slow, you can experience the pleasure of intimacy by indulging in the second base. However, without the climax, you might feel a bit frustrated. So, a cold shower might help you be calm.

Tips to remember

  • Check if your partner is interested in the make-out session. Run fingers along their collar bone or the bare skin of their waist. See how they react—if they lean into the touch and don’t attempt to halt your progress, continue what you are doing. However, if they stop you, back off.
  • Do you feel aroused and comfortable when they touch you? If not, you should let them know. Share your feelings with your partner with honesty. If you are not aroused, tell your partner about your erogenous zones and guide them to enhance your pleasure.
  • Any physical relationship has to be mutually pleasurable and satisfying. Find out your partner’s erogenous zones and pay special attention to them while making out.
  • Do not force your partner to do anything against their will. If they are not willing to hit second base, give them time.
  • Take your time in exploring each other. Going too fast might reduce the euphoria of the experience.

3. Third Base

In the third base, you are getting into a new level of intimacy

Image: IStock

If you have moved to the third base, you are incredibly close to the finale. While you may not reach the end, you indulge in pretty much the rest. Stimulating each other and having oral sex is okay in this phase. With this stage, you are getting into a new level of intimacy. You get a chance to explore each other’s bodies at length and reach new heights of pleasure. It is possible to achieve your big “O” at this level.

Tips to remember

  • Make sure the two of you have the same expectations from the relationship before moving to this stage. If the two of you are seeking things differently, it is best to discuss them beforehand. Otherwise, it may lead to major clashes.
  • Discuss each other’s preferences and comfort level of intimacy. Be upfront about your feelings and have an honest discussion with your partner. If either one of you is not okay with oral sex, avoid doing it. Going ahead despite being uncomfortable could ruin the entire experience for both of you. Stick to manual stimulation. Don’t force or persuade your partner. Instead, compromise and wait for the right time.
protip_icon Point to consider
The key to getting it right is understanding your partner’s needs and respecting the boundaries.
  • A certain amount of nervousness and insecurity is okay as you are entering new territory. You might be conscious of your body. To enjoy the experience to the fullest, let go of all your inhibitions and go with the flow. Let your partner know how you feel. It will help in building a stronger mental and emotional connection.
  • You can further enhance the experience by complimenting your partner. It is highly likely they are nervous, too. Your sincere praise will relax them and boost their confidence.
  • If you decide to explore the third base thoroughly, take necessary precautions. Even with oral sex, there is a significant risk of STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections) (2). Protection, such as condoms or dental dams, can protect you and your partner. The two of you can even get tested for STIs before getting to the third base.

4. Fourth Base

Fourth base involves the ultimate act of intimacy that requires trust and comfort

Image: IStock

The fourth base is the final act. Sometimes referred to as a home run, it means penetrative sex. It is an act of ultimate intimacy that requires trust, deep love, and comfort. Physical intimacy is about mutual pleasure. Sensing and fulfilling each other’s needs makes the experience satisfying for both parties.

There is no hard and fast rule about the right time to get physically intimate. Some people go for it in the first meeting, while others wait for months. It is a personal choice. Going all the way is a big decision and should be taken after deliberation. Some couples engage in casual physical intimacy with no strings attached; whereas some may expect a commitment. However, both partners must always initiate clear and transparent communication to be on the same page.

Several movies, TV shows, and books have tried to capture the essence of lovemaking over the years. Exposure to these media might lead to illusions about the whole experience. We might believe lovemaking is always beautiful, smooth, and perfect. However, the experience can sometimes be awkward or uncomfortable. Hence, it is essential to keep an open mind.

Tips to remember

  • Be 100% sure before getting physical. Don’t let any pressure coerce you.
  • When you decide to have sex, go ahead without any outlandish expectations about perfection. Relax, set your sexual vulnerability free, and have fun.
  • Share with your partner if something feels uncomfortable, and don’t do anything against your will. State your boundaries clearly.
  • Don’t be selfish while having sex. Be sensitive to your partner’s needs.
  • Have safe sex by using proper contraception. Avoid depending on your partner for protection.

Baseball Metaphors

Here are some good-to-know baseball metaphors.

  • Strike-out

If you have watched baseball, you might have heard the term “strike-out.” It means that the batsman was unable to hit the ball three times in succession. As per baseball rules, the batsman is considered out.

In the dating game, strike-out means your partner has failed to engage in foreplay or other sensual activities. While the analogy might seem to be a bad thing, it is not. Every date doesn’t have to end with it. Sometimes circumstances do not allow you to get physically intimate.

You need to give time to each other to build chemistry. Take everything in stride. Physical intimacy cannot be forced and has to happen naturally. At the right time, the physical connection will happen, and it is okay to strike-out until then.

  • Switch-hitter or playing for both the teams

In baseball parlance, a switch-hitter is a batsman who can bat left- and right-handed. In the dating world, the term is used to refer to a bisexual.

  • Playing or batting for the other team
Playing or batting for the other team is a metaphor for a homosexual person

Image: IStock

The metaphor indicates a homosexual person (lesbian or gay).

  • Pitcher

A man who performs anal sex on his partner.

  • Catcher

A man who receives anal sex from his partner.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are relationship bases real?

Relationships and sexual bases are very much real. The “bases” analogy, originally developed among American teens, has been in use for a long time and is not just a myth floating around schools.

2. Is the baseball analogy of relationship still popular?

The baseball analogy is familiar but not as popular as they were in the past. Teens are still aware of the analogy even though it may not be in regular use because of its persistence in pop culture.

3. How can couples resolve conflicts within a relationship base?

Resolving conflicts within a relationship base requires effective communication, empathy, and a willingness to work together. Instead of blaming each other for the conflict, focus on the issue at hand. Try to understand your partner’s underlying needs, desires, and concerns. Empathize with each other’s emotions and try to see the situation from each other’s perspective. This helps foster compassion and promotes a more collaborative approach to resolving arguments.

Comprehending these relationship bases could help you keep track of the current slang and navigate among social circles. While it is good to stay up to date about the recent terminologies used by the present generation, a relationship is not limited to these four bases. Hence, you may focus on knowing your date well to build a long-lasting and strong relationship rather than merely pushing to attain the subsequent bases. Also, go with the flow and explore your sensuality with your partner at a comfortable pace. Finally, remember to follow your heart and have fun.

Infographic: Things To Consider Before Moving To The Next Base

The adrenaline rush from physical intimacy with your partner or the special someone can tempt you to speed things up. But you need to check and consider a few things before moving to the next base so that it doesn’t end up being a bitter and cringy experience. This infographic will help you with the things you should look out for.

things before moving to the next base (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get high-quality PDF version by clicking below.

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Key Pointers

  • The baseball term “base” is metaphorically used to describe the stages of intimacy in a relationship and its progress.
  • First base is about kissing and gentle touching that progresses to the second, involving intense making out.
  • If things go smoothly, you may enter the third base involving oral stimulation and eventually each the fourth base of intercourse.

Learn about the four bases of dating: physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. These bases are important for establishing a strong relationship. Discover how to build a strong connection with your partner.


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.

1. E. Maguire; What’s in a kiss? The science of smooching; British Council (2015)
2. STIs and Oral Sex; American Sexual Health Association

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