To begin, here is a fairy tale story:
Once upon a time, there was a boy and a girl who met each other at a party and had sex within 2 hours of saying “hello” to each other. Six years later, they were married and had two kids. The end.
Now…. back to reality. And back to the question I was recently asked by Person Z, “Should I sleep with someone on the first date?”
This is a post addressed to ye-who-seek-meaningful-relationships. I boil down my philosophies around sex on the first (or first few) dates, as follows….
Sex is a simple act that complicates new relationships for two main reasons:
1. We get complicated messages about sex from society;
2. We get complicated messages about sex from our own bodies.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe in sex-positive, body-positive thinking. I believe in slut-pride. But I do not promote the messages, whether commercial or feminist, that say sex is “always” awesome. In fact, taking sex out of the relationship equation can help us make better choices, at least at the beginning.
Scenario 1. Society tells us that “people who want sex” and “people who want relationships” are 2 different types of people. This can confuse your new relationship.
I used to have an acquaintance I will call “J.” He was a hoe, but a very honest one. I say this lovingly. (Once, I even drunkenly told him that I thought he whored “with integrity.” He said “thank you.”)
J’s problem was that he was looking for a lasting relationship. He did not understand that his sex-forward approach towards women caused them to assume that sex was ALL he wanted.
By jumping into bed with every woman he met, many women assumed J was “just in it to get laid.” Therefore, the long-term-relationship seekers avoided him. Or, the long-term-relationship seekers had their kicks with him, then found someone else to have a “real” romance with.
J asked me once, “Why does it matter if we sleep together or not?”
Society is why, J. Society is.
Scenario 2. Sex-too-soon can keep you in your $hitty relationship for too long.
I think that sub-title said it all.
The bottom line is, some of us have brains that cannot handle the oxytocin and dopamine overload of having sex too soon. We bond with our partners through sex, even if our minds are waving red and yellow neon signs that say, “NOT RELATIONSHIP MATERIAL” at us.
Here’s a semi-factual personal story. Once, I was in a 2-year relationship with someone I was sleeping with. Here’s our conversation after TWO YEARS of dating on the day the bonding hormones wore off:
Elisa: “So….. what was your favorite part of the movie?”
Person X: “That’s a personal question.”
Yes. You read that right.
I had gotten myself stuck in a relationship for two years with someone I couldn’t even have a simple conversation with. And at the end of it, we had no intellectual or emotional bonds. Just a meaningless sexual relationship.
Oxytocin and dopamine, my friends. Oxytocin and dopamine.
So are you telling me I shouldn’t have sex with someone on the first date?
Simple answer: NO!
Everyone has a different relationship with sex and their own bodies. There are also many other factors — eg. if you meet randomly, vs. meeting through a trusted friend network — that could influence your luck. But if you are looking for a long-lasting relationship, this is what I propose:
A. Take a step back. If you decide to just jump into sex right away, no judgments. But can you take a step back from all the excitement early on? Can you coldly and heartlessly ask yourself, “Am I emotionally and intellectually excited in our relationship? Is this someone I’d want to be friends with if we weren’t doing each other?”
If the answer is “No,” break it off. If the answer is “Yes,” keep on keeping on.
If you can come up for air and be really, truly honest with yourself, you’ll be OK.
B. If you can’t be honest with yourself…… Just slow it down. Keep your physical intimacy 2 steps behind your emotional intimacy. In other words: get to know your date first, feel comfortable with them, then get physically involved. Let the physical follow the emotional and mental. Don’t let your body lead the way.
C. Understand that the person you are with has a different view of sex than you. They might feel shame or disgust with themselves if they sleep with you too soon. Thus, you’ve automatically eliminated them from your potential “lifelong partner” list.
Or, they might feel overjoyed and “in love.” Understand where they are coming from, and always be respectful. Give them space if they need it. Break up with them respectfully if you need it.
Finally, know your own boundaries and be aware of people around you.
Have fun, be safe, and use protection!
PS: I promised Person Z that I’d keep this anonymous. So I just boiled down their question to the main point: Should I have sex with someone on the first date? What about the first few days? Or the first week? Person Z, this is for you.