Four and a half years ago, I had sex on the first date with my now-boyfriend. Wait, I should clarify that: four and a half years ago, I slept with my now-boyfriend for the second time on our first date, having already slept with him the week before, after running into him at a party. He was the friend of a friend, and I had had a terrible crush on him for months, whiling away many an afternoon scrolling through his Facebook photos and mentally Photoshopping my own face into them. But in all that time, I had never spent a minute wondering if he would take me less seriously if I slept with him right away.
That's probably because I've been sleeping with dudes on the first date for about as long as I've been sleeping with dudes. I found that it happened naturally with the guys that I had a lot of chemistry with, and it never seemed to hold me back in when it came to establishing serious relationships with them. One boyfriend even admiringly attributed the happiness of our union to the fact that we had had "breaking-the-ice sex" a few hours after first meeting.
So I had assumed that today — more than 40 years after the sexual liberation of the '70s, nearly 20 years after the first episode of Sex and the City, and seven years after former UK first lady Cherie Blair admitted to hooking up with former prime minster Tony after their very first date — the debate over whether it's cool to sleep with someone on a first date had kind of been settled: if you don't want to, don't do it, and don't let anyone pressure you into it; but if you do want to, hey, feel free. We're all adults here, right?
But, unfortunately, the idea that sleeping with someone right away will make them less likely to respect you in the morning is still out there, and men's sites are still producing guides to getting laid on the first date, as if getting a woman to sleep with you is a bar game comparable to Big Buck Hunter or something. There are even some women out there fronting like shaming first-date sex-havers is somehow feminist, or helpful to other ladies. Well, as the First-Date Sex-Haver-In-Chief, let me note this: shaming people about doing it on the first date is not feminist, not helpful, not cool, and is not even tied to the actual facts of sex and dating (all of which actually suggest that having sex on the first date doesn't undermine anyone's relationship potential).
So first-date abstainers, keep doin' your thing; first-date sex-havers, read on for three reasons why you should not feel one whit guilty for doin' your thing; and first-date sex-shamers ... try to come up with a better way to express your jealousy for people who aren't tied up in archaic sexual norms, okay?
It Won't Make You Less Likely To Land A Second Date
So you had a very exciting date on Friday night that turned into a very exciting trip to le bone zone in the wee hours of Saturday morning. You thought you guys really hit it off, but come the following week, you find that your attempts to set up a second date have been iced out. Cue a "helpful" friend, who tells you that if you have sex on a first date, you're less likely to get a second date. Could your terrible "helpful" friend be right? Also, how did you get such a terrible friend?!
This argument confuses correlation and causation. How can you prove that sex is why your date never talked to you again without doing some kind of locker room interview with them? In fact, 67 percent of men polled by Cosmopolitan said that they never think less of a woman for having sex on the first date. So this argument isn't based in facts; rather, it hinges on the idea that women's bodies and sexuality are just goods to be consumed, considered used up after the initial novelty wears off. Ugh.
Facts are, the only people less likely to call you for a second date just because you had sex with them on the first date are idiots that you wouldn't want to date, anyway.
People's Rules About Sex On The First Date Are Reflection On Them, Not You
That old tired trope about how men don't respect women who have sex with them on the first date? That's not a "difficult truth," as some people like to pretend it is. It's nothing but a reflection on the individual who holds that opinion. When a person says "All men respect women less if they sleep with them on the first date," what they're actually saying is, "I personally have issues with women owning their sexuality, and your best bet is to steer clear of me both romantically and socially."
There are plenty of people out there who don't cling to such offensively old-fashioned ideas, and here's a secret: they are way better at sex than jerks who think that a woman's worth as a person is somehow tied to her ability to not have sex.
First Date Sex Can Actually Make It Easier To Get To Know Someone
For some people, keeping sex off the table while getting to know someone takes the pressure off. It helps them make better decisions, and allows them to really connect with their date's personality. And that's great. But for other people, the opposite happens. For these folks, unconsumated sexual desire clouds all of their interactions with their date before they have sex, turning them into horrible judges of character and cruddy decision makers.
If you're one of these types of people, having sex early on in the game ensures that any ensuing relationship that develops is real, based on you two actually liking each other, and not some elaborate game where no one can really concentrate on getting to know each other because the promise of sex hangs in the air.
Sex is powerful, which is usually a common argument for regulating its flow; but I'd say that sometimes, the power of sex makes a strong argument for just letting it happen. Make your relationship choices based on how you actually feel about a person, and what you really want, not on an elaborate game of "sex in exchange for intimacy."
Because I'm pretty sure that being honest about who you are and what you want will get you more good second dates than playing by someone else's rules because you feel like you have to.