When it comes to dating, there is one question we will never find a set-in-stone answer to: when is the right time to have sex with a new partner? For this one, I’m very much going to reflect on my own personal experiences as a single, dating female. Recently, I found myself justifying my reasons not to rush into sex while dating a so-called “gentleman” who, on multiple occasions, struggled with the fact I had not yet slept with him. For the record, we had been on two dates. It’s not that I’m a prude, very much the opposite. But when on the second date, someone is begging like a child to have sex with you, and arguing a few days later about it, continued by yet more auguring on the third date over the prospect of again not getting laid that night, is it really an issue of waiting or of just simply being turned off? I struggle to see how, in so short a period, there was such an expectation for sex. And also how this expectation was expressed with such aggression and whinging. I know I am defiantly not alone when it comes to this dating dilemma.
I, at least, would like to know someone’s birthday and surname before getting intimate. Sex these days can be risky, both emotionally and physically, and it’s not too much to ask with whom you are taking that risk before going ahead. Some people meet and there is automatic chemistry – a feeling as though you have known each other for years. For others, it can take time to cut through the superficial chit-chat and connect with the real person on an intimate level.
I know it’s only natural for men to desire sex straight away but, meanwhile, an internal battle rages in a woman’s mind. On one side is biology and desire and, on the other is moral consequence. With their pleas for sex, some men are just making this battle that much harder (good choice of words, hey?). If there were no consequences to having sex on a first date, more women would be giving it up. But maybe men are only to blame for this waiting game? History tells us that women who have sex too soon, or even casually, are sluts, whores and easy (I, in no way, agree). Who out there has had sex on the first or second date, then never heard from him again? Or, perhaps worse, only hear from him in the context of a booty call – a no-romance-just-sex message that comes in last-minute, or late at night (I raise my hand). This is the modern day version of the Madonna/whore complex and the so-called moral high ground of some men. Although never said, the refrain seems to be the same: “I’ll sleep with you if you give it up straightaway, which means you’re a slut. But if you make me wait, you are a good girl and I’ll date you.” Which is ironic, because isn’t sex what men want, after all?
Let me tell you, there is nothing wrong with girls who want sex early in the dating equation – quite the opposite. And it is men who suffer from the Madonna/whore complex, brought on either by past experiences or stories from others, who are causing these sexually expressive women to wait. So, men, if you happen to be reading this and know a guy like that, then take your beef up with them for the lack of early sex and a rise in women choosing to wait.
These days, women are tested and tempted to see which way they will turn – the good girl or the slut. This kills me because there is nothing wrong with a girl who feels comfortable enough in her own skin to have sex on the first date (as long as it’s for the right reasons, and not as a self-esteem boost or man-trapping tactics). I have a problem with the use of words like ‘slut’ and ‘whore’, as they are labels without definitive structure or boundaries. (How many people do you have to sleep with in order to be labelled a slut? More than just one?) But it’s this test, this experience of “he never called back” or fear of being labelled that encourages women to keep their legs closed. In many situations, I don’t think women withhold for lack of want, but rather because of a fear of the consequences if they do sleep with someone on a first date. Fear is one of the best ways to control women, especially when it comes to sex, and we need to acknowledge this fear when it rears its ugly head. Are you waiting because you want to get to know him better; to feel more connected; to feel comfortable being naked with him; to know his sexual history; or simply to have something to look forward to in a new relationship? Or are you waiting because you are fearful of what he might think if you give it up too soon (regardless of the fact that he is the one wanting it)?
I was told of a man (and I’m sure there are many more out there) who tries to have sex with a girl on the first date and, if she does, she’s too slutty and he won’t date her. Hello? He was the one trying to have sex with her in the first place? News Flash: women are just as sexual (if not more) than men – it’s just that society encourages them to inhibit and hide their sexual desires. And empowering women to explore their sexuality and to let their natural desires run free only makes this part of dating a moral whirlwind.
I can preach to you to do to what you want sexually but in this instance, I have to warn you that your natural urges and sexual choices could be used against you. And it just doesn’t seem fair. For some men, the exact thing they’re asking for (or, in my case, begging for) is the one thing that can halt the possibility of a future relationship. And all because you have given them want they wanted?
So, when is the right time to have sex? On what date number should you be taking him into bed? I have one friend who makes guys wait five dates, and another who slept with her now-husband on the first night. I’m not saying her situation is a precedent, but it does prove that getting down and dirty on the first date is not always a fast-train to Slutsville.
As a sexologist, all I can advise is for you to do what you want (I feel like I just told a 10-year-old kid to stay up late and eat chocolate). The only thing is to make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. Don’t do it so a guy will like you, or because you feel it will keep him around. But do it when your intuition tells you it’s right. And know, that just like a 10-year-old staying up and eating chocolate all night, sex too early can also have negative consequences, and the key to negotiating those is to be aware of them. I wish I could change the way minds work but, for now, all I can do is present this dating injustice to you. Just like age is just a number, so, too, is the amount of dates you have before sex. It’s what’s going on emotionally between you and your partner that counts, however long you have known each other for.