Times have changed! Sex is less taboo, more common, and much safer. Yet nobody seems to know when it's okay to do it, especially when it comes to dating. Hooking up has sanitized sex, and for many people, has created an expectation of quick sex. So how soon is too soon? The first date? The second date? The twelfth?
We consulted relationship columnist April Masini and relationship experts Laura Schreffler and Andrea Syrtash to find out more about sex on the first date and the modern dating world.
Nay! Give it some time.
"Never have sex on the first date," Schreffler says. "Not to sound like a grandma, but why buy the cow when you get the milk for free?" While that analogy isn't very progressive or flattering, Schreffler believes it still holds true: "If you've already given it up and there's no chase involved, then there is no reason for a guy to come back for more, regardless of how amazing, hysterical, or successful you are." Having sex on the first date doesn't mean a relationship is out of the question, but it does complicate things.
Depending on the person, sex can mean everything, nothing, or something entirely different. "Men have sex because you're willing, and they're ready," Masini says. "When women have sex on the first date, it doesn't mean love, and it doesn't even mean a second date. And sometimes it means the beginning of a friends with benefits relationship." Sex can often stir feelings in both men and women that might not have been there otherwise, which can cause confusion in the future.
"This term, 'labeling the relationship' has evolved because the sex in the relationship—especially when it starts early—doesn't signify the importance that it does when people wait to have sex," Masini says. "People get confused because they're having sex early, and they're not sure what it means. So, while there's no shame associated with first date sex, there is a confusion."
If you do decide to wait, it's worth noting there's no designated "good time" to have sex. "A lot of people adhere to that three date rule, which I don't necessarily believe is a good thing," Schreffler says. "Do it when you feel ready — and if he's not on the same page, his loss."
Yea! Go for it, girl!
Syrtash is not a fan of dating rules: "Rules are designed by people who don't know you and your values." Her book It's Okay to Sleep with Him on the First Date: And Every Other Rule of Dating, Debunked makes that point very clear. The tagline is "Don't trust the rules. Trust yourself."
"Sometimes a woman who is attracted to a man on a date might want to hook up," Syrtash says. "And if she's feeling horny, and if she's feeling safe and excited and open to it, then follow that instinct."
She wouldn't be alone. In 2012, match.com conducted the second annual Singles in America survey. They found that 55 percent of singles reported having had sex on the first date (66 percent of men; 44 percent of women). That being said, Syrtash doesn't think it's always a good idea to have sex on the first date.
"If you're against it for moral or ethical reasons or religious reasons or if it just doesn't feel right, by all means, I don't think you should have sex in the first date," she says. "The problem I have is when the dating advice industry scares women into thinking they'll ruin it if they sleep with the man to soon. And that he'll lose interest. I don't think we should focus on the man, I think we should focus on the woman. She should do what feels right for her."
So, if on the first date, the sex stars align (you're both consenting adults, you find an appropriate location, you're both protected from STDs and ill-timed pregnancies), then have at it! The door is open if you choose to go there, because the stigma has all but disappeared. The decision is yours.
Check out what advice our panel has on turning a one-night stand into a relationship:
For more dating advice, go to April Masini's website, AskApril.com, pick up a copy of Laura Schreffler's book, Internet Dating 101, or Andrea Syrtash's book, It's Okay to Sleep with Him on the First Date