Do you have a hard and fast rule about sex on the first date? I asked participants at a recent dating workshop about their rules and expectations regarding when to have sex with a new partner and received a range of responses:
“I like to wait at least three dates.” Naomi, 33.
“I want to know that we’re exclusive.” Cristy, 25.
“I like to do it on the first date and get it out of the way.” Safiya, 31.
“I wait until I know we’re committed.” Geoff, 29.
“It depends. Sometimes it feels right from the first date and other times I’ve waited for at least five dates.” Jenn, 39.
“I’ll have sex once trust has been established. On a really good first date, it might already be there. In other relationships, it can take longer.” Amit, 31.
“The second date. That’s my rule. If we’re on a second date, I’m obviously really into her.” Ryan, 30.
“You’ve got to be in love. I’m old fashioned.” Allie, 24.
While their answers were varied, research suggests that the average dater has sex after 3.53 dates. Obviously there is no perfect formula for determining when to have sex with a new love interest, but if you’re concerned about having sex early on in the relationship, we’d like to help assuage your concerns. While we’d never suggest that you should have sex on the first date, we do have a few reasons why hopping in the sack on the first date may be a reasonable option!
Sex has a long history of being tied to morality, but sexual morality isn’t about the degree of pleasure associated with an act or the amount of time you wait to engage in said act. Sexual morality refers to how you treat the person (or people) with whom you engage in sexual acts and relationships. If you are honest, respectful and caring toward the people with whom you engage in sex, you can take pleasure in pleasure itself. Period.
While sex is not the only factor related to relationship compatibility, it does play a considerable role in romantic relationships. For some daters, having sex early in the dating game allows them to gauge the potential for sexual compatibility. This doesn’t mean that you can’t continue to establish and cultivate compatibility as the relationship develops, but simply that you have a better idea of what you're working with from the onset.
Safiya, a 31 year old PR representative, explains why she sees sex on the first date as an acceptable way to reduce tension:
“I don’t go on a lot of dates. I date online and chat with a number of people, but by time we make it to the meet-in-person stage, I’m ready to at least try it. I’m not saying I always have sex on the first date, but if there is chemistry, I’m at least open to it. I feel like it helps to get the awkwardness out of the way and helps me to assess if we’re a good fit in bed.”
Research suggests that casual sex can be both sexually and emotionally satisfying. One study found that as long as you’re inclined toward casual sex (researchers use the label “sociosexually unrestricted”), it is associated with a host of health benefits including higher self-esteem and life satisfaction and lower rates of depression and anxiety.
One note: these casual sex benefits may be offset by heavy drinking, as research also suggests that among those who regret casual sex, their guilt is often associated with heavy drinking and the absence of condom use.