Sex on the First Date: Good Omen or Death Knell?

IMG_0406I think my last boyfriend cast a spell on me. And he used an Eleven as his magic wand.

Our first date was one of those electric evenings that turned into a white-hot night and then a passionate morning. High on the novelty of each other, we rolled around in my bed just after sunrise, doing wonderful things with fingers and mouths and toys. I barely knew him, but I was hooked on him. I was hooked on him, but I barely knew him.

I remember being pleased with myself that I was able to have sex on a first date. It was my first time doing so, and I took it as a sign that I’d bested my anxiety, at least in this one area. I felt powerful, sexy, strong. And the sex was so immediately good that it seemed to foreshadow more good sex and a rad-as-hell relationship.

But the magic of that first date wrote a cheque that we, as a couple, couldn’t actually cash. I found out quickly that we weren’t compatible – ideologically, emotionally, sexually. Still, the excitement of that first bang-sesh hung over our relationship like a spectre. I kept trying to get back to that sense of electricity and ease. I thought, if I could just be cool and cute and fun and sexy enough, like I was when we met, maybe we would rediscover our chemistry and our sexual connection. But that never happened.

I’m not in the business of telling people when they should or shouldn’t have sex. That goes against the basic tenets of sex-positivity. But for myself personally, I’ve been thinking lately that first-date sex might not be the smartest choice. It kicks my mania and obsessiveness into high gear, making me fixate on someone who hasn’t necessarily proved they deserve my resolute attention. Sex releases juicy neurotransmitters that encourage feelings of attachment, and while that’s often useful, I’m not sure a first date is an emotionally safe time for me to feel those feelings. I’d rather wait until I know someone well enough that I can trust them with my gleeful gushing, my crush-y aftermath.

Having made this decision, I recently started seeing someone new and purposely waited to have sex with him – even though, a couple hours into our first meeting, I thought, “Yeah, I could bang this guy.” I remembered my best friend telling me to view my beaux realistically, instead of through rose-colored glasses. I wanted to take some more time to determine: is this really a good guy who I want to kiss/bang/potentially date? And I knew that sex would distort my ability to assess that. It usually does.

The usual (by which I mean: heteronormative, patriarchal) discourse about first-date sex says that your responsibility as a woman is to withhold sex as long as possible, because that creates the mystery and intrigue that will hook a man and make him stay. It’s said that “men give love to get sex, and women give sex to get love.” I think that’s all bullshit, but it’s interesting that I came to the same conclusion – sex on the first date is a bad idea for me – through entirely different reasoning.

There’s another reason I’m against first-date sex for myself, and it’s a more fun one: waiting builds desire. My attractions are rarely instant; a person’s hotness quotient in my mind is a gradually-stacked pyramid of good jokes, thoughtful gestures, smart thoughts, feminist allyship, and social intelligence. If I think you’re cool on the first date, I have the potential to think you’re a scintillating mega-babe by the third date – but probably not before that, because I need to know you to find you deeply hot. Rushing into sex with near-strangers feels, to me, like eating pasta that’s so lightly cooked it can’t even be considered al dente – sure, it’s food, and it’ll fill you up, but you’re not gonna be thrilled about it.

When sex finally happens, I want to be aching for it. I want to be ravenously curious about what’s in your pants and what’s in the darkest, lewdest corners of your brain. I want us to know and like each other well enough that the desire for sex is a desire for each other, specifically, more than it’s a generic desire for naked bodies, warm mouths and orgasms.

For similar reasons, I prefer not to sext with people I barely know. Counterintuitively, it tends to make me lose my boner for someone, if I had one to begin with. When a near-stranger pushes my sexual boundaries, it either bores me or sets off alarms in my head, even if a trusted partner could turn me on to no end by pushing those same exact boundaries. To me, when sexting is hot, it’s because of the person on the other side of the screen, not just the things they want to do to me. And if we barely know each other, I’m just not invested enough for that spark to materialize. I don’t care.

Maybe this’ll change eventually. Maybe there will come a time when I’m able to keep a cool head after having sex with a new person. But for the time being, taking my time works spectacularly. I’m revved up and ready by the time we get to bangin’, and the experience itself is less like undercooked pasta and more like a thick steak marinated to perfection. And when we’re done, I don’t lie there feeling oddly empty and anxious; instead, I feel happy, peaceful, and accomplished, like I just won a marathon I’ve spent months training for.


What are your thoughts and experiences re: sex on the first date?