The Tyranny and Temptation of the Second Date

One Friday afternoon in late April, I speed-walked toward a café in Leslieville, heart thudding in my chest. I was on my way to a second date, and I didn’t know why. How was I gonna get out of this one?

The week previous, I’d gotten a cordial DM from a faceless Twitter account, asking me on a date. The dude seemed cool and respectful, so I said yes. We agreed to meet up at Tell Me Something Good, for a low-pressure hang.

We chatted at the bar before the show, then sat together in the front row and listened to stories. I liked talking to him, but felt no immediate desire to kiss him, fuck him, or press my nose against his chest and inhale deeply – no immediate attraction, in other words. At intermission, a friend asked me knowingly, “How’s the date going?” and I replied in earnest, “I dunno; we’re having good chats, but I’m not sure how I feel, chemistry/attraction-wise.” That night, I didn’t invite my new acquaintance back to my house, or even invite him to make out with me in an alley, as I am wont to do when I have fun on a date; I simply said good night and went home.

We’d already planned an afternoon coffee date for a few days later, so I felt I had to go, even though I wasn’t particularly excited about it. On my way to meet him at the café, I idly rehearsed in my head what I could say to let him down gently, if and when I needed to. “I’m not really feeling a connection.” “I’m not in a good headspace for dating right now.” “You’re great, but I don’t think we’re a match.” I arrived at the café and stood outside for a moment, steeling myself. And then I walked through the door.

First dates have their own unique magic which has been discussed to death – but there’s little written about second dates. The thinking behind this, one can assume, is: the first date is where all the nerves and uncertainty congregate. By the second date, you’ll feel more comfortable, more certain, more excited. Right?

Maybe some people feel that way, but I sure don’t. Second dates stress me out arguably more than first dates do, in part because they imply committal feelings that I don’t necessarily have. Going out with someone a second time seems to say, “I like this person and want to see more of them!” but I’ve rarely been that sure about anyone by a second date. Am I just a weirdo, or does everyone secretly feel this way?

Here are two things I deeply believe. First: my attractions take time to develop, and I often need to know someone a little while before I’m able to see what’s hot and interesting about them. And second: when I meet someone I’m attracted to, I’ll know right away. It’ll be like a meet-cute in a movie. Oh. Yes. You.

I believe in both these ideas so strongly, but they directly contradict each other. The problem is, sometimes I know right away that I’m attracted to someone, and sometimes it takes a while. I’ve never had someone turn my “definitely not” into a “yes please,” but I’ve certainly been ambivalent at first about people who later won my heart. Hence going on so many second dates: I never want to throw away a potentially good connection – even one from a Meet and Fuck Site – unless I’m certain it’s not going to work. But where is the line between “hmm, maybe!” and “probably not, but let’s see what happens”?

After my first date with the man who would become my serious boyfriend of three and a half years, my overwhelming feeling was: “What the hell just happened?” I knew we’d had great conversations, and that I liked him and he seemed to like me. But we hadn’t kissed, or really expressed any kind of physical attraction or affection, so I was unsure if I liked him as a romantic interest or just as a fun person to talk to.

Contrastingly, by my second date with an unfeminist, sex-shamey dude who was irrefutably bad for me, I was already asking him if he wanted to be my boyfriend. I rushed headlong into a thing that felt dazzlingly exciting, my inexplicable feelings blinding me to all logic. See: my gut feelings about people are often wrong, which is why I second-guess myself so often now. I don’t trust my gut. It doesn’t know what it’s talking about.

Back to that reluctant second date in a Leslieville café. The dude introduced me to his friend who owned the place, and made my drink himself. We settled into comfy chairs in the back corner, where we launched into philosophical conversation and an intense game of Scrabble. We played with a house rule where you got an extra 10 points for any “sexy” word; he played the word “plead,” and I made an involuntary turned-on sound.

He kept grinning at me every time I made a good joke, like a dorky schoolboy with a crush. Some friends of his stopped into the café, and he not only introduced me to them but also bragged about me to them: how smart I am, how funny and accomplished. We talked about sex, kink, feminism, and literature; he was careful and thoughtful and smart and self-aware. I was swayed.

Toward the end of our second rollicking Scrabble game, I pondered how, just a couple hours earlier, I’d been plotting how to pre-emptively escape from this date – and now, here I was, wishing it would go on longer. “Wanna go do something else?” he asked, and I couldn’t help but giggle. He hadn’t meant to evoke sex, but sex is where my mind went. He giggled back at me.

I mean, not no,” I admitted.

He smiled. Was he surprised? I was. “I live very close to here and my roommates aren’t home,” he said, real casual-like.

We walked around the corner to his house. We had a brief and respectful negotiation – what we were and weren’t willing to do in bed that day. He rolled us a joint and we smoked it. And then we had sex for five and a half hours.

When finally we slowed down for long enough to catch our breath and check our phones, I realized I was late to meet a friend for a 10PM comedy show we’d agreed to go to. I wondered how I could possibly have been having sex with this boy for that long. Neither of us had even had an orgasm and the sex had nonetheless felt like its own universe, stellar and self-contained.

We threw our clothes back on and he walked me to the bus stop. “Wanna get dinner next week?” he asked me, the hood of his black hoodie pulled up, his hands stuffed in his pockets. He seemed oddly shy for someone who had just fucked the life out of me all day – like he genuinely wasn’t sure how I’d respond, and if I said no, he’d be sad but not surprised.

“Yeah!” I gushed, and meant it. The bus pulled up, and I kissed him good night, wishing I didn’t have to. Wishing our afternoon-coffee-date-turned-evening-sex-date could morph into a sleepover, and then a cozy morning, and then a Relationship-with-a-capital-R.

When I got to Comedy Bar, my friend asked me conversationally how my day had gone, and I told her with disbelief sludgily slurring my words, “I just had sex for like six hours.” She didn’t know what to make of that. Neither did I.

Now it’s months later and that unassuming Adonis in the black hoodie is my boyfriend. I’m still trying to puzzle out what the hell happened, and what it means. How could I have been so ambivalent about someone who was obviously meant to cross my path? How could I have looked at such a sweet, babely human and thought, “Ehh”? How did I not see the supportive, world-shifting partner he could be to me?

I’m still suspicious of second dates. They still stir up questions I don’t know how to answer, and get me up close and personal with my crippling indecision and hatred of confrontation. But I think this experience has taught me, for once and for all, that if I’m not sure about someone, I should go on that second date. If the idea of seeing them again intrigues me on any level, even a little bit, I owe it to myself to give it one more shot.

When you do this, maybe nothing’ll come of it. But maybe you’ll laugh your guts out over Scrabble, have sex for five hours, and feel your stomach flip in that way that means you just met someone you could come to love.


Note: this post was sponsored, and as always, all writing and opinions are my own.

My Perfect First Date

Dates never quite go the way you expect them to. There is always a discord between the date you pictured before it began – whether glittering and gold or precarious and scary – and the date that actually unfolds. You can plan and play out every plausible permutation in your head and your date can still throw you a wildcard. That’s part of what makes it fun.

That being said… I still sometimes fantasize about very specific dates. I know that they’ll never happen in real life, because if they did, they’d be as boring and predictable as a rendezvous with a sex robot you programmed yourself. But they’re still fun to think about.

Whether your meet-cute happens through Tinder, OkCupid, Bumble, mutual friends, a party, a chance encounter on the street, or you just click here for sex tonight, I hope one day you get to have your ideal first date. Here’s mine…

I spend a couple hours slooowly getting femme’d up at home: prancing around my bedroom, trying on outfits, blasting upbeat tunes, texting friends selfies for their approval. The outfit I ultimately settle on is a colorful fit-and-flare dress, thigh-high socks, a leather jacket, and leather boots. I smoke a little weed to help me relax. (It’s a family tradition.)

On my way out the door, I check my lipstick in the mirror and impulsively send a selfie to the suitor I’m about to go see: “I’ll be the chick who looks like this. See ya soon!” He replies with a thumbs-up emoji followed by a heart-eyes emoji.

I get on the subway toward Ossington station, heart thudding but not as hard as it would be if I’d skipped the weed. My best friend floods my phone with encouraging messages. I listen to a funny podcast and mess around in my Scrabble app; this always calms me down.

Once at Ossington, I skip down the street to the Bad Dog Theatre, where we’ve agreed to meet. I trot up the stairs, nervous but ultimately excited. Our Tinder banter earlier was good – a rarity in the sea of bro-y dullards that is the online-dating scene – and I’m confident his charm will translate to the offline world as well. I’ve developed a pretty good sense for that, I think.

I spot him in a booth, beer in hand. He flashes me a broad, goofy grin and a wave of acknowledgment. I slide in across from him and our conversation sparks to life immediately; he’s witty, quick, and rambunctious. They say a woman decides within 30 seconds of meeting a man whether she’s going to sleep with him or not, and right now I’m feeling a magical, hard “yes.”

I get a pilsner of my own and we keep talking. He’s interested in my work, my life story, and I in his, so we talk about my writing and music and sex ed, and his various impressive creative vocations. The pre-show minutes zoom by, amid animated stories and bad puns and silly voices. (Gosh, he’s really very funny, isn’t he.) The theatre usher du jour announces that the house is open, so we shuffle in with the rest of the crowd. He wants to sit front-row centre, and so do I, and we commiserate about how other people always think it’s weird when you want to sit that close.

The show is hilarious as per usual, but more than that, I notice my date’s laugh. He has a big, generous laugh that makes every joke seem funnier, every improvised choice seem deliberate and brilliant. We keep catching each other’s eye in our periphery, sharing in mutual delight over the discovery that we both laugh like loons. One of the comedians calls us out for sounding like goofs and we just laugh harder.

After the show, Mr. Cutieface sticks around for a minute to congratulate the performers on a great set and say hi to the ones he knows (because, of course, he’s friends with half the cast). Then he asks me – a courageous veneer draped over some hidden nerves I almost don’t notice – if I’d like to stick around, have another drink, and keep talking. “I would love that,” I say, and his ensuing smile is all fireworks and disco balls. Blam, pow, zing.

He tries to buy my next beer but I don’t let him. We settle back into our booth and get into a heated discussion – not so much a debate – about inclusive comedy, consent in improv, and the importance of “punching up.” Every once in a while, when I make a particularly salient point, he goes quiet and wide-eyed for a moment and says, “Kate, you don’t even know how right you are,” or, “Kate, you genius, you should teach classes on this stuff.” I know he’s being hyperbolic but his unabashed flattery still melts me a little. And each time he says my name, my proverbial ears perk up and I feel entirely focused on, like everyone else in the bar is just a hologram but he and I are absolutely real.

When it gets late and the crowd is starting to thin out, he asks me, “What do you wanna do now?” and I’m just tipsy and comfortable enough to fire back, “I kinda wanna go somewhere and make out with you.” He doesn’t miss a beat, all wiggly eyebrows and roguish smiles. “Yeah, that sounds good. Let’s go do that,” he says, and reaches for my hand.

As we’re throwing on our jackets and scampering down the stairs, he asks if I’m more in the mood for park makeouts or alleyway makeouts. I half-joke, “Which one’s closer?” and he gives me a sidelong mischievous glance, takes my hand again, and leads me into an alley.

Moments later, I’m up against a wall and his face is heart-haltingly close to mine, but I’m a chronic punster and can’t resist the opportunity. “Making out with you would really be… up my alley,” I squeak between giggles at my own bad joke, and he rolls his smiling eyes and presses his mouth against mine.

We kiss for long minutes, slow and exploratory, like we’ve got nowhere else to be but here. He hints at an inner domliness in the way he keeps me pinned to the brick wall with his arms, his thighs, his mouth – but whenever he kicks up his fervor, he always backs off for a moment to ask me, “Is this okay?” or “Do you like that?” I always breathlessly reply in the affirmative.

Drunk people keep walking by the alley and half-spotting us in the dark, and every time it happens, we giggle – not embarrassed, just amused. Eventually he stops kissing me and says, soft and low, “Okay, Miss Sloan. I think we should call it a night pretty soon.” He’s pinging my kinks and doesn’t even know it yet. Or maybe he does.

I could invite him over to continue the evening. I could inquire about going back to his place. I could offer him a blowjob in this alley. But I don’t – not because of stigma about sex on the first date, but because I like him so much, I want to savor things as they come. (Pun only partly intended.) And I can feel how much he likes me radiating off his skin, so I know this isn’t the last night we’ll share, not by a long shot.

“Would it be weird if I texted you right away?” he asks as we walk to the subway station together. “That’s probably not very ‘chill,’ right?”

“Ehh, fuck ‘chill,'” I reply, and link my arm with his like we’re a lady and a gentleman in an old-fashioned movie.

“Okay, good, ’cause I like you a lot and will definitely want to text you right away.”

Sure enough, I get a text from him that night, after we’ve said our goodbyes and parted ways at the subway and I’ve started my walk home from the station. “Did anyone ever tell you you’re a fantastic kisser? Holy cannoli!!” the text says. Its brazen enthusiasm makes me giggle so loud and so suddenly that an old lady across the street gives me a stern look.

I go home and collapse into bed, visions of alleyways and loud laughs dancing in my head.


This post was sponsored by, and as always, all writing and opinions are my own!

The Good, the Bad, and the Awkward: 5 First Dates I’ll Never Forget


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Dating is so weird. It simultaneously triggers my anxiety and makes life seem beautiful. It’s an antiquated practice but still feels fresh and crucial. Good dates can be amazingly, astonishingly good, and bad dates can be unendingly, unforgettably bad.

Dating and hookup sites like make it easy to find dates plentifully and quickly, but after a while, sometimes all those trepidatious evenings start to blur together. There are, however, some dates I’ve been on that I will just never, ever forget. Whether memorably marvelous or memorably mortifying, here are five dates that will stick in my head forever…

My first date ever was with a boy I met on DeviantArt (ugh, god, I know!). A high schooler already, he seemed devastatingly wise and cool to my dweeby middle-schooler ass. We met ostensibly to trade photography tips and wander around Kensington Market taking pictures, but first we made a pit stop in a nearby Burger King to fuel up for our mission.

It’s normal for conversation to be stilted when you first meet someone in person, as you both shake off first-date jitters and get to know each other’s conversational rhythms. But sometimes that rigidness just doesn’t go away. This was one of those dates.

After waiting in line to buy our food and finding we had damn near nothing to say to each other, we sat down with our burgers and fries and tried not to look each other in the eyes. Mid-bite, he shook his head sadly and proclaimed, “This is exactly the kind of awkwardness I was hoping to avoid.”

Needless to say, there was not a second date. I think he later came out as gay – which might explain our lack of romantic or sexual chemistry, but not our lack of conversational chemistry. Dates can still be great even if they end up veering less romantic than expected – I’ve made some of my closest friends that way – but that was not the case here. It was, shall we say, not an auspicious start to my dating career.

2267570972_b6771af296_oMy first good date was with a gorgeous, goofy, purple-haired lesbian I’d had a crush on forever. The week previous, I’d confessed my feelings in a handwritten note containing lovelorn excerpts from my journal. My crush was reciprocated, and now, tentatively, she was my girlfriend and I was hers. It was the most exciting and terrifying thing that had ever happened in all my fifteen years on earth.

We met at her favorite coffee shop, Chocolate Heaven. My cafés of choice at the time were Starbucks and Tim Hortons, so this cozy indie haunt seemed as refreshingly quirky as my new girlfriend herself. She ordered a cappuccino and I swooned; what a cool thing to drink, I thought. I ordered a hot chocolate and my hands shook so much, the mug clattered in the saucer.

We talked for hours. We couldn’t stop talking. Her synapses fired so quick, it was like riding a roller coaster of puns, anecdotes and retorts. Her eyes flashed brightly, her hands swirled in wild gesticulations, and she spun clever yarns I devoured with fervor.

When we couldn’t reasonably linger in the café any longer, I walked her home. On her porch, I rocked back and forth on my heels, shoved my hands in my pockets, hemmed and hawed. I’d never received a kiss; how could I be so bold as to initiate one? But somehow I did. I leaned in, and – ouch – our foreheads collided. We tried again. My nose crashed into hers. “One more time,” she giggled, and we gave it another shot. That time, it worked. I skipped home like the smitten idiot I absolutely was.


One night in 2009, a boy rang my doorbell. I answered the door with tears in my eyes. He was the reason I was crying, and he knew it. He’d betrayed my trust, and I was crushed, in more ways than one.

I said his name when I opened the door, surprised to see him. “I really like you,” he blurted in response. This was new information to me. “Would you maybe wanna go out with me sometime?”

“Let me get my coat,” I managed to respond, the tears already drying on my cheeks.

We went to a nearby café. I ordered a chai latte, which he insisted on paying for, in that dorkily chivalrous way teenage boys have. As we waited for our drinks at the bar, I chirped, “I can’t wait to call my best friend and tell her I went on a date with you! She’s gonna freak out.” He grinned and replied, “Why don’t you call her right now?” He was a weirdo. It’s one of the reasons I liked him so much. I took my phone out of my pocket and dialed, unable to stop smiling.


My most life-changing date was in March 2011, and I didn’t even want to go. It was my first time meeting an OkCupid suitor in person, and I was nervous about any and all possibilities: nervous our conversation would be awkward, nervous he’d think I was ugly, nervous he’d be an axe murderer. I asked my best friend to casually “drop by” the tea shop where the date would take place, about midway through, so she could save me if I needed saving.

As it turned out, I had no reason to worry. I showed up and found that the boy was charming, smart, witty, and kind. We geeked out over Pokémon, bemoaned the shortcomings of OkCupid, and laughed at each other’s weird jokes. When my friend stopped by to check on me, I told my date that she was doing this and why, and he was completely cool with it. He understood. We bid my friend adieu and my new cutie walked me to my doorstep.

We didn’t even kiss on that first date, and that is why I will argue ceaselessly with anyone who claims a first date has to end with a kiss or the match was a failure. That man ended up becoming my first serious boyfriend, my first love, and my portal into new worlds. We took things very, very slowly, and I’m glad. That first date was just as effortlessly delightful as the rest of the relationship. I don’t regret a bit of it.

tumblr_nnsjpdxtr61qzigipo5_1280My first Tinder date was with a cute comedian. I met up with him at a sketch show, breathless and late. “What did you do today?” he asked, conversationally. “Oh, I was working on a post for my blog,” I told him. “What was the post about?” he asked, and I had no choice but to tell the truth: “Um, it was about my clit.” He reacted, I should say, admirably well.

The show was so funny I repeatedly choked on my beer. Afterward, I asked, “Do you wanna hang out for a while?” and he said, “Yeah, I really do.”

We sat in the dim scuzz of Comedy Bar for hours, asking each other questions about our childhoods and favorite movies and online dating experiences. Eventually we meandered to McDonald’s for some food. I remember he complimented my blue tights and asked if he could touch them. I think that was the moment I decided I wanted to have sex with him. And later, I did.

It’s funny how, even though that relationship ended terribly, the first date still shines in my memory. Sometimes a first date is a preview of the magic to come, and sometimes it’s the only magic the two of you will ever conjure together. Either way, good first dates are worth appreciating: they are preciously rare in this world.

What are the most memorable first dates you’ve been on?


Heads up: this post was sponsored, but as always, all writing and opinions are my own!

Unmistakeable: Myths and Realities of Attraction at First Sight


It’s funny how sometimes, the beliefs you hold most firmly are the ones you most need to dismantle.

I have a core belief about relationships that’s probably stunted my romantic possibilities on many an occasion. That belief is: if someone is meant to be my next beau, I’ll know it. I’ll have a good feeling about them from the first. The sight of their face, the jokes they make, the words they use, the energy of their presence – these things will all feel immediately captivating and right to me. I’ll have a hunch, and if I trust that hunch, it’ll lead to good things.

A few weeks ago, on a romantically distraught evening, I wrote this prayer of sorts in my journal:

I am ready to let go of my unrequited crushes and welcome a new person into my life.

I am ready, but I need that person to incite feelings in me that are unmistakeable. I need to be SURE – in my gut if not in my overzealous anxiety-brain – that this is a person I could and should be with.

Their presence should light me up, set my sparkly heart ablaze. I should crave them, but not in that NRE-soaked way that’s clearly a flash fire headed toward burnout. I should want them because of my neurons, not just my neurotransmitters.

They should embody the word “crush” for me, take up space easily and obviously alongside that word in my life. Zing, bang, boom!

This preference for immediate attractions even shows up in how I navigate online dating. Lately, when I swipe through potential matches on Tinder, I do it mostly based on gut feelings about people’s pictures. Some part of me believes that when I see someone who would really make me happy and enrich my life, I’ll know. Like one of those movie moments where two protagonists meet serendipitously, look into each other’s eyes, and are rendered speechless by their sudden mutual attraction.

Writing that journal entry put words to this idea I’d long held, and those words punctured holes in my logic. I’d never thought about it before, but those “zing, bang, boom!” moments have actually been almost nonexistent for me – even with regards to people I adored, who became crucial to my life story.

My first girlfriend was one of the most intense crushes I’ve ever had, but the first time I saw her, I didn’t have romantic feelings for her at all. She was giving a presentation in ninth-grade English class. Though she was funny, smart, and adorable, I didn’t notice those qualities until I looked back at that memory months later through my newly idealistic lens.

Similarly, when I went on my first date with the man who would become my first serious boyfriend and my first love, sparks didn’t fly right out of the gate. I was intensely anxious about the date and didn’t even want to go. We chatted easily for three hours and I liked him, but I wasn’t sure about him, not by a longshot. We didn’t even kiss until the end of our second date, because it took me that long to figure out how I felt about him. And he ended up being one of the people I’ve loved most in my life.

My unrequited attractions haven’t been instantaneous, either. My biggest high school crush didn’t ensnare my heart until, weeks into improv team practice, he sat down at a piano and started playing Vince Guaraldi tunes. My favorite podcast host, whose voice makes me swoon every week, didn’t capture my attention til I noticed his stellar pun skillz a few episodes in. The cute local theatre actor whose career I follow avidly didn’t turn my crank until after I’d seen him in a few different roles.

It’s obvious, when I look at the actual evidence, that my attractions are rarely immediate. In fact, off the top of my head, I can’t think of a time that an initial “good feeling” about someone led to anything substantial. A bad feeling about someone is usually worth heeding, but I can’t identify a future life-changing individual when I see one.

It’s easy to get swept up in myths popularized by romance novels and cheesy chick-flicks. We want to believe love is simple and binaristic: someone’s either right for you, or they’re not. But as with many facets of human existence, the truth is somewhere in the grey area. The love of your life could be hiding behind a face you wouldn’t give a second glance.

I grew up precocious and too smart for my own good, and sometimes that does me a disservice. I can be so sure I know what I want, what I need, and what works for me – but those notions get turned on their heads time and time again. It’s like the universe keeps trying to teach me the importance of staying open and going with the flow. It keeps teaching me, because I keep forgetting.

You think you know what you want, but maybe you don’t. Maybe your next big adventure is hidden behind the door you never would have chosen. Maybe your perspective is skewed, your lens is dirty. Maybe falling in love is best when it’s like a literal fall: terrifying, unexpected, but rewarding as hell if you survive it.

These days, I’m trying to give the benefit of the doubt to the world and everyone in it. I’m trying to give people a fair chance, even if at first they don’t seem to be what I’m looking for. I’m trying to accept that I don’t know everything, and that sometimes I should let fate take the wheel instead of desperately clinging to it myself.

That means saying yes to invitations from people I might’ve said no to before, and sometimes swiping right when I’m tempted to swipe left. It means setting aside my prejudices about how people look, and choosing to find out more about their brain and heart before I decide how I feel about them. It means being open, which is the scariest and loveliest way to be.

But I’m still a baby, at just 24. There is still so much about love that confuses and defies me. What are your experiences with attraction at first sight? Does it mean magic is about to happen, or is it a red herring? Were the greatest loves of your life a slow burn, or an instant inferno? Did you ever see a face on a dating app, think “I could love this person,” and find out later just how right you were?

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?