Can OR should a woman sleep with a man on the first date? Will it affect the development of a committed relationship?
James Michael Sama is a fairly well-known dating and relationship blogger these days whose work regularly appears on sites like The Huffington Post, The Good Men Project and Thought Catalog. He says, “I think if you’ve got a true connection with someone – there is really no reason to wait.”
Yet Patti Stranger (aka the Millionaire Matchmaker), another well known relationship expert, lists the no-sex rule in her dating commandments, saying there should be “no sex before monogamy.”
Sex can complicate a relationship, particularly when each participant is looking for drastically different things (i.e. one wants a hookup, the other wants a relationship). The FWB concept is a trendy phenomenon in our culture, but how well does it work for most people? It usually meets a line where it either has to stop or move forward into a relationship. Sometimes sex brings out a natural intimacy the two people aren’t prepared for, and they don’t really know what to do with it. Feelings are hurt, and friendships dissolve.
From personal experience I know turning down sex when proposed in a friendship relationship MAY offer some benefits. I say “may” because I’ll never know what would have happened had we made the opposite choice.
One of my closest friends is a married male. When our friendship was just forming, his wife and him were experimenting with an open relationship. He asked me if I’d be open to having a sexual relationship with him. I turned him down for various reasons, one of the top reasons was my fear of how it could affect our friendship.
Turns out I may have made the right choice. About a year later, he told me he would never sleep with me now because he knows it would ruin the friendship we have, and he’s glad we never did. We now own a business together and have a solid close friendship.
Our sleeping together may have changed the course of our relationship.
Several psychologists chimed in on a Medical Daily article about first date sex. Dr. Fran Walfish, a psychotherapist, agrees first date sex definitely influences the development of a long-term relationship. She says, “It’s because strong healthy long-lasting relationships are built on good communication, ethics, mutual value system, character, and shared interests. Without taking the required necessary time to get to know the other person, this relationship becomes foundationally built on sex instead of the other important values. Shared values don’t go up and down. They are ever-present constant.”
Our modern, what seems to be sexually liberal, society still harshly judges women who have sex quickly, as clear from the comments made in response to my article. In the Medical Daily article, Dr. Ramani Durvasula, a professor of psychology at California State University, Los Angeles, says, “If a woman agrees to have sex on the first date because she wants to, her partner may make unfair attributions about her (even after asking for sex) that she is not relationship material and may be of suboptimal moral character,”
Studies present a mixed bag of truth, but there is at least one study which points to the fact having sex early on in the relationship negatively affects the relationship. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Sex Research surveyed approximately 11,000 unmarried people in steady relationships. The study seemed to find that the people who had sex early on in the relationship had lower levels of relationship satisfaction, communication and stability compared with those couples who waited longer to have sex. Is that an accurate representation of people who fornicate earlier vs those who wait?
All of this leads to some mixed messages for both men and women. One of the problems may be we don’t usually know what we want. We may be open to a relationship, but not actively seeking one out. We may be opposed to a relationship, but realize we really want one when we meet someone. This is where it gets particularly difficult to determine if having sex will affect a developing relationship.
The consensus may be if you are looking for a relationship, it can help to build the relationship if you wait. But men and women are equally harming the formation of a relationship, if that’s the case; men aren’t off the hook here.