Even though it's 2019, it can be hard to totally reject some of the outdated "rules" surrounding sex and dating: Putting out on the first date means you're easy. Wait until date #3 to have sex. Make 'em work for it. Ugh. You can (and should!) roll your eyes, but we all know how persistent stigmas about sex and sexuality are. Hell, these beliefs have been around since the Victorian era! Virginity was a stand-in for purity and morality, a misogynistic ideal that was—and is—used to repress female sexuality. It’s why men today still aren't slut-shamed, while women often are.
Even though society has come a long way from patching an "A" on our dresses, you shouldn't be super hard on yourself for internalizing certain sex-shaming ideals. "People want to avoid the judgment and shame associated with having sex outside of what is 'acceptable,'" explains Shannon Chavez, a psychologist and certified sex therapist. So if you're wondering whether you should have sex on the first date, I'm gonna stop you right there and remind you that you should only ever do what feels good to you. There is no one "right" answer. But let's tag in some experts on the first-date sex debate.
Get it, girl! (But only if you want to!)
If you're feeling the chemistry at the end of the night, go for it and screw (literally) what anyone else thinks. Exploring bedroom compatibility from the start can help you determine whether you want to actually invest in a relationship with this person. "There are no hard and fast rules here," says Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist and online course creator. "It all comes down to knowing your own comfort level and what you're looking for. It's worth taking the time to explore your feelings about one-night stands before you're in a situation where you could potentially have one."
One reason to get it on ASAP? Sex on the first date can be liberating and exciting. "It can help you break down your own personal biases around sexuality, heal shame from the past, and improve your sexual self-esteem," says Chavez.
Yes, of course, you're still girlfriend material
If you choose to have sex on the first date, it should not have any impact on your eligibility as a partner. Plenty of couples officially get together after they've done the deed on their first date, so sexing early on shouldn't be a barrier if you’re vibing with each other, and there's mutual consent.
Word of advice, though: Before you hop into bed, just be clear on what you’re looking for (a relationship? Casual sex?) so you can both make informed choices and be honest about your expectations. A few readers speak from personal experience:
- "Sex on the first date is so over-thought, especially nowadays with apps like Tinder and Bumble making the topic less taboo. I had sex on a first date and ended getting married to him. But, there were times before when I waited to sleep with a guy until the third date and was ghosted immediately after. Sex on date one is one of those things we can't go into with any expectations, so just do it if you want to! If he's the one for you, he’ll stick around regardless." —Krysta M., 29
- "I used to feel negatively about having sex on the first date because I thought it would set the tone for what I was looking for in a relationship. However, as I've gone on more and more first dates, I've realized that if someone wouldn't consider me 'girlfriend material' after we had sex on the first date, that's not someone I want to date in the first place." —Elaine H., 24
- "I think it's most important to be faithful to your personal standards and not do something just because you feel pressured. At the end of the day, what really attracts a partner is a woman with high self-esteem who is true to herself." —Karlis H., 26
Safety still comes first
Safety should be priority numero uno on date one. Don't sleep with someone who isn't willing to disclose information about their sexual health (i.e., if he/she has been tested) or someone who refuses to use protection, or is pressuring you.
"Pay attention to your gut reactions when meeting someone new," says Marin. "We usually get good intuitive hints about whether or not a person is safe and decent," so don't ignore your instincts. Chavez adds, "You shouldn’t use sex as a way to make someone like you more or to prove something. If you are only having sex on the first date to meet the other person's expectations, this can lead to regret, resentment, and negative beliefs about yourself that can impact your overall sexuality.
BTW, if your first date involves grabbing a drink, know that getting hammered before an inaugural bedroom romp can make things messy, awkward, and unsafe. If one drink turns into four, consider holding off until both parties are clear-headed enough to consent. All the more reason to get date number two on the books ASAP, ya know?
Long story short: It's your decision whether you have sex on your first date or your ninth date—or never!
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.