First dates are really polarizing. Some people thrive on the excitement of meeting somebody new; others think the idea of sharing a drink or a meal with a stranger is super awkward. Plus, there’s always that barking question at the forefront of both your minds: Are we going to have sex with each other later? Sex on the first date may not be the most traditional thing to do, but if you're both ready and excited, it could be the perfect way to cap off a fantastic night.
But even if the chemistry is crackling, you're both clearly attracted to each other, and you know your roommate is out of town for the weekend, deciding to hook up isn't always easy. The values you've been taught about sex can be tough to shake off, especially if you've been raised to believe that sex before the third date, or before you're in an official relationship, or even before you're married is taboo.
If you're feeling conflicted or confused about when to get physical, you're not alone. “Our culture is simultaneously hyper-sexual and sex-negative, and sexual messages are therefore highly contradictory," Dr. Jess O’Reilly, Ph.D. and host of the Mindful Sex video program, previously told Elite Daily. But there are steps you can take to feel more confident in your feelings about sex. "By discussing your concerns, uncertainties, vulnerabilities, and desires more openly with trusted friends or partners, you can address some of these contradictions and embrace a life in which sex plays an overwhelmingly positive role," she said.
The truth is that there's no one "right" time to have sex — as long as you and your partner both enthusiastically consent and you're practicing safe sex (condoms, people!), you're good to go. Ultimately, the only two people with the power to decide if sex is on the menu are you and your date. But if you're still working through your feelings about it, consider these five reasons why sex on the first date can be satisfying, sweet, and seriously steamy.
The Stigma Around First-Date Sex Is Outdated
Wanting to have sex with someone on the first date does not make you a bad person, point blank. It doesn't make you “cheap,” and it doesn’t make you a “slut” (unless you identify as such, in which case, right on). Getting naked with someone you just met a couple hours ago says nothing about the content of your character.
Luke Thao, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate (LMFTA) and a member of the PNW Sex Therapy Collective based in Seattle, says stigmas associated with first date sex are practically universal. And in order to let ourselves enjoy sex on the first date, we have to buck them, full stop. “We’re all impacted by negative narratives around sex on first dates,” Thao tells Elite Daily. “But going into your hookup feeling really led or charged or shamed by those narratives won’t yield much for you. And if you choose not to [have sex on the first date], that’s also OK. Having lots of information and awareness, grace, and self-compassion are what you need when making that decision for yourself.”
Sex on the first date can be so freeing. Whether it’s what we eat, how we dress, or how we have sex, we are regularly taught to deny ourselves pleasure. Sex on the first date means you’re listening to what your body wants for once, not what society at large wants for your body. If you’re feeling desire, act on it. Thao says opting to have sex on the first date is one approach to giving ourselves “the space to say no to the BS.”
You Never Know Where It Might Lead
When chemistry is there, it can feel impossible to ignore — and research shows that young people are progressively ignoring it less and less. In a recent study, 46% of OkCupid users said they would consider having sex with somebody on the first date. But still, there are some things to keep in mind before tearing each other’s clothes off. According to Thao, before sex on the first date, it’s especially important for all involved parties to be aligned about where things might go. “If it’s a one-time thing, the key is consent and consensus,” Thao says. “It’s important to have a mindful awareness of what you want out of the sexual experience. All parties need to know what they’re getting into.”
That being said, first date sex does not automatically qualify as a one-night stand if you don’t want it to be one. Sometimes sex on the first date can lead to a deep and satisfying, long-term relationship. "I've had three, three-year-plus relationships and they all started with sex on the first date,” one dater told Men’s Health in 2020. “The way I look at it is, if you lust after somebody that you don't know terribly well, it can still be a damn good start to a longstanding relationship. And I think it alleviates a lot of pressure."
Just make sure you’re on the same page about your respective emotional availability before anyone gets too attached.
Your Date Might Be Really Into It
A 2013 Cosmopolitan poll found that 83 percent of women believe men will think less of a woman who has sex on the first date. But the reality is that the majority of guys — 67 percent of those polled — maintain they absolutely don’t. And that’s a good thing, because it takes two to tango. Anyone who would judge you for sleeping with them is a hypocrite.
First-Date Sex Can Be Fun!
Breakup and dating coach Natalia Juarez agrees with Thao that first date sex is all about you being mindful of your own needs. “If you’re comfortable with having sex on the first date, and you’re in a good place — maybe you’re recently out of a long-term relationship and you’re not looking for a commitment, or you’re just kind of looking to explore and get to know yourself sexually — then by all means enjoy yourself,” Juarez tells Elite Daily.
Having sex on the first date means you’ll explore each other’s bodies, experience intimacy with someone new, and hopefully, feel amazing. (I’m talking about orgasms, y’all.) But honestly, that’s it — it doesn’t have to mean anything else beyond that. "Doing the deed isn't automatically going to push your partner into starting a relationship, becoming monogamous, proposing to you, or falling in love with you," Vanessa Marin, a licensed sex psychotherapist, previously told Bustle. So, if you hook up, don’t worry that you’re agreeing to start an actual, bona fide relationship with this person if that's not what you want.
There's no one-size-fits-all solution here. The decision to have sex is a personal one, depending on a variety of factors ranging from how well the first date goes to your own comfort level with early-stage hookups. Whatever you decide, trust it's the right choice, and anyone who questions it isn't worth your time.
Dr. Jess O’Reilly, Ph.D. and host of the Mindful Sex video program
Vanessa Marin, a licensed sex psychotherapist
Luke Thao, MA, LMFTA (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate)
Natalia Juarez, breakup and dating coach
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