I have a lot of male friends. The nice kind. The kind that want a girlfriend, get sweaty-palmed before a date, and are giddy when it goes well. So I'm constantly baffled when, after a first date, I get the traditional phone-call run-down and they are disappointed because it 'all went wrong'.
They had sex.
Was the sex good?
But what? In my eyes sex is a good thing, in fact where I come from, we would call it a home run. But after a lot of hemming and hawing, a lot of 'you knows' and foot shuffling, it inevitably comes out: it can't go anywhere because having sex on the first date means that the woman isn't 'girlfriend material'.
Now, this assessment has a lot of pitfalls, but first I think it's good to take a step back and look at how this condemning of sex came about. Invariably, the story goes something like:
"Well, we went out for a few drinks - maybe five or six rounds? We were quite drunk actually. I invited her back to mine, put on a Hugh Grant film to establish emotional intimacy, followed by a horror film to establish physical closeness, then I kissed her and next thing you know..."
Right, one thing - and I know this is a little out there - but if you don't want to have sex with someone, then don't... try... to have sex them with. Just don't. This isn't only the men - if you're a woman and you're not going to feel good about it afterwards then, well, close your legs. Just don't do it. I know it doesn't always seem easy, because sex is amazing and we all love it. Why wouldn't we? It's like riding a unicorn made out of the cure for cancer. But if you're not going to enjoy it in retrospect, if you're going to regret it, then how ever amazing it is at the time isn't going to matter.
But here's my main gripe: why does having sex on the first date mean that someone isn't girlfriend material? There is the obvious double standard of women putting out being sluts and men having sex being lads and the misogyny tied up in those stereotypes. That's why any nice guy is ashamed to admit that it's put him off. He's aware of the double standard and his complicity in it. This double standard, while hateful, isn't new and has been explored at length elsewhere. I'm interested in another, simpler, reason why this should be problematic.
Sure, you can want a girl to pretend to be virginal and pure, to act as though they've never heard of sex until some arbitrary number of dates you've pulled out of a hat have taken place. But isn't a couple's enjoyment of sex a better foundation for a long-term relationship than a woman's retention of it to get what she wants? Because that's what has happened, even if after date six-and-a-half (which you've decided must be the optimum date number to acknowledge she has a sex drive) she suddenly reveals an encyclopaedic (but intuitive) knowledge of the Kama Sutra and the sex is incredible, it's already been used as a weapon. Or, at the very least, leverage. So if that's the basis for your relationship - she wanted a boyfriend, she withheld sex, she got a boyfriend - then what's going to happen when she wants you to do your fair share of the housework? Or when you want her to go with you to your favourite concert and she's doesn't want to?
Sexual appetite and compatibility is something that should be celebrated as building block of a relationship, not a red flag. Finding someone that loves having it and, more importantly, loves having it with you is great - and not always easy to find. So the next time you're out on a date think who you'll want to be with years from now: someone who is quick to take sex off the table or someone who can't keep their hands off you? The UK's gloomy enough as it is. I know who I'd choose.
Originally posted in The Erotic Review