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First Date Sex: Is Abstinence Key?

07/05/2015 12:46 BST | Updated 06/05/2016 10:59 BST

It's a scenario most single girls are familiar with. After somewhat of a dry spell (due to nothing other than your impossibly high standards, obviously) one lad manages to snag your attention and you agree to drinks and maybe even some food. Lucky him.

You've managed to navigate the inevitable first-date awkwardness relatively unscathed (the bar stool was higher than you would have preferred and the coat removal could have been more graceful - seriously, where are you supposed to put it when there is no back of the chair and they don't provide hooks?) A few espresso martinis in, the banter is flowing and the sexual chemistry is brewing... enough for you to overlook the fact that he's left one too many buttons undone and looks approximately 3 - 5 years older than his happn profile claims (is that a grey hair?)

A guided tour of Upper Street's finest boozing spots and an undeniably decent kiss is followed by the smooth-verging-on-cheesy invitation for continued cocktail consumption in his flat, which is conveniently around the corner. Cue moral dilemma and a thought process that goes something like this:

Right, so I've known this guy for all of 3.5 hours (5 if we include the pre-date chat via social media, surely that counts?)...

I should indulge in one more snog then hit him with the fail-safe 'you'll have to work a lot harder than that' card, wish him goodnight with a look that says: I'm-totally-worth-the-wait-and-your-mum-will-bloody-love-me. He will definitely text / whatsapp or maybe even call (imagine that!) within the next 48 hours...

BUT this guy is fit, I shaved my legs and I "borrowed" (slash stole) my housemate's pleather skirt especially for this occasion... It would be a shame to let all that go to waste. Not to mention, I really don't fancy doing the mum thing - we met on happn for god's sake - so what does it matter? Also - I think I just missed the last tube.

#singlegirlproblems - what's an independent woman to do?

If ancient dating practice is anything to go by - the obvious answer is KEEP EM' SHUT, SISTER. Going home with a guy on the first date can only end with him never contacting you again, leaving you totally heartbroken because you've fallen madly in love with him after just one encounter but he thinks you're not long-term material and he's already gotten what he wants from you anyway.

So terrified of being branded 'easy,' women will even abstain from pre-date hair removal as a self-imposed insurance that we abstain from first-date sex (don't lie, you've done it too).

Here's my issue with that logic. It implies that:

1. Men are only after one thing (we all know they love it, but let's give them a bit more credit than that)

2. Women are emotionally codependent and forever in search of a husband ("PLEASE JUST LET ME MAKE YOU SANDWICHES" - said no-one, ever)

3. Sex is the most valuable thing women have to offer and we should dangle it in front of the simple-minded male like a carrot for as long as possible because once they get it we're useless and boring.

Recent research from Australia's University of Queensland found that women have an "outdated idea of what men want" and have more romantic success when they are independent.

"I think there is something empowering about going for it on the first date," a confident female friend told me. "The belief that 'giving it up' somehow turns you into used goods is as outdated as expecting men to pay for everything".

Rather than reining it in, perhaps we should take the reins instead.

"I know a lot of relationships that started with just sex," another friend said. "It is possible to have fun and maintain your dignity. Not to mention, it can actually be a great way to strengthen your bond with this person - or decide if they're even worth pursuing".

Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting some kind of first-date-sex-fest (unless you're into that). If you're not comfortable and decide to sleep with someone under the misconception that it will gain their approval or prolonged attention - you probably need to spend a bit more time with yourself before putting your dating cap (or housemate's pleather skirt) on.

Equally, It's fun to play the game and maintain the mystery. If you can hold out for delayed gratification - I salute you. But if you're in the mood and the chemistry is there - don't wait purely on the grounds that he will lose respect or interest.

"I don't have an issue with it at all," said an intelligent, attractive male friend of mine. "I don't think it's a reflection of the person being a 'slut'. If two people had a great time on a date, why can't they sleep together? It's a natural progression".

Said another: "It tells me she knows what she wants, is comfortable with herself and is perfectly okay with her desires. To me, it indicates we have more of a genuine connection, rather than sticking to standard first date lines and rules".

My pals are not alone. Almost 70% of UK men wouldn't think any less of a woman who slept with them on the first date according to a Cosmo poll (aka gospel). If they dig you they will pursue you - regardless of whether they've seen you naked.

Indeed, a spoiled cow a sample (or two) of milk does not make. The choice is yours, so figure out what you feel good about and act on those terms only.

If the door is worth opening abstinence certainly won't be the only key to unlock it.