Dating And The Double Standard…

These days, should a woman have sex with a guy as soon as she wants...or hold off? Here, three single gals discuss the pros and cons.

By Elise Nersesian

o doubt about it: The first time a woman beds down with a guy she’s crazy about is an exciting and special time. Still, the question remains: When? Well, it depends. Some women are happy to get down to business the night they meet; others will wait weeks or months before doing the deed. Whatever a woman’s decision, we had to wonder: Does the double standard still exist today? In other words, if a woman knocks boots with a guy too soon, does she automatically nix her chances for long-term love—or is that old-fashioned nonsense in today’s modern-day dating scene? To find out, we grilled three women about the ups and downs of when they get down to business... and what they said may surprise you.

The Panelists:
Rachel: 27, author, Prospect Park, PA
Cate: 32, painter, Brookline, MA
Lisa: 39, executive assistant, San Francisco, CA

How do you think men feel about women who sleep with them on the first or second date? Does it affect whether they see you as a potential long-term girlfriend?

Rachel: It doesn’t matter if you sleep with a man on the first date or the 20th—if he really likes you, it won’t make a difference. But if you’re not sure and want to test how he feels about you, hold off. If he’s willing to stick around for a few dates and not pressure you,
“Even the nicest guy will lose interest if you sleep with him quickly.”
then you’ve yourself got a good guy. If you don’t sleep with him and don’t hear back from him, then you know exactly where his intentions were, and you wouldn’t have heard back otherwise either.

Cate: If you sleep with a guy too soon, you completely remove the mystique. I’m not advocating game-playing, but even the nicest guy will lose interest if you sleep with him quickly. If you give him access to everything right off the bat, there is nothing to work toward or look forward to. You’ve gotta strike a balance and give him a reason to call you!

Lisa: In my experience, you pretty much blow your chances of a relationship if you sleep with him too early because you’re fast-tracking dating to an awkward stage. It’s kinda serious because you’ve seen each other naked, but how serious can it really be if you barely know each other? It’s better to spend lots of time together before taking it to that level. What’s the rush?

Do you make a point of holding off on sleeping with a guy too early? How do men react to your decision?

Rachel: The last guy I really liked wanted me to go home with him after our first meeting. I said, “Not tonight,” and never heard from him again. Clearly he was just interested in sex, and I’m glad I found that out before things went further.

Cate: I always wait until we’ve spent a substantial amount of time together to gauge what the guy is like and how we mesh. It’s better to hold off a bit so you don’t discover something horrible about him after you’ve already had sex. But if you wait too long, you get into this weird friend territory. The guys I’ve dated have been cool with waiting. In fact, it’s even more fun for them because they can pursue you.

Lisa: I don’t want to sleep with anyone until we’ve established mutual trust, and that feeling takes time to develop. Most guys are OK with waiting until we get to know each other, but others aren’t. I’m pretty upfront about my decision, which helps me weed out the men who are only interested in sex.

Do you think women who make men wait for sex end up being better long-term partners?

Rachel: No. Women who have no problem making men wait may also not have a high sex drive themselves,
“If he likes you, it won’t matter if you sleep with him on the first date or the 20th.”
and that doesn’t lend well to the long-term either.

Cate: I don’t think so, but I do think they end up being smarter about relationships and ultimately with better quality men because they got to know the guy, so sex was an informed decision, versus sleeping with him too soon, then finding out he’s a jerk.

Lisa: I think so. If you ultimately end up with the guy, it’s something you worked toward. You waited to get what you wanted, and that speaks to your dedication to relationships.

What is an appropriate amount of time for two people to be dating before sleeping together?

Rachel: There’s no set time limit. Until both parties are comfortable with the idea and the act.

Cate: Wait a month, so you get to know each other. Or at least a handful of dates—say, five.

Lisa: You should wait until trust has been established. That usually takes a few months, until you’ve had some deep conversations or have met each other’s friends. The longer you wait, the more gratifying the sex will be.

If you do end up falling in bed with a guy pretty quickly but you want a serious relationship, are there things you can do to pave the way toward a longer relationship?

Rachel: No, you just have to feel it out and see what kind of response you get from him. If he calls you soon after and wants to get together, then go for it.

Cate: Afterwards, engage him with your mind. Make him want more time with you. Show him who you are, and don’t let him assume that sex will always be on the menu by planning activities during the day or with friends. You can still have sex, but play it cool. Show him that you’re interested in a relationship by letting him into your life.

Lisa: Tell him that you’d like to get to know each other more and hold off from having sex again for a while, so he doesn’t think that’s all your relationship will ever be.

Elise Nersesian has written for Redbook, Stuff, and other publications.
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