On sex on a first date

Image by the brilliant Stuart F Taylor

How did it ever come to be accepted wisdom that if a girl has sex on a first date she’ll never see the guy again? This information, as well as being at direct odds with my own experience, doesn’t even seem to make any rational sense. Presumably if you sleep with someone on the first date it’s because you both want to sleep with each other. And wanting to sleep with each other is surely one of the best signs that a first date has gone pretty well indeed.

He won’t want me after I’ve had sex on a first date

The idea that women are something for men to conquer then chuck is certainly pretty widespread. And I suppose if you believe that men are simple-minded creatures who care only about carving notches in their bedposts then perhaps this logic might follow. But men are not simple-minded creatures, and if you truly believe that they are I heartily recommend you go back and study chapter one.

(Seriously, please do read that because it is the most heartfelt thing I’ve ever written)

So why would someone not sleep with you once they’ve had you? Realistically, if you both like each other enough to fuck, the only rational reason why you’d not want to see each other again is if it wasn’t a very good fuck.

And I don’t mean ‘not very good’ in the way that first-time sex usually is – a fumbling exploration of whether the other person likes the things that you like doing – but a fundamental incompatibility. A dramatic mismatch that only becomes apparent when, having erotically doused their genitals in chocolate mousse, they cease all sexual activity to bitch about the mess you’ve made on the valance.

But good news! If the shag wasn’t fun, then by sleeping with someone quickly you’ve not only managed to have a flattering fumble with someone who confirms that you’re a lustworthy creature, you’ve also saved yourself time. If the two of you are fundamentally incompatible, you’re still going to be so five dates in.

But he’ll think I’m a slut!

Will you think he’s a slut? Will you think less of him for being willing to gift his precious sexuality to someone he’s known for just a few gin and tonics? No? Then don’t worry about it.

A guy who is willing to sleep with someone on the first date and simultaneously willing to condemn her for doing exactly the same thing is not the sort of person you want a second date with. So if he does think you a slut, you’ve saved time (as in the above example) by establishing early on that he’s a double-barrelled arsehole. You win, because you haven’t had to force yourself onto repeated dates in which you affect a clumsy mating dance to conceal your desire to sit on his dick.

Do the nice things that other people want you to do

Someone recently asked for my advice about whether she should put off sleeping with someone on a first date. This is one of those sex questions to which, no matter how many times I’m asked it and in what circumstances, my answer will always be ‘no’.

I’m not saying you should sleep with everyone on a first date. You might not want to. You might not be horny. You might not be sure you fancy them yet and require a few more dates before you make your mind up. You might just enjoy the build up of crackling sexual tension.

But however long you want to wait – be it five dates, five pints or five minutes – your eventual decision has to be based on what you actually want to do, rather than what move you think you should be making in a confusing and loaded game of sex chess.

If you want to shag someone, don’t ‘put it off’ because a book you read said that women who hold out are rewarded with future dates. Don’t ‘put it off’ because you think the person you’re seeing might lose respect for you if you give them one of the things they want. You’re not a parent giving in to a child who wants sweeties, and who’ll regret it later when they go on an obnoxious, sugar-fuelled tantrum rampage: you’re an adult making a mutual decision with another adult.

Sex on a first date doesn’t make you slutty, easy, or weird. In fact, it doesn’t necessarily have any reflection on your character at all. It just means that – at that moment in time – you’re a fairly horny person who fancies your date and would quite like to shag him. And guess what? That’s not a bad person to be.


  • Charlie says:

    But it still hurts a bit when the asshole dumps you for being ‘too available’.

    It is better to be without those Bastards but it’s a harsh way to find out what a prick they are if you are sentimental about sex.

  • Emma says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more :)

    But oh god, this has reminded me of the conversation I overheard in the ladies loos earlier at work. One older woman was advising a younger one to withhold sex on her date until the man committed to a relationship, citing either headache or period to “get out of it” (because sex involving a different bodily fluid is “disgusting”, obviously, according to the gospel of this woman).

    It was all made worse by the undertone of “because you don’t *really* want sex, you want a relationship, so you have to lie to him and withhold something you don’t really want to give him anyway until he gives in and gives you what you want (because he obviously doesn’t *really* want a relationship because he’s a *gasp* MAN), then you’ll eventually grudgingly fuck him occasionally”. No question or debate as to whether any of this might have been a wildly inaccurate assumption. Obviously women want only relationships and men only want sex.

    I don’t understand the way some people’s brains work.

    • aleekwrites says:

      Fuck. Yes.
      This little reply, on top of such a kick-ass awesome post, is beautiful. I am so glad this is now written in the world.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Agreed. It’s a tricky one because I don’t like to work on the assumption that *all* women want sex in the same way as I do – no doubt there are many who want it more, and many who want it less, and some not at all. What I hate, though, is the assumption that each gender must think X purely in virtue of whether they go by ‘he’ or ‘she’. We all want different things, because we’re *people*, and people are bloody complicated.

  • Adam says:

    Have you ladies ever thought about the guy’s perspective?

    • Girl on the net says:

      Yeah, that’s one of the things I tried to think about when I wrote this. But could you elaborate? There may well be things I haven’t considered. And I have occasionally been wrong =)

      • Adam says:

        These sites provide a wealth of resources:

        The Rational Male
        Chateau Heartise
        3rd Millenium Male

        • Girl on the net says:

          I’ve had a quick look and can’t see anything that’s related to this blog post. Could you add a direct link to the thing you’re referring to? (It’ll go to spam, but I’ll catch and approve in moderation)


          • Adam says:

            I understand it’s a pain trudging through the archives of those sites.

            Basically, the male perspective is that we think first date sex is awesome, but we will devalue you for putting out too quick. This is because your sexual history plays a major role in our perception of you, so putting out on the first date is not a good impression to make. But that’s not to say relationships can’t form from first date sex; they absolutely can, it’ll just be an uphill climb for the woman because she’d have to prove to him that she’s not a slut. It’s just one of those gender differences that are deeply rooted in human evolution.

            Here’s an article about first date sex:


            Here is a sort-of archive of how men feel about sluts:






            If you want to get academic on it, I’d also recommend books like: Sperm Wars, The Mating Mind, The Red Queen, and The Selfish Genes.

          • D says:

            Oh please, Adam. Evolutionary psych, really? Can we spell ‘discredited bullshit’?

            I think nothing more or less of a women if she sleeps with me on the first date. Nor does anyone I’d consider a friend. There’s nothing innate about the attitude you’re discussing, it’s a socially-constructed prejudice, and a bloody stupid one at that.

            Do you think the same “first date sex will devalue you in the eyes of men” ‘rule’ applies in all cultures in all countries around the globe?

          • Adam says:

            Discredited by whom?

          • Adam says:

            And last I checked, all cultures around the globe historically looked down on female promiscuity. The sexual revolution took place only recently in the west.

          • Adam says:

            Also, in many non-western cultures, there is no such thing as “first date sex” because dating don’t even exist.

          • Girl on the net says:

            Hi Adam,

            Thanks for sending those links. I’ll have a read and reply when I have a bit more time. Essentially, though, I think that the idea that men have evolved to be unthinking sexual automatons is a bit odd. Your suggestions are pretty offensive to men, in that they imply that there is only one possible way that they can think and behave.

            I did deal with this issue in the post, although I tried to come at it from an assumption that men had evolved the ability to be rational, as opposed to purely acting on ancient instincts. The fact that we’re managing pretty successfully to maintain a society in which people rarely kill each other over territory is, I think, testament to the fact that we’re pretty rational – or at least, social – animals as a whole.

            But this is an interesting topic, clearly, because there is so much material written about it and I’ll try and reply at length later. I don’t think all is lost and men are really as awful as you describe. If they were, the world would be a desperately upsetting place.

          • Girl on the net says:

            Ooh, also – just a quick one. There are societies (and have been many societies) in which female promiscuity is not looked down upon. Most of them are Matriarchal: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matriarchy

            Here’s an example of a matriarchy: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/dec/19/china-mosuo-tribe-matriarchy

          • Adam says:

            GOTN, men’s weariness of promiscuous women are extremely rational as they are evolutionarily designed to ensure that his resources go to his offspring and not to someone else’s. With the rise of illegitimacy in the West today, it’s only expectant that men grow even more prudent.

            Also, matriarchal societies do exist, but very rarely. Their numbers and success rate are nowhere near that of patriarchal ones. For example, the Mouso tribe you mentioned is merely a small and remote village in China, which is an extremely patriarchal society. I shouldn’t have said “all” societies look down on female promiscuity, but certainly the overwhelming majority of them do.

          • Adam says:

            Also, human tend to revert back to their ancient instincts when it comes to mate selections. For example, there is very little “rationality” in women choosing “bad boys” over the “nice guys”, but their hormones still trick them into doing so when they’re ovulating.


        • G says:

          Woah. I’m male and that doesn’t represent me! If you devalue a woman for having sex on a first date then they’re good to be rid of you!

          • Anna says:


            Regarding your question as to who has discredited Evo-Psych, I know that Wikipedia isn’t the most reliable resource, but its article on “Criticism of Evolutionary Psychology” has an extensive bibliography of books and articles on the matter.

            Basically, hypotheses like “men look down on promiscuous women because they are evolutionarily designed that way” are unscientific because they can be neither empirically verified nor falsified. You can make up anything to explain your view of how society is- I could just as easily say that humans are evolutionarily designed to be promiscuous because in archaic hunter-gather societies tribes which shared resources gave their members the best chance of surviving, as can be seen in modern hunter-gather/nomadic pastoralist societies like the Maasai, where traditionally a man’s wives could be shared between his age-mates. Neither theory is impossible, but the proof is entirely circular- things are the way they are because they evolved that way, and the proof that they evolved that way is that things are the way they are. It’s the equivalent of a Just-So story.

            Moreover, if people only ever do what evolution has designed them to do, why are you sitting at a computer?

          • Girl on the net says:

            Hi Adam,

            I replied in a bit more detail below.

            Anna – thanks! I’m not an expert in evolutionary psych, but I think there’s enough disagreement about it that I don’t want to nail my flag to the mask and say it’s all true!’ Also, the fact that there can be contradictory theories that both seem to have the same ring of truth with no way of testing which is correct shows a massive and inescapable flaw in it. Thanks!

  • N. Likes says:

    Here’s a sin of which I’ve been guilty more than once: wanting to get, to conquer, but not wanting to have. If you genuinely like spending time with me, there’s, alas, a not insignificant chance that fucking me will bring it to a close sooner.

    That’s on me, not you, but if you really like me, it may be a reason not to Fuck me right away.

    • Can't remember my pseudonym says:

      Nah, I’d rather not bother if that’s the case, unless you’re really spectacular company (or a really spectacular one-off shag.) If I really like someone but they’re not really that keen on me (once I’ve screwed them) why prolong the bit where I might get attached to them, better to find out that they’re a one-trick pony up front, I think.

      In general, I am in favour of multiple occurrences, unless someone’s spectacularly bad (or I realise I didn’t really fancy them that much, or they turn out to be an arsehole or whatever), because it’s fun to try out a new person and see how good things can be with them, and you rarely get the best fuck(s) the first time.

      On the other hand, I just had a first date which I think might have ended in sex had other things not got in the way, and which I don’t think will lead to a second date, and I’m actually sort of put out that we didn’t, erm, mutually put out. I think it would have been fun, even if we never saw each other again, and now I feel a little like I have an itch I can’t quite scratch (although I suspect my gentleman friend who I’m seeing at the weekend will help with that.)

  • ness says:

    Fucked my guy on the first date…still together, 13 1/2 years now…

  • Pat Bateman says:

    I agree with this. Although it must be pointed out that it’s sometimes the girl that ditches the guy after the one-night-stand. Or at least, that’s my experience.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Of course that does happen as well. It’s just that if it happens people are unlikely to tell the guy that he shouldn’t have slept with her if he wanted to ‘keep’ her. The ‘fuck and conquer’ narrative seems to only be one way, and there are few men stressing about whether they’ll look slutty if they put out on a first date.

      On a slightly separate note, I think once you’ve slept with someone, even if you don’t want to sleep with them again, you should be decent enough to let them know. Too many one night stands end with an unanswered text message instead of a goodbye. One of the saddest things (for men or women who are dating) is when you really like someone and they just blank you. Thoughts?

      • Suki says:

        I completely agree that this is almost exclusively a one sided gender thing, but interestingly when my gentleman friend and I were first getting together, it was his friend who told HIM not to sleep with me too soon, lest I get bored and move on. Not sure what that says about him/me/his friend, but I must admit it was pretty refreshing to see this from a different angle for a change.

      • Pat Bateman says:

        Agreed. We’re a generation with the privilage of texting- we can just bang out a quick “let’s leave it there” message and it’s done. But when women don’t do that, to me it feels like a purposeful snub, like they wanted to get one over on you. Thankfully, after a few days I was sober enough to realise that she wasn’t anything special herself and I probably wouldn’t have gone back for seconds. We live and learn!

  • the hatter says:

    Always enjoy reading your posts, whether they’re full of sense and logic, or full of smut. But crushing disappointment that “mess you’ve made on the valance” wasn’t a link to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oa7layR3Ds

    • Girl on the net says:

      But… but… but… Alan Partridge! Come on, I have to get *some* points for an Alan Partridge reference, don’t I? *sobs*

      • Can't remember my pseudonym says:

        You got lots from me. (I saw that scene being filmed, so that counts for extra, right?)

        • Girl on the net says:

          Hell yes! Did you meet the man himself?

          • Can't remember my pseudonym says:

            Sadly, no, and in fact it was one of the most disappointing filmings of a TV show I’ve been to – things kept going wrong and having to be re-shot and it just came across as cringe-making (in an unintentional awy) and stilted. We actually left before the end because it was so boring, so I was amazed when I finally watched the series (a couple of years after it came out) and it was SO GOOD.

  • I always find this topic amusing. People (usually women), as you noted in your post, put way too much thought into what others will think of them, rather than just doing what makes them happy.

    Honestly, had the opportunity for sex on the first day been available to me when I met Mr. LL, I would have taken it…I was that “smitten” at first sight. But, I made sure our second date was at my house.

    He was pretty clear, months later…that if I had held out – it probably wouldn’t have lasted. In the beginning of most relationships…before they become “relationships”…it’s about chemistry and desire. Why would one want to put off those things hoping to find something more when those things are already pretty damned wonderful?

    I suppose…to each his/her own. Whatever works for you is “right” for you.

  • Gunderman says:

    Very well said; couldn’t agree more. I do have a question concerning this, though:
    Would you say that guys in general are likely to give a shit how much of a ‘slut’ she apparently is? In my experience, women generally seem to care more about how slutty they think another woman is than men do. But I’m not a very sociable person, so I really wouldn’t know.
    And just a sidenote, I actually have been friends with at least a couple of blokes (and a woman as well) who self-identified as “slags” or “sluts”.

    • Girl on the net says:

      That’s a tricky question, and I’m going to give you one of those annoying ‘it depends’ answers. I think whether you place value on someone’s purity and chastity depends very much on the circles you move in, where you’ve grown up, etc. So… it depends =) I think there are certainly some places where being a ‘slut’ is equally frowned upon by men and by other women, but in the circles I move in it very much depends on the individual views of the men or women concerned. For instance, not many of my male friends frown upon sluttery (if they did, they probably wouldn’t be friends with me) but I know a couple of girls who’d be horrified if I were more open with them. But that’s just the circles I move in.

      I’ve known male slags too. Lovely chaps. Generous with the love.

  • Girl on the net says:

    OK, this one’s for Adam, although putting it here because the comments look messed up when you get a long thread of replies.

    I think Anna’s said all that I’d say on evolutionary psychology. Although it can be interesting to speculate about why humans are a certain way, assuming that this particular theory is correct just because it sounds plausible isn’t a great idea.

    What’s more, this particular theory ignores a vast swathe of evidence – i.e. all of the men who don’t necessarily look down on female promiscuity. As I said before, I think that the outlook you’re putting forward is incredibly offensive and damaging to men, assuming as it does that they not only all behave a certain way (which is easily disproved, incidentally, by looking at the men who don’t behave that way) but that they absolutely *have* to because they are hard-wired to do so. We’re a society – we’ve got morals and rational thought and loads of good stuff that means we can think more deeply about our actions and the consequences. I did try and deal with this in the post, in that I said men are rational creatures and as far as I can see there is no rational reason for hating a woman who sleeps with you on the first date. To assume that men would be unable to think in a rational way and instead be forced to act like, well, a bit of a prick, gives men no credit for having brains, emotions, or free will.

    I love men, a lot. And although there are some who act like arseholes (because they’re people – and some people are arseholes) I don’t want to write off 50% of the human race by assuming they all have not only the same beliefs and behaviours, but beliefs and behaviours that are cruel and insensitive. It sounds, from what you’ve written, that you don’t have that much respect for men. I think that’s a huge shame – I’ve men hundreds of men who have integrity, who are rational and free-thinking, who love sex and love life and aren’t going to judge others who like the same thing. All I’m asking is that you give men a chance, and consider for a moment that they’re capable of acting based on what is rational rather than on some bizarre rule that might or might not have been imprinted onto their brains long before we developed society. Don’t hate men – many of them are ace, and all of them are capable of free thought.

  • George says:

    Some men and women love to moralise about female sexual etiquette. It was refreshing to read somebody write “just do what feels natural” rather than the usual loaded/judgmental commentary accompanying these articles.

    My experience is that women tend to have a stronger emotional attachment after sex and thus tend to be more cautious before freely engaging in it. But I’m willing to accept that this is also a social construct – like the stigmas and taboos challenged in the article – rather than something biological or inherited.

    Removing the expectations attached to sexual behaviour is an essential part of female liberation – and it’s no surprise that the most regressive societies are also the most controlling of women’s sex and fertility.

    In any case, sex on a first date can be fun and exhilarating and women shouldn’t deny themselves that because of archaic cultural norms.

  • DM7 says:

    In response to Adam’s thesis-
    One thing that always amuses me about the EvoPsy explanation of human sexual motivation is how its insanely reductionist view that copoulation is driven

  • DM7 says:

    In response to Adam’s thesis-
    One thing that always amuses me about the EvoPsy explanation of human sexual motivation is how its insanely reductionist view – that the desire to copoulate is driven by some subconscious motivation to knowingly reproduce healthy offspring – flies in the face of so much human sexual activity. Contraception? Cousin marriage? Homosexuality? Not to mention the vast aray of fetishes, such a cuckolding, swinging and group sex, that could easily lead “your woman” to become pregnant with another man’s child. And then there are cases of violent husbands who become even more violent towards their wives once she becomes pregnant with his child- including hurting her in a way that could damage the baby.

    What drives humans to have sex is so vastly complex it’s almost not worth bothering to try and figure out. It certainly doesn’t boil down to just ensuring healthy offspring. Instead, how bout we all just try to enjoy ourselves by not making each other feel bad about what we do with other consenting adults, yeah?

  • tuesday says:

    I think there’s some truth in the ideas you’re dismissing. Not in a particularly gendered way, but because “That which we obtain too easily, we esteem too lightly.” It’s human nature to want what we can’t have, and when things are too easily attainable we value them less. Goes for everyone, not just men. How much you have to work to get something affects how much you value it, it’s subconscious and there’s a limit to how much you can control those feelings, and it doesn’t make you a bad person.

    I think the reason this belief is biased in the gendered way it is, is because men (on the whole) are likelier to be willing to fuck someone with whom they don’t want a relationship, and a lot of women don’t want to sleep with a man who doesn’t want a relationship with them. If you’re one of those women, it’s sensible to hold off until it’s clear that he wants a relationship, to avoid feeling used and hurt.

    Obviously you’re right that everyone should follow their own instincts with this one, rather than adhering to a set of rules. Personally I don’t sleep with anyone until I’ve known them a while, because extensive experience has taught me that sex is always rubbish with someone you’ve only just met.

  • OC says:

    This makes me so angry. I met my first boyfriend at a conference, shagged him, and then we dated for several months after. He may have been my first *proper* boyfriend, but I’d actually had one guy before him. One night, while we were lying in bed, he said, “Ugh. I wanted to be the first.” He then proceeded to tell me about the 18 girls he’d slept with before me.

    This sort of attitude actually disgusts me.

    He’s now dating a lovely girl (an Evangelical Christian) and I hope they’re happy. Sincerely, I do. But I don’t appreciate when we still talk occasionally, and he tells me things like “Men think with their cocks. You have to ‘use the carrot’ if you want a relationship.” His logic is fundamentally flawed, but unfortunately so many men think like this and automatically devalue girls because of bullshit and paranoia they’ve been fed. Men shouldn’t feel paranoid that women will cheat on them just because they’ve been deflowered by someone else, same as women shouldn’t feel dirty or devalued just because they chose to enjoy a bit of sex.

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