Sex On The First Date? Forget What You've Heard

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_55A4045_MarkIantoscaPhotographed by Mark Iantosca.
It's difficult to address the subject of casual sex. Sexual intercourse means different things to different people. Even more problematic is discussing casual sex in a strictly heteronormative manner. Still, Philip N. Cohen, professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park and keeper of the Family Inequality blog, took an honest stab at it — and made some very good points along the way. He investigated the age-old question: Does sleeping with a guy on the first date make him less likely to call you again?

It's something that, as women, is all but drilled into our heads: Putting out on the first date is a so-called easy way to lose a man's respect. And, Cohen reminds us that casual sex is still sometimes viewed culturally as shameful — especially when it involves women. However, he argues that if a man doesn't call you after first-date sex, it's probably not because you were quick to hop into bed. Rather, it's because there was not enough initial chemistry in the first place for the relationship to continue. You weren't going to call him either, right?

Cohen says that the popular theory about casual sex for women is that it will lower the man's opinion of you, or make him think that you're not interested in anything more. That same problematic theory assumes that women decide when sex happens because men always want it. It also presumes that men make up their minds about women based solely on their sexual behavior.

What if, Cohen asks, couples continue to see each other simply because they like spending time together? Think about it: After a first date, whether or not it involved a roll in the hay, men and women are not that likely to call each other. Most first dates don't work out. But, what about after, say, seven dates? If you liked someone enough to hang seven times, you're probably pretty likely to call them, whether you've hopped in bed yet or not. In essence, Cohen wonders whether we've been asking the wrong questions. We should ask how many dates the average relationship spans, then look to see how long two people wait to have sex and see how that affects that number.

We can't ignore the fact that some men (and women!) are interested in strictly sexual relationships. And, these people don't always communicate that until after the deed is done. It sucks and people get hurt. But, the more important point here is that first-date sex needn't have a stigma of shame attached to it. Nor should sex be viewed as currency, where women give it as an investment in a relationship, and men receive it as a thank you for taking a woman out for an evening. Still, the heart of Cohen's discussion is that women — just like men — want sex. And, if the first date is when they decide they'd like to have it, then go for it. (Pacific Standard)