Monday, March 31, 2014

The #1 Reason to Delay Having Sex


Photo credit: mensatic from morguefile.com

No point in getting into a shit storm of a fight over on Moxie's blog about her constant lampooning of folks who want to slow things down, and also her endless suspicion of anyone who doesn't fuck after a handful of dates.

I'll just say here that I think she's wrong. And her advice suffers terribly for it.

In her current post she cites this article, which I think is pretty level headed, if also lacking in details and supportive research.

I particularly like this section:

One might think if American culture has continued to become more open, then the three-date rule might now be the first-date rule. It is, but only with a small minority of daters.

Instead, by becoming even more sexually liberal, our culture is more accepting of a wider range of sexual attitudes and behaviors.

This is a positive, don't you think? Folks who so fiercely advocate against delaying sex seem to me to be, in part, battling against the opposite kind of culture. A socially conservative one where sex is shameful, to be controlled, and littered with oppressive gender scripts. Something that's still present in the U.S., but doesn't dominate our overall discourse, despite the religious right's continued attempts. Of course, regionally there are major differences. Some places are much more open and accepting than others. But overall, we're a nation with a wide mix of views about sex and sexuality, many of which contradict each other.

There are tons of Dating Books on this subject and much more.

What I find so fascinating - and disappointing - about the commonplace heterosexual arguments in favor of sex right away, or nearly right away, is that they're usually built on really old stereotypes about male sexuality. In particular, the idea that men can't wait, won't wait, and those who do must have some issue (sexual dysfunction, they're closeted, etc.) These folks think they're being so progressive in voicing all this, but they're actually peddling the same old patriarchal nonsense that has dominated the sex lives of generations of women and men before them. Yes, they're free to have sex whenever they want now. But their thinking isn't that much better than their grandmothers and grandfather's was on the subject.

If a man runs his dating life on the premise that he's got to have sex early on, or else he's going to move on, he's not "liberated."

If a woman runs her sex life on the premise that men are going to bail if she doesn't have sex with them early on, and/or that guys who don't want sex right away are "damaged" somehow, then she's not liberated either.

True sexual liberation, in my opinion, is being able to engage the current dating situation as it is. To be able to let go of the stories and propaganda you've swallowed over the years to face, and embrace, the person before you as they are. To learn each others' actual needs and desires and go from there.

The number 1 reason why waiting a bit is a good idea is that it takes time to wade through each others' conditioning and fears/hangups from the past in order to actually engage sex in a more liberated way. Hell, the first month or so of most relationships, you're operating almost completely on a fantasy sketch of who someone is, and how they are in the world. Add on that all the mixed messages you've swallowed over a lifetime, plus your past dating/relationship history, and it's gets complicated really fast.

Which doesn't mean you can't have casual sex, or that sex on the first or second date dooms a relationship. I'm just saying you're fooling yourself if you think that just being able to have sex whenever is a liberated position. That you're somehow have so much more freedom just because you can fuck whomever whenever.

Because You don't. It's not that special anymore. Take a look at the underlying motivations and rationales. Consider whether your ideas about men and women are actually your own, and also whether they help you be the best person that you can be in a relationship. Having a liberated sex life is much more than just being able to do it.





28 comments:

  1. I understood Moxie as saying it is okay to have sex as soon or as late as both sides are comfortable with. The article she was responding to says exactly that, that sex on first or second date dooms a relationship; additionally, it advises anyone who wants their relationship to succeed long term to "put things on a very slow burner". Which IMO is terrible advice, since all people are different and there is no one size fits all solution.

    Personally, I'm flexible. Okay, date one is probably too soon, but, beyond that, anything goes. I'm open to the man's input (ugh no pun intended! lol) and am willing to do what he's comfortable with, within reasonable limits. As you know, I've waited before at my date's request. We may have not been compatible enough to start a relationship altogether, but that's beyond the topic of Moxie's post - and on that topic, waiting at my date's request didn't kill me. We still had a good time. I can go either way, whichever makes us feel comfortable and at ease with one another.

    I saw the few comments to the effect of "if she is making me wait too long, that might just mean she hates sex". And yeah I agree that these commenters are taking things too far - again, there's no one size fits all. My personal experience does not support that statement, either.

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  2. There's only one sentence where that "slow cooker" mandate comes in. I agree with you that the "very" is a problem, and not good advice. But I would like to see the author unfold in much more detail what she means in terms of possible timelines before rejecting her argument out of hand. Also, if the author thinks that early sex dooms a relationship, I disagree with that. However, it seems to me her point was that waiting (even a little longer than a few dates) gave you a better chance in terms of developing long term relationships. Which my experience confirms. The thing is it's a small article weak on specifics and useful examples, so we're left to project all kinds of things on it.

    Moxie's general attitude is to go along with the speed up she speaks about. She's had many posts in the few years I've been reading over there where she's psychoanalyzed some guy who didn't rush into bed with a woman, or lambasted some woman who wanted to wait as a "special snowflake" or entitled or whatever? It's an overall vibe I get, even if some of the circumstances of particular letters call for serious questioning and doubting motives.

    I can't recall seeing her writing very supportive articles about anyone choosing to wait - maybe I'm just not looking closely enough. What I see is that her, and a fair number of her readers, appear to be pretty hostile to anyone taking their time about much of anything, especially sex. It's also true that plenty of commenters on her posts do support slowing down the process, from rejecting instant responses to emails online to waiting for sex sometimes. So, it's a mixed bag.

    Anyway, even though I support some level of waiting, I also see that as a guideline. What it means in any particular relationship will be wildly different, based upon where people are at, and what seems to be the right thing to do.

    All I know is that I see a lot of these conflicts people write into dating blogs being about, at least in part, the fallout from rushing into something where differing needs and expectations were present. So, I think slowing down a bit isn't a bad guideline to have, even if you choose to dump it to side occasionally.







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  3. I was surprised to read the 3rd Date Rule attributed to the 1980's. First I ever heard of it was on EMK's blog several years ago. Always thought it was something cooked up by guys online doing online dating. Which wasn't around in the 80's- ha.

    I never thought of sex in terms of waiting a specified number of dates or weeks. I did it when I felt comfortable. I thought everyone did. And comfortable could be anything from the first week, to a month, or more. I've been blissfully ignorant of "rules" . The whole idea of setting a set number of dates beforehand...seems a little quaint to me. Maybe one will feel comfortable sooner, or later than the number set.

    That said, I dislike the 3rd date rule. If you think about it, time-wise that typically only adds up to about 8 hours. Is 8 hours enough time to feel comfortable enough to do something so intimate? It may be. Or not, depending on the person. It's really a puny amount of time to EXPECT someone to feel comfortable though. Or to arbitrarily decide they aren't interested because they aren't taking their clothes off.

    Right or wrong, every time some dude writes about his 3rd date rule, I think he is not interested in women for a relationship, he's not interested in their comfort level, he just wants an orgasm - like now. He's the pump and dump dude most women do not want. If waiting more than 3 dates weeds him out it's worth the wait. :)

    Honestly? While I think reading dating blogs and different advice/opinions can be interesting and useful - ultimately we choose what feels right for us. Take what you need and leave the rest.





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    1. Yea I don't believe in any "X date rule" either, whether X is 1, 3, 5, 25... like you, I believe in doing it whenever both sides are comfortable. And I agree that EXPECTING your date to be comfortable after an X number of dates or hours is just silly. Have to add though, that in my experience, 3 dates that last 8 hours total are three bad or mediocre dates. My good dates tend to run longer, just because we don't feel like ending it early, even though technically we can. I had a 2nd one yesterday that went a bit over five hours.

      Moxie's blog has been helping me a lot this time around. This round of dating feels so much easier and the people I meet are much better matches for me, than anything/anyone I've had before, last year, in 2011 and 2010. But you're right that we've got to choose the advice that feels right for us at this moment in our lives, and leave what we wouldn't be comfortable following, again, at this stage in our lives.

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    2. "That said, I dislike the 3rd date rule. If you think about it, time-wise that typically only adds up to about 8 hours. Is 8 hours enough time to feel comfortable enough to do something so intimate? It may be. Or not, depending on the person. It's really a puny amount of time to EXPECT someone to feel comfortable though. Or to arbitrarily decide they aren't interested because they aren't taking their clothes off."

      This just supports what I said. I'm not interested in arbitrary time tables either, nor am I interested in being someone who give out rules and/or "must do" kind of advice. Seriously, we're all adults.

      I am interested in supporting folks to suffer less though. And what I've experienced, and also witnessed so many others experience, is that leaping into sex really early on seems to bring a lot of unneeded drama with it when things don't work out, or get too serious too quickly.

      In addition, I think there's a difference between feeling comfortable and acting on shared chemistry. I have overridden my own sense of unstable comfort with a handful of women over the years because of sexual attraction. And the results weren't good, even if the sex was for a short time. I also know that at least one of my former girlfriends overrode her "not ready" feeling to sleep with me early on. And while we were together for a good clip, there were a lot of trust issues that never were resolved, and I have to wonder how much our rushing into a serious relationship (sex only being one component of 'serious') impacted how we were together.

      The thing is, "waiting" could be as simple as opting to not act on the first impulse or two that come our way. Which might be just waiting until the next date to see if you still feel the same way.

      Is the desire to leap coming from comfort, ease and chemistry or just chemistry? That's what I'm aiming at here.





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    3. "The thing is, "waiting" could be as simple as opting to not act on the first impulse or two that come our way. Which might be just waiting until the next date to see if you still feel the same way.

      Is the desire to leap coming from comfort, ease and chemistry or just chemistry? That's what I'm aiming at here. "

      Can I check all of the above? LOL.

      The majority of the men I've dated I met either through a mutual friend, or the apartment complex/neighborhood where we lived. There were a number of hours of "acquaintance" built up and obviously a baseline of attraction before acting on that attraction. So yeah, it was comfortable because we already "knew" each other to some extent.

      But there were also times I pulled the trigger (sex) pretty quickly, due to hormones. Looking back, these were guys that I either decided I wasn't into a short time later, or it became evident to me they weren't interested in much more than booty calls. And these are the situations where I feel if I'd waited just a little longer, got to know the guy a little better...I wouldn't have bothered. Sex didn't make either of us more or less interested. What I see now is the personality connection was missing in these short lived flings.

      Which is why when commenters say 2nd., 3rd date sex is a demonstration of interest - I don't buy it. People don't know each other that well by their 2nd, 3 rd meeting. Either party could lose interest in the next week etc. as they DO get to know each other better. Really you both are acting off hormones even though chemistry and personality click make you feel comfortable going there.

      I've dated men I liked but found myself sexually incompatible with. So, for me, I don't feel comfortable dating someone long enough to become attached with giving sex a shot first. When Moxie writes " sex is something men use to see if a relationship has legs" - I relate to that.

      So where is the middle ground? Is there one? I think it's different for everybody. People with 'rules' don't seem to want to allow for that space.



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    5. Here's another issue I've run into as a man. I've dated women where it was clear that sex was a huge deal for them. That they obviously tied it to some level of serious commitment, whether that was realistic or not.

      In these situations I wanted to make sure I was interested enough before making any move in that direction. In at least a couple of cases, I probably could have made some sort of EMK style "commitment" after three or four weeks, but it would have been coming from a fairly ambivalent place overall. They were into me enough to have sex with me, which I saw as meaning they'd like me to be their boyfriend. Whereas I was in a place of "I like you. I'd sleep with you. But I'm really not sure it's anything more than that." Since odds were the sex itself wasn't going to make or break it for me, I usually opted to wait a little longer. And almost always, those extra couple of weeks or dates led me to the conclusion that it was time to move on. Because I wouldn't be able to the kind of serious commitment the woman was hoping for.

      The point is that we were both comfortable and familiar enough with each other to have sex. But our views of what it meant were too divergent. I think this happens a lot, and I'm guessing is the source of a lot of unnecessary misery.

      Unfortunately, the timelines themselves don't solve this issue. I get it why you and Goldie are really suspicious of the timeline approach. They aren't cure alls, nor can they be rules that apply to every or most situations. But the way I see it, more time together beforehand can give you the space to tease out wildly different agendas/views about what sex means. Then choose accordingly.

      I'm not talking giving months of your life to someone you might feel mixed about. Most of the basics answer themselves in the first month or two, if you're paying attention.



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    6. Selena, "Which is why when commenters say 2nd., 3rd date sex is a demonstration of interest - I don't buy it. People don't know each other that well by their 2nd, 3 rd meeting."

      I don't buy it either. Which is why so many of the quick sex arguments are elaborate forms of bs. Sometimes, it's just about justifying leaping in, and other times it's grasping at straws about the potential long term meaning of the act.

      "I've dated men I liked but found myself sexually incompatible with. So, for me, I don't feel comfortable dating someone long enough to become attached with giving sex a shot first." Yep, I've experienced this with some women over the years as well. And was happy that I didn't wait too long in those cases. But it seems to me that a fair amount of sexual incompatibility is going to be present during foreplay sessions. Sometimes you might need full on oral and/or intercourse to get a good sense, but I'm guessing that a lot of the time the signs are already there simply making out with someone.

      When I speak in support of the month to six week guideline, I'm thinking about strangers or near strangers dating from online or some other like venue. Obviously, given your usual circumstances, Selena, that length may be completely off. You might know a fair amount about a guy already before something romantic develops, and so the comfort and familiarity levels aren't at all the same as a couple who's only experiences with each other are a handful of dates.

      In all the online dating I did, it was pretty rare that I went on more than 4 or 5 dates with someone in the first month, even if we ended up sleeping together during that time. The time escalation usually happened somewhere around the month mark, which is also when comfort and familiarity started to settle in.

      You're right that it's different for everyone, but it's also true that some guidelines can be helpful. You seem to have a good sense of your limits and also the awareness of when things "feel right" or "good enough" to go for it. I think a lot of folks aren't there, which is why the "Rules" people are so popular. But I don't care for the "I'm the authority, do what I say" approach. If something works for someone, great. If someone can adapt something I say to their situation, great. If not, no problem.

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  4. "In her current post she cites this article, which I think is pretty level headed, if also lacking in details and supportive research. "

    She did a previous post where she does name some researchers and their findings.

    http://www.datingadvice.com/for-men/how-long-should-we-wait-before-having-sex

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    1. Thanks, I just took a look. I wonder though, could it be that the couples that wait 30 days or longer, 1) have a set of morals/religious beliefs that support "sticking it out", staying together no matter what etc; and 2) believe that, after all the time and waiting they've invested, they don't want to bail on a relationship unless it's really, really bad? The reason I ask is, the researchers cited in her article did not say anything about the couples in question being happy together. They just checked if a couple was still together after one year or not. Maybe some of them were still together when they shouldn't have been.

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    2. The demographics might be interesting also. What was the age range of the participants? Were the couples studied in their 20's? 30's? 40's? Does waiting 30 days+ to have sex and still being together after a year correlate across age ranges? Was previous relationship history (or lack thereof) a variable?

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    3. It's funny. Reading that second article, my response is decidedly mixed. On the one hand, waiting a month or six weeks still seems like a good guideline to me. Not a fixed rule, but a guideline that probably correlates with levels of comfort and ease developing between two people.

      However, the whole "commitment before sex" thing is something we've discussed here before. And frankly, I just don't buy that line of thinking. Because any "commitment" coming after a month or two together is a flimsy one at best.

      I also find myself having a lot of questions, including the ones both of you raise.

      Here are two additional ones.

      Did all the couples in the study enter into dating situations with the explicit desire to find a long term partner?

      Did they all also desire "exclusivity" with a single person?

      Overall, the same over-focus on sex as a defining moment in a relationship is present there. While I do think that sex can make or break a budding relationship, so many other things can also make or break a budding relationship. It's just one variable.

      I think I've been writing about it in an attempt to find some middle ground that might be helpful to others. Because what I see out there in dating advice land is a lot of extremes. Sex is either treated as something that has no real impact on the development of a relationship, or it's treated as the holy gateway to be protected at all costs until you find "the one" or someone you think could be "the one." Both of those views are extreme in my opinion, and a lot of misery is tied up in clinging to either of them.



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    4. "I think I've been writing about it in an attempt to find some middle ground that might be helpful to others. Because what I see out there in dating advice land is a lot of extremes. Sex is either treated as something that has no real impact on the development of a relationship, or it's treated as the holy gateway to be protected at all costs until you find "the one" or someone you think could be "the one." Both of those views are extreme in my opinion, and a lot of misery is tied up in clinging to either of them."

      Yes. The advice is often so contradictory. Proves you point though Nathan that one size does not fit all. :)

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  5. I love this post! I often say this myself. Always better to get to know the person first. In my opinion, in order to want to have sex with a guy, I want to know him first. Get a soul connection first. I think when people rush things, that is just lust. But if you are looking for love, mind, body, and soul, you need to let things blossom.

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