In Defense of First-Date Sex

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First-date sex seems to be the dating debate du jour everywhere I look. Our dating blogger Rich Santos debated the topic with his sister Emily — though it wasn't much of a debate. They both seem to be in agreement: First-date sex is a no-no if you want a relationship outside of the bedroom with your bed-mate. Emily is all for first-meeting sex, just as long as both people are aware and okay with the fact that it may or may not turn into something more. But when it comes to dating, she says, "I'd advise to take it slowly, although part of me would like to shout, 'Women's liberation — do what you want and be empowered!'"

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Did I miss the memo that the decision to have first-date sex (or not) is now a statement you are making on behalf of all women? Empowerment comes from control and power over your own sex life and decisions, and confidence in those choices, whether or not they align with popular opinion. I happen to be a fan of first-date sex — but I don't really expect or want a standing ovation for feeling this way. But neither Emily's viewpoint or mine makes either of us a lesser feminist, and neither of us, I'm sure, means to speak for all women. If I wake up tomorrow morning to find that celibacy is all the rage, I wouldn't feel empowered by keeping my legs closed — and there's no reason anyone should feel empowered by treating sex as a fun, casual thing if they don't feel that it is for them.

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But according to Rich, I've been going about it the wrong way, since "Guys like to pursue and feel like they've accomplished something when courting a girl...You are a prize, but no one out there deserves to be an instant winner!"

You know, I don't think I want to date a guy who pats himself on the back when he finally wins the "prize" of having sex with me. Newsflash: women like to have sex, too. We don't begrudgingly disrobe after you've passed a series of tests during a "courtship" period, so please refrain from giving yourself a mental high-five when we sleep with you.

Rich, I must know, at what point during this courtship process do you generally take home your prize? Your argument about intimacy ["People should have to earn that intimacy and people should also value that intimacy is at least somewhat sacred."] is all fine and good if you're waiting months to sleep with a girl and she feels the same way, but the word "intimacy" gets thrown around haphazardly when we're talking about sex. There are people who think kissing can be more intimate than sex--should they wait until they've been dating someone for months before kissing them, lest they haven't earned that intimacy?

And when is it "earned" — the fifth date? After you meet each other's parents? In between the appetizer and the main course? Or maybe it's different for everyone and can happen at different points with different people. You can date someone for months and feel like you barely know them, and you can feel connected to someone minutes after meeting them — who is anyone to decide that people who have sex on the first date value emotional intimacy any more or less than people who have sex on the third date, 10th date, or after walking down the aisle?

Join the first-date sex debate — read Rich's and Emily's takes on it, and let us know what you think in the comments!

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