Sex File: Why can't we make love on a first date?

Is everyone still following the three-date rule?
Sex File: Why can't we make love on a first date?

Picture: iStock 

I’ve recently been on a few dates after a couple of years out of the game and on some occasions we’ve kissed, but all the men I’ve met have been resistant to having sex on the first night. Is everyone still following the three-date rule? Why aren’t they biting my hand off?

Do people still follow the three-date rule? Not to my knowledge I must admit, but we are still in the middle of a pandemic, so casual sex with a virtual stranger may not be quite the temptation it once was. Having said that, the fact that you have kissed at the end of the date suggests that these men aren’t concerned about the virus. Is there a possibility that in some cases — and I am sorry to say this — they’re just not that into you? It could also be the case that their reticence is because after a lonely year, these men are more interested in taking it slowly and building up a relationship rather than simply jumping into bed at the first moment. I doubt it is as regulated as needing to stick to a three-date rule.

This idea of a three-date waiting “rule” is a legacy from Sex and the City, the idea of it being, first that you don’t look overly keen, and second you get just enough time to work out whether the person you are dating is mentally stable. It is, of course, a deeply flawed hypothesis, because as any divorcee will tell you, you can be married for ten years and then discover alarming things about your other half.

I can’t say why these guys are not biting but I do understand why you want to find someone to have sex with. Covid has been genuinely difficult for some people who are single. The absence of human touch, not to mention physical and emotional intimacy, is an abnormal way to live and one that we’re not used to. We are social and sexual creatures, and we don’t do so well when we are alone. Sex is good for us. It makes us happy and keeps us healthy. It protects our heart health. It boosts the immune system. It eases pain and it helps us to sleep. Sex also validates us. It makes us feel wanted, needed and desired, and that is no bad thing for our self-esteem. Without it, we all feel a little less like ourselves.

I would have thought, like you, that people who were single in recent months would be desperate for physical contact, but even though they haven’t been having sex, they have been using dating apps. The problem with spending 18 months on a dating app is that it seems to have turned finding partners into a numbers game. People now shop for relationships in the same way they buy online, and the perception of infinite choice has definitely made people choosier about who they sleep with.

Dating is hard, and often it can take a frustratingly long time to find someone that you have good chemistry with. The only way to establish whether there is a sexual connection is to meet in real life so you can access all the sensory information such as body language, voice and smell that don’t transmit through an app. Even if two people seem ideal on paper, they can often feel nothing when they meet in real life.

Don’t get disheartened. Do assess your criteria and consider changing where you are looking. I know it can be disappointing when you’re going on lots of dates and not finding anyone you have immediate chemistry with, but you will get there — just be patient.

  • Send your questions to suzigodson@mac.com

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