The former Erotic Review magazine editor answers your sex questions…
QUESTION: I’ve never seen the problem with having sex on a first date. Surely in these post-feminist days women can follow their own honest desires. But my best friend says that’s why I can’t make a relationship last. Do you think there’s any real benefit in playing by ‘the rules’ and holding off?
ROWAN SAYS: Let’s get one thing straight here: of course I don’t think the fact someone has had sex on a first date axiomatically means they are a romantic disaster zone.
We are not living in the 19th century and the feminist movement and improved contraception has won Western women welcome sexual latitude.
But it doesn’t matter what I think – you’re not trying to date me or, come to that, Germaine Greer. What we’re trying to do here is penetrate the psyche of your average male of the species.
And, at the risk of sounding like some kind of rabid evolutionary psychologist, I believe most men are hardwired for the chase.
Nice through it is to come across a stationary gazelle who obligingly offers herself up to the hunter, men tend to be more thrilled by the exertion of bringing down a fleet-footed prey.
When lust is too easily sated, it seems to me there’s a greater chance it won’t make the complex metamorphosis into love. Talk to any psychologist and they will tell you that desire is often triggered and inflamed by subtle forms of frustration.
It’s true of life generally that people tend to place a higher value on what they find rare or hard to obtain. Women are hardly immune from this tendency. How many times have I heard female friends voicing suspicions about men who proclaim love too readily?
The only difference between the sexes resides in the territory men and women find most suspicious if yielded too easily: men believe they have to hone all their charm and skill to persuade a woman to sleep with them, women think they have to deploy every weapon in their armoury to persuade a man to love them.
Of course, there are no fixed ‘rules’ when it comes to sex or love, whatever millionaire American relationship gurus might tell you. I know people who had sex on their first date and ended up blissfully spliced, just as I know men who made declarations of love at first sight and found their passion reciprocated.
You don’t want to become so robotic in your response to a man’s advances that you crush any form of spontaneity in a relationship.
So perhaps the questions you should be asking yourself here concern your own emotions. Do you feel miffed when a man doesn’t contact you after you’ve had sex on a first date? Do you mind if you sense you’re just another notch on his bedpost? Do you worry that your sexual intimacy far outstrips your emotional intimacy?
Do you think you might ratchet up greater erotic tension with a new romantic interest if you hold back from making love for a while?
If the answer to all these questions is ‘yes’, then wouldn’t it make sense to refrain from leaping into bed with new suitors until you feel more certain your affections are returned? Perhaps it’s just a coincidence, but among my friends, the longest-lived relationships have been the ones where the women held off having sex for a while.
When I worked in an office full of young women, I couldn’t help but notice that sex on a first date generally resulted from a skin full of alcohol, and was the root cause of sobbing in the loos about: ‘Why hasn’t he called me?’
There’s a good reason that so many people fall deeply in love with work colleagues. (Yes, I met my husband in an office.) In a professional situation, you have a good chance of getting to know one another, of learning whether you can rely upon the beloved, of developing shared jokes and intimacies.
By the time you go to bed with one another, the sexual tension is sky-high, plus you have the reassurance of knowing this is no fly-by-night interest.
So my advice to you is why not have a go at a little light courtship before moving a relationship on to a sexual footing. What have you got to lose?
It’s safe to say any man who ditches you because you won’t have sex on a first date has zero interest in your personality or talents.
And who wants to be with a creep like that?