Question to the Sexpert:
“Is there an update to the rule of how many dates you should go on before having sex with someone? I don’t just ask to be funny- it’s really easy to mess up and hook up too quickly or to waste a ton of time. Is there a magic number that will keep you safely between a short-term hookup and the friend zone?”
Legit question, beloved reader. And another excellent opportunity for a flowchart.
Dates are specific units of time and attention that have dramatically increased in value over the years as people have become busier and spread more thinly. To actually get picked up, go to dinner and some other event is an increasing rarity for even the most prolific of daters. Unless of course, you met online, in which case you’re probably trying desperately to follow prescribed patterns of dating so as to make the whole “we met online” thing less awkward.
So when you refer to dates as in “how many ought to have happened before we can, like, totally bang?” you are probably talking about number of nights on which you hung out together for a few hours. And while styles and social mores may change, the rules are generally the same:
- Do not fear the friendzone. It’s bullshit made up by people who are unable to notice that they are the common denominator in a pattern. You don’t put yourself there by waiting too long, no matter how many people like to think that. If she thinks you’re sexy and she wants your motion in her ocean, she’ll want it on the 22nd date as much as she wants it on the 2nd. If there is sex that you would get on date 3 that you wouldn’t get on date 13, then it’s just very temporary sex anyway.
- No judgment against hooking up with complete strangers, it has its own purpose. And, yes, there are serious, long-term relationships (LTR) that started from blind, nearly anonymous fucking. But if you’re actively looking for a LTR or marriage, make it easier on yourself by waiting longer than you want to.
- Your use of sexuality communicates a lot to other people but most of it is based on assumptions and their past experiences. You might think you’re saying “I respect you, so I’m not going to make a move,” but he might read it as “I’m not into you, but I like free dinners and don’t have anything else going on tonight.” You might mean, “I’m so super into you that I’m going to act out of character and make love right away,” she might read it as “I’m a playa and this is what I do.” Don’t assume; talk.
- Identify what you want and make it known. Know it for yourself so you can plan your actions accordingly and keep the other person in the loop so you don’t end up with hurt feelings on either side. If you just want to hook up, make your intentions clear from the get go. If this person means a lot to you, grow a pair and say so.
- Always always always have the safety conversation ahead of time. And I don’t mean right before something goes into an orifice. I mean when you’re fully clothed, talking sincerely, without any pressure. Be brave enough to bring it up and be fully honest about your last sexual health exam and current STI status as well as measures to prevent pregnancy. C’mon, you’re a grown up. You can do it.
And, as promised: here’s a handy flowchart. Click twice to embiggen.