Is Sex Ruining Your Love Life?
As Gil and I sat down for lunch, I was unprepared for the shocking revelation he was about to make.
“Almost all the women I date sleep with me the first time we go out. The majority don’t even ask me to wear protection.”
I nearly choked on my kale salad. Has sex become this casual?
Naturally, I couldn’t help but ask, “Is the sex good?”
“It’s pretty below average, to be honest. I am inhibited. They are inhibited. Very few of the women orgasm and it’s not for lack of effort on my part,” Gil replied.
Gil was number 45 of the 68 men I dated after my divorce. He picked me up on the Brooklyn-bound Q train. Although we weren’t a good romantic match, we have remained friends. With Patrick Dempsey’s good looks and a bold personality, he meets women easily. He also gives invaluable insight to the male mind.
Gil met his most recent conquest, we’ll call her Girl X, at an elite gym in Manhattan. After the workout, he asked her a silly question. She surprised him with flirtatious and feisty response. "Game on," he texted her that night. She responded two days later. Intrigued, he texted her again. She waited another twelve hours to reply.
On their first date, she revealed that she is a Harvard graduate, working a stressful job in finance. She told Gil that she liked him because he played it cool (unlike other men) and didn’t give her attitude about the protracted pace at which she could maintain conversation.
Their first date lasted until midnight. She invited him back to her house for a nightcap. They had intercourse—without protection—that evening.
I asked if he would see her again.
“Doubtful,” he responded. “Now, she is texting me all the time, wanting to hang out. She went from being really chill to going into overdrive.”
“It is the oxytocin—the body’s love drug,” I replied. “Early sex short-circuits rational thought. She is now under the false impression that you’re a catch,’” I laughed.
He rolled his eyes. Then, sheepishly admitted, “It’s not that I am unaware—I am undeserving of the adoration.”
My frequent collaborator, Aimee Hartstein, LCSW, and I often counsel women and men to forgo casual sex. As a therapist with twenty years’ experience, Aimee is privy to the emotional devastation that often occurs when virtual strangers get intimate. While early sex can lead to a productive and healthy relationship, it rare.
Here are some lessons we’d like to share from our unique insight:
1. Sex doesn’t lead to a relationship.
“Many patients say that they have early sex because of chemistry and attraction. But, when I push, they admit they thought sex would make the other person commit to a relationship or at least go on another date. This rarely happens. My advice? If you want a relationship, go slow. Healthy relationships proceed at a natural pace. Plus, they are built on a foundation of trust, which takes time to develop,” said Aimee.
2. Early sex may lead you straight into the arms of…Mr. Wrong.
Sex releases oxytocin and dopamine—the body’s love drugs. Before sex, you’re able to think clearly. After sex, you feel bonded to your partner, making it very difficult to evaluate him or her with detachment.
Waiting allows you to ask important, objective questions. Is he a good person? Is he kind? Does he follow through on his promises? Is he emotionally stable?
Sex may make you want to jump into a relationship head-first. But, you may wake up months (or years) later, regretting that you ever met this person. Instead, remain a bit emotionally detached and observant, especially in the beginning.
3. Boundaries are sexy. Get some.
Here’s an experiment:
Walk up to that attractive coworker—the one with a boring personality and propensity for lying—and ask if you can share their toothbrush? Gross, you say?
While this experiment may seem preposterous, every day, people are gambling with their lives by exchanging bodily fluids with strangers. Sex--the most intimate act two people can share-- is being relegated to a casual transaction. While we are both pro-sex, we urge caution. Risky behavior may feel exciting and empowering in the moment, but before long you may find yourself scared and abandoned.
“Unwanted pregnancy isn’t sexy. Neither is waiting for the results of a sexually-transmitted disease. Want to feel powerful? Stay true to yourself and let your voice be heard, even if that means saying ‘No,’” said Aimee.
4. Intimacy makes for better sex.
While Gil has had a laundry list of sexual conquests, most of them have been forgettable. When I asked him to name his “best” partners, unsurprisingly, they were with the two women with whom he had serious, long-term relationships. He was free to be himself and share his vulnerabilities. Plus, these women made him want to be a better man.
Society lauds quantity over quality. People amass 1,000 “friends” on Facebook—and still feel loney. We buy cheap clothing made in sweatshops, and still have nothing to wear. We eat fast food, and still feel hungry. We crave, we covet, we buy—and still feel unfulfilled.
Good sex is fueled by trust, safety, and communication. Instead of collecting mediocre sexual experiences, why not wait for something mind-blowing and truly spectacular?
5. Being one-of-a-kind is sexy.
Casual sex isn’t sexy. Or mysterious. It’s perfectly average because everyone is doing it.
Want to stand-out from the crowd? And, give someone reason to sit up and take notice? Be authentic. Be self-assured. Be yourself.
If you don’t want to have sex absent a committed relationship, say so. If you want your partner to use protection, say that too. Having sex is easy. Staying true to your own values and inner voice—in a world that pushes conformity—is much more difficult.
In our experience, confident women and men never have a shortage of suitors. Being your best self is the quickest way to find Love—the kind with a capital “L”—and is worth waiting for.