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February 17, 2016

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The Sex on the Third Date Debate

February 17, 2016

Last week my colleagues and I had a fascinating conversation about whether or not it is fair/wise/dumb/ridiculous to expect sex on the third date. No, this was not a writer’s room tangent; this was an important part of our work for that day!

To back it up a bit, the conversation started around the discussion of expectations going into the third date. Someone said, “oh, well it’s the third date so…you know what that means.” Someone else said, “No. What does that mean?” And then everyone said, “Really Jessie?”

Apparently it is commonly held knowledge that the third date is the sex date. I know this because I asked ten people outside of my room, plus R the exact same question: “Is the third date the date where you expect to have sex?” and every single one of them said yes.

Expect/want sex or need sex, I asked? That garnered very different answers across the board.

Let’s back it up a bit more, though, real quick. I always want to be clear when writing about dating, relationships and specifically sex that this is from a small sample group of a specific kind of people living in a given kind of place. There are people who have/want/get/give sex on the first date. There are people who save all of that until marriage. All of those people are right because that’s what’s right for all of those people.

For the purposes of this debate slash blog post, we’re talking about a subset of people who at least entertain the idea of sex on the third date. Some say yep, do it, great idea. Others are waffling in a hm, not sure, might be a bad move camp. And then there’s me…

Here’s (some of) what the Yep, Do It, Great Idea camp says:

  • Sexual chemistry is incredibly important, and you need to figure it out early in a relationships
  • Not doing it sends the message that you’re not so into that person
  • If one person wants to and the other is anti then you have an incompatible world view about sex and third dates – bad sign.
  • It’s just sex; it won’t change anything

Here’s (some of) what the Hm, Not Sure, Might Be Bad camp says:

  • You can’t guarantee the other person isn’t sleeping with other people, and that’s not cool/not safe
  • If you give it up on the third date then the other person will disrespect you
  • If you give it up on the third date then the other person has no incentive to commit to an actual relationship; they got what they wanted
  • The relationship is not yet emotionally mature enough to handle sex

And here’s what I say:

  • It doesn’t matter.

Whether you have sex on the third, first, tenth or 100th date will not make or break your relationship, and if it doesn’t then that relationship was worth breaking.

  • But what if you had the sex too early and therefore the sex is bad and so you end what could have been the perfect relationship because you weren’t connected enough to have great sex?
    • People who really like each other and want to give a relationship a shot won’t be deterred by one not-so-hot sex session very early on in the relationship. If the bad sex continues then maybe it isn’t meant to be, but people who are truly compatible will take the time to find that out. 
  • But what if one person takes the third date sex as a sign that the other person is too easy, even though they’re not? Then that person ends a relationship that might otherwise have worked!
    • No. If a person really, truly likes you then they’re not going to be deterred by the fact that you’re “too easy.” There will be a lot of leeway about all the “too ______” that you can be because the person really likes you. 
  • But what if it makes the person think they can just have sex for free and then they’re never inclined to commit whereas if you had held the sex they might have been inclined to commit?
    • They were never going to be inclined to commit – sex or no sex. Sorry. 

The but what ifs go on and on and on. They’re valid, truly. They make sense, definitely. But they don’t matter. If a relationship is going to work then it’s going to work whether or not there’s the absolute perfect alignment on the third date sex debate.

Because – odd as this may sound – the sex debate isn’t about the sex. It’s about communication, vulnerability, world view and so many other things that make or break a relationship. If two people truly like each other and truly want to make an attempt at starting a relationship, then when the third date debate comes up, they’ll work it out.

Ask a hundred couples why their relationship didn’t work out. None of them will say that it was because they did or didn’t have sex on the third date. And if they blame date three sexual disagreements then thank god they broke up; anyone who ends a relationship because of the sex on the third date debate doesn’t deserve to be in that relationship at all.



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