23289160 - romantic couple in front of santa monica amusement park at sunset “Yes, we had sex on the first date. I don’t care if anyone has a problem with that. I’m grown!”

Sex on the first date is a classic example of what you have the adult right to do, but is rarely, if ever, the Grown, healthy, self-loving thing to do, especially if your goal is a loving, sustainable relationship of honor, esteem and respect.

The societal stigma associated with first-date sex between consenting adults has all but dissipated in our hyper-sexualized culture (though a double-standard persists against women who “put out” too easily). And there are plenty of people, including many relationship experts, who argue that sex on the first date is no big deal. Here are three of those arguments, and why Grown people (regardless of gender) don’t buy into them.

What’s the point of a second date if you can’t have sex on the first? If we really like each other, why wait to confirm that we’re sexually compatible?

Grown people know that one night of great sex does not confirm sexually compatibility (first-time sex with a new partner, and especially a sexy stranger, is nearly always an intense experience) and that it takes far more than that to establish a healthy relationship. Moreover, the quality of sex between two people is a horrible predictor of whether two people are healthy for one another. Are there people who have been happily married for decades after having first-date sex? Sure there are. But there are far more people who’ve experienced nightmare marriages, unplanned procreation, costly divorces, physical abuse and/or stalking with murderous intent at the hands of people they’ve had at least one great sexual encounter with.

Grown people know that the purpose of dating is not to have sex, but to get to know a person well enough to decide whether or not to have sex. If a healthy relationship is possible, satisfying sex is highly probable, if not inevitable. However, if the relationship is unhealthy, good sex is never worth the cost of maintaining it.

If the sexual chemistry is there, why fight it? Sometimes the attraction is so powerful and immediate, you know it’s real. Why hold back just because it’s the first date?

The answer: For your own protection.

Grown people know: Having a strong attraction to a person is never the same as actually knowing a person. Until you do, that person is a stranger. It is never healthy to expose yourself sexually to a stranger. Even if—especially if—you like them enough to go out with them.

It may be true that you can’t predict your emotional response to people or “help who you fall in love with.” But if you are Grown, it is always in your power to decide what to do about that attraction, to make choices that are self-loving and healthy for you.

That includes recognizing that, no matter how intoxicating “love” at first sight feels, when you have a strong emotional response to a person you don’t really know, it is never about that person, but about a fantasy, your desired ideal of what you find attractive in a potential romantic or sexual partner. It will take far more than a single date to find out if the reality of this person lives up to your fantasy, if the reality of who you are matches his/her desires, and if any of it is healthy for you both. This is why Grown people make their bodies among the last things they surrender access to in a new relationship—never the first.

It’s only sex—no big deal. As long as everyone is open and honest about it, go for it. Let’s hook up!

Don’t even get us started on the “open and honest” part; that will have to wait for another post. Grown people know: It’s never just sex. In the words of author and relationship expert Tracy McMillan, “Casual sex is like recreational heroin. It doesn’t stay recreational for long.”

Movies and TV shows tell us (and many of us want to believe) that great sex with no consequences is not only desirable, but easy for healthy, mature, consenting adults who are honest about their intentions. However, Grown people know that sex is a bonding experience, chemically and physiologically (Google oxytocin, also known as the “bonding hormone”), if not emotionally and psychologically.

That bonding starts with the first sexual encounter; your physiology doesn’t care that it’s with a virtual stranger on a first date. And if it’s good, it likely won’t be your last, reinforcing the bond before you can really get to know each other, much less determine if you have the sustainers necessary (no, sex is not one of them) to create a healthy relationship. This is exactly how people end up in unhealthy relationships, including bad marriages (with children), that only work in bed, if at all.

Is it possible to have sex on a first date without negative consequences? Sure it is. It’s also possible to cross six lanes of highway traffic without ending up as roadkill. Or to play Russian Roulette without catching a bullet. No matter how exciting either might be (just this one time!), it’s not healthy. And if it’s not healthy, it’s not Grown.

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