My girlfriend and I had been texting for a month prior to meeting.
We’d exchanged numbers following a match on Tinder, but our work schedules prevented us from meeting for a while.
Perhaps it was the culmination of weeks of flirtatious messages or an undeniable chemistry between us, but on our first date, we ended up having sex.
As I lay in her bed the following morning, I was struck by a familiar sense of foreboding.
How had I allowed things to move so quickly? What is she going to think of me now? Was I doomed to be dismissed as a frivolous night of fun, despite the fact that I genuinely liked her and desired that we continue to get to know one another?
Naturally, these fears were based on my prior experience dating men.
For good reason, relationship experts promote the tagline “make him wait for intimacy.” Steve Harvey, the talk show host, coined an even more extreme version – the infamous ’90-day rule’ – in his best-selling book, Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man, in which he advises women to make the guy they’re seeing wait 90 days for sex in order to increase their chances of securing commitment.
The reality is that the majority of women who have been caught up in the moment have waited for a text the next day that never arrived.
“You slept with him too quickly!” a friend once reprimanded me after I informed her of the guy who had stopped returning my calls.
“Men need to feel as though they earned it; as if you don’t just hand it over to any guy who asks. Otherwise, it is a slap in the face to their ego,” she explained.
Clearly, the notion that men’s egos are so fragile that they require this level of validation is concerning, and indicates a problem with our definition of masculinity. Additionally, it is rooted in the offensive belief that men are incapable of fully humanising sexual women. Not to mention the pernicious implication that women should weaponize sex in order to entice men into relationships.
And yet, according to the majority of women I know, men are more likely to ghost after having sex if they have it quickly.
Naturally, some men will ghost after sex, even if it is withheld for weeks. I once dated a guy with whom I waited two months to have sexual relations. He treated me to expensive dinners, texted constantly, and surprised me with flowers and gifts during that time. I never heard from him again the day after we had a physical altercation.
“How could he devote so much time, effort, and money to pursuing me if he had only one goal? Couldn’t he just pick up a girl at a bar and get that?” I inquired of a male friend a few days after my date went missing.
“You were a test, and we enjoy knowing we’ve conquered the difficult-to-get girl,” he explained casually as I sat across from him, mouth agape.
Men frequently feign interest in a relationship in order to increase their chances of obtaining sex. This is something I’ve repeatedly heard from male friends. “I’m not proud of it, but I’ve definitely done that to get a girl into bed,” a friend recently admitted.
Apart from the fact that this is a form of sexual coercion, it is based on the erroneous premise that women desire monogamy exclusively.
In fact, research has consistently demonstrated that women crave sexual variety on an equal, if not greater, basis than men.
And, while there is nothing intrinsically wrong with casual sex, there is something deeply troubling about our culture’s obsession with linking sexual experience to masculinity while failing to equip men with the emotional literacy necessary to navigate intimate relationships with women.
Women undeniably ghost after sex, as well. However, when women do so, it is typically because we have previously expressed our feelings and they have been rejected, or because we have learned to fear retaliation (both verbal and physical) from men when we reject them.
Men, on the other hand, remain silent following sex because we teach them to view it as transactional and do not teach boys to communicate expressively in the same way that girls do.
While we may scoff and proclaim, “Boys don’t cry!” and “REAL men are tough and strong,” what we are ultimately accomplishing is an emotional castration of boys.
It’s unsurprising that the term “post-nut clarity” has gained popularity in recent years.
It is a non-scientifically proven condition that exists primarily to excuse men’s poor post-coital behaviour, as defined by Urban Dictionary.
While women also experience a surge of feel-good hormones following climax, which can improve mental clarity and cognition, we do not suffer from an affliction that compels us to hail an Uber and unmatch someone on Tinder within the first five minutes of getting off.
For women, sex on the first date is rarely a deal-breaker. I should know; my girlfriend and I have been more or less inseparable for the better part of a month since we first committed the act.
Though we prefer to think of sex as being distinct for each gender, the truth is that we are far more alike than we care to admit.
It is the culture in which we raise young men and women that shapes our attitudes towards sexual intimacy.