Sex on the First Date … with your future husband?
Sex on the first date is one of the hottest controversies going today, especially when it comes to online dating. How far do you go versus how far you want to go? What kind of message are you sending your date by saying yes … or by saying no? Most of all, what consequences will these in-the-moment decisions have in the cool light of a couple days’ hindsight? As it turns out, those consequences could be more positive the less caution you exercise on that first date.
My best friend and I think along the same lines when it comes to dating – so much so that we lost our virginity to the same guy, and that’s how we met. He’s long gone, but we’re still going strong, boosting each other through all kinds of dating mishaps, dry spells, breakups, and get-togethers. I’d begged her to give online dating a try for years, but she was stubborn. Within a few weeks of writing a (clever, engaging, fabulous) profile (because she is clever, engaging, and more fabulous than words could ever express), she had had a wonderful first date who would become a wonderful boyfriend. “At the end of that first date goodnight kiss,” she told me, “it was all I could do not to pull him inside by his belt loops and throw him down on my bed right then.” And after a couple more dates, that’s just what happened. Since those first few dates, she and her new man have developed a deeply caring and intimate relationship that anyone would envy. They have fallen completely in love, and it’s great to see.
A few weeks ago, my best friend sent me a link to this article on Jezebel: Getting Slutty on the First Date Can Lead to Marriage. She wrote: “Well, now I feel like less of a whore for sleeping with him on the fourth date.” I’d told her, of course, that sleeping with him on the first or fourth or fourteenth or fortieth date didn’t make her a whore and certainly shouldn’t make her feel like one. “How quickly a relationship takes off sexually is completely individual to the people involved,” had always been my advice, “so do what you feel.” I was pretty excited to finally have some evidence to back up my claim that sex on the first date was, in fact, okay and sometimes good! Scientific evidence, in fact.
The article cited the summary of a recent study, which you can read here at NBC News. The study shows that sexual desire and romantic feelings, always thought to be separate processes within the brain and body, are actually processed by the same part of the brain. Researchers used functional MRI technology to see which areas of the brain were activated by love, and which were activated by lust. They found that the same parts of the brain were activated by both – the striatum, part of the forebrain; and the insula, within the cerebral cortex.
Sexual desire activates the ventral striatum, the brain’s reward system. When someone enjoys a great dessert or an orgasm, it’s the ventral striatum that flickers with life. Love sparks activity in the dorsal striatum, which is associated with drug addiction.
Love and lust aren’t quite so far apart after all, in theory or in practice.
“[The brain's insular cortex] translates emotional feelings into meaning,” explains psychology professor Jim Pfaus. “You take the internal state and give it external meaning.” The areas of overlap in both the striatum and insula indicate that sexual desire transitions into love in many cases, and the feelings aren’t separate.
Love or Lust
This physical proof of the blending of love and lust within our minds leads me to think that my advice all these years hadn’t been too far off. If you really want to have sex with your date, and your date really wants to have sex with you, do it! It may help your feelings for this new person in your life bloom – after all, that wonderful rush of emotions as well as arousal is the jackpot we’re all searching for. Is it possible that science may be learning the answer to whether love at first sight truly exists? It sure sounds to this girl like they’re not far off. And I don’t know about you, but that really sounds like good news.