Sex on the First Date: Yes or No?

by Lucy

on Sep 6, 2022

We’ve all heard of the ‘third date rule’, a dating guideline that suggests we should hold off on getting naked with someone until date number three. This rule has been around for a while, but the boom in hookup culture has led many of us to throw it out the window in favor of getting hot and heavy from the get-go...

Despite some lingering stigma, having sex on the first date is by no means uncommon in today’s culture of dating apps and sex positivity. Whether it’s getting rid of the first date jitters or exploring your sexual compatibility, there are plenty of great reasons to shed the stigma and get down and dirty on the first date.

But just how many of us are throwing out the third date rule to have sex straight away? And why might some of us still prefer to wait? We’ve asked over 2,000 American adults these questions to find out exactly what they think about having sex on the first date.

How many of us are having sex on the first date?

Nearly half (49%) of respondents to our survey said that they have had sex on date number one, compared to just 42% who said that they haven’t. Men are particularly prone to a first-date hookup, with just under 60% of male respondents admitting to having done this.

Women, on the other hand, are slightly less inclined to jump into bed right away. According to our survey, only 43% of women have had sex on the first date, whereas 46% said they never have. Given that women have generally received more judgment throughout history for being sexually active, it’s not surprising that they may want to wait longer before having sex.

Have you ever sex on a first date?

As well as women, we found that younger adults (aged 18-24) and older adults (over 55 years old) are more likely to answer ‘no’ when asked if they’ve ever had sex on the first date, with only 31% of 18-24-year-olds and 42% of those over 50 saying yes. On the other end of the spectrum, 45-54-year-olds have the most experience with first-date hookups, with 58% saying they’ve done this.

Denver, Colorado and Houston, Texas tied for the city with the highest number of ‘yes’ responses, with 61% of adults in both cities disclosing that they have previously had sex on the first date. Meanwhile, Houston’s fellow Texan city San Antonio had the highest percentage of respondents who have never had sex on the first date, at 51%.

Why do we want to have sex on the first date?

When asked whether they were open to having sex on the first date (even if they previously haven’t), over 70% of men said yes but the majority of women (61%) said no. Despite many women being wary of having sex on the first date, there are still plenty who are willing to give it a go – and their main motivation is to test how sexually compatible they are with their date.

Although men’s most common reason (and the most common reason overall) for being open to sex on the first date is simply because they enjoy it, the majority of female respondents said that their openness to first-date sex is because it enables them to see if they’re sexually compatible straight away. 49% of women selected this as their primary reason for being okay with sex on the first date, compared to 44% of men.

Following this, the third most popular answer for both men (28%) and women (22%) was that sex on the first date makes them connect more quickly on a sexual level. While some may prefer to build an emotional connection before taking things to the bedroom, others value a sexual connection just as much – and both perspectives are completely valid.

Why are Americans open to sex on a first date?

Does your star sign make you more likely to have sex on the first date?

Not everyone puts much stock in star signs, but those who do may be interested to know that Capricorns and Libras came out on top when it comes to first-date sex, with 55% of Capricorns and 54% of Libras having done the deed on date number one. As for which star sign had the most ‘no’ votes, almost 50% of both Leos and Aquariuses said they’ve never had sex on the first date.

Sex on a first date and your star sign

The benefits of having sex on the first date

Whether it’s calming nerves or testing the sexual waters, there are many reasons to have sex on the first date, but what are the benefits? We spoke to psychotherapist Rachel Wright (MA, LMFT) who specializes in modern relationships, mental health and sex to gain insight into why having sex on the first date can be a good idea.

“Sex on the first date can be beneficial if you want to have sex on the first date. Here's the thing – there is no "right time" to have sex. And I'm talking about sex with the definition of "a meaningful experience of pleasure." The concepts of "don't give away the milk for free" and "they won't like me anymore if I give it up too quickly" are old and antiquated and can create so much shame for people of all genders.

“For some people, having sex right away is incredibly helpful in determining if they want to go on a second date and for others feels entirely out of reach because they need to have an established emotional connection with the person before they can have sex.

“Wherever you fall on this spectrum is perfectly okay, and it's encouraged to talk to the person you're going out with about it. If you've been texting for 2 days before the date, perhaps it may not come up – but if you have been texting for 2 months and trying to schedule a date and it's finally happening, you may have already discussed sex. Be honest with yourself and the person you're going out with about your expectations of yourself and them.”

How do you say you want to have sex on the first date and communicate kinks?

Sex is all about pleasure, and pleasure is different for everyone. Some people prefer ‘vanilla’ sex, and some people prefer BDSM activities. When entering into a new sexual relationship it can be daunting to bring up any kinks and fetishes you may have and be open that you want to become sexually involved from the get-go.

Rachel has shared some advice on how to communicate that you want to have sex on the first date, and how you can open up about your kinks:

“There are many ways to communicate that you want to have sex on the first date; the best way is to be explicit. Here are a few examples:

  • "Hey, I know we've been talking for a while and have discussed how fun it would be to have sex. I'd love to play on our first date. What do you think?"

  • "So, I don't always feel this way, but I'm feeling pulled to be physically intimate with you after drinks on our first date. What do you think about that?"

  • "Hey, before our first date, I'd love to have the sexual health convo because if our chemistry IRL is anything like our chemistry over the phone/computer, I think I'm gonna wanna jump your bones (if you consent, of course)."

“Then when it comes to kinks, communicating what they are is something I recommend doing, similar to the sexual health conversation, before you're in the throws of desire. Some kinks don't pose safety risks, and some very much do – so it's important to be able to think clearly and have whoever you're talking to about it be able to think clearly, too. Here are some examples:

  • "Oh! Before we meet up, I wanted to share a little bit about my kinks and hear about yours. What do you think?"

  • "I want to hear about your kinks! And share mine :) Wanna chat before we meet up about it?"

  • "I'm excited to see you on Saturday. I was daydreaming about the possibility of having sex with you and realized we hadn't talked a lot about our kinks - can we do that? :)"

  • Or, if you make it to the date itself:

  • "I'm loving getting to know you and your life. Tell me about our kinks! I promise I'll share mine, too."

What stops us from having sex on the first date?

Among those who said they’ve never had sex on the first date, the most common reason (47%) was that they don’t feel comfortable having sex with someone they don't know very well. This is the most popular explanation for both men and women across all age groups, so it seems we can all agree that not feeling comfortable with someone new is a very good reason for holding off on having sex.

The second most common reason for not having sex on the first date was simply ‘I don't believe in having sex on the first date’ (38%), followed by ‘I only enjoy sex with people I have an emotional connection with’ (32%). A lack of emotional connection was the second most popular reason among men, suggesting that – perhaps surprisingly – men are more likely than women to want emotional closeness before things get physical.

why Americans don't have sex on a first date

Houston, Texas was the only city where the majority of respondents gave a reason outside the top three most common. Here, 40% of adults said that being conscious of STIs and pregnancy prevented them from having sex on the first date, compared to other cities like Boston and Chicago where less than 20% of respondents selected this as a reason.

Being aware of risks such as STIs and pregnancy is always important when engaging in sexual activity, whether on the first date or the third. And in light of the recent overturning of Roe vs Wade, it’s not surprising that fear of pregnancy might make us warier of having sex – especially in a city like Houston, where abortion is now illegal under nearly all circumstances.

How to have sex on the first date safely

With 17% of Americans avoiding sex on the first date due to the risk of pregnancy and STIs, safe sex must be at the forefront of everyone’s mind when having sex, especially with someone you may not have met before. Rachel Wright has shared some advice on how to ensure you’re staying as safe as possible:

“There is no such thing as safe sex – only safer sex. Even if you use barriers (like condoms or dental dams) and another form of birth control, there is still a chance of pregnancy and STI/STD transmission. Plus, some strains of HPV + HSV 1 & 2 can be transmitted simply through skin-to-skin or lip-to-lip contact – condoms don't prevent that. So, have a conversation.

“STIs are part of life when you're a sexually active human, and there's no shame in getting one, as long as you're getting tested regularly and asking if your partner or potential sexual partner(s) has been tested, too. Share with your potential sexual partner the date of your last screening, if you have any STIs or STDs, and what protection you'd like to use – and do this BEFORE you're in the 'bedroom.' If you can have this conversation before the first date, you can come prepared with condoms, lube, dental dams – whatever you need! And remember, STIs and STDs can be transmitted in all sorts of ways – not just through vaginal or anal penetration.”

Methodology:

Data is based on a survey we conducted in August 2022 of 2,008 US residents over the age of 18.

The expert commentary was provided by:

Rachel Wright (MA, LMFT)

Lucy

Written by Lucy. Lovehoney Editorial Team
If you think that an exciting sex life starts and ends with Missionary then Lucy, who has worked at Lovehoney for over a decade, is here to enlighten you with her ever-popular ‘Position of the Week’ blogs.
Lucy also loves making the world of sex and sex toys easy to learn about, and you'll often find her with her head in a book researching her latest A to Z guide

Originally published on Sep 6, 2022. Updated on Sep 7, 2022
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