Sex: To Have Or Not Have, When Is Too Soon?
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August 25, 2014 - Updated August 26, 2014

Fotolia_57426196_XS.jpgMy friend, “Abby,” recently met a guy online, “Stan.” Abby fell hard and fast for Stan. On their third date, the two of them showed up at a dinner I was attending. They looked really cute together and you could tell right away that there was chemistry between the two of them.

I knew the look on Abby’s face well, having experienced it with a few men myself. It was that “I don’t even know what’s going on around me because the only thing that matters is this guy I’m with” gaze. If there was a fire in the kitchen, I don’t think Abby would have noticed (or cared).

I talked to Abby the next day. “I could fall in love with this guy!” she said. Just the sound of her voice made me laugh. It sounds so trite but just hearing her talk was exciting. But, on the other hand, I wanted to caution her-- this could very easily end up not going so well. The problem is, who wants to be cautious when it’s so dang fun to just enjoy falling head over heels?

Two days later, Abby joined me for my morning coffee run. “Have you slept with him?” I asked.

“Yes! Last night it was two hours of solid love making. This is what amazing sex is like!” she said. She was literally glowing, cheeks pink... Abby never had good sex with her ex-husband and he was the only man she’d ever slept with until her divorce was final. She was discovering her body, orgasms, an emotional connection… all of it.

She went on and on, talking about her new love. Stan (according to him) never had good sex with his ex-wife either. Abby was his second sexual partner. There were no girlfriends since his divorce. He was honest, shy, innocent and kind. He was perfect for her and Abby had high hopes for their future.

That pure excitement and happiness was short-lived. All day, silence from Stan-- not a single text or phone call. By Tuesday afternoon, she broke down and texted him. He apologized for the silence, he was just really busy at work. She baked some dinner for her mom and had left-overs and she invited Stan to meet up with her and pick up a plate, which he did. Wednesday came and went. Silence. By Thursday, Abby was confused. She was angry with herself for sleeping with Stan so quickly, upset with his disappearing act, and tired of obsessing about it.

She went online and looked up Stan’s profile again and there he was, “online now.” It felt like a kick to her gut. Was Stan honest with anything he told her? Was he coming across as a simple, honest and shy guy when, in reality, he was a serial dater? Maybe. She didn’t know him well at all (it had just been a week, after all), so who knew? She knew his body but she didn’t know his intentions. Heck, she didn’t know how to communicate with him either. Now what?

First, Abby blocked Stan’s profile. Next, she called Stan and ended their semi-dating relationship. Stan seemed surprised. He said that he didn’t know he was supposed to be calling her every day, and apologized. What was the rush in defining their relationship? He thought they were having fun? Abby said she certainly deserved more than silence. If Stan was really into her, he would naturally want to talk or text her every day. Was that too much to ask? Maybe, but without having that conversation prior, who knows? Certainly they were on two different planets and Abby wasn’t up for the “relationship” on Stan’s terms. If they had kept it casual, if they hadn’t already had sex, then most likely, a casual and slow dating pace would have been perfectly fine. But after sex? It wasn’t ok at all.

After their conversation, Abby blocked Stan from calling or texting her again, too. She felt relief. At least she would no longer be staring at her phone all day wondering why the hell Stan wasn’t contacting her. She had learned an important lesson: no more (almost) immediate sex with a guy she might actually like. From here going forward “the conversation” and a real relationship would come before the physical part.

So my Big Question for Abby was this: If she had waited to have sex with Stan, would it have changed their outcome? If there had been no amazing passionate love making on Date 4, would they have continued dating? And, if they had, would that have led to a relationship that mattered? It took her a bit to answer but when she did, it was a big “yes.” (Now how and when to have that first Big Conversation is a whole other topic!)

Several years ago, before I married my now ex-husband, I started dating Dan. I fell hard and fast on our first date. A few weeks later, I was at work and got a call from my friend, Wendy. “I have to tell you something. I just got off the phone with a guy I met online. After about ten minutes, I realized he was your Dan. I promise you that I got off the phone right away and I will never date him.”

My heart stopped. Dan was still online? And talking to other women? I was sick. Thank goodness we hadn’t had sex yet, I thought almost immediately. I could walk away with my dignity intact. As Wendy and I were still talking, Dan was calling on the other line. I ignored it. He texted. Then he emailed me. I ignored them all.

How to handle… how to handle… I waited hours and hours while I thought about what I should say or do. We never had “that conversation” so technically he had done nothing wrong. Still, ick. I finally called him back. We talked for a very long time defining what “we” were and where we were going as a couple. Surprisingly, it was a fabulous talk. By the time I hung up, I was a girlfriend. The next time we saw each other, we had the best night of sex in my entire life. Our commitment talk made all the difference for me. I let myself go in ways I never had before and it was mind-blowingly amazing. Had we already had sex before the entire “Wendy-incident?” I’m not sure our new relationship would have survived it.

I have not mastered when “the right time” is to move forward with the physical stuff. I do know that if I have sex with a man I’ve just met, I can’t expect for the relationship to progress. If I’m up for a one night stand (and that’s really not my thing), then whatever. But if I see potential, no way. As tempting as it may be, hopping in bed early on just doesn’t feel right. It too often is a relationship killer. And, even if it’s not, it stops the open communication when it’s perhaps most critical. Nope, I think I’ll wait a bit.  

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