I’ve proven that I’m pretty open when it comes to sharing my experiences and p.o.v., but there’s got to be a line somewhere and this is where I’m drawing it. It’s come up in many a conversation for me to write about dating and sexual expectations in your 20s and 30s. I’m going to take the vantage point as onlooker and try to synthesize the experiences of my friends and peers, rather than share any personal experiences (forgive me just this once).
In high school (at least in mine), ‘hooking up’ came with a badge of honor. As a guy, the more girls you ‘got with’ or the ‘farther you went’, the bigger the badge. As a female, there was a fine line: ‘guys liked you’ and thus, ‘you were desirable’ if you were with a variety of guys, but beware of that invisible line whereby suddenly you’ve been with too many and you’re a slut. More so, it wasn’t okay to speak openly about your sexuality as a female, as you ‘weren’t supposed to have’ these urges, all-the-while expected to ‘randomly hookup’. I hope you’re following along…
In college, sleeping around, whether male or female, was completely acceptable. Better yet, dating, as one would traditionally think of it, beginning with courtship, followed by some amount of mutual interest or commitment to one another, leads to sex. Not in college. Rather, one has sex (or ‘hooks up’) and then if it continues for long enough, they inevitably end up ‘dating’. Seems as though the ‘dating’ oftentimes becomes the justification for the action to either ensure that it continues and/or to make the partner feel better about doing it, as whether or not one admits it, emotions get involved.
Post-college, the landscape of sex is interesting. Some friends think of it as something to be had at will, while others rarely share that with anyone. Yet, I hear over and over that there seems to be an unspoken ‘sexpectation’ surrounding dating. First date: Kiss? No kiss? Maybe even sex? Second date: Either a progression or continuation of the sexual activity from the first. Third, Fourth, etc: I’m told that if sex isn’t being had at this point, the dating either fizzles out, or there may be the awkward talk as to why one or the other dater is ‘holding out’. Herein lies the small minority who are not having sex at all. There certainly continues to exist such sub-category, but rarely it seems (aside from in religious circles, where even there, it seems to be fewer and farther between).
For those who have had a sexual history, but aren’t interested in sleeping around, it seems that there is a difficult road to hoe when it comes to casual dating. I say that because for two people who are mutually committed to waiting to have sex, that line is oftentimes communicated and agreed upon. But, for said dater who is cautious about with whom he/she sleeps, there is no ‘rule of thumb’, thus causing some challenges.
What’s even more interesting to me is in speaking with some of my male friends, they’re absolutely okay with sleeping with someone on the first encounter, but would rarely consider him/her ‘date-able’. Then, if they actually like someone, they’re more willing (and sometimes interested) in waiting. Quite the reverse of college, and even the reverse of what I’ve noted to be the perception of many a single female dater, convinced that they need to decide one way or the other: have sex and continue to date, or don’t and stop seeing each other.
For whatever this is all worth, there it is. I’m eager to hear from everyone as to your perceptions (or experiences if you’re interested in sharing). Let’s talk about sex…