Intimacy on the first date — is it OK, or should you wait? The decision to get intimate on the first date has long been debated and scrutinized for years. “Why buy the cow when the milk is free,” mothers always told their daughters. But is there a right or wrong answer?

Choosing to become intimate on the first date is a very personal decision that should be made with care and introspection. People must understand there is no guarantee that your decision will prevent or allow your relationship from blooming into something more, despite the aged stigma placed on it.

“Several years ago, there was definitely a greater stigma when it came to intimacy in the very early stages of dating, especially the first date,” said Jasmynn Abernathy, LMFT. “Societal views on intimacy on the first date have definitely evolved over the past few decades.”

Abernathy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and relationship coach based in California. She is passionate about relationship wellness and is now the owner and psychotherapist at Willow Therapy and Counseling. Abernathy spoke with 21Ninety to take a closer look at one of the most debated topics of our generation, “getting intimate on the first date.”

The Stigma

The stigma surrounding sex on the first date is rooted in societal norms and cultural expectations. Historically, society has often judged individuals, especially women, who engage in early physical intimacy, labeling them as impulsive or lacking self-respect. Religious beliefs emphasizing the sanctity of sex within committed relationships and traditional values prioritizing restraint and modesty have influenced this perspective.

“The stigma attached to sex on the first date is connected to traditional societal values. Sometimes, these values come from religious or faith backgrounds, and for non-religious folks, these values could have possibly been passed down or influenced by family values. We’re greatly influenced by our communities,” Abernathy said.

“Although today’s society may be more comfortable with the notion of sex on the first date, having our close community give us the side-eye never feels good,” she added.

Consequently, many individuals feel pressure to follow certain dating timelines, even if they don’t align with their personal beliefs or feelings.

The Shift in Views

Over the years, society’s view on having sex on the first date has undergone a significant shift. While traditional norms once frowned upon early intimacy, advocating for restraint and building emotional connections first, the modern perspective is more diverse and accepting. Contemporary society, influenced by broader discussions on sexual liberation, consent, and individual agency, tends to respect personal choices in dating more than before.

“We’ve seen how conversations happening on social media have sparked the phenomena of challenging traditional thoughts and beliefs. Our media today has a huge influence on disseminating various opinions and belief systems, giving voice to those who held what were formerly unpopular opinions, such as sex early in a relationship is acceptable. Additionally, younger generations are said to have less affiliation with organized religion, which greatly impacts views of sex outside marriage. This could also influence the less conservative approach that some have when it comes to getting intimate on the first date,” Abernathy explained.

Although pockets of traditional views persist, many people now believe that the decision to become intimate, whether on the first date or later, rests solely with the individuals involved, prioritizing mutual respect and understanding over age-old prescriptions.

Getting Intimate On the First Date

The decision to get intimate on the first date should be made by the partners involved. According to Abernathy, the choice is up to you and your potential partner. She noted communication is crucial.

“Managing your expectations in this scenario is important because everyone is different. This is why open communication is so helpful,” Abernathy said.

Abernathy advised that discussing expectations in order for intimacy on the first date to work.

“I’ve noticed that whether or not couples have sex on the first date, their communication about expectations and preferences early on tends to predict the longevity or health of their relationships. So often, folks get entangled in ‘situationships‘ because they haven’t discussed their expectations or preferences, which is how they end up in a less-than-desired dynamic,” she added.

She also noted there is a myth about building trust in a relationship if intimacy occurs on the first date, but there are some challenges.

“It comes down to open and honest communication with your partner. Having sex on the first date does not equate to an automatic outcome,” Abernathy shared. “It can, however, bring up challenges like assumptions, lack of focus on other important factors in the relationship due to hyper-focusing on physical intimacy, and an accelerated emotional attachment.”

Whether you wait or embark on intimacy early on, do what feels right for you. As long as there is mutual understanding and respect for the boundaries of everyone involved, there’s nothing wrong with making a healthy, grown decision.