Is Sex Keeping You From Finding Real Love?
Monica Parikh is a dating coach and the founder of School of Love NYC, a site intended to help people find happy, healthy relationships. Her personal path has been filled with failure (a traumatic divorce) and unusual anecdote (dating 67 of NYC’s most eligible bachelors).
In this series, The Love Trials, Monica pairs her personal insights with positive psychology and spirituality: The series is a collaboration with Aimee Hartstein, a LCSW with 20 years of experience.
As Gil and I sat down for lunch, I was unprepared for his revelation. “Almost all of the women I date sleep with me the first time we go out. The majority don’t even ask me to wear protection.”
I nearly choked on my kale salad. Naturally, I couldn’t help but ask, “Is the sex good?”
“It’s pretty below average, to be honest. I am inhibited. They are inhibited. Very few of the women orgasm and it’s not for lack of effort on my part,” Gil replied.
Good sex is fueled by trust, safety, and communication. Instead of collecting mediocre sexual experiences, why not wait for something truly spectacular?
Gil was number 45 of the 67 men I dated after my divorce. Although we weren’t a good romantic match, we remained friends. With Patrick Dempsey’s good looks and a bold personality, he meets women easily. He also provides me with invaluable insight on the male mind.
Gil met his most recent conquest—we'll call her Sarah—at an elite gym in Manhattan. After the workout, he asked her a silly question. She surprised him with a flirtatious and feisty response. He texted her that night: "Game on." She responded two days later.
Intrigued, he texted her again. She waited another 12 hours to reply. Her unpredictability was alluring. On their first date, she revealed that she worked at a stressful job in finance. She told Gil that she liked him because he played it cool (unlike other men) and didn’t give her attitude about the protracted pace of her texting.
Their first date lasted until midnight. She invited him back to her house for a nightcap. They had intercourse—without protection—that evening.
I asked if he would see her again.
“Doubtful,” he responded. “Now, she is texting me all the time. She went from being really chill to going into overdrive.”
“It's the oxytocin—the body’s love drug,” I replied. “Early sex short-circuits rational thought. She is under the false impression that you’re a catch,” I laughed.
He rolled his eyes, then sheepishly admitted, “It’s not that I'm unaware—I am undeserving of the attention.”
My frequent collaborator (a licensed social worker) and I advise women to forgo casual sex if they are looking for a relationship. As a therapist with 20 years’ experience, Aimee is privy to the emotional devastation that often occurs when virtual strangers get intimate.
Be authentic. Be self-assured. Be yourself.
These are the insights we think every woman should have when making the decision to sleep with someone—or not:
1. Sex does not lead to a relationship.
“Many patients say that chemistry and attraction lead to early sex. But, when I push, they admit to thinking that sex would make the other person commit to a relationship or at least to going on another date. This rarely happens. My advice? If you want a relationship, go slow. Healthy relationships proceed at a natural pace. Plus, they are built on a foundation of trust, which takes time to develop,” said Aimee.
2. Premature sex is more likely to lead you to the wrong person than the right one.
Sex releases oxytocin and dopamine—the body’s love drugs. Before sex, you’re able to think clearly. After sex, you feel bonded to your partner, making it very difficult to evaluate him or her with detachment.
Waiting allows you to ask important, objective questions. Is he a good person? Is he kind? Does he follow through on his promises? Is he emotionally stable?
Sex may make you want to jump into a relationship headfirst. But, you may wake up months (or years) later regretting that you ever met this person. Instead, remain withdrawn, to some extent. Be observant, especially in the beginning.
3. Boundaries are sexy. Get some.
Here’s an experiment:
Walk up to that attractive co-worker—the one with a boring personality and propensity for lying—and ask if you can share their toothbrush. Gross, you say?
While this experiment may seem preposterous, every day, people are exchanging bodily fluids with strangers. Sex—the most intimate act two people can share—is being turned into a casual transaction. While Aimee and I are both pro-sex, we urge caution. Risky behavior may feel exciting and empowering in the moment, but before long, you'll likely begin to feel scared and abandoned.
“Unwanted pregnancy isn’t sexy. Neither is waiting for the results of an STD test. Want to feel powerful? Stay true to yourself and let your voice be heard, even if that means saying ‘No,’” says Aimee.
4. Intimacy leads to better sex.
While Gil has had a laundry list of sexual conquests, most of them have been forgettable. When I asked him to name his “best” partners, unsurprisingly, they were the two women with whom he had serious, long-term relationships. He was free to be himself and share his vulnerabilities. Plus, these women made him want to be a better man.
Society lauds quantity over quality. People amass thousands of “friends” on Facebook—and still feel lonely. We buy cheap clothing in bulk and still have nothing to wear. We eat fast food but still feel hungry. We crave, we covet, we buy—and still feel unfulfilled.
Good sex is fueled by trust, safety, and communication. Instead of collecting mediocre sexual experiences, why not wait for something mind-blowing and truly spectacular?
5. Being one-of-a-kind is sexy.
Casual sex isn’t sexy. Or mysterious. It’s perfectly average because everyone's doing it.
Want to stand out from the crowd and give someone reason to sit up and take notice? Be authentic. Be self-assured. Be yourself.
If you don’t want to have sex absent a committed relationship, say so. If you want your partner to use protection, say that, too. Having sex is easy. Staying true to your own values and inner voice—in a world that pushes conformity—is much more difficult.
In our experience, confident women and men never have a shortage of suitors. Being your best self is the quickest way to find Love—the kind with a capital “L”—and is worth waiting for.