How many dates should you wait to have sex?
When to put out has been debated for years, and the ever-changing number always feels like it's somewhat rooted in a mixture of misogyny and personal best practices.
Growing up, I remember watching countless movies that preached waiting was the way to go if you wanted to keep a man interested or else he'll think you're too easy and move on.
I mean Think Like A Man, which came out in 2012, was based on Steve Harvey's book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, which advises women to wait 90 days before having sex with a potential partner.
Friends with Benefits with Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake showcased casual sex with boundaries in 2011, but when she wanted something serious with a guy, she made him wait multiple dates for sex (spoiler alert, it didn't work out for her).
Every rom-com I can remember growing up had a perfect number and formula of how long to wait to get the guy which is pretty heteronormative and a little slut shame-y if you ask me.
I remember when I was younger, I waited months to tell my friends I had slept with my boyfriend because I was worried I didn't wait long enough at the time.
These days media is a bit more forgiving when it comes to sex, with sex-positive TV shows like Sex Education on Netflix that showcase teens and adults exploring sexuality with an array of queer and straight couples, all with different journeys.
But that doesn't mean Gen-Z and Millennials didn't grow up seeped in purity culture, thinking that there was a perfect number to wait.
So what do people do now? Is it a free-for-all all? Are people still waiting for the third or fifth date?
Etiquette expert Susy Fossati, director of Avignon Etiquette, previously spoke with Narcity on the modern rules of dating, and she said that when it comes to closing a deal, it's all about context and that there is no perfect time.
"Sometimes you just have an absolutely wonderful date, where you've spent the whole day together, it's just been magical. It's been going the right way. Perhaps you've chatted for weeks before that... like I say, etiquette is always about context," Fossati explained.
If it's all about context, how long are most people waiting? Are they getting busy on the first date or waiting to get to know each other?
To find out, Narcity asked six Canadians how long they wait to have sex and here's what they said.
27, He/Him, Montreal
"Zero hookups are how gay men make friends LOL."
31, He/Him, Toronto
A couple playing footsies under the table.
"No number and no shame. In my opinion it's just the vibe that matters."
28, She/Her, Newfoundland
"It's never planned. Sometimes it's the first, sometimes it's after knowing someone a while."
35, He/Him, Toronto
A couple cheersing at a bar.
"Four at least... If you just rush, it usually fizzles fast."
27, He/Him, Toronto
"Marriage. Thats what I wait for, as my faith and God expects all of us to."
According to Canadians, there isn't one right answer. While some people use sex to make friends, others are still holding out, and it's pretty on par with what recent studies tell us too.
In a 2023 study conducted by Bedbible Research Centre in the United States, which polled 1,080 respondents over three weeks, 35.1% of people reported that they've had sex on the first date.
Sex on the first date was more commonly reported by men at 41%, and in the queer community, 72% of gay men reported having sex on the first date, and 53% of gay women reported having sex on the first date.
However, 45.7% of all correspondents said they'd be open to having sex on the first date.
When it comes to reasons to have sex on the first date, correspondents said it could help determine if there is chemistry, compatibility, for pleasure's sake, and to weed out people who are just looking for sex because chances are they won't want another date if they already got what they wanted.
On the flip side, respondents said waiting can help you avoid feelings of regret or leading someone on, build up sexual tension and help you avoid terrible sex with someone you don't really know.
Whatever your personal preference, I can see positives to both, and if you're looking for advice from a single gal in her 20s, I think you just need to listen to your gut.
Everyone has their own personal boundaries and beliefs, and staying true to yourself will help you make decisions that are right for you and your sex life.
If you meet someone and on the first date, you have incredible chemistry, and you just want to rip their clothes and get straight to business then go for it!
As long as everyone is enthusiastically consenting, there is nothing wrong with that, and you shouldn't feel any shame.
The same goes for anyone waiting for marriage or looking for commitment before getting busy.
Everyone has their own preferences, and there shouldn't ever be shame about consensual sex between two adults whether they choose to have it or not.
Your boundaries may also change depending on the person you're seeing.
You could go home with someone on a first date and feel completely safe and connected to them, but with another person, maybe you're on date number five, and you're still not feeling it.
There is no perfect timeline, and each person you date will have their own preferences too.
I've been on first dates with people who expected to have sex right after meeting each other and other people who felt shy asking for a kiss at the end of the night on a third date.
The world is full of sexual people, and wherever you land on the spectrum, as long as you're happy, trust me, you're doing just fine.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.
This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.