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uy meets girl. Guy likes girl. (Or maybe guy doesn’t even know her that well and merely thinks girl is kind of hot). No matter what the circumstances, the next step is pretty much always a given: Guy tries to have sex with girl.The notion of male undifferentiated lust is so widespread (and true) that it has spawned generations worth of recommendations to women on how to handle their suitors’ earliest amorous advances. Most, if not all, the advice has been along the lines of “If he can get the milk free, why would he buy the cow?” In short, the conventional wisdom among a lot of women I know is this: If you have sex with a guy on a first or second date—or worse yet, on the very night he strikes up a conversation with you at bar—then your chances for a long-term relationship with him are doomed.

In a recent Happen poll, 67% of you said you thought sex on the first date was a bad idea…only 17% felt it was fine.

But these days, shouldn’t you be able to have sex when you want and with whom you want, without worrying about it undermining your chances of enduring love? For the answer, I asked three men with very different perspectives to reveal what they think about women who’ll hop into bed at the drop of a hat—and what women can do and say that could convince a guy to keep calling.

Q: What do you think about women who sleep with you on the first or second date—does it impact whether you see her as a potential long-term girlfriend?

Jack (40 years old, divorced): Though the answer will no doubt send ripples of shock and disbelief throughout the female species, I don’t view the timing of the first occurrence of sex with a woman as an indicator of anything. Never.

Stan (35, never married): If a girl slept with me that quickly, I would consider it a deal-breaker. Men are wired to want to sleep with others more quickly because of instant gratification. But if a woman had that little self-control, it would not bode well for the future.

Alec (50, never married): In my mind, it doesn’t make a difference—as long as the woman understands that just because she slept with me, it doesn’t mean the rest of the relationship is also moving quickly. But I will say, it does sort of put pressure on the situation when you sleep together so quickly. It makes the getting-to-know-you part tougher. One or both of you may have expectations of what the next date will be like. For example, if you sleep over, what happens when one doesn’t want to sleep over the next time? Does the other feel slighted? Does it mean every date is a sleepover, and if it’s not that you’re regressing? It makes things tougher.

Q: Are there cases where you do sleep with a woman early on, but are still open to a serious relationship with her—say, if the sex is great, or you two really hit it off during brunch the next day, or she’s friends of friends?

Jack: Sure. Great sex only makes us want to be with you more. And if we hit it off after sex over brunch the next day, we consider it a win. Her being friends of friends has nothing to do with it; it’s a non-issue. In fact, if I don’t like her and she is a friend of a friend, I have to drop the blade sooner or the blow-back will be worse.

“Sleeping together quickly does put pressure on the situation. What happens if you don’t want to sleep over the next time?”

Stan: I think no, I would not be open to it. There was one girl I slept with on the first date, and we ended up having a relationship, but it was a woman I’d known and worked with for four months. But if it’s someone you just met and you slept with on the first date, there’d be no recovery from that. And I don’t think a woman should want to date a man who wanted to sleep with her on the first date. I don’t even try to sleep with women on the first date anymore.

Alec: This question is based on the idea that if you sleep together early on, you’re already thinking it will not be serious. So, in my mind, any man who rules out a woman who slept with him early on—well, he isn’t being very serious about finding a long-term relationship in the first place.

Q: In your experience, do you think women who make you wait for sex end up being better long-term partners?

Stan: I think they do make better potential long-term partners. As I’ve gotten older, I have realized there should be something sacred, private, and intimate about sex between two people. It’s a revelation and a sharing. I don’t think I would want to be with someone who’s so willing to share herself with others. I want someone who’s going to honor that aspect of herself and only share herself when it’s really appropriate.

Alec: Probably, yes. But it doesn’t work too well if she’s totally withholding physically early on. She needs to let you know she is receptive to sex with you and is holding off not because of lack of desire, but because she wants to get to know you more.

Jack:I disagree—in my mind, a woman who “makes you wait” is treating sex as a commodity. She’s trying to, as Pat Benatar once said, “use sex as a weapon” and trying to manipulate the outcome of the new relationship. If she feels the strength of a long-term relationship is contingent on when she “gave it up,” she needs to get in her time machine and leave the year 1952—which she’s obviously stuck in—immediately. As soon as she places such a high value on sex, she devalues the other, more lasting components of a successful long-term relationship.

“As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized there should be something sacred about sex between two people.”

Q: What, in your mind, is an appropriate amount of time for two people to be dating before sleeping together?

Jack: From the first date onward…

Stan: Probably three weeks to a few months. In this day and age, people are quick to make sex part of a relationship. It’s unrealistic to think you can be dating someone four months without sex. So, a few weeks to a few months.

Alec: Maybe five, six dates. But it’s very hard to make a rule for it. If there were rules about this stuff, it would be so much easier. I think it’s best if men and women talk about sleeping together and have some ease of communication established before they do the deed. Let’s face it, having sex changes the dynamics of a relationship.

Q: If a woman does end up falling in bed with you pretty quickly, are there things she can do to pave the way toward a longer relationship?

Jack: Yes. Don’t suddenly start withholding sex to “slow things down”. You want to have less sex or at least balance it with public, social interaction? Fine. We’re all for that. But we can’t undo the fact we had sex. Was it fun? Great, let’s do it again.

Stan: I think yes, if she convinces you that you’re special and that she doesn’t do this very often or hardly at all, if you feel there was something special between the two of you, then I think that would pave the way toward potentially overcoming that obstacle, if you will.

Alec: She should play it cool after the first time. If she sleeps with a guy early, then is a little evasive, it will drive him crazy and he’ll chase her more. This is the dirty little secret. If you tell women this, they will torture us forever.

Steve Friedman is the author of The Gentleman’s Guide To Life.