Wednesday, Apr. 2 — Q: For my New Year’s resolution, I committed to not having sex for the first six months of the year and then another six months from whenever I start dating someone. I've never been good at waiting. In fact, the longest I have ever waited is a month and the shortest (and perhaps more typically) is a few hours. In early January, I met a guy, and I’ve been seeing him weekly, though I think I’m being friend-zoned. He is attracted to my polar opposite (short blondes) and has shown no sexual interest in me. Yet, we continue meeting up, and he even buys me dinner and drinks from time to time. Am I wasting my time, or is this how long-lasting, meaningful relationships start — as friends first?
—Reformed But Confused
A: You could tell guys you require a lot of foreplay. Like from winter to the end of spring.
The third-date rule for having sex isn’t set in stone, but most guys won’t go for the 30-date rule, which means good men you want may take themselves out of the running. You also shouldn’t strain your arm patting yourself on the back for sticking to your sexual famine edict thus far, considering that you’ve succeeded in not having sex with a guy who shows no interest in having sex with you. Chances are, this guy is just running low on the type he is into — short blondes — and realized he could treat you to meals or go alone and spend the evening making witty remarks to his dinner roll.
There actually are good reasons not to have sex right away, even for those of us who don’t come from a culture where virgins get traded for a bolt of cloth and herd of goats. Research by anthropologist John Marshall Townsend suggests that even women with no interest in a relationship that lasts beyond sunup are often surprised to wake up finding themselves pining for more. This is possibly due to the effect of oxytocin, a hormone associated with emotional bonding that’s released in men and women through hugs, cuddling, kissing, and especially orgasm. In males, however, sexual activity boosts testosterone, which plays the part of riot cop, refusing to let oxytocin up to its receptor. There’s a dearth of studies on these hormones’ effect on post-sex bonding, but experience should tell you that men who have sex before they have any emotional attachment tend to make like the Roadrunner shortly afterward (though usually without the “meep-meep!” and the Acme anvil falling on your head).
The answer isn’t putting an arbitrary time lock on your ladygarden. Instead, try something new — the grownup-wanting-a-relationship strategy: prioritizing long-term goals over short-term romps and assessing whether a man is right for you with the organ equipped with brain cells. You need to come up with standards for what you want in a partner and take time getting to know a man so you can see whether he meets the essential ones. You should also inventory all of his less-than-ideal qualities and see whether you can live with them. Do your homework figuring out who a man is and you’ll find that you just know when it’s the right time to have sex with him — even without anybody holding Senate hearings on whether to restore visitor access to your vagina.
Q: The girl I’m dating is pretty, funny, and exciting to hang out with, but I noticed that she always poses for photos EXACTLY the same way: left side to the camera, hand on hip, head slightly dipped, smiling slightly. On her Facebook page are dozens of photos like this, same smile, same pose. It seems to be incredibly shallow to need to stage every photo the same way. Should I see this as a red flag?
A: The reality is, inner beauty alone usually isn’t enough, which is why Estee Lauder got rich selling face cream and not books by Gandhi. Women, especially, are judged by their looks. Chances are, your girlfriend recognizes this, along with how indelible a photograph can be these days, in The Age of Uploading. The thing is, you can clean out your closet and burn shoeboxes of photos; it’s harder to clean the Internet’s closet of that shot that makes you look like you eat oats out of a bucket. In figuring out a photo face and sticking with it, your girlfriend has some company. (Google “people who make the same face in every picture.”) As for whether you have anything to worry about — from either shallowness or insecurity on her part — look at the big picture: whether she shows an active interest in you and your welfare or whether she’s too busy prepping a pose for the paparazzi waiting for her outside Pizza Hut.
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