Rappler’s Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr Margarita Holmes.
Jeremy has a master’s degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in 3 continents, he has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives
Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.
Dear Dr. Holmes and Mr. Baer,
I’m not very lucky when it comes to relationships.
I think my problem is I fall in love too easily. I fall in love, deeply in love the minute I have sex with someone. And then in the end, it turns out that the man was never serious about me but was probably just stringing me along for… sex!
I don’t know if the man is the problem or I’m the problem. What really is the golden rule when it comes to sex and dating? I am a single mom in my fifties, reasonably attractive and fit, and active on dating apps. I read somewhere that you must never never have sex with someone before the third or fourth date. Is this true?
Thank you for your message.
A “golden rule” governing the correlation between a successful relationship and how quickly the parties had sex seems to ignore the fact that we are all unique individuals and form unique relationships. It may instead be helpful to spend a moment analyzing the different types of love. In our November 2, 2021 column we discussed Professor Robert Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love. Love is problematic in that we tend to be convinced we know it when we see it yet we do not always have the necessary vocabulary to explain what we are feeling.
A cursory trawl of the internet will reveal that there are any number of academic and non-academic articles setting out differing versions of the definitions of love and their application in the real world. Sternberg’s Theory however stands out by providing an excellent framework for dealing with this thorny issue and is admirably clear in setting out the parameters of the different types of love he identifies.
Sternberg suggests that for a relationship to succeed long term it is critical that both parties share the same kind of love and also share the ultimate goal of consummate love. Mismatched partners are likely to encounter disappointment without perhaps understanding why success has eluded them. It follows that if they can identify the type of love they and their partner are experiencing and see how well- or ill-matched they are, then they can gauge the chances that the relationship will prosper.
Fiona, applying these principles to your future partnerships may help you identify the kind of love your are feeling, decide whether your partner is similarly inclined and deploy your time, effort and other resources either in pursuing the relationship or moving on to newer pastures.
Best of luck,
Thank you very much for your letter. I fear I will seemingly contradict myself in my answer to you. On the one hand, no, it is definitely NOT true that you “must never have sex until the third/fourth date.” Rules like that – and any others with the words never, and always – seem meant to be broken, because always (haha, first contradiction) there will be at least one female for whom sex on the first date led to a wonderful relationship.
Om the other hand, however, a suggestion like that might be a good one to follow with most of the men you meet. Actually, it is not the number of dates you have with them, but has more to do with the number of hoops they have to go through first to have those dates with you and second, to get to have sex with you.
And there lies the second seeming contradiction: That truth is supposed to be the basis of every relationship. Thus, presuming one has taken care not to get pregnant and to be the recipient or the giver of STDs and now, omicron, “So why can’t one have sex right away, when the spirit moves? Why does one have to pretend to be coy and ‘hard to get?’”
Because, alas, the above is predicated on a much bigger truth, which is, when it comes to sex, there are differences that seem to be hard-wired instead of learned. Many people will disagree with me and that is fine.
But in my clinical experience, when it comes to questions like yours (or the other perennial: “How can such a smart man allow himself to be hoodwinked and fall in love with an empty-headed bimbo like her?!!?” Isn’t beauty only skin deep?!!?”) men and women are fundamentally different.
Dr. David Buss, a researcher in sex differences in mate selection, once said something along the lines of: “Men like women who are extremely hard to get except with them.”
When a man meets a woman on a dating app, he may wrongly think that she’s more willing to have sex than a woman he would be serious about. He can change his mind when he knows you better.
But it is crucial he realizes you do not have with everyone you like on a dating app. It is important that he feels a man has to meet your stringent standards before you have sex with him.
But how can a man get a true feel about you when meeting you on a dating app? He does not know your friends, has no idea of your dating/sexual history, has no paradigm with which to guess/judge what sort of a woman you are.
All he really knows is how long and how difficult it was before you agreed to sleep with him. If, in his mind, it was not difficult or long enough, then you might still have terrific sex, but he won’t fall in love with you. He will not be as deeply involved in the relationship as you are.
Dearest Fiona, it isn’t fair, I know, but at the moment, with sexism, slut shaming, etc. still around, this is our reality. If you find a man who does not fit this pattern, please, please ask if he has any single brothers who feel the same as he? I know a couple of women who would like to meet them 🙂
Wishing you the best in love and lust,
Please send any comments, questions, or requests for advice to firstname.lastname@example.org.