It was your first date, but you kinda knew what it was hittin’ for before the plates and glasses from dinner even had a chance to be cleared off the table. The chemistry between you and him had been crazy the entire evening. Every time you looked up, he was smiling with his eyes and grinning harder than a new Powerball winner. Because you’re a natural flirt, it was hard not to give him your best vampy, vixen smolder, so eventually you gave up on holding it back and let your body language say the things you’re too ladylike to express out loud. You laughed and joked and played around all the way from the restaurant to the lounge to the car to the plush, queen-sized bed in your room.

Yep, you broke the cardinal rule of all good girl behavior: you got busy on the first date. Legs in the air, hair all over the place, gotta get up to get a glass of water afterwards kind of sex that makes your body smile from the inside out.

But the morning after. Ah, the morning after. The morning after has a way of recoloring the fun you had the night before with an objective, responsible perspective that you didn’t have when the crown of your head was dangling off the edge of the mattress onto the floor. You cut your eye at the almost-stranger with his greasy head all over your favorite accent pillow, mentally scolding yourself for becoming one of those women you and your girls chastise for giving it up too soon. The crazy part is you actually really like this guy. And now you’re worried that he’ll treat you like a one-hit wonder because after all, he did already dig all up in your cookie jar. The possibility of him wanting more in the form of a real relationship is a toss up.

And so begins the morning-after mania of first-date, too-soon, no-commitment, what-the-heck-is-his-last-name-again? sex.

Most guys I’ve heard speak on the subject will say that whether it’s the first date or the fourteenth, bustin’ it up doesn’t have any bearing on whether or not they’ll deal with the girl on a more exclusive level in the future. If he likes her, he likes her regardless and will want to continue seeing her. Apparently, guys don’t sweat the inaugural sexual timeline as much as we do—which really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise since they don’t sweat too much of anything as hard as us ladies do.

So the question actually isn’t whether he’ll respect you the morning after. The question is will you respect yourself?

Sex for most women—not all, but most—is all tangled up with intimacy, emotion and positive affirmation. TV shows and articles in Cosmo may make casual sex look contemporary chic, the hip thing to do now that we make power moves in the work world and money moves in our finances. According to the unofficial Sistagirls’ Guide to Modern-Day Mating, success in those areas means we should be able to cleave physical ecstasy from psychological effect. But only a small percentage of women are actually wired to bedhop and bump nasties and do the horizontal Humpty Dance without developing some kind of attachment or racking up a whole heap of baggage from adventures in promiscuity. A man can ho around and live a life that looks like something out of the MTV reality lineup even as a 30 or 40-something bachelor (which is, nonetheless, pretty pathetic), but women are more likely to end up dissatisfied with our whole lives in general if that one part of it—our sexual relationship—is jacked up.

When we’re giving of ourselves in body, we need to be able to do the same emotionally and maintain that connection with our partner. I’m not saying there aren’t women out there who can’t have purely no-strings-attached, you’re-just-a-jumpoff situations. I know some personally who can and have pulled it off. But more often than not, I’ve seen the attempt at casual sex fall flat on its noncommittal face. Before homegirl knows what’s really good, she’s wondering what he’s doing during the day and calling him for reasons other than inviting him to travel down to her happy place. Every time they have sex, she grows a little bit more and a little bit more and then just a little bit more attached to him until, woe is her, she’s smitten. Meanwhile, he can’t zip up his Levis’ fast enough to abort mission via the closest escape route.

Because most women just aren’t built for hit-and-quit sexual rendezvous, it’s no wonder that a chick who gives it up on Day One would be a little worried about her prospects with a guy who pulled a first round TKO. In fact, research shows that gals in monogamous relationships who’ve had just one partner in the context of a relationship over the course of a year are happier, shinier people than the other segment of the population who are dipping into the community pool of naughtiness on a regular basis. It doesn’t take a long tussle with statistics or compiling facts and figures for me. It’s called common sense.

That doesn’t mean a lady who gives up fighting sexual temptation should beat herself up for giving in on the first date. It just means that if she likes him—and likes what she saw the night before—the conversation about the reality of the relationship needs to happen as fast as they operated in the heat of the moment.

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