As I mentioned in last month’s column, wooing in a romantic relationship is apparently either on its way out, or has been out for a long, long time. But apparently that doesn’t always mean that delaying sexual gratification is on its way out. It just means that wooing may have been replaced by a little something called “establishing a foundation of friendship.” One difference – wooing generally originated from the man; the desire or request for the foundation of friendship invariably originates from the woman.

Get this. At least six different times, I’ve had dates with the same type of woman — one who has had a long history of wild, impulsive, passionate, no-holds-barred sex. She invariably finds something lacking in that lifestyle and decides to make a change. Starting with the very next man she dates. Who is invariably me. She tells me that I will not, in contrast to her sordid past, become the beneficiary of her uninhibited passions. No. With me, things will be different. Rather than her typical rushing into sex, she will hold out – and thus I will have to hold out – until she feels that we have established that all-important…(DRUMROLL)…Foundation of Friendship. Which will make the intimacy all the more special and long-lasting once it occurs. Don’t I agree?

Let me recreate one of these six magical conversations (or, better, monologues) that I’ve experienced. Share my pain: “Mark, I’m really flattered that you find me attractive enough to want to become intimate. I’m very attracted to you, too. And in the past, it wouldn’t have been unusual for me to jump into bed with a guy on the first, second, or third dates. And, don’t get me wrong, I love sex and am a very passionate and giving lover. I crave sex. But where are all those guys I had sex with? Obviously, not in the picture anymore. The only thing I have from them are my memories of the endless hot, steamy, sheet-drenched love-making. But I’m so over that now. It’s just not enough. I want and need a substantial, committed, lasting relationship. Which I know will not happen if we have sex right away. Look, I care about you. I want us to last. But for that to happen, and before we take our clothes off, it’s important to me that we establish that all-important…(DRUMROLL)…Foundation of Friendship. Don’t you agree?”

(SIGH) Jeez Louise, now I’m in a bind. If I disagree, she’ll perceive me as some impatient, horny pig who doesn’t care about her feelings, or our romantic future. But if I agree, for the next three months I may as well be a eunuch.

I try to strike a reasonable middle ground, saying that although I agree with her new direction in principle, I have noticed from my own experience, for what it’s worth, that the length of time I wait to have sex has little bearing on the relationship’s subsequent longevity. Some of my longest-lasting relationships started off with a bang, so to speak; and some of my shortest ones didn’t. But even before I get all the words out, I can see that her mind is made up, her legs are crossed, and for the next few months, the Pope and I will be sharing the exact same level of sexual activity.

Look, I don’t mind being punished for my own mistakes and behavior. But I keep being punished for other people’s lack of self-control and inhibitions. It’s just not fair. What do you think?

Mark Miller is a marketing specialist, current JDate member, Facebook fanatic and comedy writer who has performed stand-up comedy in nightclubs and on TV, written on numerous sit-com staffs, been a humor columnist for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate and is a current humor columnist for The Huffington Post. But he says he’d trade all his success away in a minute for immortality, inner peace and limitless wealth.
  1. Boy, there are some fundamental problems with this one, Mark, let me tell ya. Firstly, wooing did not begin with the man. No man has ever wooed a woman who didn’t send out the it’s ok to woo me vibe, which in itself is the first step of the wooeing process. So there. The man may think he is the head but the woman is the neck in the relationship. He looks where she wants him too…didn’t you see that movie?
    Second, the foundation of friendship is a falacy that most woman are aware of. You happen to be dating the women who think that maybe it’s their heightened sexuality which propels them to create sexual intimacy quickly and that can be blamed for the lack of long term partner in their lives. The fact is, anyone can get lucky or not. You just have no luck bud. Seriously. Six times? You are not being singled out to pony up for other people’s issues, you just keep picking the wrong girls. There is something that you like about these women…just sayin…
    As a single woman on the lookout for my beshert, I would love to think that we will meet, form deep and meaningful bonds based in respect, trust and most importantly friendship and then get married, and live happily ever after. But as a single woman on the lookout I know that it’s more likely that I will meet and then have sex with someone before I consider him my best friend. Let’s face it folks, the times they are a’changing. Friendship first is an ideal that many of us just have not experienced. I would like to think that the highly sexual beings who are changing their behaviors in hopes of meeting and staying with their bffs are doing so honorably, in love with themselves, and confident that intimacy is worth the wait. But I wonder if the faith that is required to get there isn’t the same faith required to believe in true love. In any case, Mark, I wish you luck and hope that you meet your bff soon.

  2. This is so hilarious. i found the same thought going through my mind. If i have sex right away it will ruin the relationship. But the opposite happened the guy decided he didnt want to use me. He was serious to start but once we met things suddenly turned.
    He decided he was meeting too any easy women and didn’t want to settle down after all.
    If we would have had sex things would have been ruined for sure but because I held my ground he decided to move on to easier pastures.
    life is real different now…to say the least.

  3. Oh, wooing is still here, biologically. Every man wants the thrill of the chase. But he’ll run far and fast from a desperate woman. A woman who likes sex and adores men will always have suitors and betcha’ they don’t run off so fast. It’s the same as always, since the Romans began reporting on these things: Insecure women who feel they have nothing to offer but sex have a hard time; the boys don’t like ’em. Women who have enough self respect to wait until they know a man before they take the leap, often fatal (aids) or otherwise compromising (herpes) will at the very least AVOID some awful situations. What’s the worst that can happen if you take your time? You’re a little disappointed that he didn’t like you enough to stick around? Good grief folks, it’s only dating – a look-see. If a man likes you he’ll take the time to woo. And you’ll be so much better off – you find out all about the fellow during courtship.

    And guys, c’mon. What’s the rush? Don’t you want to know what you’re getting into?

  4. Maybe friendship should come before marriage, and marriage before sex.

    When that oxytocin (the bonding hormone) kicks in after a woman’s orgasm, she starts expecting attachment, commitment, etc. even if she said otherwise before sex.

    And when a man follows his own hormones to seek sex before/without attachment and commitment, then the expectations of the man and woman are divergent and that usually means a failed relationship.

    The more each has their needs and expectations unmet, the more inured each becomes to real intimacy and ability to commit.

    The sexual revolution was great for fun, but bad for real, lasting relationships based on exclusive commitment.

  5. Rob seems confused about two very different ideas concerning sex — attachment/commitment, and friendship/respect. There seems to be an assumption that the woman somehow “changes” after having sex. She goes from being carefree and wild (“au naturel,” shall we say), to a needy, whiny female who insists on placing shackles on the unsuspecting male.

    There seems to be an assumption that the woman insists on *more* attachment after sex. When in actuality, she may just be expecting to be treated with respect, or for some sort of relationship to continue. Maybe the question is why men have sex with women they don’t really like, and why they can’t be honest about it.

    Seems like it’s the man who changes after sex, not the woman. We know what we want. We don’t go running in the other direction.

  6. Hi Mark,

    When you were growing up, you lived around the block and one of your best friends was my oldest brother Gary. He told me years ago that you’d become a comedian, and now, how fun to see you in print all these years later!

    Thanks for the grins,

    Deborah Lisman
    PS. I live in Vermont but will be visiting Rochester in a couple of weeks and will tell Gary about your article. By the way, did your parents ever return your towels? :o)

  7. I must say that fairness has nothing to do with it. Developing a solid friendship is safer and saner both emotionally and physically, not to mention that it is also, at least in theory, mandated religiously. The lady was also quite up front, possibly divulging too much information. I see no reason to complain.

    L´Shalom and Gmar Chatimah Tovah,

  8. I turned 82 two days ago. For the past three years, since my constant companion died, I have been dating age-appropriate women from three web sites, all to no avail. I am always in a hurry to know that the woman has no interest in me and is unlikely to develop any. I can wait if the waiting is part of getting there. Women old enough to know better have become angry with me, because I asked them if they are through with sex, when they say they want a companion — ’cause I don’t know what that means. She is quite open about telling me she likes to travel, fine dining, concerts, etc. Does she also mean, maybe she will do it if I really want it. Thanks but . . . Ted

  9. I think that it is good for people to get to know one another by doing alot of talking and then maybe they might feel that sex will be a good idea when they know alot about one another.

  10. Unfortunately there are men who are primarily focused on sex, and will do or say just about anything to get a woman into bed. They do not even have to like the woman, as long as she turns them on physically! This often can create great problems for women.

  11. I know that I can’t trust my judgement once sex is involved, so I’m going to wait until I find my beshert. I’m quite content with my life, but I’d like a long-term relationship in which sex is enjoyed as part of the whole, not a short, sexy relationship. Also important to mention the increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases in someone who has sex with lots of people.

  12. Unpleasant news coming: the women that give you that line just aren’t that into you. And if they’re telling you, “I’m taking a break from being easy”, do you really want to be that into them?

    Having said that, if I were seriously seeing a woman who refused to have sex after an appropriate period of dating, I would need to clearly understand — and believe — why, or I’d be moving on. Definition of “appropriate period of dating”? Don’t know. Situation-specific, communication-specific. That’s not to say I wouldn’t respect someone else taking that path, but I very probably wouldn’t marry a woman I hadn’t been to bed with.

    I would like to think that I am not talking about promiscuity, but I realize that different people have different definitions of promiscuity.

  13. It may be the case of you pushing for sex too early in the dating process. To hear that from 6 different women seems odd or you are meeting them at a Sex Addiction Rehab Center! I’d say re-evaluate your “game”….its a lot easier to strike out than hit a home run!!

    Best of luck!

  14. i feel that women and men need to be more accepting that god has created opposites and respect that and try to find a middle ground with good communication. regarding sex, men usually start with sex and then build a relationship while women usually start with a relationship and then get sexual.

  15. The correct answer to those women who want to take a break from being fast is “but I don’t care about being friends with you, I want to have sex with you. Thanks for wasting my time, and by the way we’re splitting the bill. In the meantime, I’m going to hunt for sex somewhere else. Actually, would you mind being my wingman?” Seriously end it right there. Done deal. If you hold out for her, she will probably get bored and realize she does want to have sex, but now you’re not attractive any more, no one really wants to have sex with a pawn. The main reason she wants you in that role isn’t to potentially date or marry you, it’s to keep you there as a safety so that in the future when things don’t work out, she can cry on your shoulder, knowing that you’ll do almost anything for her just to see her naked. You should make her feel bad about herself for attempting to use you in this way.

    Women, you don’t really care about taking things slow to be friends first, you care about feeling in control, or rather not feeling out of control. I understand, you’ve probably felt out of control since you went through puberty, when your body dictated your entire life, and I’m sorry, that’s the way things are. Just like women being the recipients of sexual advance (wooing) and men being the originators. Girls, don’t give me that nonsense about putting out the vibe; a guy wants to hit on every moderately attractive girl he sees all day long, and the only reasons he doesn’t is either fear, being busy or professional, or he’s already getting laid. The only vibe you can put out is one that’s not too intimidating, but not too easy at the same time.

    A good friendship can’t be forced. Already the claim to build a ‘foundation of friendship’ is total bull. It’s a chemistry too, just like sexual attraction, and it’s either there or not. It is independent of sexual attraction though. Guys probably don’t want to be your friends, ladies, we want to be your boyfriends and lovers. Stop making us your friends, we have enough friends, you do nothing for us except make us frustrated and feel impotent. Stop making us feel as helpless as you feel, even though I know misery loves company.

    Guys, the best way to do things is to know what kind of girl you’re dealing with. Is she fast? Then take things slow, make her wait until she can’t take it. Is she slow? Then take things fast or get out, because you will wind up in that awful humiliating friend zone, which you will anyways most of your life. Then, you have to figure out how to keep her into you, which may include doing non-sexual things with her, thus building your friendship.

    On another controversial topic, both men and women should sleep around. That’s what condoms and birth control are good for, use em. When you want to commit to one person, then commit, if the other partner is willing to commit to only you as well. Then and only then will your relationship be stable and balanced. I look forward to the hate mail –

  16. Great story about a question that I have heard much of my sixty four years! I agree with those who cite health concerns. That builds a big case for patience in my opinion.


  18. Interesting piece / article. We can all relate, and a lil humor also asa Mark made himself out to be the victim. I feel you, Mark. In hindsight, intimacy early on may not be a good thing and both genders (but esp. females) may have some regret later on. Friendship can make passion / physicality grow, but it can also “kill it.” Men think differently; most of us will not turn down sex if offered, assuming we’re attracted to her…even if our brians tell us “no” (we should wait). But sex is one avenue of bonding in a relationship, and women (especially!) remind us that is a key ingredient in making IT work…

  19. Women set the pace and write the rules. It is what it is. If you don’t like the rules she sets, move on.

  20. I’d like you to consider that if a relationship was mean to work, it will, and whatever happens sexually is a second matter. If a guy is only interested in a woman for sex, it will probably be short lived, and he’ll either get what he wants for a while, or he’ll move on.

    I had sex with my ex-wife on our first date. It lasted more than 14 years and we had 3 great kids. I’m a very sexual person, and it’s important to me, but the real connection between a man and a woman is heart to heart. Either that will be established or it won’t, and both parties need to keep up their antennae to see if it’s happening.

    Now, I won’t disagree that getting too sexual too early can derail a relationship if things get weird because of differing expectations, or that the woman feels too vulnerable or clingy as a result of having sex before trust was being developed. If sex and trust grow at a similar pace, I think the relationship has a chance of growing. If the guy is really interested in something long term, he’ll do things to build it.

    If a woman is really aware, I think she can tell when someone cares more about her and how she is, vs. getting between her legs. However, we do all fool ourselves at times, and fail to really see what’s happening, for the hope that it’s real.

    Of course, the final problem is that it surely seems that good guys finish last – men who are really nice often lose out and bad boys win. I’ve dated a few women who liked it more when I didn’t pay too much attention. Guys, if you ever read some of the David DeAngelo work, he addresses that. Weird phenomenon!

    And then there’s the female book readers of those “Date like a man” books I see on occasional night tables….

  21. Hi Mark

    My philosophy on all this is that it’s not black and white and each situation is different.

    I feel that as we fall in love with ourselves, which is really the ultimate prequisite to any healthy relationship, you learn to strike the right balance.

    First and foremost for me, I am on the journey I just mentioned above; falling in love with myself. From there I know everything is possible and I can have cirque de soleil, passionate lovemaking on one first date and coffee on another. My only rule these days is there are no rules.

    Happy hunting!

    All this means is that you’ve been passing up good for great. It’s on its way!


  22. I agree with Rob. When women have sex too early on in a relationship, they’ll almost always regret it. Oxytocin is only doing its job. Rules were given to us for a reason and we’re only now seeing the science behind those rules showing why they were given.

  23. One of the things sex early on “doesn’t ruin” is a “relationship” … in other words, you and the other person weren’t going to be in one anyhow.

    A set of “rules” … the other person may also be relieved … or … they may see this as disinterest or uptightness, a low sex drive, a lack of attraction, or even of their own failure. The result of course … everyone’s confused… and things often end far too early.

    Without doubt, there’s an elephant in the room … so … use your instincts and keep your guard up … slow down off back off when things don’t feel right … be yourself and who you really are when they dock … and be ready … … for some who aren’t right for you … some where you aren’t right for them … and some where you’re both right for each other.

    I wish you all … dates you can be yourself with … fun (and some good sex) along the way … and that you find the person you’re looking for.

  24. Take it from someone older, if not wiser: She or They are just not that into you. That’s completely an excuse. Three dates or three months? At almost 60 years of age, it seems to me it if there’s chemistry and interest it should fall somewhere in between and if there’s not, you’ll know it. Also, what happened to developing intimacy and the various steps in between? Do people go from a handshake or a kiss on the cheek to going to bed? Isn’t there something to be gained from building passion and desire by going from what we used to call 1st base, 2nd and so on, and using that to assess sexual compatibility and gauging expectations?

    You know what friendship leads to? Hearing about the other people they’re into and dating. Read the handwriting on the wall and Move on!

  25. Three comments:

    1. She’s just not that into you.

    2. As a woman, the idea of being “typed” according to whether I’ll put out early is kind of insulting. (I understand that’s not purely what you’re “typing” these women as, but you’re still typing me and it’s objectifying, Mark.)

    3. Nobody is “punishing” you. You’re not a victim; you’re a capable writer at one of the biggest-grossing personals website in the world, and you are a man of free agency.

    I’ve heard that “don’t punish me for other mens’ actions” a million and one times. Boo hoo! That’s just an excuse for wanting to get in my pants. At 38, I know what feels safe and comfortable and what works for me and what doesn’t. I’m not “punishing” you; I’m respecting myself. This isn’t about you; get over yourself. (And that message goes out to all men who use that excuse, not just you Mark.)

    The simple truth is, if women felt respected by men in general, they’d “put out” a lot sooner. I like sex, but I also like feeling wanted. I like pancakes in the morning and lunch in the afternoon. I like non-food-related accoutrements as well. But in essence, don’t just act like you like me when you want some, and then talk about how “busy” you’re going to be over the next couple of weeks after you’ve gotten it (and no it’s not because I’m bad in bed because I’m damn good in bed.)

    Man up. Respect.

  26. Hi everyone.

    I don’t know what to say exactly. I think this depend on situation. If nature called in both, then why not. .This is an attraction feeling. It’s actually no waiting period for this. Definitely cannot be just from one side, other side supposed to be ready too. If this happens very soon then the close relationship started immediately. Why do we have to waste of time? I am just kidding. Nothing wrong with sooner sex if this is an appropriate and acceptable from both sides. And love started with understandings, trust, respect, care and you name it…Sometimes we live with a person for many years but still don’t know this person exactly.

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