How long did it take YOU to give in to passion?

So… how long did it take YOU to give in to passion? It’s the great dating dilemma – when should you first make love with a new partner. As Carla Bruni reveals she and Nicolas Sarkozy hopped into bed after two dates, these brave writers reveal all

  • Seven Femail writers recalled their varied experiences with sex while dating
  • One waited for 30 entire dates – even after he proposed on the second meet-up  
  • Another was nervous to have sex while she was going through the menopause

Carla Bruni has revealed she slept with Nicolas Sarkozy on their second date, while Harry and Meghan did it on the third, hint the authors of their biography, Finding Freedom. 

So how long did you wait? 

And does the length of time ever indicate whether the relationship will be a success — or doomed? 

Seven Femail writers recall their very different first experiences.

Carla Bruni has revealed she slept with Nicolas Sarkozy on their second date, how do our Femail writers compare?

Before the first date… Why waste time? 

Julie Burchill 

I may be a settled-down sexagenarian these days, but I’ve never, ever been on a date with someone I haven’t slept with first. 

What’s the point? They might be a total wash-out in bed — and then you’ll have wasted an evening making small talk. 

It’s not that I’ve been promiscuous, sadly; I’ve married a high proportion of the men I’ve had sex with, getting with my first husband as a teenager and then marrying the next two as soon as the ink on the decree absolute on the last one was dry. 

I’ve never been romantic, which dates seem to be all about; soft lights and sweet music and haggling over the bill. 

‘Why waste time?’ asks Femail writer Julie Burchill, who says she’s never been on a date with someone she hasn’t slept with first

And when I hear some fool banging on about The One, I think of what the late Peter Ustinov said about friends: ‘They are not necessarily the people you like best — they are merely the people who get there first.’ 

The same goes for lovers; in my experience, it’s less about The One than The Queue. 

Over the years, you work your way through the line of people you’re attracted to, finally ending up with the one you don’t have the energy to leave. 

Some might see a life containing three marriages as a failure — but with each consecutive one lasting five years, ten years and now 25 years, I do seem to have got better at choosing along the way. 

Would it have been different if I’d waited and dated? No. 

When the poet John Betjeman was asked on his death bed whether he had any regrets, he answered: ‘Yes — I wish I’d had more sex.’ I don’t believe that anyone ever wished they’d had more awkward, cliched, humdrum dates. 

30 dates… Though he proposed on the second 

Jeannette Kupfermann 

Like Carla Bruni and Nicolas Sarkozy, it was love at first sight with my late artist husband Jacques when we met on a blind date in New York in 1963. 

Jeannette Kupfermann says she was in love at first sight with her partner, but they still waited 30 dates 

I was 22, he was 38. I just knew as he drove me round a snow-covered Central Park in his blue VW Microbus that he was The One. 

So perhaps it was surprising that we didn’t jump into bed together immediately, or even after he had proposed on our second date and I’d said ‘yes’. 

In fact, it took a long time — about a month of daily dates — before we did the deed. 

We almost take it for granted now that, even if there’s no coup de foudre, people will have instant sex, almost in lieu of a goodnight kiss, as if it’s a litmus test to find out if the relationship is worth pursuing. 

Rather than the other way round, which means discovering the essence of the person and then deciding whether it will lead to that final consummation. 

We both wanted it to be just right and neither of our Manhattan flats was exactly ‘love nest’ material. 

His was a paint-spattered West-Side apartment. 

Mine was largely furniture-less, as all my earnings went on rent, and I shared it with a Danish anthropologist who was always home studying. 

When it finally happened on a break to a beautiful mountain retreat, after those whirlwind weeks of heart-to–heart talking, dancing, meeting friends, telling parents, making plans, it was absolutely right and I’m glad we waited. 

Today, when many women (and men, too) more or less feel that sex is obligatory after one dinner date (or even a drink), many people either marvel at the ‘romance’ of my experience or tell me I must have been crazy to accept a proposal without even knowing if we were physically compatible. (We were and stayed married for 25 years.) 

They also wonder how we managed to hold off. Neither of us was immune to the power of lust. 

But this was not today. 

The Pill, sex as liberation, a woman’s ‘right’, hadn’t happened yet. In spite of the 1960s myths, it wasn’t all sex, drugs and rock’n’ roll. 

I still had my mother’s words ‘a man will never respect you if you do’ in my head. . . and you don’t shake that off so easily.

It meant we all rather took for granted lots of male attention, pampering and dinner invitations, all for nothing more than a goodnight kiss. 

First date… With my boss, then she snubbed me

Brian Viner

Are we meant to be shocked that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle slept together on their third date, Carla and Nicolas on only their second? 

Things didn’t get off to the best start for Brian Viner after having sex with his boss on their first date

What on earth took them all so long?

In February 1990, having found the brass neck to ask my boss out for dinner, we ended up at my little flat and, in truth fuelled as much by alcohol as passion, spent the night together. 

Jane wasn’t exactly my boss, but she was several links further up the chain of command. 

I was a fledgling reporter on a local newspaper; she was the deputy news editor. 

On Monday mornings, I had to sit at her desk where she handed out the week’s assignments. 

By about my fifth week, as she told me to cover the council’s next housing committee meeting, words that wouldn’t have sounded sexy even from the mouth of Marilyn Monroe, I realised with a jolt that I fancied her.

Several months of housing committee meetings passed, very slowly. 

If she fancied me back, why was she making me spend almost unendurable Tuesday evenings in Camden Town Hall? 

On the other hand, I felt some electricity between us, only about enough to power a dim light-bulb, but it was definitely there. 

So I asked her out and she said yes. 

We had dinner, far too much wine, and that was that. 

Except it wasn’t. She had some holiday owing, and took it the next day. 

When she came back, it was if I’d dreamt it all. 

It was business as usual in front of her desk. 

I had to follow her to the post office one lunchtime to ask what was, or wasn’t, going on between us. 

She said it was complicated, that she didn’t want an office romance, could we just be friends for the time being? 

To both of us, for different reasons, sex on our first date felt like a mistake.  

But then she left the newspaper to join the BBC and, duly emboldened, I asked her out again. 

We didn’t sleep together that night, which in a sense made it feel more like a bona fide date, though we caved in again a few nights later. 

We’ve now been happily married for almost 28 years, and have three children, not one of them named after anyone on the 1990 Camden Council housing committee.

40 dates for my husband… three for the love of my life 

Liz Hodgkinson

It took a long time for my first serious boyfriend and me to go to bed together, partly because we were students sharing rooms and didn’t have any private beds to jump into. 

Liz Hodgkinson waited more than a year with her husband

Also we were young — only 19 — and inexperienced and I was terrified of becoming pregnant. 

So we managed it after maybe 40 dates, which was probably a year or more. In those days, the early 1960s, it was common to wait until at least an engagement to go to bed together.

I can’t now remember when the great event eventually happened and no, he had not at that time proposed. 

But, once we had gone to bed together, it was an unsaid expectation that we would marry. 

Although the marriage eventually ended, we had many good years together before we divorced when I was in my 40s. 

With my second long-term relationship, though, it was a very different story. 

Divorced, I was definitely not looking for another love affair. And then, four years into my single life, I met the writer John Sandilands at a party. 

He was in his late 50s, witty, entertaining and highly perceptive. 

I had long admired his work but was hardly prepared for the overwhelming impact the man himself would have on me. 

We got talking, oblivious to the other guests at the party, and a few days later my phone rang. 

It was John, who asked me out to dinner. As we drove to the restaurant a strange feeling began to take over. 

I thought: ‘Oh no, I’m falling in love with this man.’ We didn’t go to bed together that night, or on the next date, but on the third encounter, yes, it happened. 

It could not be put off any longer. We knew we were meant for each other. 

We had clicked instantly, body, soul and mind, and sleeping together was so thrilling that our partnership lasted for 12 years, ending only with his sudden death. 

Otherwise I am sure we would still be together. 

First date… but it was one year after we met

Candida Crewe 

I met the man who was to become my husband when I went to stay with some friends in Belfast and slept with him on our first date. 

But our first date was a year after we had actually met. He was seven years younger than me so, for many months, I didn’t think of him in ‘that’ way. 

Whenever I went back to Belfast to stay with our mutual friends, I saw him. 

Or talked to him on the telephone when he rang my friends from the far flung places he travelled to for his work as a photographer. 

Candida Crewe met her husband when she went to stay with some friends in Belfast and slept with him on their first date

We met in London when he returned from a long stint in Russia, emaciated. 

He arrived at Waterstones in Charing Cross Road to hear our Belfast friend reading from his new novel, and sat next to me. 

Afterwards a gang of us went to the pub and something clicked. We hugged each other tightly in tacit acknowledgment. 

A few days later, the two of us went to a low-key hamburger place, our first official ‘date’ and he came back to my flat — and never left. 

We were together for nearly 20 years and have three children. 

Although we divorced in 2010, we are the best of friends. 

My mother always counselled against sleeping with a man on the first date but I disagree. Sometimes it’s the right thing to do; sometimes not. 

Contrary to old wives’ tales, how soon or late one ends up in bed with a new lover doesn’t have any bearing on the long-term outcome. 

I think that is all down to luck and happenstance and rarely, if ever, down to whether the deed was done on Date One or 21. 

First date… I think chemistry is everything

Katie Glass 

Just do it! That’s my motto. If you meet someone you fancy, why not jump straight into bed? 

I don’t care for Victorian prudishness or manipulative ‘Rules’ about making men wait a certain number of dates. 

I can’t think of anything worse than committing to someone only to find out much later that you don’t click in bed. 

I’ve never batted an eyelid at the idea of sleeping with someone on the first date — and certainly it’s never affected the longevity of my relationships.

‘If you meet someone you fancy, why not jump straight into bed,’ argues London-based writer Katie Glass

I fell into bed with the first love of my life. 

Five years later he still hadn’t left. 

I had a one-night-stand with the man who would go on to become my fiance. 

I think it’s important to go into a relationship knowing that the chemistry between you is there between the sheets. 

You wouldn’t buy a house without going on a viewing, or join a company without finding out what they do. 

How can you commit to a relationship with someone without knowing if the sex will be any good? Or if you like the same things?

Imagine getting six months down the line only then to discover their weird fetishes! 

The era when women used sex as a prize was tied up to their economic vulnerability, now we don’t have to wait. 

I don’t think there’s shame with jumping into bed with someone I’m thinking of dating because my worth isn’t measured by how ‘pure’ I am.

I’m happy to sleep with someone on a first date because it’s important to me to have chemistry with my mate.

It gives relationships glue. 

In those moments you’re screaming about the washing up, it helps if you look over and think ‘he’s cute’. 

15 dates… How could he cope with me in mid-menopause? 

Linda Kelsey

At the age of 56, after 24 years of fidelity to one man, I was, frankly, terrified.

Despite being in reasonable shape for my age, the thought of stripping off in front of anyone felt so almighty a challenge that I was considering celibacy. 

There was also the unfortunate timing of my menopause which was only just kicking in, resulting in bedsheets being kicked off, not to mention the occasional 3am shower and change of nightclothes in an attempt to cool things off. 

Linda Kelsey has explained how the menopause made her nervous to sleep with another man after her husband

How would any new man deal with that? 

Then, during my first year of separation, and after a few desultory dates, I met Ron. 

He was funny and selfdeprecating, sensitive and smart. Like me, he loved to walk everywhere. 

So we walked and talked for hours. We went to the movies, out to eat, I cooked him supper. 

But after almost three months we’d done nothing more intimate than have an end-of-evening hug. 

I liked the scent of him, but always quickly pulled back.

The most daring thing I did during that period was buy some gorgeous new underwear on a just-in-case basis. I was both waiting for him to make the first move and hoping he wouldn’t. 

By now it was July. I went off on a family holiday to Spain with my sister and her husband. I felt braver (at a distance) and wrote Ron faintly suggestive emails. 

I confided in my sister that the first thing I was going to do when I got home again was have sex with this lovely man. 

Or at least try to initiate it. That first weekend back in England we went for a long walk in the countryside. 

We held hands, kissed properly for the first time. 

That evening he came back to my place to eat and after a couple of glasses of wine I took his hand and led him to the bedroom. 

It was all so easy. It turns out Ron had sensed my fear and didn’t want to rush me. 

Wise move. Since that first evening 12 years have gone by, and we’ve hardly spent a night apart. 

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