In my new (and my first!) novel, The Widow’s Guide to Sex & Dating, I draw on my own dating misadventures, as well as on my experiences as a young widow, to create a fictional account of what women face after ending a relationship: that is, putting yourself out there to date again and trying to find the silver lining in the chance to start over.
My heroine, Claire, is a young Manhattanite whose always interesting but philandering husband has suddenly died. She’s looking to pick up the pieces of her life and, also capture some of what she felt was missing in her life with that husband: authentic, passionate love. And isn’t that what we all want? While I don’t have a guide or strict set of rules I follow when it comes to dating, the one rule I think women should generally abide by is: Don’t have sex with a man until he thinks he’s in love with you.
And let’s be clear: A man thinking he’s in love and actually being in love are two totally different things. The French philosopher, Stendhal, wrote extensively on this very subject. He called it “crystallization.” It’s the moment a man crystalizes a women in his mind as the object of his desire. That’s the moment he thinks he’s in love. Sometimes this happens instantly. Have you ever had a boyfriend who said, “I loved you the minute I met you?” Maybe a nice sentiment for a Hallmark card but in reality – well, let’s not get carried away.
Certainly there are stories of women who’ve slept with their boyfriends on the first or second date and they end up getting married. But I’d bet those men thought they were in love! As much as men don’t want to admit it, men are whimsical when it comes to love; they believe in love at first sight, and in fate. Women, on the other hand, are much more practical. I’ve been with a few men who I suspected by the third date were thinking, “I think I’m in love with this girl.” The trick is to not take it personally! When a man thinks he’s in love, you can easily tell – he pursues you. And let him, he loves it. So remember no sex before he thinks he’s in love. Got it? Sex is powerful. I mean, it was invented to make other human beings. So my advice this Valentine’s Day? If you’re looking for lasting love, don’t play hard to get. Be hard to get.