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  • Mattie Jo Cowsert

Too Soon?

Updated: Mar 31

I had just finished working with some billionaire kids in Tribeca when I got a text from a dude who I assumed was no longer interested. Instead of continuing my walk unbothered because I am a strong, confident woman whose emotions are not dictated by a simple text message, I had a total meltdown. I parked myself at the nearest establishment that would serve me white wine, started to sob, and called my big brother for help.

At the time, I was a year and a half into sexual trauma therapy. I’d done a lot of intellectual work with my therapist around how I could show up more honestly and powerfully in romantic and/or sexual relationships.* My hatred and fear of men was starting to alleviate, so I figured it was time to take my studies from clinical to the field, and start dating again.

*you can read more about that here, here, and really anything written in 2018 but also here


I met Roger on a dating app a few months prior. He was actually not that handsome, but I went through a phase where I was really into the bald, thick rimmed glasses thing, so I thought he was a babe. He was from the South and had a successful career in journalism. We matched and chit-chatted for a bit, but he never initiated plans to actually see me, so I let it go.

Weeks later I was meeting a writing mentor for coffee at her office. I looked around that bustling work space full of real writers, hoping no one would find out all I do is write a blog, when the imposter syndrome party in my head abruptly halted.


I spotted him. ROGER.

Was this the Universe bringing us together?!?! My Enneagram 4 brain/heart started to envision us telling people this story. “We connected on a dating app, but Roger wasn’t actually interested until I ended up at his office by divine intervention. Now we are married and are both rich writers.” Modern Love here we come.

So I reached out again.

“Hey. This is super random but, do you work at [fancy journalism office]? I know that’s weird, but I was there and I think I saw you eating what appeared to be a Chipotle Burrito.”

It was him.

I texted my brother on the way home. “I just went on the best date ever.”

Brother shot back “That’s great! But proceed with caution. Most men are trash.”

“What are the odds??” he responded. “I’m sorry I never followed up about our date. I got busy with moving into this apartment I just bought, and my mom was in town for my birthday. Let’s finally get that drink.”

Flex to tell me he bought an apartment and spends his birthdays with his mom? We got drinks the next day.

The date went so well. There was never a lull in conversation, he was super smart and laughed at my jokes. At the end of the date, he kissed me and asked when he could see me again. I told him I was pretty booked for the next two weeks, but I was free Thursday.

“Then I’ll see you Thursday?”

YAYAYAYAYAYAYAY HE’S INTO ME!!! He couldn’t wait two weeks to see me so he’d like to see me twice in one week! I was elated.

I texted my brother on the way home. “I just went on the best date ever.”

Brother shot back “That’s great! But proceed with caution. Most men are trash.”

Ugh. You suck, big bro! Roger is not trash! He is smart and successful and classy and wears thick rimmed glasses. Also, he is very into me don’t rain on my parade.

Two days later I ended up at Roger’s apartment where we had consenting adult sexy time.

And then, I stopped hearing from Roger as much. His communication was sporadic and never with a “when can I see you?” When he did make plans, he would cancel at the last minute. One night I was so upset about his canceling AGAIN, I stayed in and got sad drunk with the mom I was nannying for that evening. Hard times.

I was a ball of anxiety and frustration. Why had Roger, who was just so into me initially, lost interest?

I'll tell ya why: I slept with him “too soon.”

Growing up Evangelical and with abstinence only education, it was drilled into my head that a man would not respect me if I slept with him “too soon.” And that is his right --as a person with a penis--to place judgement and shame on a person with a vagina for engaging in the EXACT SAME ACT AS HIM.

And I, vagina-having-person, just have to accept this lack of respect from penis-having-person because if I wanted him to respect and desire me as a wife (never “partner” btw), I should have waited to have sex with him. I put myself in that slut cage. My bad.

After being stood up by Roger (twice), I was super bummed. But as mentioned above, I knew it was all my fault so I couldn’t be mad. Just eat some Oreos and proceed to your next disappointing dating scenario, MJ.

So when he did text me, I was shocked by my reaction. I went into full blown panic/crisis mode over a dude I’d seen exactly 3 times IRL. What was wrong with me???

Oh I’m involuntarily processing purity culture/patriarchal trauma. Got it.

Through tears and Sauvignon Blanc, I expressed my sadness, anger, and helplessness in the whole situation to my brother.

“I just...I don’t want to feel like this! Why are men so shitty? I want to have sex with guys I like and not live in fear that doing so is going to make him no longer like me because in his mind, I’m now a total ho. I am not a ho! (beat) Or maybe I am! But that doesn’t mean I’m not also talented, ambitious, financially responsible, kind, funny, considerate, (ripped), a great friend, daughter, sister, and caretaker of other people’s children UGH.”

“Mattie.” Brother responded. “This has nothing to do with you having sex with Roger.”

Um, yes it does. I wouldn’t expect you to understand, MAN. You don’t get harshly judged about your sex having and then thrown into a slut cage to rot forever.

I didn’t say that. Instead I said:

“Are you sure?”

“Yes. Roger didn’t lose interest. He was never interested.”

First of all, fuck off. Second of all, go on.

“But he seemed so interested on our first date! I mean, he asked to see me twice in one week!”

“Matts.” Brother continued, “Anyone can put on a show for a few dates. Based on what you’ve told me, for whatever reason, Roger hasn’t been invested from the beginning. He didn’t make a plan to see you until you were literally in his work place. He doesn’t really text you or keep his commitments to your dates. Does that behavior make clear that he’s into you or into dating...at all?”

Guys who are into you are going to stick around well after sex.

Guys who were never interested to begin with, aren’t going to stick around just to have sex.

At that moment, I was very embarrassed someone other than me had to point out something that should have been blatantly obvious to me.

“You’re right.” I said. “At the very least, if this IS how Roger shows interest, it totally sucks and I don’t want any part of it.”

“Right. YOU want someone who makes a plan, who communicates, who shows he’s invested with his attention and time. Roger’s not that guy. Do you want to sleep with guys who don’t respect your time and/or show genuine interest in you?”

That hit me hard. As an ex-purity ring wearer, I’d spent most of my twenties having all the sex to make up for the years of experience I thought I’d lost compared to the rest of humanity. At 27, I was just getting around to pursuing good sex. This question was another step in my defining, for myself, what a positive sexual experience could be.

“No. I don’t." I responded.

“Okay, that’s great information for you to have about yourself! So maybe the only ‘too soon’ that exists here, is if you sleep with a dude before you know his level of genuine interest. Guys who are into you are going to stick around well after sex. Guys who were never interested to begin with, aren’t going to stick around just to have sex. You can spare yourself the anxiety that seems to come up from sleeping with the latter."

*sips sav blanc* “I like this plan.”

I didn’t pay my brother for that therapy session, but I think I should have.

I know I’m not the only woman who has abided by this story. The I feel empowered in my sexuality and chose to have sex, so that's why he lost interest. This is just further proof that women can’t safely be expressed sexually with anyone other than their husband! I guess I just have to stay in the slut cage or get married to express my sexuality without fear of being disposed of afterwards! story.

Within it, I felt helpless and unchosen. My wanting sex then having sex was the reason no man would “stick around.” Even though let’s circle back to the fact that THERE WAS ALSO A MAN INVOLVED WHERE IS HIS SOCIALLY PROJECTED SHAME SPIRAL??? I digress…

But none of that is true. None. Of. It.

Here’s what is true.

If we, as women, buy into the lie that our value is solely based on our sex-having, we allow the theft of our brains, bodies, and personal standards. Furthermore, it absolves the other person of having any part in why a relationship -- early dating to long term partnership -- doesn’t work out. For example, when I believed that the demise of Roger and I was based on my having sex with him, I couldn’t see all the red flags the guy was basically wearing as a suit. I didn’t even give thought to all the ways maybe he did not meet my standards for a potential partner. I slapped all the blame on myself.

When I took off my patriarchal positioned I’m an unlovable ho goggles, I came out of a helpless, unwantable me fog. I paid better attention to what was happening right in front of me with the dudes I was dating. With clarity and confidence, I assessed whether or not they were what I wanted. After Roger, I can honestly say, I was able to make empowered choices in my sexual and/or romantic relationships, without falling victim to above mentioned bullshit.

Lastly, in the case that I did come across a dude who, even after I waited to see if he met my standards, stopped talking to me “because we had sex,” I knew I would be unbothered. That dude did not respect me (or any woman) in the first place. He’s an asshat, and it has nothing to do with me and my value. No more tears in my sauvignon blanc for misogynist day walkers.




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