It’s date night. The hours are melting away, and soon you’ll be in a packed bar, drink in hand, trading witty jokes, and funny stories with your date.

If all goes well, you’ll develop some chemistry as the night progresses. Perhaps the connection between you two will even turn physical. If you’re really lucky, the evening might end back at one of your places for a nightcap and some making out. Then … sex?

Having sex on the first date is a fascinating concept. The idea of going from near-total strangers to about as intimate as you can get with a person (at least, physically) in just a matter of hours is a powerful one. Regardless, if you’re reading this, chances are you’re curious about how to make it happen.

However, there are some ground rules to establish, some pointers to offer, and some situations to avoid. Let’s begin.

Don’t Have Any Expectations

Lots of guys get it in their heads that if a date doesn’t lead to some form of physical or sexual intimacy, it’s a failure or a waste of time and money. If you take away one thing from reading this, it should be that a first date is just a first date.

It’s not a promise of something long-term, and anything that happens can swing the other way on subsequent dates.

Assuming you don’t go broke paying for the date, a date that leads nowhere isn’t a waste of money so much as it is a learning experience. You have a better idea of what you’re looking for, as well as what to avoid. If you approach it in those terms, it’s better to gain experience from bad dates so you’re confident when you’re on the good ones.

Don’t Force It

Before you forge ahead with your plans to have first-date sex, it’s only fair that you read some words of caution regarding the whole situation. Frankly, first date sex isn’t necessarily all it’s cut out to be.

If you do have consensual sex with your date, there’s zero guarantee that it’ll be, y’know, good.

You’re basically strangers, and even if you’ve known each other for longer than a few days, you probably don’t know each other’s turn-ons, fetishes, or no-go areas yet.

First-date sex is a minefield of potential awkward misfires, with one or both of you trying things the other person isn’t into, or not trying things the other person is into. Talking about all this on the fly can be tricky, too. The likelihood that it’ll be great, passionate and, perfect is pretty low.

Not to mention, sex on the first date can be f tricky because consent is harder to navigate. Even if you go into it with good intentions, you most likely don’t know your date well enough yet to read their facial or non-verbal cues.They might not be comfortable enough to let you know if or when you’re making them feel uncomfortable.

How to Prepare

First-date sex can still be a positive thing if done right.

Whatever you do, don’t put do-or-die pressure on yourself, your date, or the evening when it comes to sex. Sure, sex is a possible outcome and it can be nice, but if you approach the situation thinking, “We have to have sex,” there’s a good chance you’ll either be disappointed, creep your date out, or do something you’ll regret.

Instead, approach the situation with the mentality that sex is a nice bonus, not a given. If you’re comfortable and not pushy about it, your date will feel more comfortable, which you’ll likely benefit from.

“Every person is different,” says Dr. Jess O’Reilly, host of the “@SexWithDrJess Podcast.”

“Some are open to having sex on the first date and others may want to wait. There is no right way to do things and averages are irrelevant in light of personal values and preferences. Just because some people are open to having sex right away doesn’t mean they’ll be better in bed or more open-minded overall. You can be sexually open-minded and have one partner — or you might have a hundred.”

Once the first date is well underway, and if (only if!) you’re developing a good vibe, it’s possible to bring up sex in a way that won’t seem overly forward. The real pro tip here is to let your date bring up sex. That way, you’ll have a sense of how comfortable they are with sex and discussing likes and dislikes without putting yourself in a position that becomes awkward.

It’s also important not to get too drunk or high on your first date to prevent making a bad first impression, for starters, but especially if sex is on the table . If you and/or your date aren’t sober enough, navigating consent becomes basically impossible.

“Permission can’t be given when drunk or on drugs,” says Laurel House, dating coach on the “Man Whisperer” podcast and resident sex expert for My First Blush, an online sex-toy retailer.

That’s not just good moral advice, it’s also sound legal advice. Beyond a certain point, it’s impossible to give consent. Stay sober, or at least relatively sober, and keep those complications out of the picture.

Speaking of potential complications, sex with a near-stranger is a big deal. It’s important to make protection a priority..

You don’t want a great night to turn into a horrible morning or long-running sexual health issue. An STI and/or a pregnancy could seriously upend either of your lives.

While there isn’t a 100 percent effective contraceptive measure, condoms significantly cut down on the likelihood of both STI transmission and unplanned pregnancy. So play it smart on the first date and not only have protection ready, but before sex, let your partner know if you have any STIs, and ask if they have any.

What Happens Afterward

If you actually do have first-date sex, congratulations! However, now you’re left to wonder what happens afterward.

Immediately after sex, the question of whether to cuddle or not will probably come up. Cuddling is like sex in that consent is important.Unless you’re extremely opposed to the idea, find out if your date wants to cuddle and then respect their wishes.

Like cuddling, some people will want to talk about the sex afterward, and some won’t. Don’t force a sex recap conversation on your date if they’re not interested. If you’re both open to it, post sex could be a good time to check in and see how they’re feeling, what they liked, or whether they’d be interested in doing it again.

Unfortunately, just because someone has sex with you once doesn’t mean they’ll be up for having sex with you again.

You should recognize that this might have been a one-off, and remember not to get offended or angry if your date asks you to leave or simply states that they’re not interested in doing it again.

More importantly, don’t assume you’re in a relationship after it’s over.

While it’s possible your date consented to sex because they feel strongly about you, it’s also possible i they’re only interested in a sexual relationship, not a romantic one.

Rather than assuming, ask your date what the sex meant before going forward.

“Be honest about your intentions,” advises Dr. Jess.

“Do you want to see them again for another sex romp or are you hoping to parlay your sexual connection into a relationship? Don’t sext photos with sexual enticements and the promise of casual sex if what you’re really hoping for is something more serious.”

First-Date Sex Pro Tips

If you’ve read this far, you’re familiar with the basics. Finally, let’s go over some last-minute tips to ensure that you’re truly set for sex on the first date.

On top of having condoms on deck, if you’re the one hosting, consider having some lube and a towel at the ready. If they’re not right by the bed, have them somewhere accessible .

Regardless of your date’s gender, lube is never a bad choice, and assuming you won’t need any could lead to some sticky situations, literally and figuratively.

As for the towel, in case your date’s menstruating, having a dark towel on hand means no bloodstains on your sheets. You’ll both be grateful.

If your date came to your place and has to take a cab or rideshare home, consider paying for it. It’s a gentlemanly move that shows you’re considerate, kind, and appreciative.

If you went to your date’s place, try not to overstay your welcome. That doesn’t have to mean sneaking out before your date’s even woken up (or leaving immediately after the sex is over). Instead, it means being conscious that you might not be welcome indefinitely.

If you’re not sure when you should leave, you can ask. Maybe your date wants you to sleep over, stay for breakfast, or stay past breakfast. If not, hanging around awkwardly will quickly put an end to future plans.

Finally, just remember that consent is the most important thing about fun sex, as it’s the foundation of everything good that comes afterward. You should pay a lot of attention to whether you have your date’s consent, and if they’re doing something you don’t like, you should tell them!

“Make absolutely sure that your partner wants it too,” says House. “You must have permission from them first.”

That doesn’t just mean asking before you take your clothes off, only to plow forward once you’ve gotten a “yes.”t It actually means checking in regularly, before or after trying anything new.

Ask things like “Is this OK?” and “Do you like this?” rather than just assuming. It might not sound sexy during first-date sex, but it’s a lot sexier than realizing afterward that none of it was OK.

So good luck out there! And remember, it’s much better to have a good first date that doesn’t lead to sex but does lead to a second and third and fourth date, than to have a bad first date that ends in bad sex and you never talking to each other again.