Titanic premiered the year I was born, which means that by the time I first saw it at age 11 — staying up till the wee hours of the morning in a vacation rental to watch a heavily edited-for-cable version on a tiny TV screen that had been around at least as long as the film itself — Titanic was old news. The fact that within the past decade, the film, then still the highest-grossing of all time, had been watched, awarded and parodied within an inch of its life, however, did not stop me from spending the next several days gushing about it to anyone who would listen. Sincerest apologies to my parents, my sister and anyone else who suffered the misfortune of stumbling across my breathless, blindly besotted path during that time.
I bring this up because such an entirely unself-aware level of obsession with something utterly obvious is one I’ve recently revisited, this time not about an exceptionally famous blockbuster, but about sex — specifically, having it in the afternoon.
I’m aware that I did not invent afternoon sex, nor am I the first to sing its praises. That distinction, of course, most famously belongs to Bill Danoff and the other members of the Starland Vocal Band, who introduced the world to the joys of “Afternoon Delight” back in 1976. Going back further, I’m sure Shakespeare or John Donne or one of those other horny Renaissance poets probably also penned some veiled verse about getting it on beneath the high noon sun of a summer’s day or whatever, but any specific reference evades me despite having gone into six figures of debt for an undergrad degree in English literature.
While I may not have invented afternoon sex, however, I recently rediscovered its charms during a first-time, mid-day encounter on a weekend trip with a new partner. I’d had afternoon sex before — while spending entire weekends in bed with a college boyfriend whose Adam’s apple could kill a man or squeezing in a discreet encounter with a man with whom I was having an affair. But this was the first time, at least in recent memory, that I’d ever had spontaneous, unplanned afternoon sex smack-dab in the middle of the day, like, “let’s stop what we’re doing and go back to bed at 2:30 p.m.” sex, let alone as a first-time encounter with a new partner. Frankly, it was eye-opening, and I have since become a passionate afternoon sex advocate.
Afternoon sex isn’t an entirely novel concept — people have been fucking around the clock for as long as there have been people and those people have had an understanding of time — but it is an oft-overlooked player in the “best time to have sex” debate. Typically, the heavy hitters in that fight are night sex and morning sex, a battle between night-owls and early risers. But allow me to reintroduce afternoon sex as the dark horse, the chronically underrated contender that just might be the best time to have sex.
Afternoon is an ambiguous time, so afternoon sex can mean many different things. For my own purposes and for those of this article, I would loosely define afternoon sex as sex that takes place roughly between noon and sundown, before you go out for the evening but after you’ve already gotten out of bed and done something with your day. Sleep in till noon then wake up and have sex? That’s just late morning sex, not afternoon sex. While this timeframe may be shorter or longer depending on the time of year, it represents several tragically underestimated, underutilized hours of the day that are damn near perfect for having sex, for the following reasons.
In the afternoon, you’re not fucking through morning grogginess or night-time exhaustion; you’re not tired from a long day of work or drunk after a night out, nor are you worried about morning breath or getting out of bed in time for work. Afternoon sex is sex you can be fully present for.
There’s also a lot less room for ambiguity when it comes to consent. Unless you went particularly hard at bottomless brunch, chances are there’s little no alcohol involved during an afternoon sex session, which removes the messy gray area that often surrounds buzzed post-date night sex. Meanwhile, unlike morning sex, which some people feel totally cool with simply rolling over and initiating wordlessly while others do not at all, there’s less potential for that kind of miscommunication when it comes to an afternoon romp. That’s not to say that consent is implied if you want to have sex between noon and nightfall — it’s not, never is. But because there’s less of a social script surrounding afternoon sex, and thus less pressure to be having it at all, there’s often a lot more room for active intent and consent between two people who decide to get it on mid-day than between two probably buzzed people who fall into each other’s arms after a date.
Natural lighting is the best lighting
I’m very sensitive to lighting, which means that establishing the perfectly dimmed balance for sex post-sundown can be a lengthy ordeal involving multiple lamps, candles and different lighting configurations. When it comes to daytime sex, however, you’re pretty much limited to two options: curtains open or closed. Not only does this remove the pressure to set the right mood lighting, but natural light is typically very flattering. In fact, some of the porn industry professionals who gave us a few tips on making the perfect at-home sex tape earlier this year actually recommended shooting during daytime hours purely for the benefit of natural lighting. If it looks good on camera, it will probably look pretty good during an IRL afternoon sex session, too.
On the first night of a long weekend trip I took with a new partner last month, we came back from dinner to our beautiful hotel room where roses, champagne and strawberries awaited. It was the kind of romantic gesture that I dreamed would precede the loss of my virginity before I ended up losing it in the back of a 17-year-old’s mom’s car like every other teenager, and it was very obvious that sex was on the menu that night. There was just one problem: I didn’t want to have it. I appreciated the gesture, don’t get me wrong, but something about it made the whole thing feel very forced and expected. This was my first time having sex with this person, and I wanted it to feel natural. We ended up not having sex that night, or even the next morning. Later that day, we got back from the beach exhausted, assuming an air-conditioned afternoon nap awaited us. One thing led to another, as they say, and we ended up having sex for the first time instead, right in the middle of the afternoon. It was spontaneous, it was low-pressure, it was completely unexpected, and it turned out to be a much more memorable first-time experience than I think we would have had if we’d had sex the night before like we were “supposed to.”
It’s kind of a flex
If you’re in a position to be having sex in the middle of the day, you probably have it pretty good. It’s worth noting that part of the reason afternoon sex is often underrated is simply because most people don’t have time for it. In the afternoon, you’re usually busy doing your job or picking up kids from school or any of the other mundane daytime activities and obligations that fill most of our days from the moment we get out of bed. If you’re having sex in the afternoon, you’re probably either on vacation and/or free of any pressing work or parental obligations, all of which are enviable states of being. The ability to fuck off and have sex in the middle of the day is a luxury.
It takes the pressure off of night sex
Tonight, couples all over the world will face a timeless date-night dilemma: should you order dessert or have sex? This pre-coital quandary has plagued couples for centuries, but it can be easily avoided by simply having sex before dinner. Get the sex out of your system with a little afternoon/happy hour bang session, then feel free to enjoy your dinner to the fullest extent — no need to worry about getting too full or drunk or bloated for sex later — then go home, cuddle up and watch Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives with the comforting knowledge that there’s no pressure to have sex on a full stomach because you already had the sex. And if, after your elaborate dinner complete with as many apps as your heart desires and dessert, you feel you still have another round of sex in you, that’s great! You can always have sex again, which is why afternoon sex is a win-win.
Now, armed with this impassioned argument, I urge you to go forth and fuck in the afternoon. As the inventor of afternoon sex himself put it, “Why wait until the middle of a cold dark night?” You’re an adult, you can have sex whenever you want.