Ep 39: When To Have Sex When You’re Dating
We received a great question from a listener.
“How long should you wait to have sex in a new dating relationship? It seems that relationships that start off physical tend to fizzle out but holding off seems to add to the pressure and causes some awkwardness.”
How long should you wait to have sex?
You can find all manner of advice to this question by asking your friends, watching movies, or googling the topic.
You might have heard of rules that say you always have sex right away because that way, you’ll know if you’re sexually compatible. You might find rules that say you always wait one month, or until the 4th date before having sex.
My rule is this: There is no rule. But it can be useful to make up your own.
I’m not aware of any data that gives meaningful scientific background to this. Although I did find an article written by Justin Lehmiller, Phd, from Men’s Health Magazine, where he talks about a study published in Journal of Sex Research. In this study, they interviewed about 11,000 unmarried adults, who were in serious relationships. They wanted to see if there was any connection between how satisfied they were with their relationship, and how soon they had started having sex.
Whether the people interviewed had started having sex within one week, two weeks, on even before the first date, did not make any meaningful difference for their relationship satisfaction. Curiously, I did not see an option for people who had waited a month or more.
The article concludes there is basically no hard and fast rule.
That’s my viewpoint too, there is no rule. That being said, it can be really useful to make up your own rules.
The biggest issue with this question is how much anxiety it creates for the person wondering about it. You know that feeling, you’ve just started dating someone, or at least fairly recently, and it’s swirling in your head when the right time is to suggest sex, or initiate sex, or when to say yes or no. The questions themselves produce anxiety and insecurity, which impacts how you show up in the relationship. As our listener said, it can create awkwardness.
Here’s why it can be useful to make up your own rules. I’ll give you a personal example. When I was younger, when I’d go dating or hook up with partners in bars or at parties, we’d always go have sex straight away. Basically, that was the primary desire. Often, we’d wake up, say goodbye and never see each other again, and for a long time, I was fine with that. But as I got older and started to want more emotional depth and connection, I didn’t know what else to do, so I just kept doing what I’d always done. Have sex right away and hope for the best. And the vast majority of my relationships didn’t go anywhere, and even the ones that felt promising based on my sexual experience, fizzled out quickly.
So when I wanted to create a different experience for myself, I made up the rule that I would not have sex on the first date, nor the second or third. I would wait till I felt I knew the person outside of sexual interaction. it was a real eye opener for me. And I got into relationship with a few women who were incredulous, even hurt, that I wouldn’t have sex right away. But it worked for me. I felt good about it. When I met Sonika, I did the same thing.
I’ve coached a lot of women who feel tremendous pressure to have sex right away, and who feel angry and hurt that their dating partner seems to be focused primarily on sex. I’d say there’s nothing wrong with that, but I also recommend that you make up rules that work for you. For women who’ve had that experience, it can be really useful to make a rule like no sex for the first four dates, or the first month. That way you get a chance to see if your date wants to see you again even if you’re not having sex.
Of course, this all depends on how you feel about sex. For some, it’s no big deal to have sex with someone you hardly know, and for others, it’s a very big deal. Since there are no official rules, follow your own guidance. And definitely don’t have sex just because you feel pressured to do it, or because you think it’s expected.
Also, I would say don’t have sex because it’s awkward not to. That awkwardness could actually be used as part of the excitement of a new relationship. You might consider it part of the foreplay, of getting aroused without the release, until such a time that you decide to have sex.
And the part of our listener’s question, that relationships that start off physical tend to fizzle is another matter altogether that has to do with how you keep your sex life sizzling over time. There are many ways to accomplish that. For starters, go listen to Sonika’s episode about how to have high transcendental sex. It’s episode 13.
If you want to have rules, make up rules that work for you, and then experiment and see how they work.