Women particularly benefited from not leaping into bed at the first opportunity. Marriage also seemed to make them happier than co-habiting.
The researchers said delaying sex gave couples time to get to know each other and work out just how compatible they were.
Without this period of courtship, judgment can be clouded, leading to couples falling into unfulfilling long-term relationships. The study’s authors said: ‘Precocious pre-marital sexual activities may have lasting effects on relationship quality.
‘Courtship is a time for exploration and decision-making about the relationship, when partners assess compatibility, make commitments and build on emotional and physical intimacy.
‘The rapid entry into sexual relationships may, however, cut short this process, setting the stage for “sliding” rather than “deciding” to enter co-habiting unions.’
In one of the first studies of its kind, the research team from Cornell University in the US asked almost 600 married and co-habiting couples how happy they were together. They were asked how committed they were to the relationship, how emotionally involved they were and how well they communicated, as well as about how often they argued and about their level of sexual satisfaction.
They were also asked how long they had waited before sleeping together and money worries and other factors that could have skewed the results of the study were taken into account.
Around a third of the men and women said they’d had sex within the first month of dating, while about 28 per cent waited at least six months, the Journal of Marriage and Family reported.
Analysis of the data clearly showed the women who had waited to have sex to be happier. And those who waited at least six months scored more highly in every category measured than those who got intimate within the first month. Even their sex lives were better…
Read more: Daily Mail