When is the right time to start having sex in a relationship? Not until marriage? A couple months in? The “standard” three dates? Sometimes even on the first date?
There are as many opinions on this question as there are men in this world, and each will often vigorously defend his position. The guy who waited until marriage says he couldn’t be happier with his decision, while the guy who sees nothing wrong with sex on the first date contends that such behavior is entirely natural and without negative consequence. And of course abstinence guy will never be able to step into the shoes of early-in-the-relationship guy, and vice versa.
Which is why time and experience have shown that arguing about this decision – especially over the Internet! – rarely, if ever, convinces someone to entirely change their position.
Thus what I hope to lay out in this article is not an iron-clad rule for when you should become intimate in a relationship. Instead, what I aim to present today is a case for delaying intimacy in a relationship and taking it slower – leaving the interpretation of what “slower” means up to each individual man to filter through his own moral, religious, and philosophical beliefs.
Note: Before we begin, I should probably point out the somewhat obvious fact that this post is directed at those who desire a long-term relationship. While I don’t personally endorse the one-night stand, if that’s your modus operandi, then this article would not be relevant for your situation.
Is There Any Evidence That Delaying Intimacy Benefits a Long-Term Relationship?
You may have a heard a parent, teacher, or preacher contend that waiting to have sex will ultimately strengthen a relationship. But is there any actual evidence out there that backs up this well-meaning, but often vague advice? There is at least some that seem to point in that direction.
In one study, Dr. Sandra Metts asked 286 participants to think about the different turning points in their present or past relationships. One question she hoped to answer was whether it made a difference if the couple had made a commitment to be exclusive and had said “I love you” before or after commencing sexual intimacy.
Metts found that when a commitment is made and love is expressed before a couple starts to have sex, the “sexual experience is perceived to be a positive turning point in the relationship, increasing understanding, commitment, trust, and sense of security.”
However, when love and commitment is expressed after a couple becomes sexually involved, “the experience is perceived as a negative turning point, evoking regret, uncertainty, discomfort, and prompting apologies.” Metts did not find a significant difference in this pattern between men and women.
In another study, Dr. Dean Busby sought to find out the effect that sexual timing had on the health of a couple’s eventual marriage. He surveyed over 2,000 people who ranged in age from 19 to 71, had been married anywhere from six months to more than 20 years, and held a variety of religious beliefs (and no religious beliefs at all).
The results were controlled for religiosity, income, education, race, and the length of relationship. What Busby found is that couples who delayed intimacy in a relationship enjoyed better long-term prospects and greater satisfaction in a variety of areas in their marriage. Those who waited until marriage to have sex reported the following benefits over those who had sex early on in the relationship:
- Relationship stability was rated 22 percent higher
- Relationship satisfaction was rated 20 percent higher
- Sexual quality of the relationship was rated 15 percent better
- Communication was rated 12 percent better
For those couples who waited longer in a relationship to have sex, but not until marriage, the benefits were still present, but about half as strong…
Read More: Brett and Kate McKay, artofmanliness.com