Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016 12:32 am
I’m a 32-year-old guy, and I want a real relationship. I am good-looking and charming and can get girls into bed pretty early on, but I’m beginning to wonder whether that’s hurting me. I think I end up starting relationships based on sex instead of common interests, personality, etc. Does it pay to hold off on sex, and if so, how long? –Wanting It Real
There are some wonderful committed relationships that started off with “I want to spend the rest of my boner with you.”
The reality is, those lovebirds probably got lucky (in getting it on with someone they happened to be compatible with). When you have sex right away, you’re prone to getting into a hormone haze – a sort of sex fog – that ends up blurring just about everything but the bed (and maybe the kitchen table, three or four times).
Though people are increasingly getting into relationships through hookups (“sex first/date later”), relationship researcher Dean Busby and his colleagues find that waiting to have sex seems to keep “feels so right” from killing your ability to see whether it actually is. In their research, dating for at least a month before having sex was associated with higher relationship stability and satisfaction, better sex and better communication.
Again, this isn’t to say that people who have sex on – or even before – the first date won’t have satisfying relationships. But as the researchers put it, “the rewards of sexual involvement early on may undermine other aspects of relationship development and evaluation” – for example, keeping partners from putting as much energy into “crucial couple processes” like hammering out communication. It can also prolong relationships that ultimately don’t work when both people are dressed and standing up.
You don’t have to set your sex clock according to the research: “Oh, look at the time – week four and a half; better get it on.” The point is to wait until you see whether you really like a person and click with them in all the essential ways. Six months into a relationship, if you grab your partner and kiss them as if the world were ending, it should be because you love them that deeply, not because it’s the best way to get them to shut up that doesn’t involve jail time.
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