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When starting a sexual relationship, timing is everything

Why jumping in the sack too soon could sabotage your future

By Sally Wadyka Feb 7, 2013 7:52PM

Everyone seems to have their own “rule” when it comes to how long to wait before having sex. Three dates, five dates, a month -- and everyone also has tales of results (both happy and disastrous) of what happened when they broke their own rule by either jumping in too quickly or waiting so long that they got relegated to “just friends.” But the problem with all of these theories is that they’re, well, just theories, mixed with a hearty dose of urban legend (all single women have heard some version of the dire warning “you’ll never end up married to a guy you sleep with on the first date”).

Now, at long last, researchers have taken on this most fraught of dating dilemmas, and a new study finally answers the question of when is the ideal time to get it on. The researchers studied a huge sample of the dating population in order to lend some science to the issue of sex timing. They had nearly 11,000 unmarried people (all of whom reported being in “serious or steady” relationships or being engaged to their partners) fill out a 300-plus-item questionnaire that evaluated all aspects of their relationships -- including duration, quality, stability and satisfaction.

And then there was the one question on which the whole study hinged: “How soon did you and your partner have sexual intercourse?” The answers broke the participants down into four groups: Those who jumped in bed together before they even started dating; those who had sex on the first date or within the first few weeks of dating; those who waited a few weeks; and those who still hadn’t done it.

Nearly 50 percent of those in the study waited a few weeks after they began dating to have sex. And apparently, that’s a good thing. According to the researchers, a little delayed gratification is “generally associated with positive outcomes.” Those who got busy right away not only scored lower on measures like communication with their partner and overall satisfaction, but things appeared to get worse the longer they stayed together.

In other words, your friend who warned you that you’ll never marry the guy you sleep with on the first date might actually be right.


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