This is a new Dating and Relationships column I’m attempting to create here on Phicklephilly. My friend Jackie and I have been kicking around the idea of writing an advice column together. We actually came up with the idea a few years ago. We wanted something that gave advice from a man’s and a woman’s perspective. We’re going to try to publish this column at least once or twice a month for now. If it catches on, we’ll probably run every week.
Welcome to: HIS & HERS!
So let’s begin with a little background on Jackie.
Jackie began as a journalist before branching out to begin her own marketing company, helping businesses build their brands and taking the chore of content marketing off their shoulders. Beyond helping businesses with website copy, blog content, and messaging, she writes a blog on embracing and learning from failure. Available for custom branding, marketing and copywriting projects, her first book is due out in 2021. In her spare time, she fills her home with foster cats and kittens while dabbling in real estate investing and diorama making.
Okay, let’s get to the business at hand.
When dating someone new, when is the right time to have sex?
Okay, my first reaction to this question is to say just trust your gut — trust what’s going on in the moment and what YOU feel comfortable with. But I also know sometimes that can be hard, especially for women, which is the only perspective I can speak from as a heterosexual woman. For straight women, I think there’s a lot of pressure, we feel pressure to “not wait too long” so we aren’t a “tease” or he doesn’t lose interest or think of us as a prude or “frigid.” I use quotes for those words because they’re these outdated antiquated remainders from a way of life where women were supposed to be both sexually available at all times but also not sexual themselves.
So there’s that pressure of maybe moving quicker than you’re comfortable with, but then there’s this opposing pressure to not have sex too quickly because that will make you “less desirable” as a partner. There’s this weird game I feel like some straight guys play where they will pressure sex hard, beg for it, etc, but then be disappointed and judgy when you give in “too soon,” according to their expectations of how women should behave. Those guys it’s best to filter out quickly. So there’s all this always there in our minds not by our own choosing, just like inherited from society, and sometimes it can make it hard to cut through all that noise to hear our own wants and needs.
I can look back and recall feeling like I needed to sleep with someone by the third date otherwise they’d lose interest. Looking back, how fucked up was that? Like I just had this arbitrary date quantity that maybe I read somewhere and it hung over me. So that would be my first piece of advice. Don’t listen to stupid artbitrary dating quotas like that. Because emotions are tied to sex and it can quickly amp up our intimacy and attachment to someone, I think it is important to know what someone wants and if your wants for the future line up. Do you both want something casual? Then maybe you don’t need to wait. But do some soul searching to make sure you aren’t putting your needs last in an effort to gain dating points.
Now outside of that, I’d say whenever you think it’s the right time… wait longer. Now, I’m not some abstinence promoter or something. There’s just something incredibly hot and special about the flirting and anticipation of a dating dynamic before sex happens. After, of course there’s new fun to explore, but you can never get back the feelings and newness of that period of time when you both know you’re interested in each other and the anticipation, wanting, and desire is just bubbling up like a glass of overflowing champagne. That’s the fun part of dating, so savor it! That;s my advice and one more thing. Set those expectations LOW for the first time. It could be the best sex you’ve ever had but try to refrain from going into it thinking it’s going to be mind-blowing and perfect, when you’re so new to each other. Don’t talk up your sexing skills, instead, follow the old sales advice — underpromise, overdeliver.
How long should you wait to have sex? It’s a question many of us have pondered for years but haven’t found a satisfactory answer to. In fact, the iconic television series Sex and the City attempted to tackle the question roughly two decades ago.
Carrie Bradshaw and her friends popularized the “three date rule”—the idea that, when it comes to sex, there’s supposed to be a short waiting period. The goal is to give you a chance to evaluate the other person before hopping into bed. Plus, you don’t want to give the other person the impression that you’re overeager, but you also don’t want to wait too long to start having sex in case it turns out you’re incompatible.
This “rule” is basically the Goldilocks approach to dating: It’s about figuring out the time to have sex that’s “just right.” Is there any scientific backing for this idea, though? And is the third date really when most people start having sex anyway?
Researchers struggle studying the topic because it’s unclear what is considered a “date.”
Believe it or not, social scientists haven’t yet established which specific date is the most common one for people to start having sex, in part, because “date” is a pretty nebulous term. What counts as going on a date anyway? For example, does it have to be one-on-one, or can going out with a group of friends count, too? Also, how is “dating” different from “talking” or “hanging out” with someone?
Even if people could agree on a definition, the number of dates isn’t all that meaningful to look at because people space them out very differently. Some people go on several dates in the same week, whereas others space them out over a month or more. In other words, two couples could be on their third date, but one pair might have known each other a lot longer than the other.
In order to get around these issues, researchers who study this topic have focused more on the length of time people have known each other rather than on how many dates they’ve had.
How long people wait, according to research.
A study published in the Journal of Sex Research of nearly 11,000 unmarried adults who were in “serious or steady” relationships inquired about when participants started having sex and looked at how this was related to their relationship satisfaction. Most participants (76 percent) had been in their relationships for more than one year, and nearly all of them (93 percent) reported having had sex with their partners.
Of those who were sexually active, a slight majority (51 percent) said they waited a few weeks before having sex, while just over one-third (38 percent) had sex either on the first date or within the first couple of weeks. The remaining 11 percent had sex before they even went on their first date.
Did the timing of sex matter in terms of how people felt about their relationships? Not in a meaningful way. There were only small differences between the groups, with those who had sex earlier tending to be slightly less satisfied. However, all of the groups were highly satisfied on average.
The fact that those who had sex earlier were a little less happy is to be expected based on research showing that sexual passion and excitement tend to decline over the course of a relationship. So if you start having sex sooner, the passion will wear off a little faster, unless you put in the work to keep it going (which you can do by regularly mixing it up in the bedroom).
It’s more important how you think about sex, then when you have sex.
There’s something far more important than when you start having sex, and that’s what your personality says about how sex and love go together. Everyone has what’s called a sociosexual orientation, which is basically the degree to which you think sex and emotions are intertwined versus totally separate.
People who think that they go together tend to agree with statements like, “I do not want to have sex with a person until I am sure that we will have a long-term, serious relationship.” These folks have what psychologists call a “restricted” orientation.
By contrast, people who think that these things are separable tend to agree with statements like “sex without love is OK.” These people have what psychologists refer to as an “unrestricted” orientation. Unrestricted people are more comfortable with casual sex, and they tend to report higher sex drives and greater numbers of sex partners over the course of their lives. As a result, the amount of time it takes for them to be comfortable having sex with a new partner is much shorter than it is for someone with a restricted orientation.
Neither orientation is inherently better or worse than the other, but knowing where you fall on this trait will give you insight into whether having sex sooner or later is the right approach for you. Understanding differences in sociosexual orientation can also help us to understand why so many couples disagree on the “right” time to start having sex as well as how much sex they should be having—if you put a restricted and an unrestricted person together, it might be challenging for them to get on the same page.
So, what’s the final verdict?
What all of this tells us is that there are no hard and fast “rules” for dating. Different things work well for different people depending on their personalities, so figure out where your comfort zone is—and your partner’s, too—rather than subscribing to some arbitrary rule.
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