Whether you are 25 or 55, we all stress over one aspect of our newest relationship: “When is the time is the right time to have sex?” Three weeks? Three months? Until we commit to some form of monogamy?
I used to be a follower of the standard dating “rules.” In my circle, it was socially acceptable to wait six months. But I’ve been in relationships where we’ve had sex much sooner. My first boyfriend and I only waited four months, and we still made it three more years.
Do I regret doing it sooner? No. Were there any consequences? No. So, what gives?
In my current relationship, I’m in a situation I never imagined I’d find myself in. I’m with someone who wants to wait until we’re engaged. I admit when he first told me I panicked. I thought, “Can I do this? Can I make that kind of promise?”
But I liked him so much that I knew losing him was not an option. I respected his decision, and as time passed I stopped caring about it entirely. I fell in love with him even with sex off the table—the thing that always made me feel closer to the men I dated. Ironically, I’m in the healthiest and happiest relationship I’ve ever had.
The bottom line: It’s not so much a question of when to wait, as it is why you should wait. Here are 10 good reasons to wait for sex:
1. It allows you to connect in a more meaningful way.
When you take sex out of the equation, you get to see whether you are truly compatible. The hormones released during sex can literally trick our brains into believing we have a deeper connection with a person than we really do.
2. It’s incredibly romantic.
Not to sound cheesy, but when I’m with him I feel like I’m in a movie, experiencing courtship the old-fashioned way. Our dates are creative and fun—playing soccer in Central Park, watching rooftop sunsets, cooking (and dancing) together in my apartment—a refreshing experience compared to the usual bar-to-bedroom dating .
3. Waiting gives you something to look forward to.
The sexual tension builds over time, and will only intensify the physical . Plus, the strong emotional connection you’ve established will make the experience that much more satisfying.
4. It helps build a strong foundation for a healthy long-term relationship.
When you take away all the physical chemistry, there’s still a solid friendship. Most couples work backwards, starting with incredible chemistry and trying to find friendship after that, which can sometimes lead to breakups.
5. Research shows that couples who wait until marriage are happier with the quality of sex compared to couples who have intercourse before they say “I do.”
According to a study in the Journal of Family Psychology, people who waited until marriage rate their sexual quality 15% higher and their relationship stability 22% higher than people who had sex early in their relationship.
6. You can meet each other’s needs in other ways.
It just means being more creative. Hugging, kissing, massage—there are so many ways to maintain a strong physical connection.
7. Waiting weeds out the people who aren’t interested in something long-term.
In today’s dating culture, many people are used to instant gratification and having people meet their needs with no strings attached. Holding off on sex ensures that the person you’re seeing is in it for the right reasons.
8. There are many other ways to show you care.
Some people argue that sex is the most effective way to express love, and while I agree that sex establishes a deep bond, there are many other, equally effective ways to create closeness. People often overlook the value of simple thoughtfulness and listening in a relationship.
9. It builds trust.
Having sex too early can cause a lot of doubt and confusion. Some of the most common questions people ask themselves in this situation: “What are their intentions? Are they using me?”
10. Waiting shows your value to both of you.
You have more to offer someone than your body: your intellect, sense of humor, and other unique personality traits. Not to mention putting off sex can help build your self-esteem because you are connecting with another person in a genuine, meaningful way, and there is no greater feeling than that.
All things considered, my outlook on sex has changed over the years. I’ve learned the value of waiting to have sex, and how it can show up in so many different parts of my relationship and myself. How it can deepen a relationship I already valued. Maybe waiting a little longer than you’d planned could enhance your next relationship, too.