One of the questions I get asked a lot by people is when is the right time to have sex. Should you wait until date 5? Or 6? Until after you have both said “I love you”? Until you have met the parents or went on a vacation together? And if you have sex on the first date, is your hope for a relationship in the future doomed?
Let me start by saying this: There is no ONE right time to have sex. I know couples who had what they *thought* would be a one-night-stand and they have now been together for decades. I know people who waited until date five to be intimate and still broke up shortly thereafter. I know people who waited until they walked down the aisle to have sex…and they’re divorced now.
But, that being said, we can’t pretend like the timing of our first intimate session is meaningless. It can set the tone for our entire sexual relationship, and it’s not a contract to be entered into lightly. You are giving your body to another person, with all the risks associated with such a decision.
Sadly, in today’s hyper-sexual climate, I find that many people feel like they have to have sex as soon as possible. Things like one-night-stands, friends with benefits, virtual sex, OnlyFans and casual hookups are so normalized that you almost feel like the odd outlier if you don’t have sex posthaste with your new partner.
Yet I really find that having sex too soon is not beneficial, especially for women. Women take on the lion’s share of the risk when it comes to sexual activity, and I don’t just mean possible pregnancy. Women are more at risk of STIs and serious complications from those STIs due to our internal anatomy, and we are also at more physical risk when we bring home men we don’t know very well from the bar or from Tinder. And, here’s the kicker: We are also NOT likely to reach orgasm from casual sex. While research shows that most men reach orgasm when they have one-night-stands or causal hookups, research shows that the opposite is true for most women. We aren’t reaching orgasm from these ‘wham, bam, thank you ma’ams’ experiences.
And worst of all, we are opening up our hearts and souls to potential heartbreak. I always tell women: Don’t have sex with someone you don’t want to fall in love with…because you just might! Oxytocin and other bonding chemicals released in the brain during sex can make us feel emotionally connected to partners, even if we barely know them and even if they are definitely Mr. Wrong.
So, what are 5 boundaries that women (AND men) can set around sex so that they don’t leap into the bedroom too quickly?
- Never have sex with someone isn’t monogamous with you. Now, if you practice polyamory or are otherwise non-monogamous, this advice won’t be relevant to you. But most people are seeking committed sexual relationships, and for good reason: Having multiple partners can put you at increased risk of things like STIs. So, if you are seeking to be monogamous, why would you have sex with a person BEFORE you are monogamous with them? It circumvents your true goal and just muddies the waters. I am not saying you have to wait until he ‘puts a ring on it,’ but you should at least be able to have a conversation with this person about monogamy and ensuring that you aren’t having other partners outside of yourselves.
- Don’t listen to your body, listen to your brain. Listen, we all have sexual needs. And sometimes you just really, really crave sexual touch. Here is the good news: Sex toys exist. Masturbation exists. Erotica exists. Pleasure yourself BEFORE you go on a date or out on the town, and I bet you will be that much less interested in just bringing home a random stranger to satisfy your needs. (Bonus: A sex toy will probably be more likely to help you reach orgasm that an intoxicated person who just met you and doesn’t know your needs at all).
- Don’t get wasted. At least in the beginning, keep it just one glass of wine or a beer. You don’t want alcohol clouding your judgment and making you feel sparks when it’s actually just the Fireball talking. And don’t meet up at his place or your place: Too much temptation to just walk in the door and ‘meet’ their dog/cat/roommates or otherwise end up in their bed. Even if they offer to make you a homecooked meal or something sweet, just say no for the time being. Meet on neutral turf and stay clear-headed.
- Try day dates. For some reason, we always assume that dating should be at night, but I find that day dating allows for more honesty and emotional connection. Not only is alcohol usually not involved, but it also allows for the possibility to do something more active (like hiking or playing sports) instead of just seeing a movie or having dinner. Seeing someone in the light of the day will help you get to know them better and it will also make it less likely for you to go home with them, as you will have other plans during the day/evening, and you won’t be tired and possibly intoxicated.
- Talk about it. And yes, I mean, TALK! Not texting. Not emailing. Have a real conversation, in person, about whether or not you are ready to have sex. Is it awkward? Maybe. But I can guarantee you that if it is awkward for you to talk about having sex with this person, then having sex with them would be even way more awkward! If you can’t be vulnerable and open before you get into the bedroom, then it’s a good sign that you’re not ready to be in the bedroom quite yet.
What do you think? When do you think is the right time to have sex?