How Many Dates Before You Sleep Together?

A friend of mine, recently new to the dating scene after a breakup, complained that men always want sex on the first date. “That’s just the expectation nowadays,” she said, shaking her blonde head and stretching her lips into a tight frown.

While I know that it feels that way to my friend, in general it’s probably not true that most guys expect to have sex on the first date. One study published in the Journal of Sex Research found that people tend to think that others expect sex sooner than they themselves do, even if that is not the case. For example, men reported that they expected sex after six weeks—but women reported that they thought men wanted sex in less than four weeks.

In other words, there is no need to assume that just because he’s a guy, he wants to have sex on the first date. According to research conducted by sociologist Mark Regnerus in his 2011 book Premarital Sex in America, only 36 percent of young adult men and 21.6 percent of young adult women report having sex within the first two weeks of a relationship. Certainly not the majority.

But how should you approach the topic of sex when it does come up on the first date?

If you feel pressured for sex on the first date, that might be a warning sign that he or she is not looking for commitment. And if that’s what you are looking for, be clear about those expectations and recognize that having sex on the first date is probably not your surest route to commitment.

Research shows that having sex on the first date, or even within the first month of dating, is associated with less relationship satisfaction, stability, and communication in relationships when compared with those who wait longer to have sex. As one researchers Dr. Brian Willoughby put it, “Healthy relationships lead to good sex. Good sex doesn’t create healthy relationships.”

In fact, in another study, the group that reported the highest satisfaction in marriage was actually the group that waited until marriage to have sex.

All that to say, there’s no pressure to have sex on the first date. In fact, it might be in your best interest to wait.

What do you think? Would you be willing to hold off on sex for the long-term benefit of commitment?

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