Getting Intimate: How Long Should You Wait?

By: Dr. Cory Honickman, Modern Monogamy Consultant and Sex Educator

It’s 11:30 pm on a Thursday night and you’re in the middle of your third date with “sexy motorcycle guy.” You just finished the romantic comedy you’ve been dying to see, and he grabs your hand affectionately as you’re walking out of the theater.  It’s only date three, but the chemistry and sexual tension are building. In fact, even the slightest touch – whether he is brushing his fingers against yours or gently caressing your thigh, is enough to give you crazy butterflies. Once in the car, he reaches over for a slow, romantic kiss, which quickly turns into a fervent, passionate make-out session.  As you run your fingers through his hair, you can’t help but wonder what he would be like in the bedroom.

Game time decision: Do you invite him upstairs tonight or not?

We’ve all struggled with this dilemma. On the one hand, the thought of getting hot and heavy with your new man is so thrilling that you want to jump into it immediately.  If the sexual tension is there and apparent, why not just go for it? On the other hand, you wonder if you’re giving him the wrong signal if you sleep with him too soon.  Will he lose interest if you “give it up” too early…or is that just another antiquated dating rule that needs to be thrown out the window?

To you come up with the right answer for yourself, here are two questions you should be asking yourself:

1) Are you looking for a committed relationship or are you casually dating/just looking to have fun?

Many women have a hard time openly admitting that they are looking for a casual, no-strings attached relationship. They worry about the judgement that comes around it and the double standard sometimes associated with women who sleep with men without being in committed relationships. The truth is, it’s perfectly fine to be in a place in your life where you are only looking for a casual fling.  It could be that you just broke up with a long-term boyfriend and don’t have the desire to enter into a new relationship so soon.  Others may not simply have the time or energy to commit to a relationship due to work demands.  Whatever the reason, if you know for a fact that you are only looking for a fling, go for it! You have nothing to lose by having a little fun.  Just be true to yourself and make sure that aren’t going to get emotionally attached to the man you are sleeping with. Because once a man puts you in the ‘casual fling’ category, it’s incredibly difficult for him to re-categorize you into the ‘girlfriend material’ bucket.  If you think you might want to seriously date this guy in the future or that he has any long-term potential, it’s best to wait before sleeping with him too soon.

2) If you are looking for a serious relationship, could you potentially see this guy as giving you your happily ever after?  

If so, it’s best to spend more time developing the relationship and emotional connection with him before jumping into bed.  Sex has a funny way sometimes of stopping the progression of a relationship right in its tracks.  It’s critical that he gets to know you as a person and appreciates your personality, sense of humor, etc. beyond simply being sexually attracted to you.  Unlike women, men are easily able to separate their sexual and physical attraction to a woman from their emotional attraction. It doesn’t necessarily mean that these men are bad, it’s just how men are wired.  If you want him to consider you as girlfriend material, you need to win his heart first with your shining personality before sleeping with him.  When there’s no emotional connection, there’s nothing to hold you together when the sexual chemistry wears off  (and trust me, it will).

There are no hard and fast rules about the number of dates you should go on before sleeping with him.  Honestly, this varies by couple and depends on how well things are progressing on each date, and how often you see each other.  In general, sleeping with a guy on the first date if you see long-term potential is not a good idea. Never say never…but in my 15 years of professional experience counseling couples and singles on all topics related to sex and dating, when couples do it too early before any emotional connection is formed, it ends quickly.

At the end of the day, being intimate with someone is a very personal decision.  If you have solid answers to the questions above, you can at least have a gauge on what you want, bringing you closer to the decision that is best for you and your situation.  Be confident in your decision (whatever you choose) and don’t have regrets if things don’t work out.  If he ends up ditching you because you didn’t give it up too soon, he wasn’t boyfriend material to begin with.  A good guy who is looking for a relationship with a partner that he respects will be patient and accommodate your timeline for being intimate with him.

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