How long should you wait?

This is a question that is always asked and people have very different ideas on how long to wait before having sex with someone.

A reporter asked me this question and to be honest, I don’t have any scientific based advice, all I can offer is how I viewed the question and answered it for myself.

I am 50 now and happily married. Personally, my rule was to wait at least 3 months before having intercourse. I would neck and pet but not involve genitalia until at least 3 months of non-exclusive dating. I had several secular reasons for this.

1)      You don’t know if the other person is actually sane for at least 3 months. For the first few dates, people can fake it. Usually by month 3 the real person emerges and you can decide then what the real emotional risk of taking it to the next level is.  I only violated this rule once and ended up with a stalker. When I was dealing with that in the courts, I met way too many women who had babies with men who were insane. Best way to avoid that – don’t have sex with a guy until you know whether he is sane or not.

2)      Waiting helps avoid the guys who are only interested in sex. If you don’t give out right away, you weed out the men who are only interested in sex. The men who truly like you and are interested in having a relationship will wait.

3)      It helps promote exclusivity.  When first dating, you don’t really know if the person you are dating is a good fit for you - relationship wise.  My mother encouraged me to date multiple guys and hold off having sex with them until I narrowed them down to the one guy I wanted to be exclusive with.  By not dating exclusively at first and not having sex until I was dating exclusively I helped ensure that a) I didn’t have sex with a dangerously insane person. b) My relationships were honest, the men I was dating knew we weren’t exclusive, and that I wasn’t sleeping with multiple guys, we were just dating. c) The guy I eventually chose to be exclusive with was my first choice and not just a boyfriend of convenience.

4)      Reduced sexual disease transmission. By waiting and establishing a relationship before having sex, it made the conversation about whether or not to have sex explicit and that meant we could discuss our health histories, expectations etc. and both get AIDS tested to ensure we weren’t bringing anything into the sexual relationship that would hurt one of us.

Yes – my husband and I dated non-exclusively for a few months before becoming exclusive. It was and has been great!

Want more advice like this or to be able to jump start conversations about these topics with your tween or teen – get my book: The Humanist Approach to Happiness: Practical Wisdom.  

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