I was discussing a breakup with a coworker last week, when she explained the importance that sex holds in her relationships. Concerning her most recent ex, she asserted in retrospect that had she made him wait “at least a month, maybe two,” he probably would have promptly ended things. This interpretation seemed to me – a serial optimist – a bit cynical. It did, however, make me consider one of the biggest questions that my favorite ladies in Sex and the City tried to figure out. How long is long enough? And how long is too long? Of course, I’m referring to an appropriate or ideal time to wait (or not wait) to have sex with someone you’re dating.
In any romantic or intimate connection, it’s necessary that you consider what kind of relationship you’re looking for, because this affects a lot of decisions made for the relationship, especially ones involving sex. The pace with which you move to the bedroom is entirely your own and there is no shame in how quickly or slowly you move. And according to a publication by Dr. Chloe Carmichael, PhD and relationship therapist, the goal of a committed relationship requires more strategic thinking when making such a decision. Dr. Chloe makes this consideration because as many have experienced, sex changes things.
Firstly, there’s that sweet Oxytocin hormone which we all heard about in biology class, a.k.a the bonding hormone. In women, this hormone is produced during sex, while men just produce more testosterone. Dr. Chloe refers to this hormone as the “hunting hormone,” outlining that unless a man is open and clear about wanting to be exclusively together, he’ll likely continue “hunting” with other women – and she says human physiology is to blame. Things get sticky at this point, especially for women, because after feeling a bit of the bonding hormone, women usually begin to stop trying to sleep with other people. As a result of this hormone, many women take themselves off of the market and feel monogamous connections with someone who hasn’t fully committed to them yet.
For this reason, having a conversation about the relationship helps in navigating emotions and mitigating uncertainty. I’ve said it before, I’m a serial monogamist. And I’ve personally found that confirming exclusivity with one another, even before confirming being “official,” creates a space I feel respected and valued, enough so to be ready to engage in consensual sex with someone who I’m dating.
If defining the relationship isn’t all that important to you, but you also aren’t one to get into bed on the first or second date, I’d like to pitch the five-date rule. The five-date rule is as uncomplicated as it sounds: you go on five real dates where sex is off the table. After the fifth date, it’s all up to you.
I’m a huge proponent of this rule, especially when you’re still trying to get to know one another. Think about it like this – top brokers and market makers go through five rounds of interviews before gaining an offer in trading stocks and options. They need to prove that they are physically, mentally, and emotionally reliable for such important skills. Anyone can charm their way through the first interview, but if they show up authentically and readily time after time, you can get a better insight into who they are as a person as well as the kind of relationship you’d want with one another.
It’s plain that most people don’t care about waiting before having sex. But if you do want to wait, make it known. Saying your stance is also an easy segue into the relationship conversation, letting you kill two birds with one stone. And if you’re looking for a long-standing and committed relationship, don’t be afraid to send away the ones who don’t make the cut, making space for the one who exceeds all expectations.