How Soon is Too Soon to Sleep Together?
by Kat Richter

Lego guy in towel getting ready for sex

Your pulse is racing. It's been an amazing date, your first kiss was nothing short of spectacular and now you're wondering if you should invite your crush back to your place for a night cap. Except in this case, you're not really interested in another drink: you're interested in her, and if the way she's been fingering her hair all evening is any indication, she's interested in you too.

Sex, like kissing, may seem like the perfect capstone to your first (or even second or third date) but before you hop into bed, there are a few things you need to consider. We're not going to lecture you like they did in high school but sex does complicates things. It means different things to different people so even if you view sex as an indication of further commitment your date might not. There is no single correct answer to "How long should you wait?" we recommend that you consider the following.

Do You Want a Relationship?

If you're interested in your date, then don't sleep with them. At least not right away. It sounds counterintuitive but trust us: the longer you wait, the more your date will come to respect you. (Unless of course they have the sex drive of a seventeen year old on prom night, in which case you probably don't want them anyway.)

Sex is an important component of nearly every romantic relationship but it's not the only component. Take the time to get to know your date before you move forward. You'll both be better off for it and chances are the sex will better too.

Of course, if neither of you are interested in pursuing a relationship beyond tomorrow's inevitable walk of shame, go for it. We're not going to tell you not to, just bear in mind that a one night stand does not a relationship make. In other words if you're hoping turn a friends-with-benefits situation into an official relationship, having sex is not the best way to get there.   

Set Your Own Standards

There's a lot of debate around the issue of when to have sex. Some people say you should wait until you're married or engaged, while others say you're crazy to marry someone without first having had sex. In between those two extremes you've got books like The Rules by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider that advise women to play hard to get, while Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man by Steve Harvey urges women to wait 90 days.

While there's no magic number (for some people 90 minutes is long enough, while for other 90 weeks wouldn't be sufficient) we recommend that you set your own standards based on your personal values and what you're hoping to find in a relationship.

If you want love and commitment, then wait for love and commitment.

If you want exclusivity, then let your date know that you both need to stop seeing other people before you start sleeping together.

If you simply want to enjoy yourself, discuss this with your date to make sure that you're both on the same page, then have at it.

Three Dates?

I once read an article that said most men assume a woman is disinterested if she hasn't slept with him by the third date. I thought this was total BS but then I met a man on Match.com who worked in finance and seemed like the perfect gentleman.

He pulled out all the stops for our third date: we're talking an expensive Japanese restaurant, a gorgeous bouquet of flowers and two tickets to a modern dance concert without even the slightest hint on my part. I thought he was just being nice but when we went back to his apartment after the show and I saw that he'd also purchased a scented candle at the flower shop earlier that day, I realized I was being naive. He subscribed to the third date rule. And he wasn't all that thrilled to learn that I did not.

Fortunately, not all men do, and not all women do either. So don't assume that your date's not interested simply because he or she hasn't slept with you yet. It could be that they have a more traditional attitude towards pre-marital sex, or maybe they're just getting back into the game after a long and painful break up. Either way, they're just not ready, but this doesn't mean that they never will be.

Take Your Time

Keep in mind there's nothing saying you have to start sleeping together right away. I was quite the prude in high school (and college, and grad school come to think of it) but I was never single for very long. Sure, some men (and some women) simply won't want to wait, and that's their prerogative, but intimacy requires a lot of trust and respect. If you find someone who is willing to wait until you both feel comfortable, trust and respect won't be a problem.

The Fine Print

If you and your date decide that you're ready to take your relationship to the next level, take the time to have a frank (and sober) discussion with them about your sexual health. Do you both practice safe sex? Have you been tested for STDs recently?

And If you're not interested in getting pregnant (which we're assuming you're not at this point), be sure to talk about this before you make your way to the bedroom. Nothing kills the mood like a major disagreement about birth control.

Homework

  • Before you decide to do the deed, take some time to consider what you want and initiate a conversation with your date about his or her desires as well. If you're not on the same page, keep talking until you are.
  • If you're not sure whether or not you're ready to have sex, consider a few options (a set period of time? A specific level of commitment?) and set some standards for yourself.
  • Explore the alternatives. If your date isn't ready for sex, consider a massage, a romantic bubble bath or even some light bondage to get the ball rolling.
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