Sex. It’s awesome. They say it’s on our minds a LOT. In one way or another, whoever you are… you think about sex. And it’s only reasonable that when you are dating someone, or thinking about dating someone, you would be doing some extra wondering about sex. Mainly—when is the right time to “go all the way?”
Recently, during a YouTube interview on “Divorce View,” I was asked that very question. I had to admit there is no easy answer. Each one of us has certain things to consider well before the heat of the moment threatens to ignite our knickers.
Let’s ponder this check-list of pre-sex considerations.
√ What’s on your mind, exactly? That is hard to know when more than your mind is being engaged… or stimulated. But if you are deeply attracted to someone you have seen once, twice, twenty times, and you are contemplating having sex, figure out what your intentions are. Do you just want a fun-filled night, or are you looking for a serious relationship?
→ Fun sexy times and that’s it? The honorable thing to do is to communicate that with your date. The Golden Rule applies here. Wouldn’t you want to make an informed decision before getting into bed? Do your date that courtesy.
→ Relationship? If that is your intention, here’s the scoop. Studies indicate that for a successful relationship, it is better to put sex off until later than to jump quickly into bed. The studies also make it clear that women enjoy a heightened sexual response when they feel secure and loved, as in a serious relationship, and men feel more sexually confident.
√ What about STDs and birth control? Awkward as such a discussion might be, it is not as awkward as getting a diagnosis later on. So yes. Be smart. Be prepared. Have the talk. Don’t risk your health and future to avoid stepping on toes. And generally speaking, your date should be on the same page. If he or she is horrified by the fact that you are being responsible about safety, there’s a problem.
√ Are you clear about your emotional boundaries? Because sex is so fabulous, so intense, and evokes such strong feelings, both men and women can feel vulnerable and emotionally charged after having sex. And I don’t just mean right after, in the glow-time. The very fact that a relationship has become sexual often leads to specific ideas about what comes with that. Expectations about trust, respect, love, and exclusivity may emerge unconsciously for you and/or your partner. Are you ready for that? If you want things to stay simple and easy, sex might change that.
√ What are your physical boundaries? As with everything, sexual preferences and proclivities fall within a bell curve, but even so, sexual activity varies greatly. Don’t be afraid to speak up about what is and isn’t acceptable for you. If you have established trust and feel secure with one another, you will not be afraid to bring up your comfort zone. If the idea of speaking up honestly in a vulnerable, sexually charged moment is terrible to you, you are not ready to have sex.
√ What if you are not sexually compatible? This is a tough one. Sometimes there is enough emotional connection to sustain the relationship and develop a good sexual relationship. However, sometimes basic sexual incompatibility is a warning sign. No matter how much you respect, like, and enjoy your partner, the sexual fuse may never be lit. In that case, it is not fair to either of you to pretend otherwise.
You may be surprised by the responses I received when I polled people of different generations on the big question of “to have or not to have sex?” Basically, there were no blanket rules or “always true” patterns, because the choice is invariably based on the individual’s nature and circumstances, and the level of the relationship, regardless of age or experience. However, any preconceived ideas that boomers would be more conservative than millennials were pretty much shattered. One millennial stated unequivocally: “No sex before monogamy.” On the flip side, here is the best quote from a boomer: “At my age I’m going to enjoy every opportunity to enjoy sex.”
When is the right time to have sex? Here is my answer.
Having sex before an emotional attachment is made can make it difficult to be objective about the relationship. I love Mae West’s angle on sex as “emotion in motion.” I think when we forget that emotional component, we get ourselves into trouble.
The all-around intensity of sexual expression can fog your lenses, big time, so that you miss any red flags that might be flapping in the wind. Without the sex-charge, it is at least a little easier to maintain some objectivity. Once you are sexually intimate, break-ups are more complicated and hurtful if you realize you are not a good match. An exact magic number is not possible, but a few months, maybe from six to ten dates, is a good rule of thumb to go by. If you know who you are and what you want from life and relationships it will be easier to avoid big mistakes. On the other hand, there are no guarantees in love—and we must be patient, learn from our mistakes, move on, and believe that love (and awesome sex) is out there.
Tom Robbins once said: “We waste time looking for the perfect lover, instead of creating the perfect love.” That makes sense to me. Given that, I suggest later rather than sooner to invite sex into the equation. Find your love, and you will have found your lover.