Human Exceptionalism

Your Mother Was Right: Delaying Sex Good for Relationships

This is interesting.  A scientific study finds that a more old fashioned approach to romance enhances the chances that relationships will be sustained and satisfying.  From the story in Live Science:

Delaying sex makes for a more satisfying and stable relationship later on, new research finds. Couples who had sex the earliest — such as after the first date or within the first month of dating — had the worst relationship outcomes. “What seems to happen is that if couples become sexual too early, this very rewarding area of the relationship overwhelms good decision-making and keeps couples in a relationship that might not be the best for them in the long-run,” study researcher Dean Busby, of Brigham Young University’s School of Family Life, told LiveScience.

Here is a summary of the result:

Individuals were categorized as either having:

  • Early sex (before dating or less than one month after they started dating).
  • Late sex (between one month and two years of dating).
  • And those who waited until after they married.

Relationships fared better and better the longer a person waited to have sex, up until marriage, with those hitting the sack before a month showing the worst outcomes.

Compared with those in the early sex group, those who waited until marriage:

  • Rated relationship stability as 22 percent higher
  • Rated relationship satisfaction as 20 percent higher
  • Rated sexual quality as 15 percent better
  • Rated communication as 12 percent better

“Curiously, almost 40 percent of couples are essentially sexual within the first or second time they go out, but we suspect that if you asked these same couples at this early stage of their relationship – ‘Do you trust this person to watch your pet for a weekend many could not answer this in the affirmative’ – meaning they are more comfortable letting people into their bodies than they are with them watching their cat,” Busby said. He added that those couples who wait to be sexual have time to figure out how trustworthy their partner is, how well they communicate, and whether they share the same values in life “before the powerful sexual bonding short-circuits their decision-making abilities.”

When I was young and hormonal, my parents–and I must say, the culture at large–pounded the point that “waiting” was a matter of respecting the girl (in my case) you cared about enough to date.  They also said that waiting made love better.  It turns out, they may well have been right.  And here’s a benefit I see: Cautiously approaching intimacy leads to less personal chaos, reduced anguish, fewer unwanted pregnancies, and, it seems, more stable pair bondings.

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