How Delaying Intimacy Can Benefit Your Relationship

by Brett & Kate McKay on July 1, 2013 · 96 comments

in Dating, Marriage, Relationships & Family

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When is the right time to start having sex in a relationship? Not until marriage? A couple months in? The “standard” three dates? Sometimes even on the first date?

There are as many opinions on this question as there are men in this world, and each will often vigorously defend his position. The guy who waited until marriage says he couldn’t be happier with his decision, while the guy who sees nothing wrong with sex on the first date contends that such behavior is entirely natural and without negative consequence.  And of course abstinence guy will never be able to step into the shoes of early-in-the-relationship guy, and vice versa. Which is why time and experience have shown that arguing about this decision – especially over the internet! – rarely, if ever, convinces someone to entirely change their position.

Thus what I hope to lay out in this article is not an iron-clad rule for when you should become intimate in a relationship. Instead what I aim to present today is a case for delaying intimacy in a relationship and taking it slower – leaving the interpretation of what “slower” means up to each individual man to filter through his own moral, religious, and philosophical beliefs.

Note: Before we begin, I should probably point out the somewhat obvious fact that this post is directed at those who desire a long-term relationship. While I don’t personally endorse the one-night stand, if that’s your modus operandi, then this article would not be relevant for your situation.

Is There Any Evidence That Delaying Intimacy Benefits a Long-Term Relationship?

You may have a heard a parent, teacher, or preacher contend that waiting to have sex will ultimately strengthen a relationship. But is there any actual evidence out there that backs up this well-meaning, if often vague advice? There is at least some that seems to point in that direction.

In one study, Dr. Sandra Metts asked 286 participants to think about the different turning points in their present or past relationships. One question she hoped to answer was whether it made a difference if the couple had made a commitment to be exclusive and had said “I love you” before or after commencing sexual intimacy. Metts found that when a commitment is made and love is expressed before a couple starts to have sex, the “sexual experience is perceived to be a positive turning point in the relationship, increasing understanding, commitment, trust, and sense of security.” However, when love and commitment is expressed after a couple becomes sexually involved, “the experience is perceived as a negative turning point, evoking regret, uncertainty, discomfort, and prompting apologies.” Metts did not find a significant difference in this pattern between men and women.

In another study, Dr. Dean Busby sought to find out the effect that sexual timing had on the health of a couple’s eventual marriage. He surveyed over 2,000 people who ranged in age from 19 to 71, had been married anywhere from 6 months to more than 20 years, and held a variety of religious beliefs (and no religious beliefs at all). The results were controlled for religiosity, income, education, race, and the length of relationship. What Busby found is that couples who delayed intimacy in a relationship enjoyed better long-term prospects and greater satisfaction in a variety of areas in their marriage. Those who waited until marriage to have sex reported the following benefits over those who had sex early on in the relationship:

  • Relationship stability was rated 22 percent higher
  • Relationship satisfaction was rated 20 percent higher
  • Sexual quality of the relationship was rated 15 percent better
  • Communication was rated 12 percent better

For those couples that waited longer in a relationship to have sex, but not until marriage, the benefits were still present, but about half as strong.

Why Would Delaying Intimacy Benefit a Long-Term Relationship?

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These studies are certainly not conclusive and do not decidedly settle the question of whether or not delaying intimacy is beneficial for a long-term relationship. But the results are intriguing, and as they at least point towards that idea, it’s worth exploring why this might be so.

The main point of contention in the debate over when you should get intimate in a relationship generally boils down to whether it’s better to find out if you are sexually “compatible” as early as possible, or whether holding off on sex might uniquely strengthen the relationship in such a way as to make that question a moot point. For example, while the participants in Busby’s study who waited until marriage to have sex would seemingly have taken the biggest gamble in “buying a car without ever taking it for a test drive” (to use an analogy that frequently comes up in this discussion), they still reported being more satisfied with their sex life than those who had kicked the tires right out the gate. Busby offers this explanation for such a result: “The mechanics of good sex are not particularly difficult or beyond the reach of most couples, but the emotions, the vulnerability, the meaning of sex and whether it brings couples closer together are much more complicated to figure out.”

The following factors help explain how waiting to have sex may trump the question of sexual compatibility.

The Importance of Narrative in Our Relationships

In the past decade, psychologists have increasingly recognized the importance of “personal narratives” in the way we construct our identities, make choices, and find meaning. Researchers have found that the human mind has a natural affinity for stories, and this predilection strongly extends into how we view and make sense of our own lives. We all seek to fit our experiences and memories into a personal narrative that explains who we are, when and how we’ve regressed and grown, and why our lives have turned out the way they have. We construct these narratives just like any other stories; we divide our lives into different “chapters” and emphasize important high points, low points, and, of particular importance here, turning points. Psychologists have shown that these personal narratives are truly powerful things that shape our behavior and influence our big decisions – even when we’re not aware of it. They affect both how we view the past, and how we see our future. As science reporter Benedict Carey puts it, “The way people replay and recast memories, day by day, deepens and reshapes their larger life story. And as it evolves, that larger story in turn colors the interpretation of the scenes.”

The power of personal narrative may explain the results of Dr. Metts’ study. She theorizes that “for both men and women, the explicit expression of love and commitment prior to sexual involvement in a dating relationship appears to provide communicative framing [emphasis mine] for the personal and relational meaning of sexual actions.” For couples that make a commitment to each other prior to becoming intimate, the initiation of sex becomes framed as “a relational event” rather than a “physical release or moment of pleasure.” In other words, whether “I love you” came before the sex or after it changed the way the couple was able to fit this turning point into the narrative of their relationship and thus what kind of meaning the event took on.

Psychologists have found that just like all good stories, the coherence of our personal narratives matters and the more coherence our life story has, the greater our sense of well-being. Coherence grows out of a number of things, including the way one event seems to lead naturally to another, and how clearly cause and effect can be seen. When sex happens prior to love and commitment and somewhat randomly – “After a few dates we were watching a movie and then we started making out and ended up having sex.” – it becomes a fragment that’s harder to fit into the narrative of your relationship and doesn’t add much to the story of how you became a couple. On the other hand, if the sex in a relationship follows after expressions of love and commitment – “We first said I love when we watched the sun come up after a hike. We booked a weekend at a bed and breakfast a few weeks later and had sex for the first time.” – the episode easily becomes integrated – in a positive way — into the story of your relationship.

It may be easy to dismiss stories as just…stories. But the effect of personal narrative in your life should not be underestimated. The memory of your first time as a couple will be something you look back on and draw from for the rest of your life and will at least partially color – for better or worse – “the story of us.”

The Creation and Lasting Power of Sexual Patterns and Preferences

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We’ve talked a lot about habits and how our repeated behaviors not only train our minds to think and act in certain ways but can even change the literal circuitry of our brains. How we choose to do certain things can set a pattern that’s very difficult to alter. This is likely as true for sexual intimacy as it is for anything else.

As Dr. Busby puts it: “Many will say, ‘When I get ready to settle down I’m going to take things more slowly.’ Unfortunately, some of our more recent research seems to suggest that the patterns that develop in young adulthood, and their relational consequences, can’t just be turned off or avoided once a person decides it is time to marry. Every relationship we have, however brief and insignificant, influences every other relationship we have, and the patterns that we repeat across relationships become very difficult to change.”

Busby is likely referring to some of the studies on relationships and marriage he has conducted, but for my money one of the most interesting experiments on sex and habit comes from a different laboratory – this one headed by psychologist and neurobiologist Jim Pfaus. In one study, Pfaus painted female rats with “cadaverine” – a synthetic form of the scent of death. Cadaverine smells so bad that rats will scramble across electrified gates to get away from it. Thus when virginal male rats were put in a cage with these death-scented females, they at first predictably refused to mate with them at all. But after much coaxing from the researchers and flirting from the female rats (who were blissfully unaware of their repulsiveness), the male rats gave in and got down to business. Later on, when these male rats were given a choice between mating with the death-scented rats and ones that smelled naturally good (to a rat), they preferred to mate with those wearing eau de cadaver. Pfaus even tried perfuming some female rats with the delightful smell of lemon, but the male rats couldn’t be swayed from the preference they had formed during their first sexual experiences.

In another experiment, Pfaus put different virginal male rats in little Marlon Brando-esque leather jackets, which they wore during their first times mating. When the leather jackets were later removed and the rats given a chance to mate again, a third of them refused to even make an attempt, many that tried to give it a go couldn’t get an erection, and sex for all the rats took longer and required a lot of help from the females.

In both groups of rats, the male rats had come to associate certain elements (scent, jacket) that were present during their first sexual experiences with arousal, and had formed a preference and even a need for those same elements to be present for successful sex later on. This result has been shown in numerous other studies – when rats are sexually stimulated in certain locations or in various degrees of light, they will come to associate those conditions with arousal. It’s basic Pavlovian conditioning, applied to sex.

While the gap between humans and rats may seem huge, their limbic systems are so similar to our own that they are frequently used in studies on sexuality and have been called the “‘guiding flashlights for understanding the primitive mechanisms of our own brain.” While I’m drawing my own conclusion here, it doesn’t seem like a stretch to think that if we come to associate sex with feelings of love and commitment, of being in a secure, comfortable relationship, that’s what we’ll continue to prefer and seek out and be turned on by, while if we come to associate sex with novelty and newness, we may then have trouble breaking that pattern and being satisfied with the sex of a long-term relationship. This is true with pornography as well. The brain gets tuned to being aroused by different women or by certain sexual acts on screen, and then you are no longer able to perform with your significant other.

In fact, our brains may have evolved to aid in the continuation of a pattern of short-term sexual relationships once a man has started down that path. In primitive times, a man was driven to spread his seed to increase his chances of siring as many progeny as possible (this pattern is repeated by modern men who wish to have as much sex as possible, but typically do not want any children to result from these couplings). But as evolutionary psychologist David Buss points out, a “critical problem that must be solved by men pursuing a short-term mating strategy is the problem of avoiding commitment and investment. The larger the investment in a particular mating, the fewer the number of sexual partners a given man can pursue.” Buss calls this the “commitment-avoidance” problem and a study he conducted found the possible solution to it: after sex, men who have had numerous sexual partners experience a “negative affective shift” — they perceive the woman they’ve just copulated with as less sexually attractive than they did prior to doing the deed. Why would this shift in perception occur? Buss theorizes that “a negative change in perception of the woman’s sexual attractiveness might provide the motivational impetus to promote a relatively hasty postcopulatory departure. This quick departure, in turn, would function primarily to reduce the risks to the man of making unwanted commitments.” Buss thus concludes that “successful short-term strategists are more likely to experience a negative affective shift following sexual intercourse than long-term sexual strategists.”

The Interplay of Hormones, Sex, and Bonding

Most folks have heard about the wonders of oxytocin by now. It’s a hormone that reduces stress, counteracts depression, engenders trust, and is especially famous for being the glue that bonds together both mothers and their babies, and romantic couples as well.

Advocates for abstinence often put forth a very simple storyline regarding oxytocin – arguing that because the hormone increases during sex, intercourse can be deeply bonding, and if partners aren’t committed to each other, the severing of this newly-formed bond post-coitus can be psychologically damaging. This argument is often advanced in regards to women, because testosterone may partially mute oxytocin’s effects in men, but the hormone is still present during sex for both partners.

However, the effect of oxytocin is much more complicated than this simple talking point would suggest. Oxytocin isn’t just created during sex, but from a whole host of other behaviors that fall far short of sex — from cuddling and holding hands to smiling and listening. As someone who knows numerous couples who had very serious relationships despite not having sex, it is clear that two people can form a very deep bond and can suffer a psychologically wrenching break-up without ever having slept together.

Furthermore, while the interplay of oxytocin and sex may still be a reason to delay intimacy in a relationship, it’s for the opposite reason than is typically advanced.

Oxytocin does indeed greatly increase during sex and peaks during climax. At the same time, another important hormone – dopamine – is surging too. But after climax, both oxytocin and dopamine quickly drop off. This drop in dopamine provides a feeling of satiety, and the two hormones affect each other; as the dopamine falls, so does your level of oxytocin. Dopamine is what drives you to do the deed, and oxytocin is what draws you to a particular person, so that when these motivators decrease post-climax, your overall desire for that person dissipates. Thus, instead of making lovers feel closer to each other, sex can actually make partners feel further apart and even discouraged and restless. This is what the ancient poet Ovid was getting at when he argued that the best cure for love…was to satiate oneself with orgasm. As Marnia Roberston writes in “Oxytocin, Fidelity, and Sex”:

“It’s possible that repeated neurochemical fallout after climax does not register as soothing to all lovers, or even inhibits their capacity for bonding. Remember the movie When Harry Met Sally? Billy Crystal said that thirty seconds after making love he always wanted to get out of bed and leave. When asked about this, another man said, “Yeah, I guess that is how most men feel. ‘Boom, I’m done! Elvis has left the building. The fat lady has sung. Thank you—and goodbye.’” Not strong evidence of a desire to bond.”

The rise and fall of dopamine and oxytocin during and after sex can potentially make a relationship feel, if not like a roller coaster, then a little dramatic and bumpy. If, that is, a non-sexually-sourced oxytocin safety net isn’t in place first. Robertson again:

“Frequent, comforting feelings are important in maintaining strong pair bonds. We only deepen our bonds when we feel safe. What keeps us feeling safe is bonding behaviors (attachment cues). The oxytocin they release relaxes our natural defensiveness (by soothing the brain’s sentry, the amygdala, and stimulating good feelings in our reward circuitry). The more dependable the flow of oxytocin via daily bonding behaviors, the easier it is to sustain a relationship. In contrast, a passionate one-night stand allows lovers’ innate defensiveness to snap back into place pretty much as soon as oxytocin drops after climax. The next day, when she doesn’t text and he doesn’t call, defensiveness naturally increases.

Perhaps the drop-off is why pair bonders (including humans) rely on more than just climax to keep bonds strong. Pair-bonding species spend most of their “us time” engaged in non-copulatory, oxytocin-releasing (bonding) behaviors: Grooming, huddling together, tail-twining, or, in humans, comforting, soothing touch, kissing, skin-to-skin contact, eye gazing and so forth. Interestingly, pair-bonding monkey mates who engage in the most bonding behaviors have the highest oxytocin levels.”

All of this is to say that when you have sex early on in a relationship, before you’re seeing each other every day and spending most of your time together and engaging in a whole lot of other bonding behaviors, you won’t have a strong non-sexual stream of oxytocin flowing to compensate for the hormone drop-off post-climax, which may make your relationship feel more bumpy, tense, and volatile. If, on the other hand, you wait to have sex until your non-sexual oxytocin stream is running full blast, this flow will smooth over the neurochemical ups and downs that accompany sex, so that intimacy enriches your relationship and draws you together instead of apart.

Building a stream of oxytocin before initiating sex also provides fertile ground for creating an all-important foundation of friendship for your relationship. As Robertson mentions above, non-sexual bonding behaviors relax the defensiveness of the amygdala, creating a feeling of trust and safety with your significant other. This security provides time and space to work on the communicative and emotional side of your relationship without those aspects becoming underplayed and overwhelmed by a focus on physical intimacy.

But Everyone Else Is Doing It!

Even if you decide you want to delay intimacy in a relationship, you might feel like your decision is less than manly. We definitely live in a culture that often equates manhood with the number of notches on one’s bedpost and you may assume that all of your peers are having lots of sex and that following a different path therefore makes you a square.

In reality, surveys show that 77% of college students believe that their peers are hooking up more often than they really are. What are the actual numbers? According to the most recent study by the CDC, over a quarter of young men ages 15-24 have not had any sex at all – oral, anal, or vaginal. And over 40% of men 20-24 have only had 0-2 sexual partners, and that includes those with whom they only had oral sex.

And while the apparently rampant hook-up culture on college campuses comes in for an awful lot of hand-wringing by those who fear that young people today have all devolved into amoral hedonists, the numbers, here broken down by Slate columnist Amanda Hess, don’t quite support that worry:

Sociological Images’ Lisa Wade, who has researched hookup culture extensively, has found that ‘between two thirds and three quarters of students hook up at some point during college.’ Since the term “hookup” can include everything from just kissing (where around 32 percent of college hookups end) to intercourse (40 percent of hookups), that means only that college students are engaging in as little as one makeout every four years. One study found that among students who did hook up in college, 40 percent did it three or fewer times total (less than one hookup a year); 40 percent did it between four and nine times (one to two hookups a year); and 20 percent did it ten or more times. Less than 15 percent of college students are engaging in some form of physical contact more than twice a year.”

In a survey Wade conducted with her own students, she found that 38% of students said they had opted out of the hook-up culture altogether, and that few of those who did take part found hooking-up all that satisfying. Only about 11% of students “expressed unequivocal enjoyment of hookup culture,” while 50% were hooking up “ambivalently or reluctantly.”

The bottom line? If you decide that delaying intimacy is the right choice for you, you’re certainly not the odd man out.

Conclusion

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I hate when people oversell things, and this is a topic where people are especially sensitive to things being over-simplified. So I have no problem saying that the kind of studies cited above do not “prove” that delaying intimacy is the best way to go, and there are assuredly folks who are happy they waited until marriage to have sex, and folks with happy marriages who had sex on the first date. I provided this information because it offers important food for thought – grist to add to the other things you evaluate and ponder when making a decision about where you stand on this issue. Truthfully, scientific studies are not likely to be the most important factors in that decision-making process – your religious and philosophical beliefs will and should have the greatest sway. The most important thing, regardless of those beliefs, is that you make the decision deliberately and consciously. It shouldn’t be a decision you reach based on what you think your peers are doing or an image a magazine sells, and you shouldn’t wait to make up your mind until the heat of the moment. Before you get involved with someone, make sure you have already worked through and decided what you believe about the timing of sexual intimacy, and then stick with your principles.

On a final note, whatever your personal beliefs are, I think one of the most compelling arguments to be made for delaying intimacy is the power of delayed gratification. Deciding to wait for something not only builds your discipline, self-mastery, and character, it can exponentially increase the pleasure of its eventual consummation and make it a far more deep and memorable experience. Everything is so cheap these days – in-your-face, mass-produced, common, and banal. Yet within his own sphere, each man has the power to sacralize something — to take it back from being trampled under foot and make it something more meaningful – to turn it into something that will add a richness and texture to his life rather than just another run-of-the-mill experience in a tirelessly ordinary and worn out world.

{ 96 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Roger July 1, 2013 at 10:05 pm

You know, this article came at just the right time. I just found a great gal that I really like, and don’t want to screw it up. Come to think of it, your articles always come at the right time. You complete me, Brett.

Also… First!

2 Shawn July 1, 2013 at 10:12 pm

Fantastic article. Thanks for taking the time to explain this unpopular but extremely important truth.

3 Emily July 1, 2013 at 10:30 pm

I’m grateful for my husband deciding we would wait until marriage. He knew my religious beliefs, and also knew I would regret it. But more than that, I had trust issues from previous relationships. There was sexual abuse in my past as well and the excuse the male gave was that he couldn’t handle waiting or going without. I honestly didn’t think I would ever be able to find a man who would be able to convince me to marry and trust him, but my husband did and the key to all of that was delaying sex until we were married.

Why would he cheat if I knew he had waited while we dated? If I wasn’t enough during a pregnancy or afterwards then I knew he could handle it because he had handled our dating. I knew his hormones didn’t control him because there had been many times we had come close to have him smile and stop everything. There was never a baby before we were married, and none of the ‘would he actually have married me without that baby?’ or ‘would he choose me now if we didn’t have kids together’ or the pressure to try and make it work for a child before both of us were willing to commit to eachother for life.

Men complain about the baggage other men left behind and how to make a woman trust her…. this is a HUGE part of it.

4 Kevin July 1, 2013 at 10:30 pm

I think one big problem that comes with rushing into things is a false sense of intimacy. In other words, a couple may be “tricked” by their hormones into thinking they have a great relationship when it is just the excitement of sexual intimacy.

5 JeffC July 1, 2013 at 10:37 pm

Sensitively written. I especially like the admonition at the end to be deliberative, to decide beforehand where we stand, rather than simply let the culture shape us into its image. Well-done.

6 Matt July 1, 2013 at 10:37 pm

Thank you for assembling the many points floating around in my head into a coherent case.

7 Doug July 1, 2013 at 10:43 pm

You bring up an interesting analogy with the test drive lol, and I personally felt that that helped me. When my girlfriend and I went that extra distance, we had been dating for somewhere between 1.5 to 2 years, and it was much further than any of our friends had gone. Truth be told, it did definitely change our relationship, and it took a while to adjust, though I think it ultimately helped us (at least me). While it may be ultimately a “notch on the bedpost” for us guys, it (obviously) goes a little bit deeper for the other half, and I personally believe that you need to see that “other side” of them before you wind up getting hitched. Though there have been bumps along the way, including a recent break from one another, I think we are at a stage now where we understand each other more, communicate better with one another, and in general are more passionate with one another. But while we didn’t wait until we would (hopefully) get married, I still think it’s crucially important to wait until both members feel it’s the right time. Delaying intimacy proves to each side that you are truly seeking commitment in the relationship, and not just hoping to feel like Smilin’ Bob.

8 Joseph July 1, 2013 at 10:54 pm

I’m asexual, so I’m probably firmly as you can get in the waiting camp, but there are many forms of intimacy in a romantic relationship. I really dislike the use of “intimacy” as a euphemism for sex. Please say sex because like I said, there are many forms of intimacy, and it is wrong to make someone feel like their ideas of what constitutes intimacy are wrong. And, by the way, that’s what hearing so many people use intimacy as a code word for sex does.

Great article, and I love it very much other than that one issue. It alienates those who choose to hold off from sex longer than others, as if they can’t have intimacy without sex.

9 Zach July 1, 2013 at 10:57 pm

Wow what a great read.

10 James Abel July 1, 2013 at 10:57 pm

There is so much to be said for this. I’m not judging (I have zero room in this department) but I think everyone is in such a rush these days and one of the first victims is sex. I pray my children wait for this to maximize their relationship chances and enjoyment.

11 Chris B. Behrens July 2, 2013 at 12:01 am

Great point…if you TRULY doubt whether your partner is going to be able to handle the basics of the reproductive act, probably best to keep on shopping.

12 Garrett Cash July 2, 2013 at 12:07 am

“I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self.” – Aristotle

13 Will July 2, 2013 at 1:05 am

@Matt: second that!

Came just at the right time. Been looking to make a decision concerning my sexual conduct. Have started to get sick and tired of sex because of the negative affective shift that I’ve experienced many times in my encounters with girls.

Your articles are truly an inspiration and I feel they are changing my life everyday.

14 Salesman July 2, 2013 at 5:18 am

The whole non sexual oxytocin this is quite heavy. A girl started working in our team and I just started getting to know her; all innocent really. I took a week off and when I came back she had gone, (failed her uni exams, had to go back home). More suprisingly, I felt the pain.

15 AJ July 2, 2013 at 5:52 am

Probably one of your best articles. Very well executed. Carry on. And thank you for all that you do.

16 Joey E July 2, 2013 at 6:17 am

So glad you wrote on this important topic. I was glad that my wife and I waited. Mentors & leaders in our church taught us “do not put intimacy before commitment.”

When I have told my football players that I didn’t have sex until marriage, they look at me like I’m crazy. But, at least they are hearing a different perspective.

Likewise, one young boy that was in our program was completely SHOCKED that my wife & I didn’t live together before we got married. It is so different than anything he had seen, apparently.

(You can read that full story, & how I responded, here: http://missionallendale.wordpress.com/2012/07/18/our-engagement/)

17 Ignatius July 2, 2013 at 6:19 am

The problem with this issue lies, in part, with equating “intimacy” with “sexual activity” (terms that, I believe, for lack of better words, the article equates).

at what point of a relationship do you have real “intimacy” with your love interest? When you trust her unreservedly, when you know, accept and embrace “all there is to know” about her, when you would defend, foster and support all what is good in her with all your strengths. And vice versa. That is intimacy. When do you reach that point? When you say “yes” to her unreservedly. And unreservedly means that that “yes” is also a physical one, you will give to her -and she to you- completely.

I would say that all this only happens when you marry.

Best regards.

18 Miguel July 2, 2013 at 6:30 am

Hey Brett !
I’m a young man, from Portugal, I just turned 18 last year, yet I’ve been following AOM for over an year now (I think it might even be close to two).
First of all, I have to say I find alot of posts extremely helpful and interesting, so congratulations on your amazing work! If every young lad read AOM I’m sure the world would be a better place.

Now, about this topic. I’ve lost my virginity to a girl (one and a half years ago), who I was dating for 3 months.
Our relationship lasted for 14 months, so almost a whole year after our first time. She was the first girl I can claim to have really loved, and even after our break up I still hold her dear, care for her, and cherish our moments and memories together. We had a great bond, but she was terribly emotionally damaged, due to problems with her family and previous boyfriends.

After our break up, I had a.. say, one night stand, where I was with a girl for one day only. Now, I’m referring this to back-up what you said about Oxytocin making you feel closer to the person. The truth is, I was friends with this girl, but I had no feelings towards her when it comes to love. However, after engaging with her on intercourse, I actually “missed her”. There was a desire to be with her, and I can now blame it on my hormones ahah
I even got myself thinking if I was developing feelings for her.

Therefore, I must completely agree with what you said, and tell every man out there to be careful with the tricks our hormones can play on us.
While it can seem rather silly (my friends and I used to joke about it, but it’s a fact that it works), if you lead yourself to orgasm, you’ll be able to think alot more clearly when it comes to sex and your feelings towards someone.
While I don’t support masturbation that much, since in my head it makes alot more sense to please yourself with someone else who you love, therefore pleasing eachother, there are times when I believe every man does it, and when in doubt, that would be a good time to use that in your “advantage” – one can only think straight with a clear mind.

Carrying on with my story, I never did get to see that girl again (sexually).
Later, I came to fall in love with the girl I’m currently with – for 3 months now (4, if I count the time we “hung out” before I asked her to be my girlfriend). We did have our first time together a little soon, yet I feel really close to her.
One can never know what goes in our woman’s head, but I believe the feeling is reciprocal. I really like her, and I can actually say I believe I’m starting to truly love her. We have alot of fun together, we laugh all the time, and enjoy eachother’s company, we share great moments, and when either one of us is said we pull eachother up. I feel so much tenderness and love towards her.
While our relationship isn’t that long yet, we’ve had our -say- “tests” and we pulled through, so I believe I might be onto something serious and, so far, truly great.

Which also leads me to the point that each relationship is different. While waiting can surely be good, and actually improve the relationship, don’t feel too “forced” to follow any path, let things flow and be happy with the choices you make. I truly believe that when it’s meant to be, it will work out somehow. When you find someone you belong with, no matter how much the world turns around, you will stay with that person.

On a side note, while I don’t want to “push down” anyone’s beliefs, I know of couples who waited until marriage only to find they had no sexual “chemistry” together, they just didn’t work out sexually, which lead to divorce after only a few months..
I think it’s important, for both men and women, to be with someone who they have, putting it bluntly, great sex with.
Sex is important for our happiness, and while it surely isn’t the most important things, it’s one of our primary needs. One thing is waiting, if your wife or girlfriend doesn’t want to have sex for whatever reason, say pregnancy, and support them through that time, because you love them, and another is spending a whole life with someone who you just can’t seem to enjoy sex with.
I believe great sex actually makes both partners happier, and helps alot in making the relationship healthy, when you two share a great bond, mentaly and physically.

Wow, look at how much I wrote ahah
Anyways, in conclusion, don’t overthink things, live each day and every moment, be happy and positive fellow gentleman. I know life tries really hard to knock us down sometimes, but that’s when we have to take Brett’s posts about boxing into account, uppercut life’s chin really hard and stand up again !
I hope I wasn’t too boring, talking about myself and what not.

My best regards !

Miguel

19 Rob July 2, 2013 at 6:33 am

Excellent article on a topic that, regardless of how much men discuss with each other, they think about themselves quite a bit.

I would love to read a follow-up article that discusses some of the gray areas: does waiting until marriage for sex mean that couples can do anything leading up to vaginal sex and still consider themselves ‘waiting for marriage’? Or is oral sex lumped in with the broad term ‘sex?’

Per usual, this is a very well written, researched, and thought out piece. Thanks for filling my days with excellent ideas, concepts, and manly things to ponder.

20 Joshua July 2, 2013 at 6:46 am

My wife and I made an agreement to not get any more intimate than hand holding and hugs for the first six months we were dating. We also decided to not use the word “love” during that time. All of this was great for us since we didn’t put pressure on ourselves to move our relationship further, faster than it needed to. Our first kiss was much more satisfying than it would have been if we went too fast.

21 Latham July 2, 2013 at 8:19 am

Anyone else have a hard time trusting a doctor who dresses up rats in little leather jackets and watches them have sex?

22 Josh July 2, 2013 at 8:32 am

I like the article, and I’ll have to follow up on some of those studies you cited. Those will be nice to know for clubbing people over the head with my views. Or just for conversation. Maybe both. We’ll see.

23 craig July 2, 2013 at 9:00 am

This article is excellent. I truly believe that anything worth well… anything takes time and work. I used to rush into sex right away in relationships. The last relationship I was in we waited for 3 months. It ended up being the best and longest relationship I was in. we were togeather several years.

24 John July 2, 2013 at 9:03 am

I love this article, very well written and is not in your face trying to get someone to believe something. I have to say that, I am a believer in waiting for the right time to be intimate with your partner. I once had a relationship that the first time I met this gal we hooked up (that was my first time also), That relationship quickly slid downhill, when I was not able to keep up with her sexually, she started to cheat on me. It was probably the most confusing relationship I will ever have, but I am pleased to be in a relationship now where our intimacy is not sexual but is more feelings based and we can be completely truthful with each other.
So in summary, it will vary what each guy thinks, but there are also different kinds of gals, so don’t push away that perfect gal for you just because you want to instant gratification.

25 Allison July 2, 2013 at 9:04 am

I may be in the minority, and I’m not trying to attack other people’s choices. (If it works for you, great!) But I’m gonna raise my hand as someone who waited until marriage and can honestly say it was one of the biggest mistakes of my life.

It turned out that, while my then-husband and I were very good friends with similar backgrounds and values who genuinely cared about each other, we had zero sexual chemistry. Both of us were virgins, and yet, despite years of trying (with the help of meds, therapy, etc.), we could not deliver on the things that turned each other on. We were also anatomically mismatched. (large penis + small vagina = excruciatingly painful sex)

There was nothing *wrong* with either of us. He was just the wrong partner for me. But because I didn’t have sex with him before marriage, there was no way we could have known ahead of time. So we endured a few years of miserable marriage and a very painful divorce that could have been avoided from the beginning if we had only had sex beforehand.

I no longer wait very long to have sex. Sex is so important in a relationship, it just doesn’t make very much sense to me to invest so much in a partner while leaving such a big element of the relationship’s success to chance.

But that’s just me.

26 Rory July 2, 2013 at 9:08 am

I commend you on this article.

When my (now)wife and I got together, I told her that there would be no sex for the 1st month, minimum. The reasons I gave was that I wanted us to know each other before sex, and I had seen too many friends end up in crappy relationships with attractive yet vapid women they barely liked, b/c “the sex is fantastic”. Some of them even ended up with kids for a woman they couldn’t stand.

My (then)GF was a bit taken aback at first, but after the month ended and we did it for the 1st time, it was mindblowing. She became a believer, counsels her friends to wait, and has said that it made our relationship stronger, b/c we knew one another intimately before getting intimate. I don’t regret it for a second. 10 years later we’re married, expecting our 1st, and couldn’t be happier!

27 Luke July 2, 2013 at 9:09 am

I so agree with this. I am waiting till marriage. God bless!

28 Tarun July 2, 2013 at 10:10 am

I love the last two sentences of this article. Sheer poetry, my friend. And so true.

29 Josh K July 2, 2013 at 10:19 am

Results of self-survey from 3,900 college students “suggest that among heterosexual college students, casual sex was negatively associated with well-being and positively associated with psychological distress.”
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130628130934.htm

30 Vincent Milburn July 2, 2013 at 10:21 am

I’m a believer that all categories of truth (religion, philosophy, science, etc.) work together. The more we find out about these things, the more traditional values will be validated.

31 Kman July 2, 2013 at 10:59 am

To me, the concept of waiting until marriage is a surefire way to set yourself up for horrific failure. I always viewed sexuality as an integral part of a healthy relationship, and waiting until marriage to find out that you’re sexually incompatible seems insane. Some of these people may rate their “satisfaction” higher… but it could be because they have nothing else to compare to, or simply because they’re lying to themselves. Just food for thought.

Sex is as cheap, or as sacred, as you make it. Regardless of the timestamp you place on it.

32 Pauline July 2, 2013 at 11:09 am

Truly amazing article. I really appreciated the amount of research you considered to be able to discuss such an emotionally charged topic in a level-headed, thoughtful manner, without flinging “should” on anyone.

I especially appreciate your closing paragraph – it is powerful!

To take your conclusion a step further in terms of its practical application, I think it can also be applied to a couple’s physically intimate life after marriage as well as before. By this, I’m referring to contraceptive or family planning choices. Yes, it’s another highly charged area, but it’s one where the delicate dance of hormones can have life-long significance in a couple’s experience, and one where I’m not certain throwing artificial hormones or artificially induced sterility at the “problem” has been a great benefit to our society.

The need to continue developing self discipline with respect to sexual choices doesn’t end with the marriage night, in my mind (thinking both of a world that trivializes marital fidelity as well as the reality of illness, children, etc., where the opportunity for sexual bonding doesn’t always happen when we might like). As a result, the need to continue both forms of bonding sexual and the oxytocin supporting non sexual ones continues to be of deep importance within a marriage.

Drawing from my own experience, my husband and I have chosen to use a natural form of family planning (for the record we don’t count calendar days, we observe the signs of fertility that let us know when we’re likely to conceive, and we choose to be physically intimate or not accordingly). My reason for choosing this method was informed by my faith choices; my husband was convinced not by religion but by a Newsweek article on infertility, of all things. And lest you chuckle at the fact that we have 4 children, if you remember that tidbit from having met us at the CA book signing, I can assure you that each was conceived intentionally and deliberately. :)

I put my personal experience in not to give too much information; my apologies if I’ve scandalized anyone. But as a result of our experience (and it appears that science has backed up our experience) we have discovered the continued importance of those “oxytocin supporting” forms of intimacy that don’t lead to procreation when we’re not ready. Choosing this form of planning our family by necessity requires love, self control, communication, and yes, finding ways to be intimate that respect each other and don’t lead to pregnancy if that’s our intention at the time. And, at nearly 11 years of marriage, I believe our marriage has strengthened as a result.

Research (http://familiadelasamericas.org/inc/data/divorce_study_eng_wilson.pdf) suggests a correlative connection as well, though obviously more studies would be needed to examine whether there is causation or not.

We may in fact be “done” having children (our 2 older kids keep encouraging us to have another; we’ll see. :) ) And yet we won’t choose another method of contraception, nor will we choose to surgically alter either of our bodies (an interrelated topic that has profound implications for our respect for natural manliness and womanliness, in my opinion). The benefits (a monthly “honeymoon as it were, increased communication, very obvious respect between us, and more) are just too great.

In any case – thank you for your willingness to throw some deep thought into charged issues for the betterment of our society, both men and women!

33 RicoSuaveGuapo July 2, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Though this article is about sex, “intimacy” is inadvertently the right term for the article.

Here’s the thing guys – women are the gatekeepers of sex. But men are the gatekeepers of commitment. Just as men rightly shun women who give sex away too easily, women will shun men who give away commitment too easily.

While the common meme is that men never commit, that’s usually only true for the top 20% of guys who know they have plenty of options and can have all the companionship and sex they want without having to commit to one person.

For the average Joe, it’s usually the opposite – they find they’ve somehow managed to attract the attention of a lady, think to themselves “Boy howdy, I better lock’er down!” So they commit to the relationship too quickly, killing any attraction the woman has for them. It’s the biggest thing you bring to a relationship – don’t give it away indiscriminately.

34 Will July 2, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Thanks for writing this article, Brett. Took some stones to put it out there like that, but you did it in a tactful and pragmatic way. Great job.

35 Russell July 2, 2013 at 12:34 pm

Site as many sources as you want, I will always believe that a couple’s strength comes from how they as individuals act toward each other. My wife and I got “intimate” after being together for a year (we didn’t marry until we’d been together for 6) and we just celebrated our 10th anniversary. A friend of mine waiting till he and his wife were married before doing the deed and they were divorced before their 2nd anniversary.

I think it all comes down to the individuals involved. Intimacy is definitely a factor in a strong relationship, but it’s only one among many other factors.

36 @#$ July 2, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Great timing! I recently just entered a relationship fresh out of college. I haven’t had a girlfriend or intimacy since before junior-high. My problem isn’t being able to wait; it is taking that first step toward intimacy whether kissing, kino, or holding hands. I just haven’t had that emotional experience so now I have to learn it all. Its actually scary putting myself out there and vulnerable. And it sucks! But I really like her, a lot, and I am willing to push myself out of my comfort zone to be a great man for her. But this article gave me vision. Thanks a ton Brett and Kate!

37 Lyle July 2, 2013 at 1:13 pm

I think there are some interesting points here, at least concerning evolutionary psychology. But I think when it comes to how people view sex as a turning point or whether they regret it afterwards and stuff, people are influenced, even if they don’t know it, or aren’t religious themselves, by the strain of morality and shame that still exists in our culture. I don’t think it’s innate. I think if you’re someone that really has completely transcended religion and properly sees man as a human animal, you can have sex whenever you want in a relationship and be fine.

38 jubilee July 2, 2013 at 1:22 pm

it is well and good, that couples stay virgins until marriage, but also
THEY NEED TO STAY AWAY FROM PORN AS WELL–from books, internet, and smartphones; since it could make some men psychologically impotent

What we need to do, is keep busy, have a decent hobby get to know each other.

Sometimes, BALLROOM type dancing is also a plus, but done within a public setting–the man has a part, and the woman has a part

39 Anna July 2, 2013 at 1:25 pm

This is truly a blog for Men.

40 Moses July 2, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Better to be patient than a warrior,
and better to have self-control
than to capture a city.
Proverbs 16:32
Common English Bible (CEB)

Old wisdom really is like good wine – it just keeps getting better!

My wife and I waited – first sexual partner for each other, struggled to figure stuff out at first, but the marital bonds (and a heck of a lot of community support from great older marrieds) helped us through.
Now; four awesome children and 25 years later, I am SO GLAD we went the super old-school way.
One of the strongest parts of your article, Brett, is the “establishing habits” section. I have seen more marriages and committed relationships collapse or stand based on someone’s habitual “playing the field.” It usually is the guy, but NOT ALWAYS, and it is almost always fatal to the relationship.
Beware the habits you wear!

41 Scott July 2, 2013 at 1:43 pm

The last half of the last paragraph is beautifully written, and I dare-say applies to a lot more in life than just this topic. You should sell prints of that or something. It would look great on a wall in a man cave.

42 Dusty July 2, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Great web site; I find it very helpful. And great article, but please permit me to say I don’t think this one is completely objective. Though that IS difficult, perhaps impossible. And though I can’t speak for other nations, it seems especially difficult in the USA where the populace seems to be divided into two extremes — people defending their faith and people trying to break free from a rather…well, prudish and puritan — maybe even repressed — recent upbringing in our nation’s history. In other words, the “maturity” of our culture in its place in history seems to presently be in a position that leaves few people NOT feeling strongly one way or another. And yet, I believe it is possible to still remain objective on this issue. And where this is little or no evidence, it might be best to keep an open mind; and where there is substantial evidence, move forward with at least some caution.

First of all, from my own painful experience and failed, miserable marriage of nine years, I agree with the notion that waiting until marriage is potentially setting yourself up for failure. Besides anatomical incompatibilities like Allison mentioned, there are also what I call “levels-of-sexuality” differences. Some people are more “hypersexual”, others can hardly care about sex and are more or less “hyposexual”. In my case, my ex-wife never really needed it as much as I, and she didn’t often like to be touched at night (I do) — and so, at least in part due to this incompatibility, we had a miserable marriage that lasted nine years out of a sincere belief that families are meant to be together forever. Our marriage literally died trying, as the saying goes. And because of wanting to be true to my faith’s concepts of morality, I had waited until marriage to have sex and found out the hard way. In contrast, my girlfriend is extremely responsive and has a very active and high libido herself and so we have sex almost daily, leaving us both very fulfilled sexually.

I don’t wish to offend anyone at all in the slightest, but I think we enter a dangerous world when we filter what science has discovered through our religious or ideological paradigms. And what is more, it is a very odd notion, that many mainstream religions hold ANY extramarital sexual activity, including adolescent fornication, as the worst sin “next to murder”. It is odd because millions of species in nature have sex — some for pure reproduction only; others like Bonobo chimps (which, of course, happen to be our closest living relatives) do it frequently and MOSTLY for social bonding. Nature may be “red in tooth and claw” but there is no SPITE in nature displayed by non-human species. It is just very odd that some religions compare something that most vertebrate animals do as “next to murder” when humans do it. Very odd, indeed.

As an aside, there was a very comprehensive study that the great Carl Sagan reported on in his famous astronomy bestseller, “Cosmos”, which showed that out of some hundreds of nations examined, the ones that suppressed their adolescents sexually collectively led to a more violent nation or culture. (The study was called, “Body Pleasure and the Origins of
Violence” By James W. Prescott
From “The Bulletin of The Atomic Scientists”, November 1975, pp. 10-20)

And to be fair, that’s not the whole story; receiving physical affection as an infant can apparently make a great substitute or supplement for adolescent sexual exploration.

From page 133 in Carl’s book:

“The neuro-psychologist, James W. Prescott, has performed a startling cross-cultural analysis of 400 pre-industrial societies and found that cultures that lavish physical affection on infants tend to be disinclined to violence. Even societies without notable fondling of infants develop non-violent adults, provided sexual activity in adolescents is not repressed. Prescott believes that cultures with a predisposition for violence are composed of individuals that have been deprived — at least during one of two critical stages in life, infancy and adolescence — of the pleasures of the body. Where physical affection is encouraged, theft, organized religion, and individual displays of wealth are inconspicuous; where infants are physically punished, there tends to be slavery, frequent killing, torture and mutilation of enemies, a devotion to the inferiority of women, and a belief in one or more supernatural beings who intervene in daily life.

We do not understand human behavior well enough to be sure of the mechanisms underlying these relationships, although we can conjecture. But the correlations are significant. Prescott writes: “The percent likelihood of a society becoming physically violent if it is physically affectionate toward its infants and tolerant of premarital sexual behavior is 2 percent. The probability of this relationship occurring by chance is 125,000 to one. I am not aware of any other developmental variable that has such a high degree of predictive validity.”

So, while I concede there may be some evidence for benefits in delaying sex, there is also compelling evidence that being completely celibate during adolescence and until marriage is not healthy either. There are too many serious questions about abstinence and celibacy that need to be answered that religion often gives very vague responses to — if any of you are Peter Jackson (of “Hobbit” fame) fans, he recently made a documentary with a director who made herself really famous with a film about the Catholic priests and pedophilia called “Deliver Us from Evil” — it seems that repressing natural urges can (forgive the pun) squirt out later in unhealthy and even horrible, unspeakable, unlawful ways. And rather than asking “Is There Any Evidence That Delaying Intimacy Benefits a Long-Term Relationship?”, which seems like leading, I think it’s more scientifically minded (and useful) to ask, “What is the consensus or big picture that science is uncovering in regards to abstaining from sex until marriage (or until after committed for long-term)?” i.e. If there have been a lot of studies on this issue, when you gather all of them up and look at the conclusions, is there a significant “stacking up” on one side of the two possible predictions? And if there have been only a couple quick-and-sloppy experiments published and very few robust studies, I’d say keep an open mind until more have been published.

Perhaps Daniel Fairbanks, a professor of biology at BYU and UVU, speaking of evidence for evolution in DNA studies, said it best, and it’s very applicable here: “The differences are analogous to the signal-to-noise problem in broadcast television and radio. Before the days of cable and satellite television, people used either a small “rabbit-ears” antenna mounted on a television set or a large antenna on the roof. Random fluctuations in broadcast television signals are common, so reception rises and falls. A small antenna captures only a small part of the overall signal, so random fluctuations can readily cause the signal to fade in and out. The larger rooftop antenna captures a larger proportion of the signal. When the random fluctuations are averaged out, the signal is more consistent with less variation. Because random variation and the laws of probability govern inheritance of DNA, we expect to see some random fluctuations, like the television noise, in DNA comparisons. A single isolated study is not always representative of an overall pattern. Although most studies may support a particular pattern, a few studies here and there might seem to contradict it because of the noise. Others might oversupport the real pattern and suggest a closer relationship than what actually exists. In other words, the noise varies in both directions. However, when very large amounts of DNA sequence are compared, the random variations due to the noise are averaged out and the signal becomes much more apparent. For this reason, large studies on a genomic scale, which became available only recently, are much better indicators of evolutionary relationships than isolated small studies.”

So, do individual peer-reviewed studies that measure the benefits/costs of delaying sexual activity represent the “signal” or the “noise”? That is the question. And often, it’s a question that can easily and quickly be answered by doing a topic perusal in an academic search engine.

Also, I think it’s an intellectual error that some have made to think of sex or “the deed” as something other than a gradient — in other words, not a “first base”, “second base”, etc kind of step-wise progression. Everybody experiences sex in some way. Some people can achieve climax from merely kissing, or in some extremes (especially in some women) even THINKING about sex.

I suppose I don’t agree with the comment that one’s religious beliefs should hold greater sway than science, as it is often the most extreme religions that sway their parents and husbands to brutally repress and control their families, even to the point of violent punishment for such transgressions.

My main point is this: I am hard-pressed to think of any problems in this world that were once explained by science that religion later came along and explained BETTER.

Not that religion doesn’t provide its followers with wonderful benefits, but I think it has worn itself out as a “way of knowing”, certainly as a way of knowing the natural world — after all, human sexuality is a NATURAL phenomenon, so it is best left to the NATURAL sciences to explain. The realm of religion is the SUPERnatural, and I think it runs into (and causes people) trouble when it tries to overstep its bounds/purpose and enters the NATURAL arena.

Peace and prosperity to all. The goal is uncovering truth. And I do find it in abundance on this site.

43 Dave July 2, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Great read and a well-written one at that. However, I really wish the title was “How Delaying Sex Can Benefit Your Relationship” and that you you would have spent careful attention and time discussing the vast differences between sex and intimacy. The world may see the two as synonymous but intimacy is not sex and sex is not intimacy.
Intimacy is great, it is needed in all relationships and friendships that go beyond a superficial level. Without intimacy no romantic relationship really has a chance to survive, let a lone thrive and become a life long connection.
I believe the knowledge gleaned from defining and explaining the difference between the two would be of much greater benefit to the world than talking about “when should we start having sex”.

44 James July 2, 2013 at 2:23 pm

@Emily, Thanks for sharing a woman’s perspective.

Re: The Article,
After examining my failed marriage, I have come to the conclusion that both me and my ex-wife associated sex with shame always. We could have sex before marriage without a real commitment but it did not work afterwards. Since the divorce she has indicated to me that she again finds me attractive while during marriage she found me repulsive. This somewhat odd development comes from associating sex with shame. For those that have been abused in one way or another sex can only occur in shameful settings. My ex-wife was sexually abused by her father and that is where shame was bound to sex for her in my opinion. My father’s affairs and subsequent fallout from the divorce is where shame was bound to sex for me. Even if we had waited, as Allison did, I do not believe we could have had a healthy sexual relationship, or any type of healthy relationship for that matter, as we both had serious baggage going in (that’s what brought us together).

I think a big part of having a healthy sexual relationship is accepting its natural place which is in a committed relationship. I personally believe that children need both a father and a mother for their healthy upbringing. Putting sex after commitment eliminates the possibility of having a child outside a committed relationship. I believe this is why we are wired the way we are. Modern technology through birth control can enable sex before commitment without significant risk of having a child but it does not change how we are wired and what feels right. I think the feeling of need for sex before marriage indicates an unhealthy outlook on sex which will preclude the true intimacy of a healthy relationship.

45 Trish July 2, 2013 at 3:35 pm

Thanks for a very well thought out article. I think this is a message that young men and women need to hear.

My husband and I have been married for nearly 10 years and waited until marriage. We have absolutely no regrets. People are often surprised to hear that we waited. I think it is very romantic and sexy for a man to truly commit before taking that step. To know that you are in love and in the moment but ultimately hold back adds a whole other element to a relationship that’s very fun, exciting and to Brett’s point, makes the actual experience even better!

Sure, there are always exceptions and not every relationship or marriage will succeed by going this route, but I believe the stats show that it is more likely to be a successful partnership.

I really do believe there are many people out there who wait until marriage (or close to it) but it’s just not something they talk about. I am definitely guilty of this myself. I wish more of us had the courage to speak openly about it like you just did. Kudos!

46 Greg July 2, 2013 at 5:26 pm

This article was written very well and managed to express a view without belittling those on the other side–not an easy task!

For those who aren’t religiously inclined, I would say this-wait long enough to learn her character, but don’t keep yourself virginal for abstinence’s sake. Accidents happen, and you at least need to be sure that if they do happen, they happen with someone you respect and can work with given the consequences. My father gave me that excellent advice.

That being said, I can’t encourage waiting for waiting’s sake. I did that and regretted it. I thought I could be the mature one who isn’t moved by sexual passions, but that particular kind of pride is dumb. It puts a lot of stress on a man’s psyche to date people who have had significantly more partners than he has. If you manage to wait into your mid to late 20s, many eligible women will have had a number of serious boyfriends, less serious boyfriends, and acquaintances with whom they’ve had sex. Remember, I’m not religious, so I’m not meeting girls at church. This is the way I see things happening in my world. A sexually-active 27-year-old man or woman who is not really “loose” may have accumulated 10-20 significant others alone, not to mention casual flings. The math works. Even if the nice girl waits 3 months with each guy, starting at age 20, and each relationship averages 8 months duration, that could be 10 partners by 27.

But I did wait, and endured almost unbearable jealousy and regret coming to terms with sexuality. It became this weird stumbling block, where I didn’t know how to handle increasingly intimate relationships and couldn’t stand to hear stories about former flames my girlfriends had.

There was no cause to wait so long. I had opportunities with people I knew well and liked in the past, but passed them up. When I finally did it, it was good riddance to my prudery, and I was glad to be rid of it.

Be cognizant of who you are, though, and who you want in the end. If you don’t want a partner with lots of “experience”, then you should also be selective about your partners. It feels crappy for either party to learn that there have already been tens or hundreds of others, unless you are both living that lifestyle. “What’s your number?” “3. What’s yours?” “About 80, but a lot of those were meaningless hookups with friends who are sure to keep turning up from time to time when we’re at parties.” This is not the start to a good relationship!

47 Stan July 2, 2013 at 6:10 pm

Studies correlating mutual abstinence in relationships with better long term outcomes often overlook that most couples who commit to chastity, especially until marriage, are of similar religious and/or cultural backgrounds to which they are strongly committed.

Shared traditional values not only are more conducive to agreed-upon restraint when it comes to sex, but also to less conflict in other goals and priorities of a long term relationship–child rearing, church attendance, compromise of career pursuits, etc.

It would be more interesting, if difficult, to get a man and woman from different religious and cultural backgrounds (as is more and more common in diverse urban areas) to commit to abstinence in their relationship regardless of past histories; then see how that difference alone influences the quality and longevity of their relationship once transitions to marriage.

If such a scenario repeatedly yielded a similar outcome to that of more typical chaste couples, THEN we can surmise that mutual abstinence until marriage really confers a “silver bullet” benefit.

48 Stan July 2, 2013 at 6:16 pm

When both the man and the woman in a relationship have similar religious backgrounds and are strongly committed to a shared set of traditional values, then there is a lower likelihood of unpleasant surprises (conflicting preferences and expectations) in the bedroom on and after the wedding night.

Couples who come from different backgrounds would do well to experiment or at least discuss frankly their sexual preferences and expectations prior to making a lifelong commitment.

49 Jodah July 2, 2013 at 6:42 pm

@Kman

I think you misunderstand the point of the surveys, though I could be wrong. The point is not that they have objectively better sex, but that they are more satisfied with it. This is a gauge of how happy they are as individuals, and happiness is correlated to quality of life.

In this, the fact that they could get better sex if they “shopped around” is a mere obfuscating factor. Example: A husband and wife who never had sex are satisfied with each other due to ignorance that if they were to have sex with their neighbors it would be a much better experience. On the same note, a swinging couple is more dissatisfied since they know that they have two sources of sex, and both are good, that one is better – and that a yet better option may exist.

I hope that helps show how the objective reality is less important than the perceived reality in a situation when asking about satisfaction. It is merely a tool to test mental well being.

On the other option: yes, people can lie on surveys. Good statisticians take into account both this bias and non-response bias. You do it by asking obfuscating and clarifying questions and then only regarding the pertinent questions in the analysis of the data. The test-taker never know the purpose of the test, the proctor doesn’t even know sometimes.

50 Andrew July 2, 2013 at 8:26 pm

For some reason this article filled me with a lot of angst. It wasn’t the science (I liked that part) or the overall concept. I say do what works for you.

For me the problem is more that all of this seems so distant from my own experience. I don’t do well with the whole dating thing, and frankly it all seems way too complicated to mess with. That’s not even with sex in the mix. I’ve contemplated just declaring myself a life long bachelor and being done with it. That intimacy you’re talking about is something I crave, but I can’t seem to have it with anyone. I consistently hear that I don’t have “chemistry” with the people I date. I don’t give them the “spark”. I’m intelligent, funny, and not bad looking, but when it comes to romance I’m caught flat footed. It sucks, and I’m so frustrated with it (and life in general) that I’m half tempted to move to the wilderness and become a less beardy version of Grizzly Adams, haha. I’ve likened myself to a striker without any flint. Not exactly sure what to do to help myself either. Ah well. If you need me, I’ll be busy building my log cabin (okay, I’ll actually be sacked out on the couch in my mom’s basement, but let’s keep that between us :P)

51 Kate July 3, 2013 at 1:35 am

A lady, chiming in here. Thank you so much for this article, Brett & Kate! Really, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the change in conversation, and I appreciate that it isn’t coached entirely in faith and sin.

As a teenage girl trying to have an active social and dating life, I felt like sex was just expected of me. In every scenario. If I didn’t put out, I wasn’t worth getting to know. And there was peer pressure from girls, as well as guys!
When I first met my husband (both late teens), we decided to wait until it felt really important to us, beyond just hormones, which ended up being about a year. While we didn’t wait until marriage (which came years and year later!) it really changed the tone of the relationship, and we were allowed to focus on the kind of people we were, not just sex. I like to think it was the reason it became the first real “serious” relationship for both of us, and 10 years later we’re happily married!

I hope my future children have the courage to wait. (Plus, with the ever rising rates of STDs–sex only inside committed relationships seems like the smartest policy!)

52 Canon July 3, 2013 at 7:44 am

This is a well thought out and well written article. I will also preface by saying my wife and I were both virgins when we married and can both say we’ve had our best sex with each other – no comparison!
While I am a strong proponent of our decision, there was one other key that played a large role in our marital delights: Communication!
We had conversations about sex and our expectations of it in marriage. We knew what to expect of each other before marriage and sex ever happened. I would dare say the couples that have “sexual incompatibility” after waiting for marriage never really talked about expectations. People don’t wake up one day and decide they want to have sex every day or don’t like being touched.
Communicating expectations, sexual or otherwise, is huge in any committed relationship is paramount.

53 Samuel Warren July 3, 2013 at 9:36 am

So I guess I was in the abstinence until marriage camp. Religious reasons aside, the real reason was because of some advice my Dad gave me early on. He said, “If you really intend on staying married forever, and you wait until marriage, you have a unique opportunity. Since she will be the only person you will have ever had sex with, it will be the best you’ve ever had. Even if it were the worst there was, it’ll be the best you’ve ever had, and you won’t think about how much greener the grass might be on the other side of the fence.”

He was right.

54 Sean July 3, 2013 at 4:49 pm

Exceptionally well written. I’m firmly in the “wait” camp incidentally.

55 Janet July 3, 2013 at 7:11 pm

I agree with this article.I have always admonished our daughters not to have sex too soon, because once you have sex, you create an artificial bond that may cause you to end up with the wrong guy once the luster wears off.
My husband and I waited for two years before we mutually decided to have sex, and it did change things. After sex, we didn’t need to talk as much, because we had already been as intimate as it gets. I regretted not having sex very much, and I believe it changed the power struggle in our relationship. I became the dominant one, and he the submissive. It was not so before sex, and I believe that was only because it was sex before marriage. We went 8 more years before we got married, and I really resented having to wait so long. I believe it was because there no longer was any ‘pressure’ or need to get married because my boyfriend had all he wanted whenever he wanted it.
What I find interesting are the responses that state one must have sex before marriage to see it they are compatible. I am 57, so I remember a time when birth control was very new. My younger brother was born in that era, due to some mishap with birth control. So, until fairly recently, potential pregnancy was the outcome for those who had sex out of wedlock. I talked to my dad about this, and though he found my mother very attractive sexually, the fear that she could get pregnant made him wait until they were married. So, were they compatible! Yes, a resounding yes! They had 5 kids, and we all knew to leave them alone when the door was shut!
From one who wished she’d waited.

56 Sir Mr. the Mister July 3, 2013 at 10:59 pm

My girlfriend and I started out just using each other for casual sex, now we’ve been dating for 3 and a half years and living together for 2. It’s not 20 years, but things have been going great ever since.

Sooooooo, it can go either way.

57 Rachel July 8, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Nicely written, thanks for a different perspective than the “third date” rule that just doesn’t work for me – not for religious reasons, but rather because three dates, to me, is really just a few hours’ worth of conversation, and just not enough time to get to know someone well enough for me to be intimate. That;’s just my personal preference because I am interested in a relationship – as it says in the beginning of this article, if you’re not interested in a relationship, probably this article is not relevant to your goals. Another reason is that, once you sleep together, it’s very difficult to go back to the “getting to know you” stage which is an enjoyable part of courtship. And finally, if it turns out you are not compatible romantically, you still might have a good friendship. That happened with one of my male friends – had we slept together, I doubt very much we’d still be talking today, but because we only briefly dated before deciding to be friends, we are still friends 15 years later. So while I’m definitely not in the abstinence camp, I’m more along the lines of “steady dating for four months or however long it takes before we decide to date only each other, and I feel comfortable sharing that part of myself” and I don’t engage in heavy make-out sessions during that time, either. Kissing, sure, but sitting in a parked car making out for hours, nope. Unfortunately a lot of men consider this time frame unreasonable, as if I am a tease, when actually I just want to get to know them and enjoy the “discovery/anticipation” phase before that door is forever closed by physical intimacy. Perhaps the concept of “dating” has changed since I was a teen. It used to be socially acceptable to date more than one person because you *weren’t* having sex with all of them – just dating. Then you might progress to “going steady.” However I think nowadays, dating more than one person is frowned-upon, perhaps because there is an assumption that you are also having sex with more than one person? I’ve no idea, just seems that dating as I once understood it is a thing of the past.

58 TR July 9, 2013 at 8:16 am

The conditioning aspect is such a strong point. I’ll be sure to keep this article saved for my son when he gets a bit older. No one ever spoke to me regarding waiting, so I really like what this has to say.
The funny thing is, even with all the one night stands I’ve had, I’ve never been happier than being in my current relationship. Although we could’ve done things a lot better, it makes me happy to know I’ll have important ideas and suggestions to offer my little dude.
Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. McKay

59 Tony July 9, 2013 at 10:24 am

An interesting article.
Both one night stands and abstinence seem wildly irresponsible and foolish, the former having clear consequence, whilst the latter having less corporeal one. Personally i think The middle ground betwixt desire and chivalry is best.

60 Jhinson11 July 9, 2013 at 8:44 pm

If you can’t tell by the sheer number of posts…This was an exceptional post, and example of why the internet is still a place where intelligent discussion can thrive.

I’d ask your permission to share this article…but it’s too late.

P.S. – It might be worth it to add another article on how to have this discussion with a female who isn’t interested in waiting. (almost never happens…but hey.)

61 shsmith2172 July 12, 2013 at 10:11 am

While I agree that this is wonderful article and sensitive subject, There appears to be a couple of significant flaws (potentially unavoidable) in the actual studies performed.
1. The relationship satisfaction, sexual satisfaction, relation stability and communication statistics are not an apples to apples comparison between people who have waited extended periods of time vs. people who have not. My point being that the frame of reference for all of these segments of people is completely different from someone who waited until marriage to have sex vs. the first date sex people and everyone in between. If you have only had one sexual partner, then yes your satisfaction levels will certainly be statistically higher, because you have nothing to compare it to. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the person who waited is actually happier with their relationship and/or sex life. If that person was placed with another partner, they might find that they were sexually, much more satisfied with a different partner and this would drastically alter the data.
2. The man (*Notice I am not including women here. I could right a who discertation on the biology behind this topic, but I don’t think anyone wants to hear it) that is willing to wait an extended period of time for sex is willing to endure delayed gratification or even forgo gratification all together. This means that they are much more likely to consider their relationship stong and good even if they are unhappy or dissatisfied with their role in the relationship. This frequency of this behavior tends to increase in males as you go down the social hierarchy from Alpha to Delta males. There is no hard and fast rule in here, it is simply more statistical data.
3. The person that waits for sexual gratification is often times someone that does not have as many option or outlets for immediate sexual gratification. This factor can also can also skew the data from the standpoint of someone with fewer partner options is going to be much more grateful for their options. This ties back to my previous points regarding the data collection and comparing equal viewpoints and what those viewpoints actually mean.

To wrap this up, I am not saying that any one choice is better than another. I am simply stating that if you were able to put the data in terms of equally comparative research parameters, you would most likely find the statistics regarding relationship satisfaction to be more closely tied to the frequency rate of intercourse than to the length of time an individual waited to have intercourse.

62 John July 12, 2013 at 3:11 pm

The greatest gift a couple can give to each other on their wedding night is the gift of each other’s virginity. Sexual relationships before marriage will never leave you. Can your marriage survive it? Yes. Can it even thrive despite it? Yes. But that baggage will never completely leave you.

In my opinion, the compatibility and experience argument for not waiting doesn’t hold water. Sex is just the physical expression of your compatibility, and not the thing that makes you compatible. Physically, if you have boy parts and she has girl parts – you’re compatible. As far as experience goes: Sex is not rocket science! Who better to gain experience with, than the lovely woman who’s hand you have taken in the marriage covenant? Besides, there are plenty of tasteful books out there on how to “Do it right” you can read together with your spouse.

My advice? Get married young, grow together, and experience each other to the utmost for the rest of your days – regret free!

63 Joe July 16, 2013 at 4:07 pm

Wow. What a perfect article. My girlfriend and I have been together 4 months…I’m divorced and we’re both 29 with a not-so-clean history but we decided to try something different and wait. It’s difficult but I know it’s going to be worth it and this article really adds the science to the already existing religious and philosophical reasons we have for doing this.

64 likethunder July 16, 2013 at 6:14 pm

@jubilee: “it is well and good, that couples stay virgins until marriage, but also
THEY NEED TO STAY AWAY FROM PORN AS WELL–from books, internet, and smartphones; since it could make some men psychologically impotent

What we need to do, is keep busy, have a decent hobby get to know each other.

Sometimes, BALLROOM type dancing is also a plus, but done within a public setting–the man has a part, and the woman has a part”

just because you can’t perform up to standard does not mean that porn has made your man “psychologically impotent” at all. it just means that you’re lazy and don’t want to put in the effort to turn him on. which is why he resorts to porn and doesn’t want to have sex with you anymore – because you’re boring. of course, it’s always easy to blame someone else for your shortcomings and failures.

sex is on such a back burner these days, it’s unbelievable. people don’t realize that if you find a partner who is truly compatible with your deepest desires, you can develop the deepest intimacy together. sex with your partner can be a hobby of its own.

just for reference, my current boyfriend and i had sex on our first date. we’ve been together for 4.5 years, living together for 3 without any issues.

65 T-m July 21, 2013 at 2:58 pm

I will express my appreciation for this article and a mature, informed discussion of the topic. I can speak to my personal experience whereby in a moment of fuzzy thinking I had sex with a longtime friend. There was always a slightly romantic aspect between us, but after that night in the long term our relationship deteriorated and today we don’t really even speak. Afterwards, I think she and I both felt guilt and some remorse. Having a careless “what the hell, why not?” attitude hasn’t been for me a good recipe for bonding and a healthy, loving relationship.

66 KG July 25, 2013 at 8:27 pm

Brett, the last paragraph here is wonderfully written, mature and profound. Just discovered this blog last week and am really enjoying the articles. Keep it up!

67 Agata July 26, 2013 at 8:27 am

There is so many people here deciding to wait and being so happy abotu the fact they waited, that jstu for the sake of balance, I want to point out just the opposite.

As the authoer states, there’s no good solution for everyone. Don’t get me wrong here, but I feel like some people decide to wait just to be able to pride on how they’re better than the others, while really, we’re all just different.

I have slept with my partner on the first date. We were supposed to go for a drink together to meet, ended up dancing all nigh and finishing in bed together. We’ve been together since, and even though I can’t yet pride on having 20 years of marriage behind me, I am very confident as to our relation and we’re just expecting our second daughter. We’re super happy together.

As much as ending in bed itself was an impuls, you don’t go on a date planning that kind of a turn (well, I don’t), it does generally fit in my approach. I could not date someone for a long time and not get intimate. To start with, I guess it might have something to do with my sexual temperament. I enjoy sex, enough to enjoy it stripped from any relation form, as a sinful “one-night-stand”. It’s the way I am, the way I was ever since I discovered sexuality. At the same time, from my experience I can tell, that some men, while I enjoy their company, I like them, and they are or could be my friends – are just so not what I need in bed.

Of course, you can talk things over, you can synchronzie with time. Sometimes more, sometimes less. With my partner the sparkle was there at the beginning, we wanted each other physically and it worked so well between us. Later we were checking out if it works on other, deeper levels – and it did wonderfully!

Just to be perfectly clear. Despite my sexual temperament, whenever I was in any form of relation I was 100% faithfull. Trying to impose, that having so much experience before, I might wish to continue it into the relationship it’s just same, as me trying to impose on people who wait until wedding, that curiosity will drive you to cheat. Both can be true, but both don’t have to be, right?

I do not want to convince anyone that having sex early is great and you should do it. What’s important, as author stressed as well, is to follow yourself, not what others tell you. Then whatever you do – you will do just fine.

As a side note, I just cannot stop myself from a little critic towards the whole experiment. I didn’t feel like it was taken into account strong enough, that waiting until marriage is often strongly connected with being a religious person, and that also implies ways of living, certain rules, which might help keeping marriage together.

At the same time, person who waits until marriage probably doesn’t have strong sexual needs or expectations.

If two people meet together, and decide to wait – it might be just perfect for them. They share similar values, and that’s a good start into relation.

On the other side, if one person wants to wait, and the other doesn’t – whoever will win the tackle, none of them wins in the end, IMHO.

68 Agata July 26, 2013 at 8:40 am

There is so many people here deciding to wait and being so happy about the fact they waited, that just for the sake of balance, I want to point out just the opposite.

As the author states, there’s no good solution for everyone. Don’t get me wrong here, but I feel like some people decide to wait just to be able to pride on how they’re better than the others, while really, we’re all just different.

I have slept with my partner on the first date. We were supposed to go for a drink together to meet, ended up dancing all nigh and finishing in bed together. We’ve been together since, and even though I can’t yet pride on having 20 years of marriage behind me, I am very confident as to our relation and we’re just expecting our second daughter. We’re super happy together.

As much as ending in bed itself was an impuls, you don’t go on a date planning that kind of a turn (well, I don’t), it does generally fit in my approach. I could not date someone for a long time and not get intimate. To start with, I guess it might have something to do with my sexual temperament. I enjoy sex, enough to enjoy it stripped from any relation form, as a sinful “one-night-stand”. It’s the way I am, the way I was ever since I discovered sexuality. At the same time, from my experience I can tell, that some men, while I enjoy their company, I like them, and they are or could be my friends – are just so not what I need in bed.

Of course, you can talk things over, you can synchronzie with time. Sometimes more, sometimes less. With my partner the sparkle was there at the beginning, we wanted each other physically and it worked so well between us. Later we were checking out if it works on other, deeper levels – and it did wonderfully!

Just to be perfectly clear. Despite my sexual temperament, whenever I was in any form of relation I was 100% faithfull. Trying to impose, that having so much experience before, I might wish to continue it into the relationship it’s just same, as me trying to impose on people who wait until wedding, that curiosity will drive you to cheat. Both can be true, but both don’t have to be, right?

I do not want to convince anyone that having sex early is great and you should do it. What’s important, as author stressed as well, is to follow yourself, not what others tell you. Then whatever you do – you will do just fine.

As a side note, I just cannot stop myself from a little critic towards the whole experiment. I didn’t feel like it was taken into account strong enough, that waiting until marriage is often strongly connected with being a religious person, and that also implies ways of living, certain rules, which might help keeping marriage together.

At the same time, person who waits until marriage probably doesn’t have strong sexual needs or expectations.

If two people meet together, and decide to wait – it might be just perfect for them. They share similar values, and that’s a good start into relation.

On the other side, if one person wants to wait, and the other doesn’t – whoever will win the tackle, none of them wins in the end, IMHO.

69 RB July 26, 2013 at 6:41 pm

I’ve never noticed a particular correlation between attraction and sexual fulfilment; in fact, some of the best sex I ever had was with someone I didn’t like very much.

I’ve been married for less than a year, and physical intimacy has already fallen drastically on my list of priorities. I don’t find it’s something that really matters in practice, but I am nonetheless pleased that I didn’t wait as a teenager.

70 Paul Peters July 30, 2013 at 2:54 pm

What a lovely true article. We married for 30 years now and one of my sons marry in December this year. I will tell them to read this perfect article because nobody can give them better details than this article. Thank you very much and I will visit your site again.

71 Eroni Batikawai July 30, 2013 at 9:19 pm

Hi Brett,
Wonderful piece. A well articulated, no-frills deliberation on an important topic. I find the closing particularly spectacular in painting the impression that it’s too costly to be passive and to not being able to purposefully define how your want your relationship to be.

72 Lee July 31, 2013 at 7:22 am

Thank you. Perfect timing. I’m delaying things with a real lovely gal right now and this piece so beautifully communicates why it’s a good idea.

Every little word, glance, touch is essentially foreplay. It’s just so enriching right now.

73 Lee July 31, 2013 at 7:22 am

And, this website? Wonderful. Thank you so much!

74 Allison July 31, 2013 at 10:51 am

“The greatest gift a couple can give to each other on their wedding night is the gift of each other’s virginity.”

Yeah, I did that. Worst sex of my life. Like, traumatically bad. Some gift!

75 Mark August 9, 2013 at 10:52 am

I love sex, I have a high sex drive and I could never wait for marriage but I really love the message of this article.
Sex and intimacy are very important and in today’s Western world it is treated like a consumable (I blame feminism for this – another story for another time). I find it sad and disturbing that our society has cheapened sex and intimacy the way it has. The sexual liberation movement of the past has now come to equal cheap, meaningless sex. It’s done a lot more harm than good. No wonder divorce is over 50%. People do not form intimate bonds anymore. Our relationship partners, like sex, are now a consumable.

76 Daquan Wright August 10, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Well, I don’t know if I even want to get married.

Not everyone cares for it. So delaying it always has benefits, I certainly believe that rushing has serious disadvantages. So you can’t really say that waiting until marriage is the right time (not everyone follows that), I can say wait until you are both comfortable to do so without regret.

77 Brian Schmied August 20, 2013 at 1:23 pm

I think as long as you wait until you’re with a person you really want to be in a long term relationship with you’re doing it right.

78 Michael September 2, 2013 at 8:12 pm

Great article. I am recently divorced and I an absolutely tell you that sex was a huge part of the reason we split. Has we waited longer in the relationship I believe that our relationship would have been stronger. I think that we rushed sex and brought in too early. Then once we were married she got bored and strayed. I am sure that this has happened before and I am not the first. I have a son with my ex and now he has to suffer going between houses when he should have both parents in the home for him. Since we were not mature enough and did not stay away from sex early in the relationship he would still have his mom and dad under the same roof, or at least the odds would have been better. I am now older and don’t care if I ever get married again. Sex can be just something that happens for me anymore, if a girl falls for me then she needs to know right away that it will never go anywhere farther than a physical engagement. I really wish I had read something like this when I was younger before I created so much regret in my life.

79 Jennifer September 11, 2013 at 4:40 pm

I wish “The Art of Manliness” was a bar or Cafe I could go to and meet men. Whenever I spend too much time on the internet, I start to deeply regret the fact that sexuality is not a choice…because I am very heterosexual (and yes, I’ve tried). There are a lot of awful men on the internet and they say some truly awful things. You guys give me hope. Thanks. As to waiting to have sex…I think it makes a lot of sense in the context of building your personal “narrative”. That said, waiting until marriage is risky. There’s a right time for everyone. Thank you for this thoughtful article. Keep it up!
(No pun intended, sorry).

80 Jon P. Tew September 15, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Couples who wait until they get married to become intimate have a 2% chance of divorcing. Compare that with the current divorce rate in our country. Mastering self-control benefits ourselves, our children and our society.

81 Gail September 16, 2013 at 11:34 pm

My husband and I were friends for years. He was always gentleman and nice man.He made the stand on no sex before marriage.We have an excellent marriage that gets through anything.It has empathy, caring, passion and joy. Commitment made from the heart. We learned to love each other for the heart and soul of each other first. This approach worked well for us. I understand it might not for everyone. Great article.

82 Parker September 21, 2013 at 9:40 am

I approached this article with the expectation that it would be jut another preachy post about intimacy, but it is unexpectedly insightful and intriguing. The laboratory studies and literature were all new to me and provided plenty of food for thought. Thank you for always providing such thought-provoking posts!

83 Jasbir Singh September 23, 2013 at 10:31 pm

I think it is important for men and women, men in particular, to have a full understanding of the definition of love. I’ve tried to explain it in my own blog post entitled, “Husbands, love your wives”. I think single men can greatly benefit from understanding the four types of love (greek words): philia, storge, eros, and agape. Agape is the most important one. I completely agree with the notion of chastity and preserving oneself until marriage.

84 Naomi September 25, 2013 at 12:15 pm

I agree with comment no.38 from Jubilee. Not only does it cause impotence, but it creates conflicts of emotional and physical intimacy or bonding. And it is extremely habit forming and addictive. So, it’s fantastic if both can keep the desire to know the other and hold sexual desire as a way to deepen and fulfill the emotional bond, but maintain the fidelity at the level of fantasy as well. Perhaps in today’s world this is very difficult for most, but when you find someone who is precious to you, it is worth everything. Religion aside, it is about respect and love.

85 james w October 17, 2013 at 4:54 am

I am 45 yrs old with a new girlfriend who is 44. We have been dating for 3 months after meeting each other through an online dating site. We live about 50 miles apart, so it is a semi long distance relationship. She has been divorced for 7 yrs and has had nsa relationships prior to meeting me. I am recently divorced and had dated a couple of women prior to meeting her. We have not yet been intimate, primarily because our dates have not included alone time, we spend time together with her kids at home. When we are apart, we are communicating via texting and calling. Its through the time we spend apart that we have bonded and our relationship has grown. We certainly have chemistry, and she loved the fact I never pressured her to have sex. We decided together to be serious about each other, now she feels she is ready to be intimate. My point is that the article about delayingi ntimacy helped me realize I am on the right path for a healthy long term relationship with a great girl. My decision to not push sex actually made me more attractive to her! We were bonding while on our dates and while apart, unknowingly sexual tension developed. We are going to finally get our alone time this weekend this will be awesome

86 Jasbir October 24, 2013 at 12:31 pm

To james w, it’s great that you haven’t pushed. I personally think that the option to stay platonic is the best course of action to take. I’m not judging at all, just suggesting that sometimes staying platonic can be best, especially if there’s any chance at all for either of you to reconcile with your previously divorced spouses. The problem I see with divorce, is that it could potentially repeat itself if divorcees remarry. If remarriage is not an option, then I personally think staying platonic is best. Just my two cents, hope you don’t mind! On a lighter note, I describe healthy married relationships to be like sodium and chlorine (salt) -> http://jasbirtsingh.blogspot.ca/2013/10/man-is-to-woman-as-sodium-is-to-chlorine.html

87 Jasbir October 24, 2013 at 2:15 pm

To Jennifer, just curious to know what you mean by saying: “That said, waiting until marriage is risky”. I’m not sure I quite follow what the risk is?

88 Joe October 30, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Not to sound like a broken record, but what a great article. For me personally I have theological and philosophical reasons to wait. One of the most important is that marriage really is the highest expression of commitment that two people can make. Sex is the strongest physical expression of that and the two should match up properly. The way I see it to have sex without marriage, or marriage without sex is a disunity, the opposite of what relationships are all about.

89 J.L. Manning November 7, 2013 at 7:01 pm

“Yet within his own sphere, each man has the power to sacralize something — to take it back from being trampled under foot and make it something more meaningful – to turn it into something that will add a richness and texture to his life rather than just another run-of-the-mill experience in a tirelessly ordinary and worn out world.”

Now THAT is a quote that should be shared.

90 Annie November 10, 2013 at 1:34 pm

This article and the following responses have renewed a little hope for me. After constantly being told that I’m selfish for wanting to wait, at least there are more men out there than I thought who value developing overall intimacy in a relationship, than just getting laid as quickly as possible. Now, where are you guys hiding? lol

91 Charlotte November 14, 2013 at 3:46 am

I love the use of scientific studies, persuit of fact and notes on chemicals.

But the very last paragraph is what really did it for me, I totally totally agree.

92 Dave November 14, 2013 at 5:29 pm

What is amazing is that even still in 2013 people still don’t seem able to discern the difference between sex and love. Also, for those who waited until marriage how would they know whether the sex was better? Better than what? More likely than not they were virgins when they got married, how would they know if the sex they are having is good or bad?

93 Jenny November 27, 2013 at 12:52 pm

When my husband and I were dating, we had sex pretty early in the relationship. But then he decided he wanted to put the sexual intimacy on hiatus so we could build a more solid emotional connection. At the time it was frustrating for me because I struggled with feeling unwanted, but in retrospect it was a great decision, and it strengthened our relationship. We are now happily married and expecting our first son. We love Art of Manliness. :)

94 Jon December 24, 2013 at 12:13 pm

One of the best articles I’ve read. Really helped shape a better perspective.

95 Scott January 28, 2014 at 3:15 pm

Absolutely great article and well said with the “Yet within his own sphere, each man has the power to sacralize something.”

On the “buy a car without a test drive” topic, my first car is still to this day my favorite car I’ve owned. Granted there’s likely a bit of nostalgia mixed in with my memories of it, but ultimately I had an absolutely great time driving my old-school van. In every objective sense my other cars have been better (or far better in some cases). Ultimately when I’m an old grandpa rattling on to my barely listening and barely interested grand-kids about the cars I’ve owned, I’ll bet I say my van was my all-time favorite. I’ll say it wasn’t the best car, but it was mine, it took care of my driving needs, I helped it along when it needed it, and I was proud of the care I took of it.

In regards to what was actually meant by the phrase, I married my wife without a test drive and I am beyond satisfied and happy in my marriage. Sure perhaps to an outsider there might be better but to me, my wife is mine, she takes amazing care of me, I help her when she needs it, I’m proud of the care I take of her, and nothing can convince me I’d like something else more.

96 john February 19, 2014 at 2:31 am

I think in trusty relationship trust is enough to balance it. If there is not any trust rest all things sets in piece. Other things also matters.

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