Question: How Long Should You Wait To Have Sex With Someone?
Deciding on the amount of time to wait to have sex with a new partner can vary depending on what you consider ‘sex’, your physical and emotional needs and your relationship to sex and sexuality. There is no fixed set of time that is right for everyone.
Groupon conducted a survey on dating habits of 2,000 adults. On average, people reported that 8 dates was an acceptable amount of time to wait to have sex with a new partner. While this number might work for you, there are lots of reasons why you might have a different average time to wait before having sex in a relationship.
When you ask yourself, ‘how long should I wait to have sex’, the first answers might be influenced by narratives about sex you have learned from family, school, society, faith. There is a lot of stigma and shame about sex in society, so it’s inevitable some of your decision making about ‘appropriateness’ about sexual choices is affected by what we think our sexual choices say about us as a human being.
Is there a standard amount of time that is appropriate to have sex?
No. Your decision is likely rooted in how you feel about sex, how you feel you might be perceived by your new partner or society and what your desires are. Here are other factors that might influence your decision on how long to wait for sex:
- Gender - society rewards sexual behaviour of cis men and shames the sexual behaviour of cis women. You might feel pressured to live up to expectations imposed on your gender. Non-binary and Trans people may also experience pressure to live up to standards outside of their gender. For example, if you’re having sex with gay men, there might be a cultural pressure to have sex earlier or more casually.
- What you consider sex - typically mainstream definitions of sex are limited to penis in vagina and penetrative forms of sex. Depending what you consider sex, you might engage in certain types of erotic, sensual or sexual activities that fall out of traditional definitions of sex. Whatever you consider ‘sex’ is what matters most.
- Age - hypersexual expectations of young people and desexualization of aging people can influence how long you feel is acceptable to have sex with a new partner.
- Casual sex - if you’re hooking up, the amount of time you wait to have sex with a new partner might vary because there is an explicit agreement that you are coming together for sex.
How do you decide when to have sex with a new partner?
The most important things to consider are your own physical and emotional needs.
- What do I need to feel emotionally and physically safe with someone?
- Do I feel comfortable talking about sex with my new partner?
- What kinds of sexual health conversations need to happen before I have sex with someone?
- What do I consider sex?
- What do kind of aftercare might I want to have after sex?
- What will I do if I feel pressured to have sex sooner than I feel comfortable?
- Why do I want to have sex? E.g. intimacy? Desire? Emotional connection?
- What kinds of things can my new partner do to make this first experience with them amazing?
Engaging in self-pleasure can help you get familiar with what feels good for your body so you can more easily communicate with your new partner to guide them. You can also talk with your partner about using sex toys on them or on yourself during your first sexual experience with them.
Deciding when to have sex with someone is a personal decision that needs communication with your new partner and a check-in with yourself about what you want, independant of what’s ‘appropriate’ or ‘expected’. Stay true to your needs, desires and fun!