If couples want to be happy down the road, they might be wise to forgo sex for a while — or at least until after the first weeks of dating, according to new research. A study recently found that couples who had intercourse on date one or within a few weeks were less satisfied with their relationship than those who waited longer or abstained.
The study, of 11,000 unmarried people in relationships, quizzed them on factors like relationship satisfaction, communication with their partner, and relationship stability. Those couples who had been together for a year and had sex early reported lower scores on these topics than couples who had waited or didn’t have sex at all.
As for the big question why, this is what researchers think:
It’s not clear why delaying sex was linked to better relationship outcomes. It could be that couples who engage in sex early have high expectations for the frequency of sex and their partners’ interest in sex later on — factors that tend to decline over time.
“The eventual mismatch between individual sexual expectations and actual rewards may undermine healthy couple formation processes,” the researchers wrote in the Nov. 2 issue of the Journal of Sex Research.
That said, the differences in some responses between the early-sex group and the later-sex (or no-sex) group were only about a tenth of a point — statistically significant, sure, but not all that different when you get down to brass tacks.
Plus, there could simply be personality differences between those who are quick to have sex and those who wait, and that could explain the findings.
We’d also like to point out that this study was conducted by researchers at conservative Brigham Young University’s School of Family Life, which has historically touted super-conservative findings similar to this as well as kicked one of its basketball players off the team for a while as punishment for having sex with his girlfriend. As we like to say, take it with a grain of salt, kids.
That said, there’s certainly nothing wrong with waiting an extra week or so to get to know your partner carnally. If they’re right for you, they’ll still be there in seven, 14, or 21 days’ time.
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