When I was in NYC recently, I had lunch with an old friend. In less than a month, her long-term boyfriend had broken up with her, and she met a great new guy. We started discussing her current relationship, and she asked me:
How soon is too soon to have sex with the new guy?
I'll gladly tackle the question with the disclaimer that there's no right or wrong answer here. I know couples that have had sex the first night they met and are happily married years later. There are also women out there who have waited to have sex with a guy, thinking that he was "The One," only to have sex with him and find out that he wasn't.
With that in mind, what factors should you consider before jumping in bed with a guy?
1. What are you looking for?
Sex: More than a few young women are raised to feel like it's wrong to view sex or want to hook up like men do. There are many double standards when it comes to relationships and sex, but that doesn't mean that those standards are right. What's wrong with using a man for sex like a man might do to you, provided that you can emotionally handle a connection that's purely physical? If what a girl wants is a one-night stand or casual sex, then there's no need to wait. Practice safe sex every time, find a place that is comfortable for you both, and make sure that you know the guy well enough to know that if you set boundaries, they will be respected. Beyond that, have fun!
Love: If you are looking for a relationship with a solid, emotionally-based connection, then I recommend waiting before adding sex into the equation. Give yourself time to make sure that you both are on the same page in terms of compatibility and what you are looking for out of the relationship. Focus on activities outside the bedroom to really get to know each other. Enjoy kissing and other non-sexual forms of affection and romantic expression. Make sure that you both are equally as invested in the relationship and that you are spending regular amounts of time together.
If you are always waiting for him to call and don't see each other with much frequency, then you might not be on the same page. If you feel anxious about when you will hear from a new guy or how to define your relationship before you have sex, that feeling will only magnify after you have sex. You can't expect that sex will change a guy's behavior so why not wait to see if you're both looking for a serious relationship before you jump into bed with him?
Discuss birth control, condoms, STD-testing and whether or not you both are in a monogamous relationship before you have sex. If you are waiting to have sex until you're in a long-term relationship, but you don't feel comfortable discussing any of those topics with your man, then you aren't on the same page. (I'm not saying that these topics are fun or easy to bring up, but they are necessary if you're in a monogamous relationship.)
Something between Sex and Love: If you aren't sure of what you're looking for or whether a new guy has long-term potential, then wait until you know or your relationship has been defined. Once you have sex, you can't go back to the beginning stage of the relationship and get to know the guy without sex being part of your normal routine. Remember that there's no harm in waiting.
2. How long should you wait?
I've noticed that I have more clarity about and peace regarding a relationship when I wait to have sex with a guy. I look back at several relationships and was glad to realize before I had sex with a guy that we weren't compatible. Likewise, I could tell which guys truly cared about me because they were interested in more than just sex.
I can't tell you if four dates or a month or Steve Harvey's 90-day probationary period is right for you. What can I recommend then? Take your time, trust your intuition, and do only what makes you feel comfortable. Make sure that you know If you have concerns that you're having sex too soon in a relationship, then you probably are.
3. How can you tell if you're over your ex?
For my friend, this is integral to the issue of when she should have sex with the new guy. She was in a serious relationship, and her heart was broken. Understandably, she might need time to process that before having sex with the new guy.
When you bounce from one serious relationship to the next, you don't always look at the new partner as purely for sex. But, if you haven't healed from your previous relationship, the new partner ends up being a transitional guy by default.
How often do you think about your ex? Do you find yourself looking at old photos, cards, e-mails or his profiles online with any regularity? Are you still crying or angry about the relationship? If you knew that he would be at a certain place on a given night, would you feel the need to go there to confront him or would you avoid the place altogether because seeing him would be too painful? Are you waiting for him to call, text, IM or e-mail you just because? Are you preoccupied about that one small thing of yours that is still over his place?
An attachment to your ex or a lack thereof might depend on who initiated the breakup, why you broke up, and/or how difficult the latter part of your relationship was. I can't tell you if you're over someone or not, but if you aren't truly sure, then it might make sense to wait to move forward with your new relationship. You owe it to yourself and your new partner to make sure that you're approaching things honestly and openly. Otherwise, Mr. New Guy automatically becomes Mr. Rebound. If that's what you want, then fine. But, if you don't feel certain or you think that the new guy could become something serious, then err on the side of caution and just keep waiting.
Do you have any rules when it comes to having sex with a new partner? How long do you recommend waiting? How could you tell that you were over your ex?