Whether you’re a rookie in the dating scene or a regular player, the same questions apply: Should I make the first move? How long do I wait for the first kiss? Is it too early for a make-out session? And of course, there’s the burning question: Do we have sex now or later?
Should you wait to take him home or immediately jump him? Pop culture dictates you should at least have three dates before bumping uglies with your man, and while some people wait years before bringing their relationships to that level of intimacy, others do just wait a few dates, weeks, months. People have their own standards for waiting, and they have their own reasons for doing so. These help them determine when to engage and when to abstain.
Sex adds another layer to your relationship, and different people perceive sex and intimacy in general in different ways. Ultimately, it’s your body, your heart, and your sexuality in question, so make the decision that’s right for you, regardless of pressure or support from your guy, your friends, and society at large. Here are 3 factors you should consider before moving to the next stage in your relationship.
1. It’s not about how soon, but how right.
Maybe you haven’t hooked up yet because it just hasn’t happened. The reasons are endless: you haven’t met the one or it just never worked out as you planned. Being intimate with someone shouldn’t be about giving into pressure. If you have romantic ideals and believe sex is about expressing love with your body, then it makes sense to wait until you feel and can express that love. Even if you don’t believe that, it still doesn’t mean you can’t be discerning about when and with whom you may want to have sex. The question of When should we have sex? should never be about time limits or stages—the only correct answer to that question is “when it feels right.” Even if it means a platonic wedding night.
2. Your guy should respect your right to make decisions about your body.
There’s pressure from your guy, and then there’s pressure from your guy. Maybe he’ll be ready for intimacy before you are, and there’s some frustration on his part. That’s okay. It’s even okay for him to let you know that he’s feeling frustrated. What’s not okay is having him try to pressure you into engaging in intimate acts before you’re ready to do so. Don’t just do it because he insists. You know yourself better than he does, and you reserve the right to make decisions about your body. If you’re not ready for sex, but still do it for his sake, you’ll end up regretting the decision. Not just because you’ve pushed forward before you felt comfortable to do so, but also because a guy who isn’t willing to wait until it feels as right for you as it does for him isn’t worth your time or effort.
There’s an element of trust that comes with intimacy. It’s not just about your heart; it’s also about your physical well-being and pleasure. A man who forces you to sleep with him is not worth your trust and intimacy. If he demands that you have sex with him despite your objections, it proves his real intentions. When a man doesn’t respect your decisions regarding your body, it’s a definite warning sign that you shouldn’t be saying “yes”—you should be saying “goodbye.”
3. It’s important to work out some ground rules first.
At the very least, you should wait to have sex with your guy until you can establish a few ground rules. Some aspects of the matter require decisions, such as safety and contraception. If your guy refuses to use a condom or to get himself checked for any STDs, you shouldn’t feel pressured to give in to something you’re not comfortable with, especially if he doesn’t care enough to take the measures required to keep you safe. It’s also a good idea to establish boundaries; what are you comfortable doing? This is especially important if you’re engaging in intimacies beyond what could be labeled “vanilla.” Plus, emotionally speaking, you need to establish what having sex means to you. If all you’re after is a bedroom romp and he thinks it’s the beginning of something more, you risk breaking his heart. If the situation is reversed, it’s your own heart that you’ll be risking. So best to establish what your sexual goals are, even as you get to know each other’s relationship goals.
Sex is meant to be pleasurable, not awkward, and it’s definitely something you shouldn’t have to regret in the future. To get the most out of this experience, take the time to get to know yourself and your partner. This gives you an idea of what the both of you like and want, and it lets you know about any disconnects you might have as to desires, philosophies, and so on.
Additional reporting by Liana Smith Bautista