Boris Jovanovic

How Long Should You Wait Before Sleeping With Someone? Here’s An Exact Timeline

As a Scorpio, I'm supposed to be hyper-sexual (and moody). I'd check the box for "rarely" on the former, while checking a solid "always" on the latter. First kisses are manageable: I'm down with this on a first date. The first make-out-butt-grab is also straightforward: whenever, as long as you aren't a stranger. But how long should you wait before sleeping with someone?

According to screenplays from the '90s, internet listicles, and the mainstream, the three date rule is the standard answer. But who decided that pervasive norm? Charlotte York on Sex and the City? She was basic even for the early aughts, and it took her forev to find a husband anyway. (Which, of course, is not the end goal of life.)

As a basic-adjacent prudish type, I usually reserve date three for "make out in a location that's not the street for the first time." But as an aspiring boss woman who wants to be more comfortable with her sexuality, I admire women who sleep with a hot man on a first date if they want to. That sort of bad-assery when it comes to putting body parts inside of body parts is just not in my DNA.

Now that we've established that the women of Sex and the City are not the sexual role models women deserve in 2017, exactly how long should you wait before sleeping someone you're dating? The short answer: however long you want. The long answer: it depends. Here are some common schools of thought on this age-old question, demystified...ish.

Before we dive in, I want to remind you that many men would sleep with you on a first date and face no judgments or anxieties, only congratulations from their buddies. They don't have articles like this written for them. OK, now that that is taken care of, let's see which theory holds up. (Spoiler alert: They all do.)

Theory 1: Wait For The Third Date


Can I get an "archaaaaic AF"?

OK, here's the thing. If you are dating someone who is in it to win it (have sex) and that's it, they will wait the smushing out until to the third date, or fifth date, or eleventh date, and disappear no matter what if that was their plan. People sometimes just want the sex. Your date might catch feels while waiting out your eleventh date rule, but that feels a little bit like you are trying to mouse trap your partner. Don't let sex be the cheese, you know?

A person who wants to get to know you beyond the sex won't care if you both fall into bed together on a second date rather than holding out for a third date. When you like someone, you like them. If a person is turned off by how soon you have sex with them, they're probably not going to be amazing when you poop the table during the birth of your first child. (Sorry, just being real here.)

Do whatever you feel like on the third date. Maybe you've boned every date by the third date, or maybe you haven't even kissed yet, whatevski.

Conclusion: Do it on the third date if it feels right to you in the moment.

Theory 2: Wait Until You Are Exclusive


Some people are out there looking for sex. Some people are out there for deep, committed, spoon-ful love. Figure out which one you are looking, and then evaluate when you want to have sex with the person you're dating. Do you want to be their one and only P-in-V (or V-in-V or P-in-B) partner? Great, have the exclusivity talk before having the sex.

It can feel like an ultimatum to say, "No sex until you full-date me," but you can spin it to be more about you than the person you are seeing. You can say, "You know what? I'm seeing other people right now, but I really like you, and I'd rather wait to have sex until we are only seeing each other." (Except, don't say this if you can't stick to it. I've said this and caved like ten minutes later, so... cool.)

You could also just be straightforward as F and tell them, "Yo, I'm not sleeping with you unless we are exclusive," and then if they say no, you can accept it. Say "OK," and continue going down on each other or making out horizontally or 69-ing and see where things go from there. Or ditch if this isn't your vibe at all.

Even if you are looking for a relationship, you might not care about exclusivity. It's 2017; polyamory is a thing. Plus, there are definitely stories about long-time hookups turned marriages.

Unfortunately, if you are dating a man, I do think that old school waiting game sometimes does work. I love Ali Wong's standup special Baby Cobra where she talks about meeting her husband and making him wait for anything physical: "I knew that he was a catch, so I was, like, 'All right, Ali, you gotta make this dude believe that your body is a secret garden. When really it's a public park.'" Lolz.

Conclusion: If you only want to be f*cking them, tell them before getting caught up in the complications of coitus.

Theory 3: Wait Until Marriage


No shade, but... this is a very big joke. Sex is an enormous part of any relationship. Plus, going to get one more solid SATC reference in here and remind you of when Charlotte did this and it turned out her husband was impotent so... that's cool.

(If you are super religious though, I totally respect that commitment.)

Conclusion: Not recommended.

Theory 4: Do It On The First Date


If you are looking to have sex, go after what you want. You can be proud to look for sex on a first date, as men do all of the time. If you are getting over a breakup, living in a new city, or trying to get it in after a vibrator-punctuated dry-spell, you should feel zero shame about finding someone to sleep with. "Dating" means one million different things, so if it's working for you to casually date and sleep with someone without any exclusivity involved, do that.

Face the cutie you're on a first date with and ask yourself, "Will I be upset if they don't text me after we have sex?" If the answer is no, go for it. Dudes do all the time. This is a power move. Be a Samantha (still not a perfect model of feminism, for the record).

Conclusion: If you're not compromising, just do it.

Unfortunately, I can't write an article that can tell you exactly when you should have sex with the person you are dating because I don't know you, I don't know who you are dating, I don't know what you are looking for, and things don't always (ever) go by the book. You will know exactly when to have sex with the person you are dating because you will feel confident that they are going to respect you (if that's what you want), disrespect you (like a spank, if that's what you want), and you won't have that weird pit of anxiety in you stomach that you get when you know you are compromising what you want.

It's 2017. You should wait however long you want to before sleeping with someone you are dating. Woman up.