I love that period of time when you're dating someone new and starting to really get to know each other. You find out what makes them laugh, what matters most to them, and what you enjoy doing together. It's also a time when you start to learn about one another's emotional and physical boundaries, which can also mean it might be time to tell your date you don't want to hook up yet if you prefer to wait. While it could have the potential to be an awkward conversation, that doesn’t make it any less important. It's also the first test of whether or not this new person respects your boundaries — which is also very important.
"Always know that you deserve to be respected and your time clock needs respect as well," Dr. Patti Feuereisen, a psychotherapist specializing in sexual abuse and author of Invisible Girls: Speaking The Truth About Sexual Abuse, tells Elite Daily. Hard agree. That just leaves the question of how and when to have the conversation.
I reached out to the experts for their advice, and there is one thing they all agree on: You have the right to set your own timeline for hooking up.
As with all things involving relationships, timing matters, so knowing when to broach the subject can help make this situation both more clear and less awkward. Mackenzie Riel, sex and relationship expert for TooTimid.com, says that sooner is better. "If it's something that is really important to you ... then you should inform them early on," she tells Elite Daily. "It's essentially your way of giving the red light so they know not to proceed forward."
Being open about what you need you can help prevent grey areas from forming, and alleviate some of the pressure on yourself. Dr. Feuereisen emphasizes that you should embrace the boundaries that feel right for you. "Always stay true to yourself and your standards," she says. "If you are not ready to be physical just say it. It is a good way to gauge how someone will react to many things that could come up going forward in a relationship — you need to be respected," she adds.
When you're ready to talk to your date about needing more time before you feel comfortable enough to hook up, Dr. Logan Levkoff, a sexuality and relationship expert, tells Elite Daily a direct approach is best. "Own the awkward conversation and tell them that you’re not at a place where you want to get physical yet. If for some reason someone doesn’t respect that decision, then they’re not a great partner anyway," she advises. If you're too nervous to kick off the conversation by declaring your boundaries, Riel suggests easing into the conversation by asking how they feel about the subject . "Ask your partner how important physical intimacy is to them. You'll be able to get an idea about their feelings by the way they react and how they answer," she suggests.
While it's good to know where the person you're dating is coming from, the experts warn not to let it have undue influence on you or make you feel like you have to change your boundaries to suit them. "The key is to set expectations without apologizing or making it a bigger deal than it is," relationship coach Brenda Della Casa tells Elite Daily. "A gentle 'I personally have no moral issues with people who have sex early on but it’s not my thing, I’d like to get to know you before we take that step,' is perfectly fine to say on date one or any time after," she says.
Ultimately, when you talk to your date about hooking up — or not — is up to you, the experts agree. "At the end of the day, it’s perfectly natural to want to wait until you are comfortable, safe, and understood before you move into a physical relationship and there’s no shame in that," assures Della Casa.
Perhaps Dr. Feuereisen says it best when she concludes, "Speak your truth, stand in your power, and know that you deserve respect." Start from there, and everything else should fall into place — including hooking up when you're ready.