Deciding when to have sex with someone new for the first time is such a personal decision. Whether it's on the first night you meet or on your wedding night, I think it's important to start off by making it clear that there is no "perfect time" to have sex with someone. Yet, many people find themselves wondering, how long should you date before having sex? While the answer to this question may differ from person to person and situation to situation, the general consensus many people have come to is the "three date rule." This "rule" basically touts the third date as the ideal time to get physically intimate.
I spoke to sex and intimacy expert Irene Fehr and dating expert and best-selling author Susan Winter to get their takes on how to know when the time is right for you.
"Forgiving the fact that it's called a 'rule,' I think three dates is a good guideline," Winter tells Elite Daily.
That being said, waiting for longer periods of time isn't necessarily a bad thing, explains Winter, but not for the reasons you might think.
"The reason to wait before sex is for you to establish comfort with your prospective partner," she says. "Can you trust him or her? Is this a partner with whom you can feel safe to express your emotions and needs (even if it's something they don't want to hear)?"
Oftentimes the reasons people decide to wait to have sex are based on religious and moral beliefs that may be totally valid for that individual, but not necessarily for someone else, and that's OK. Part of getting to know a new person is sharing your beliefs and getting to know theirs.
According to both Fehr and Winter, the most important thing to consider before having sex with someone is if you feel like you can trust them. Needless to say, trust is something that usually takes some time to establish.
"Trust is very important in having a safe and enjoyable experience," Fehr tells Elite Daily. "Done too early, having sex with someone who is not the right match for you — not only in terms of the physicality of it, but emotionally and relationally — can create an unsafe and unpleasant experience."
Of course, there are situations where having sex on the first night is what both people want, and in that case, you should totally follow your own instincts and do what feels right. Just keep in mind that one night may not be enough to establish a sense of trust, so there’s a higher chance your partner might compromise your boundaries if they don’t know you well, or truly care about you enough to make sure you’re comfortable. But if your gut tells you this is a good person, and you feel comfortable in their presence, enjoy yourself!
What if you feel like you need more time to feel comfortable with someone before getting intimate, but sense that they are expecting to have sex in the very near future?
"Talking about it is the only way to work through anything that comes up in a relationship, including mismatched expectations," explains Fehr. "Expectations comes from unexpressed assumptions we create in our minds and don't check with our partners."
So don't be afraid to speak up about how you are feeling and where you are at with someone new in terms of comfort. Pleasure is a really amazing part of the human experience, so even if you are just looking for casual sex, own it!
"Understanding your own motivations for having sex makes it easier to make a decision on what to do and feel ready for it," says Fehr.
Plus, knowing your own motivations for having sex and communicating your expectations openly with a new sexual partner is the best way to ensure that you both have a good time between the sheets — making the exact timing of your first shared sexual experience irrelevant.
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