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Dating questions answered: How soon is too soon for sex?

Jessica Padykula is a freelance writer and editor in Toronto, Canada covering a wide range of  topics for several online lifestyle publications. She is a regular contributor for SheKnows, covering travel, style, relationships, health and...

The sex and dating debate

Dating can be a minefield of questions and concerns whether you're on a first date, a third or you haven't even asked him out yet. That's why we're answering some of the most common dating questions with the help of some experts. This week we're talking about sex and how soon is too soon.

Couple looking at each other after sex

“If you have sex before you're ready, you'll ruin the chances of developing the relationship further, and you're setting yourself up for a really awkward morning after,” says Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., (aka "Dr. Romance") psychotherapist and author of The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again. She shared a few more reasons to wait for — rather than rush into — sex.

Sex too soon can cloud your judgment

When you decide to become intimate with someone is an important choice when it comes to dating. “Having sex too soon clouds your judgment and makes it difficult to make an intelligent choice of partner,” Tessina says. Jumping into bed right away can hinder the possibility of getting to know each other since your focus is now on sex — not on bonding in other (non-physical) ways. “If and when sex is right, it will happen. It's easy to have a one-night stand, but, if you want a relationship, you need to be more careful.”

It happened to her: “The last relationship I was in got physical really fast. I didn't think much about it or overanalyze it, but to be honest, things never really got off the ground intellectually or emotionally once we'd slept together. I really liked him on a lot of levels, but we never truly clicked if that makes sense.” Christina, Toronto, Canada

Waiting can improve your relationship in the long run

Waiting a while (at least several dates) before sleeping with someone gives you a chance to figure out how to be together in a way that works, or what Tessina refers to as forming some of the "infrastructure of a relationship" — basically an interest in each other that is more than just physical and immediate. “Waiting to have sex gives you a chance to develop the friendship/partner aspect of your relationship,” she explains.

It happened to her: The times where I've waited to have sex have mostly seemed to boost the relationship. Not always, but more often than not, both the sex and the relationship seem stronger when I've taken some time to really get to know the person I'm going to sleep with.” Kirsty, Fort Worth, Texas

Anticipation can be sexy

Sexual attraction won't go away if you get to know each other and let's face it, if it does, then that connection was pretty insubstantial to begin with. Plus, waiting a few dates can have its perks. “The suspense of abstaining can really up the intensity of sex when it finally does happen,” affirms Tessina. “If you eliminate the mystery too soon, you may also eliminate any future for this relationship.”

It happened to her: “I find that when I sleep with a guy right away, while it seems fun and adventurous, it can actually make sex less awesome in the long run. My current boyfriend and I waited a while to have sex because we were trying the just-friends thing first, and when we finally slept together, it was a lot more electric because of the build-up.” Ally, Chicago, Illinois

The bottom line

If you've been dating for a while, and you've had a chance to bond a little, go for it. “If the interest feels mutual and not one-sided, if you survived a disagreement and worked it out, if you feel mutual respect and caring, then you probably have enough foundation to take the risk of being sexual,” Tessina says.

More about dating

Real love story: Finding love on Flickr
Moving in with him: How to work from home together
Tips for a first date that will ensure a second date

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