A recent study from Brigham Young University’s School of Family Life surveyed 11,000 unmarried couples in steady relationships and asked them to rate the stability of their relationship and ability to communicate with their partner. Results showed that couples who had slept together within the first few weeks of dating reported lower levels of overall relationship satisfaction than those who took it slow.
While researchers acknowledged the other factors can influence relationship satisfaction levels we thought we’d an ask an expert for their opinion. Here’s what Debra Macleod, B.A., LL.B., and a relationship expert had to say on the subject.
“There are no benefits, only downfalls,” says Macleod of sleeping with someone early on in the dating process. “Sex can give a false sense of emotional intimacy.”
While we live in a time that has a more relaxed attitude towards sex, it can be hard to shake old stereotypes. Both men and women judge others for how many people they’ve slept with and how soon they’ve done it, says Macleod. Even if it doesn’t matter to you, it can matter to others down the road. “If you have first-date sex because you enjoy it, great. Just know that it might change your date’s perception of you.” She also notes that sometimes having a lot of hook ups can lead future partners to believe that you’re a player.
One of the key signs that you’re both ready to take things to the next level can only come after an open conversation with your potential partner to find out what you both want from the relationship, says Macleod. “If you only want casual sex with no commitment, and you’re both open and honest about that (and have taken all precautions), you’re ready.”
So what should be considered “too early” to sleep with someone? According to Macleod, the first time you meet them. “That isn’t just promiscuous, it’s idiotic. The person you’re sleeping with is a total stranger. They could have an STD, they could be a nut job, they could be filming you, etc.”
She also recommends the fork and wallet test. “If you wouldn’t eat off the same fork or feel safe leaving your wallet unattended in this person’s company, it’s too early to sleep together.”