The Heart Wants…What the Penis Wants?

June 13, 2013

first-base-making-out-demotivational-posters-1307651468Reader Apple left a comment today that I thought was brilliant re the timing of sex:

Really, it comes down to a woman having the balls to say: “I don’t care what your penis wants if you don’t care what my heart wants.”

The actual line I’ve always used in real life is:

“I don’t do casual sex. Sex for me is something that happens when I love someone and they love me. I understand that’s not how most people operate now, but that’s how I operate. If you don’t like those terms, I won’t waste your time.”

The first thing a woman should do is ask herself what outcome she wants from the connection. If she’s after casual sex, she can have it and fulfill her mission (though she is unlikely to have an orgasm). If she’s telling herself that all she wants is casual sex, goes for it and then catches feelings, she needs to realize she’s been an idiot, and stop pursuing the worst strategy ever.

In How Long Should We Wait Before Having Sex? TV persona and relationship expert Dr. Wendy Walsh has gathered the most current data on how the timing of sex predicts relationship outcomes. (H/T: J)

I. Researcher Dean Busby has found that waiting at least 30 days leads to better relationships. He studied over 2,000 married adults with an average age of 36, asking about when they had sex and relationship satisfaction.

Curiously, almost 40 percent of couples are essentially sexual within the first or second time they go out, but we suspect that if you asked these same couples at this early stage of their relationship – ‘Do you trust this person to watch your pet for a weekend many could not answer this in the affirmative’ – meaning they are more comfortable letting people into their bodies than they are with them watching their cat.

 Walsh summarizes his body of research:

Busby’s research shows that couples who wait to have sex — at least 30 to 90 days — rather than doing it in the early stages of the relationship have better relationship outcomes.

Postponing sex, even for as long as six months, is associated with higher relationship stability, higher relationship satisfaction, better communication and higher quality sexual relationship.

It seems that couples who wait have a better handle on issues that come up in their relationships. Because sex doesn’t complicate the relationship, they have better communication skills.

II. Researcher Anthony Paik found that exclusivity is linked to delayed sex.

In one of my studies, it turned out that the longer couples delayed sex the more exclusive the relationship. And if men engage in sex within the first month of dating they are 4.5 times more likely to be nonexclusive later.

Couples who didn’t wait but were each open to a serious relationship with one another from the start did as well as couples who waited – the problem is, that’s a crap shoot. Even if each party is separately hoping a hookup will turn into a relationship, there’s no acceptable way of sharing that information, since by definition a hookup is “no strings.”

One good indicator of intent is a person’s past sexual experience:

People with higher numbers of past sexual partners were more likely to form hookups, and to report lower relationship quality. Through the acquisition of partners they begin to favor short-term relationships and find the long-term ones less rewarding.

III. Mark Renegerus, author of Premarital Sex in America has also found support for the 30 day rule.

Couples who waited at least 30 days to have sex increased the likelihood that the couple was still dating one year later. Nearly one-quarter of those who waited 30 days were still together a year later.

As for those who were quick to jump in bed together, well, 90 percent of those couples didn’t even make it one year.

IV. David Buss has found that the more women a guy has had sex with, the faster he is to disdain a new sexual partner. 

Renowned evolutionary psychology professor David Buss at the University of Texas at Austin and Martie G. Haselton at the University of California, Los Angeles found that the more previous sexual partners a man has, the more likely he is to quickly perceive diminished attractiveness in a woman after first intercourse. Sex doesn’t lead to love for men. If the guy is a player, sex more often leads to distain for his partner.

Waiting is the most effective way of filtering out players.

Fortunately, the number of women who need to be convinced is shrinking. There is continued support for the claim that college students overwhelmingly prefer relationships to hooking up. In a recent editorial in the LA Times, sociologist and hooking up expert Lisa Wade summed it up:

It’s true that more than 90% of students say that their campus is characterized by a hookup culture.  But in fact, no more than 20% of students hook up very often; one-third of them abstain from hooking up altogether, and the remainder are occasional participators.

If you do the math, this is what you get: The median number of college hookups for a graduating senior is seven. This includes instances in which there was intercourse, but also times when two people just made out with their clothes on. The typical student acquires only two new sexual partners during college. Half of all hookups are with someone the person has hooked up with before. A quarter of students will be virgins when they graduate.

…The majority of students — 70% of women and 73% of men — report that they’d like to have a committed relationship, and 95% of women and 77% of men prefer dating to hooking up. In fact, about three-quarters of students will enter a long-term monogamous relationship while in college.

Wade points out that those relationships will begin via the hookup – the casual encounter is still the path to commitment in college. But it’s good to know that the majority of hookups are not intended to be casual after all. Kids are making out, dry humping, and getting busy with their hands without having sex, pretty much like we did back in the 70s.