Can delaying intimacy lead to better relationship outcomes?
Most of us have either heard about or have engaged in acts of acts of intimacy after a first date or within the first few weeks after meeting. However, it may not come as a surprise to most but engaging in acts of intimacy shortly after meeting often leads to negative relationship outcomes. One of the obvious reasons attributed to relationship failure include becoming sexual too early, advancing intimately before getting to know your potential partner, i.e., what he or she is looking for in a relationship, likes, dislikes, values, morals, relationship history, etc. Intimacy can be a very rewarding area of most relationships. Intimacy engaged upon prematurely can potentially overwhelm good decision-making and keeps couples in a relationship that might not be the best for them in the long-term. I am sure we have all met someone we may not have found physically attractive or did not meet the qualities we had previously identified as “our type”, yet we developed a romantic relationship with them anyway. This usually occurs because of internal qualities that we find attractive that leads to an adjustment of the other person’s physical attractiveness. Meaning the more we feel someone has internal qualities we admire or are attracted to the better they began to physically appear to us.
Couples that delay or abstain from sexual intimacy during the early part of their relationships are more likely to allow communication and other social processes to become the foundation of their attraction to each other. Essentially, early sex could be detrimental to a relationship, skewing it away from communication, commitment and the ability to handle adversity. Couples in highly committed dating and long-term relationships were more likely than those in non-committed relationships to view sex as a positive turning point in the relationship, increasing understanding, commitment, trust and a sense of security. However, when commitment and emotional expressions were low, the initiation of sex was significantly more likely seen as a negative event, evoking regret, uncertainty, discomfort, and distress. Couples who wait to be sexual have more time to figure out how trustworthy their partner is, how well they communicate, identify if there is a future in their relationship, and whether they share the same values in life. It may come as no surprise that couples who delayed intimacy in a relationship enjoyed better long-term prospects and greater satisfaction in a variety of areas in their relationship or marriage.
In today’s world there appears to be a strong, invisible push to rush into sexual relationships. Unlike the past, couples are taking less and less time to get to know one another, putting the cart before the wagon so to speak. Many couples are choosing to become sexual first and getting to know each other later. This reversal in behavior often leads to many broken hearts, mixed signals, miscommunication, and break-up of a relationship that never had a chance.
Nick & Shelby
Nick & Shelby have been dating for 3 months. What should have been the honeymoon phase of their relationship has become a hostile battleground. Nick & Shelby seem to argue about everything and nothing at the same time. When they first met the physical attraction between the two was immediate, the couple thought they knew all they needed to know about each other. The couple engaged in a sexual relationship almost one week after meeting. Since their first sexual encounter the foundation of their relationship was built on the sexual part of their relationship rather than getting to know each other personally, individual vices, goals for the relationship, and future aspirations. The couple has often gone a week or more without speaking to each other, unable to speak without getting into heated arguments. Is it possible Nick & Shelby rushed into a sexual relationship that may have jeopardized their opportunity for a healthy long-term relationship?