Love, Dating, Relationships
At what point does a dating relationship turn sexual if you're looking for a lasting relationship?
This is a question I get asked a lot and many posit that in their experience, sex too early in a dating relationship seems to make the connection all about sex, while abstaining for an extended period of time resulted in being perceived as "a tease" or being interested in only friendship.
So what's a person to do? When is the right time to have sex so as not to sabotage the development of a potentially healthy relationship with a compatible dating prospect?
Well, the long and the short of it is, that there is no right time! There is no scientific or magic formula, when negotiating the right time to be sexual for assured lasting success. There are no guarantees in relationships. What it boils down to is each individual's readiness and comfort level when taking that next step and then keeping the channels of communication open.
While there are no hard fast rules, in this article are some tips and questions to reflect upon as you decide when the time is right for you to take things to the "bedroom level." And perhaps, you might discover some new factors, which can promote the opportunity for success in a long-term relationship you can integrate into your own dating plan and sexual decision-making practices.
Sex & Dating
Sex is obviously a very important part of a relationship. In gay dating, sex actually plays a vital developmental role in helping us to explore our sexuality during the coming-out process and forming our identities; it's a healthy rite-of-passage.
Sex can also play other roles:
*Pure recreational fun
*The thrill of conquest
*A rebellion against heterosexist norms
*An uncontrollable addiction
*A way to boost one's self-esteem
*A mask for emotional problems
*A temporary cure for boredom or loneliness
*A vehicle for avoiding emotional intimacy... among others.
As the serious dater seeking a perfect match, the vision and primary purpose of sex is as an expression of your feelings of adoration for one another, to cement a bond of closeness and connection as you begin to seal an identity as a couple with the intention of life-long commitment. Your job is to adequately screen dating partners to determine if their vision for sexuality and life aligns with yours. It's when there's a mismatch between these visions or differing motives that leads to relationships ending before they even get started, especially when sex enters the picture early on.
Before you even begin your dating adventures, you must have a solid vision in place of what and who you're looking for. What are your personal requirements needs and wants for a life partner and a relationship? What does dating mean to you and what does it look like? What are your sexual values and attitudes? The answers to these questions become your guide for detecting the "right" vs. the "wrong" types of people you're seeking.
Sex is glamorized in our culture, so much so, that the pressure to succumb to its powerful influences can be overwhelming. This is why you must have a plan in place before you date, so you can more readily "stick to your guns" and not be swayed by temptations or other forces. Knowing yourself and your values is key. Your beliefs about the role sex plays in your dating life will shape your behavior as such.
Meeting The Perfect Match... Now What?
It's hard work creating your own vision, but then to assess another's concept of compatibility is another feat and not easily accomplished in one or two dates. Remember, it's a process. That's why introducing sex too early in a dating relationship can be sabotaging, because the relationship gets defined around sex before a solid foundation of trust and intimacy has been established. This isn't to say that meaningful relationships can't evolve from a sex-based affiliation, but in many cases, premature sex can send the wrong message or tone that then permeates the entire relationship-and it can be irreversible. Not to mention determining your new love's sexual values and motives, as discussed earlier, may not be so easily detectable in the early stages of dating. And finally, once you have sex, objectivity tends to fly out the window for most and that can make screening your new lover's true compatibility with your vision that much more blurred and obscure.
Most gay dating experts agree that a wise approach for those seeking long-term relationships is to hold off on sex for at least 3-4 dates with a potential partner. This allows time for a friendship to develop, to screen each other to the best you can for "goodness-of-fit" and allows the relationship to be defined around common interests, goals and mature companionship - enduring qualities that highlight successful relationships. Sex alone isn't sufficient enough to carry a lasting partnership.
You'll also be able to tell in many cases whether the one you are dating is genuinely interested, or solely after sexual gratification or other motives. Once you have sex, it changes the dynamics, so it's important to pace the relationship.
The Sexual Floodgates Are Opening!
So you and Mr. Wonderful are now at the stage where the chemistry is bubbling over and you can't keep your hands off each other. You've gone out several times and the compatibility you share seems to indicate a "green light." Before racing off to the bedroom (or other creative carnal lovemaking spot), to avoid getting hurt and to make sure this is the right time to get naked ask yourself these questions:
• Why do we want to have sex now?
• What are our motives?
• Do I feel physically and emotionally safe?
• Am I able to be vulnerable with my body and emotions?
• Do I feel cared about?
• Does my partner show genuine interest and curiosity about
me in other areas of my life other than sex?
• Does he or she respond to me non-sexually?
• Am I able to be myself freely?
• Do I feel good about myself around them?
• Do I like this person based on what I've learned so far?
• Are we able to communicate openly with each other?
• Have we each engaged in enough self-disclosure to feel
• Have we been able to express affection to each other so far?
• Does this person demonstrate dependability and loyalty?
• Do I feel like a priority? Is there mutual respect and support?
Additional Tips Before Taking The Plunge
• Make sure you've talked about your sexual histories and have had discussions about sexually transmitted diseases, safe sex and beliefs about monogamy vs. non-monogamy. While this may seem like it might take away some of the excitement, it doesn't necessarily have to do that. Make the discussion "erotic foreplay;" exploring your sexual values, attitudes, preferences and fantasies together can heighten the intimacy while getting to know each other more intensely. Make it part of the "turn-on" and "build-up."
• It may be helpful to communicate to dating prospects something to the effect; "I'm very attracted to you, but I don't have sex until I really know someone." A frank, up-front assertive statement such as this will certainly weed out those whose vision potentially matches yours vs. those who do not. Many may immediately "abandon ship"-they weren't meant to be-saving you a lot of time and energy as you to continue your quest. Remember, it's about quality, not quantity.
• When you're in the "waiting phase" and holding off from sex initially, continually create allure and intrigue with respectful flirting, keeping potential partners aware that you are still interested and find them attractive. Many have been conditioned to equate "no sex" with rejection and may be sensitive to "sexual fasting," so offer many positive strokes to keep the spark going-without playing games.
• An argument can be made that having sex right away can help bring to light whether you're sexually compatible, but keep in mind that it all comes down to your personal requirements and what you deem most important. Also remember, sex can be that much hotter the longer a couple is together (practice makes perfect!) and that sex tends to be more passionate and fulfilling when a foundation of emotional intimacy has already been developed.
• Finally, no matter how much prep-work you've lain out as a successful dater, there will be times when a mistake will be made, you will have a slip of poor judgment, or a person will bail for no apparent reason. Remember that you're human and be kind to yourself. Take ownership of where you went wrong and get back on your dating plan. You have no control over how others behave. Be mindful too that sex is a loaded topic for many and unresolved intimacy issues are usually the biggest culprits when a seemingly good dating prospect bolts shortly after a sexual relationship begins. Protect your heart, be patient and never give up hope that your match is out there - the timing may just not be right.
Sex means different things to different people. As an individual searching for a life partner, introducing sex into a dating relationship takes faith and trust. There is no right time necessarily to be intimate, but realizing that sex and relationships have completely different mindsets with different attitudes and behaviors, can better help you decide where and when your sexual first best fits into your vision for a long-term relationship. Stay true to your values and remember that it's not a numbers game - it's about being successful with the right match!
For more information on this topic, check out another article written by The Gay Love Coach called Sex & the Single Gay Guy at the website below. To sign up for the FREE Gay Love Coach Newsletter filled with dating and relationship tips and skills for gay singles and couples or to check out current coaching groups, programs and telecasts, please visit thegaylovecoach.com.
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