The Waiting Game
Couples Who Delay Sex Have Better Relationships
There are plenty of reasons to hold off on having sex with someone you're dating: to see if the guy ends up being worthy, to preserve the mystery, to not make it seem too easy...waiting for ingrown hairs in a suggestive place to heal, etc.
But if you're able to wait ‘til marriage with someone you're really into, it may actually lead to a better relationship, a new Brigham Young University study says (of course BYU would publish this). Appearing in the Journal of Family Psychology, the study examined married individuals who participated in a popular online marital assessment, which included questions such as, "When did you become sexual in this relationship?"
Researchers selected a sample that reflected the demographics of married Americans, and they controlled for the influence of religious involvement (since religion often plays a role in the decision to wait). They found that, compared to couples who began having sex early in the relationship, those who waited until marriage reported the following benefits:
- 22 percent higher relationship stability
- 20 percent higher relationship satisfaction
- 15 percent better sexual quality of the relationship (we find this slightly hard to believe but we'll give the benefit of the doubt, Elder Researcher)
- 12 percent better communication
Waiting seems to be the name of the game--but a couple doesn't have to wait all the way until marriage. Couples who became sexually involved later in their relationship, but still prior to marriage, also demonstrated relationship and sexual benefits (some good news for the majority of us, mortals lacking super-human willpower). These benefits, however, were about half as strong as those polled by couples who waited until marriage. Sigh.
Mark Regnerus, a sociologist from UT Austin who was not involved in the study, reflected on the findings, "Couples who hit the honeymoon too early--that is, prioritize sex promptly at the outset of a relationship--often find their relationships underdeveloped when it comes to the qualities that make relationships stable and spouses reliable and trustworthy."
That makes sense. We've all been in a relationship wherein we finally got out of bed for the first time in two months and realized we had nothing to talk about. And, booze and Mad Men debates only hold up for so long.
Brigham Young University (2010, December 22). Study: Couples who delay having sex get benefits later. EurekAlert! Retrieved from http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-12/byu-scw122010.php