Question: At what point does a dating relationship turn sexual if you’re looking for a lasting relationship?
The person posing this question goes on to say that in his experience, sex too soon in a dating relationship seemed to make the connection all about sex, while waiting for an extended period of time resulted in men perceiving him as a “tease” or being uninterested in them for anything but just friendship.
So what’s a guy 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’s no science or magic formula to negotiating the right time to be sexual to guarantee lasting success. There are no guarantees in relationships. What it boils down to is each individual’s readiness and comfort level with taking things to that next step and keeping the channels of communication open.
So while there’s no hardfast rule, this article will offer some tips and questions for reflection for you to decide when the time is right for you to take things to the “bedroom level.” Through this content, perhaps you will discover some factors that might promote the opportunity for success of a long-term relationship that you can integrate into your own dating plan and sexual decision-making practices.
Sex & Gay Dating
Sex is obviously a very important part of a relationship. In gay dating, sex actually plays a vital developmental role in helping a man to explore his sexuality during the coming-out process and forming his identity as a gay man; it’s a healthy rite-of-passage. Sex plays other roles though in gay culture. Its purpose can be for: pure recreational fun; tension release; a thrill for 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; horniness gratification; a vehicle for avoiding emotional intimacy…among others.
For you, as the serious dater seeking Mr. Right, your vision for the primary purpose of sex is as an expression of your feelings of adoration for one another, cementing 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 your 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 from the purposes above that leads to relationships ending before they even got started 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 guys you’re seeking.
Sex is so glamorised in our gay culture that the pressure to succumb to its powerful influences can be overwhelming. That’s 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 you want sex to play in your dating life will shape your behavior as such.
Meeting Mr. Wonderful…Now What?!
It’s hard work creating your own vision, but then to assess another guy’s vision for compatibility is another feat that’s not easily accomplished in one or two dates. It’s a process. That’s why introducing sex too early into a dating relationship can be sabotaging because the relationship gets defined around sex before a 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 a lot of 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 guy’s sexual values and motives discussed earlier may not be so easily detectable in the early stages of dating. And finally, once you have sex, all objectivity can go flying right out the window 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 man. This allows time for a friendship to develop, to screen each other to the best you can for “goodness-of-fit”, and lets the relationship be defined around common interests, goals, and mature companionship—enduring qualities that highlight successful relationships. Sex alone is not sufficient to carry a lasting partnership. You’ll also be able to tell in a lot of cases whether the man is genuinely interested in you or if he’s solely after sex or gratification of 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 at least several times and the compatibility you share seems to be indicating a “green light.” Before racing off to the bedroom (or other creative carnal lovemaking spot!), ask yourself these questions to avoid getting hurt and to make sure this is the right time for you to get naked:
- Why do we want to have sex now? What are our motives?
- Do I feel physically and emotionally safe with him? Am I able to be vulnerable with him with my body and emotions?
- Do I feel cared about by him? Does he show genuine interest and curiosity about me in other areas of my life other than sex? Does he respond to me non-sexually?
- Am I able to be myself freely around him? Do I feel good about myself when I’m around him? Do I like the man that he is from what I’ve learned about him so far?
- Are we able to communicate openly with each other? Have we each engaged in enough self-disclosure to feel comfortable about each other? Have we been able to express affection to each other thus far?
- Does he demonstrate dependability and loyalty? Do I feel like a priority? Do we have 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. nonmonogamy. While this may seem like it’ll take away some of the excitement, it doesn’t necessarily have to do that. Make the discussion part of the “erotic foreplay” and explore your sexual values, attitudes, preferences, and fantasies together to heighten the intimacy and get 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 of “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 men who potentially match your vision vs. those who don’t. You may get lots of men who “abandon ship”, but they weren’t meant to be and now lots