Waiting for Sex in Our Modern Day and Age

Intimacy is one of the most significant contributors to the human connection we seek when building a relationship. Intimacy is the closeness in emotional and physical forms that will contribute to a relationship’s closeness and development. Relationships in modern-day post-COVID, especially in NYC, are highly complex for many reasons. A few are the dating pool being overly saturated with about 4x as many women per one male, which contributes to people often dating multiple people simultaneously to keep their options open. The concept of “multiple options” results in many people returning to the dating app and encountering an undesirable trait in another. In a smaller town, they may be more flexible with standards due to a reduced dating pool. Dating in a large city perpetuates the idea of someone being replaceable, and casual dating is more common than ever. Long-term relationships are less of the initial goal for most and result from mutual compatibility, shared interests, ongoing dating experiences, and exploring physical intimacy. It leads to some of the most challenging questions that come up for people while dating, “When is it the right time to have sex?” “Why do people wait?” and “Will it change how they feel about me?”. The answer to all of these is unique to your connection.

Physical intimacy and chemistry are natural components of dating. However, for most, exploring the emotional connection and organically getting to each other’s values, lifestyle, interests, family history, friendships, and lived experiences will help build upon the attraction. When the primary emphasis is on building the connection over time, it contributes to the genuine interest of both people when sex is introduced. A few natural barriers to sexual intimacy may include:

  • Society’s stigma of having sex “too quickly” has a strong negative connotation that people feel shame around.
  • The risk that one may disengage or “be ghosted” after sex, and the risk of losing the connection entirely. It is a common fear that is often followed by high levels of guilt and regret.
  • Someone may not feel emotionally safe to explore physical intimacy due to a lack of trust and familiarity with them.
  • Unless this is explicitly shared, someone may not know or fully understand one’s dating intentions.
  • People may have religious or moral beliefs that do not align with having intimacy in earlier stages of dating, which leads them to wait until they’re ready.
  • There may be concerns around sexually transmitted infections or the risk of pregnancy, which may halt one’s openness to sex until both parties have a conversation feeling safe to explore.
  • People have complex upbringings, childhoods, family dynamics, sexual dysfunctions, and traumas that all have the power to negatively contribute to exploring sex with a new partner.
  • A desire for a more equitable power dynamic that promotes mutual respect of boundaries and assertiveness over one’s body to challenge societal projection of when sex “should” happen.
  • Having specific kinks or fantasies that have not yet been expressed, which may include the need for safe words, planning for safe sex, and boundary setting.
  • Not having a private environment will be an interrupter to sex. Waiting or planning for a time when you have a safe environment will allow you to feel more comfortable.

As people navigate the respectful build of intimacy within a casual, short-term, or long-term relationship, they may consider the following steps to challenge the above barriers:

  • Do the work by learning yourself, demonstrating emotional availability by prioritizing the emotional connection, and understanding your intentions with dating. There’s nothing wrong with a casual sexual relationship as long as there’s transparency and it’s been mutually agreed upon by both parties.
  • Build trust over time and be consistent in your attempts to court each other. The bridge between words and behaviors will allow people to feel you are dependable. If you plan a date by the end of the week, follow through and send confirmation of the date plan. These micro behaviors contribute to the foundation building in the early stages of dating and demonstrate the effort you are willing to invest to ensure your person feels safe and pursued.
  • Be honest if new romantic feelings are developing or if negative feelings are starting to impact the connection. Most people appreciate the candor that comes with dating to limit fortune-telling and mind-reading expectations. It will also give clarity into the pace of the connection’s development.
  • Communicate your needs/interests! There’s a respectful way to express a physical desire for another person, where they can receive it and appreciate the interest. People generally feel secure when they know the ball is in their court, without feeling pressured to explore anything they’re not ready for—mindfulness of body language and subtle cues you can express to demonstrate respectful interest.

If the person you’re dating has expressed verbally or non-verbally that they would like to wait before getting physically intimate, RESPECT IT. Do not make passes, be overly flirty, or make sexual comments that may feel like you are crossing the boundary they’ve set. It may be okay to explore low-level forms of physical touch, such as handholding, hugging, caressing, etc., if you ask permission and receive consent for these forms of intimacy beforehand. These lower-level forms of physical touch can be impactful and can continue to build upon the connection toward mutual fulfillment for both parties without the emphasis being on sex.

Ultimately, you must make sure a connection that is meant for you is built on mutual care and respect. Sex will often reveal someone’s character, relationship with self, and different attachment styles. While there is no right or wrong time to have sex, only you and the person you are seeing have the most context to determine when it feels right for you. Asking yourself a few reflective questions will help guide you toward a decision that feels authentic to you based on where you are presently in the connection:

Do I genuinely like this person, or do I like how they make me feel about myself?

Am I attracted to their heart, values, and character?

Does this person respect me and show me with their actions?

Is this person both emotionally and physically available?

Do I feel physically attracted to their features, attributes, mannerisms, etc.?

Am I safe to engage in physical intimacy with them on my terms without pressure?

Answering yes to most or all of these questions will clarify your decision-making; though answering no may create some doubt, it does not necessarily mean it cannot be explored. It may be helpful to have a professional who understands your sexual desires, interests, and needs while helping you resolve any barriers to intimacy in modern dating.






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