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Before they know it, they’re making plans to move in together.
Unfortunately, many of these hurried unions lead to disappointment as the relationship falls apart before it’s even had time to take shape.
Over one-third reported having sex within one month after they started dating.
This percentage was slightly higher than that observed in previous studies.
I’ll skip over the gory details of the extensive analyses and controls that the researchers imposed, but rest assured that they did everything they could to tease apart their findings.
In general, the findings supported the hypothesis that having sex early (defined here as within a month of dating) was related to poorer relationship outcomes for men and women.
The researchers weren’t sure if this finding reflected something unusual about the sample or that people just aren’t very good at estimating how long it takes for a relationship to progress to sexual intimacy. The slower the lead-up to sex, the better the relationship.
For women, but not for men, the longer the delay between dating and sex, the better the perception of current relationship quality.
Since women are generally the ones to initiate divorce proceedings, it means that their satisfaction in the relationship is especially crucial to its long-term viability.Slowing things down—for women, but not men—meant paying attention to other factors that would ultimately improve the relationship, such as commitment and emotional intimacy. Early sexual activity symbolized relationship commitment. Again, for women but not for men, having sex early signified to them that their partner was committed to the relationship. Entry into cohabitation accounted for the negative effect of relationship tempo on quality.Couples who had sex early in the game were more likely to decide to live together and, in turn, had less satisfying relationships.In an online study of nearly 600 married and cohabitating couples in which the female partner was less than 45 years old, Sassler and colleagues examined measures of relationship quality, sexual satisfaction, communication, and conflict.Respondents indicated relationship tempo by saying how long the couple waited, after they started dating, to have sex.
However, they do seem to attach different meanings to sex as an indicator of commitment.