Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Worth the wait

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DELAYING SEX makes for a more satisfying and stable relationship later on, research finds.
Couples who had sex the earliest – such as after the first date or within the first month of dating – had the worst relationship outcomes.
“What seems to happen is that if couples become sexual too early, this very rewarding area of the relationship overwhelms good decision-making and keeps couples in a relationship that might not be the best for them in the long run,” study researcher Dean Busby, of Brigham Young University’s School of Family Life, told LiveScience.
Busby and his colleagues published their findings in the Journal of Family Psychology.
Past research on sex and its link to relationship quality has revealed two different paradigms. In one, sex is considered essential to a developing relationship since it allows partners to assess their sexual compatibility. Following this line of thinking, couples who marry before testing out their sexual chemistry are at risk of marital distress and failure later on.
The opposing view posits that couples who delay or abstain from sexual intimacy during the early part of their relationships allow communication and other social processes to become the foundation of their attraction to each other.
Essentially, early sex could be detrimental to a relationship, skewing it away from communication, commitment and the ability to handle adversity, this thinking suggests.
And past studies have shown the sex-relationship link is a complex one. For instance, a 2004 study of nearly 300 college students in dating relationships showed that when couples were highly committed, sex was more likely to be seen as a positive turning point in the relationship, increasing understanding, commitment, trust and a sense of security.
However, when commitment and emotional expressions were low, the initiation of sex was significantly more likely seen as a negative event, evoking regret, uncertainty, discomfort, and prompting apologies.
Study  
In the study, Busby and his colleagues looked specifically at timing of sexual relations. They recruited 2 035 heterosexual individuals who had an average age of 36 and were in their first marriages. Participants reported when they first had sexual relations with their current spouse; they also answered communication questions, which evaluated how well they could express empathy and understanding toward their partners, how well they could send clear messages to their partners, and other questions.
Other items on the questionnaire focused on relationship satisfaction and stability, with the latter gauged by three questions: how often they thought their relationship was in trouble; how often they thought of ending the relationship; and how often they had broken up and gotten back together.
Individuals were categorized as either having:
• Early sex (before dating or less than one month after they started dating).
• Late sex (between one month and two years of dating).
• And those who waited until after they married.
Relationships fared better and better the longer a person waited to have sex, up until marriage, with those hitting the sack before a month showing the worst outcomes.
Compared with those in the early sex group, those who waited until marriage:
• Rated relationship stability as 22 per cent higher
• Rated relationship satisfaction as 20 per cent higher
• Rated sexual quality as 15 per cent better
• Rated communication as 12 per cent better
Bushy said that those couples who wait to be sexual have time to figure out how trustworthy their partner is, how well they communicate, and whether they share the same values in life “before the powerful sexual bonding short-circuits their decision-making abilities”. (LiveScience)

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