Introduction - Question: At what point does a dating relationship turn sexual if you’re looking for a lasting relationship?
The reader 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 hard-fast 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 glamorized 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.
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.
( Part Two - Tomorrow )
© Dr. Brian Rzepczynski, The Gay Love Coach
The suggestions and feedback offered in this column are but one perspective of multiple approaches to dealing with problems or challenges. Information provided in articles and advice columns should not be used as a substitute for coaching or therapy when these services are needed. None of this information should be your only source when making important life decisions. This information should not be used for diagnosing or treating a particular problem, nor should it take the place of a consultation with a trained professional. It is your responsibility to consult a professional prior to making any life decisions.
Dr. Brian Rzepczynski, contributing author to GAYTWOGETHER, is one of the leading love coaches for the gay community. As a licensed dating and relationship coach, Dr. Brian Rzepczynski, DHS, MSW has over 18 years experience as a psychotherapist and life coach specializing in helping GLBT individuals and couples develop and maintain successful and fulfilling intimate relationships. He holds a doctorate degree in human sexuality from the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality and a master’s degree in clinical social work from Western Michigan University. He also runs a successful private therapy practice, Personal Victory Counseling, Inc. http://thegaylovecoach.com