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The best time to have sex

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The best time to have sex
First date? Fifth date? Science has the answer.

Should you shave your legs before tonight's dinner date...or intentionally wear the ugliest undies in your drawer? Romantic comedies and Friends reruns aside, the question of how long to wait before taking the next step with a new partner has flummoxed most women at one point or another. But new research published in the Journal of Sex Research finds that good things come to those who wait.

Investigators surveyed roughly 11,000 people--all in committed partnerships--on nearly a dozen questions related to their relationships. Among them were inquiries into participants' relationship satisfaction and stability, as well as the timing of their first foray into the bedroom. The researchers then sorted the results based on when a couple first got frisky.

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Compared to couples who had sex before they started dating or during the first three weeks of their relationship, those who waited actually rated their current relationship as more satisfying and more stable. They also reported greater levels of positive communication.


"There is compelling evidence that waiting to have sex until later in the relationship is associated with better relationship dynamics and outcomes," says study co-author Brian Willoughby, PhD, an associate professor in the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University. Why? Not surprisingly, having sex creates powerful emotional bonds. If those bonds are forged too early, they may saddle a relationship with baggage that can complicate the partnership before both partners are ready, Willoughby theorizes. Having sex sooner might also compell us to stay in relationships that we know aren't built to last, the study suggests.

"What we found suggests women who delay sex are more driven to invest in their relationships," Willoughby says, adding that the research results were consistent across age groups, races, and religious affiliations.

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With all that time you'll save by staying out of the bedroom, what can you and a new dating partner do? Focus on developing a firm foundation for the future, Willoughby suggests. Work on communication, enjoy shared interests, and develop strategies to steer clear of conflict. "Healthy relationships lead to good sex. Good sex doesn't create healthy relationships."

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