THE BLOG

The Waiting Game: When in a New Relationship, How Soon Is Too Soon?

05/19/2010 12:35 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Over brunch on Sunday with a group of friends, my friend Kristin started telling us of a recent relationship speed bump she stumbled upon. It's a very familiar scenario to many of you out there, I'm sure. It goes a little something like this: Kristin was set up on a semi-blind date with a friend of a friend. They had dinner and one too many cocktails, and one thing led to another, and not only did she wake up with a wicked hangover the next day, but she woke up naked next to her date. At first she was excited about her new prospect, but then the dread started to quickly set in, and that voice inside her head kept whispering, "Well done, Kristin. He has gotten all that he wanted from you. Good luck getting a second date."

After our third round of mimosas, we poured over the details of Kristin's night with Mr. X and debated how soon is too soon to have sex for the first time with a potential suitor? The responses differed greatly, as I have a pretty mixed bag of friends.

Kristin herself was miffed that she broke her "three date rule." As long as I have known her, she has always stood firm on that policy. Her reasoning being that since those three dates are usually spread out to one a week, it gives you time to get to know someone before jumping into bed with them. She feels that having this timeline will naturally slow down the progression (and the hormones) of a relationship, thus resulting in the man becoming more emotionally invested before he gets the goodies. I actually think she maybe had one too many mimosas to think that she is that good to be able to lock down a man emotionally by a third date, and if she is, then why the hell isn't she writing the dating blog?

Both Dave and Jodie disagreed with Kristin's rigid outlook. They feel that there shouldn't be a specified time-frame or limitation, because every connection and relationship is different, and to have a third date time-frame puts all potential boyfriends/girlfriends into a structured format or box. It doesn't lend to spontaneity and chemistry, and in the beginning, those are two essential ingredients. Furthermore, Jodie thinks that if it's meant to be it will, and the "three date rule" went out with our parent's generation.

Then there is my friend Eric, who thinks that by the third date you should absolutely be having sex, because men have the attention span of a fruit fly. Men relate intimacy to sex and really could care less about the exclusivity talk or any talk about feelings, emotions and the future. In his words, "All guys really want to know is if the merchandise is being returned to the original supplier and if it is going to be kept around for additional test runs." He also mentioned how it takes men a lot longer to become emotionally invested than it does for women (tell us something we don't know, right ladies? Eesh), and men won't actually become emotionally invested until they are physically invested.

On my walk home from brunch that afternoon, I started to think back on my own previous relationships to see if there was any pattern I had followed and if it directly resulted in a successful relationship. My first long-term relationship was with my high school sweetheart. We dated for eight years (See! I am capable of having more than failed dates. I know you guys were starting to doubt me...) and if I recall correctly, we slept with each other about 3 weeks into our relationship. Then there was Rob, who I dated in my early twenties. We slept together on our second date and then lived together for two and a half years after that. I ended up breaking his heart and moving away to Chicago, but if I hadn't, I would bet the farm that we would have been married by now. In my most recent relationship, we waited three months to have sex and then dated for a year and a half.

Even through my mimosa haze, I could see that there wasn't a specific pattern that I had followed, except for following my heart. There was no specific time frame that I had in mind, no formula, no rules, no games. It felt right at that moment and I went with it. I'm not saying that I haven't had any failed relationship attempts in between the successful ones where I may have slept with someone too soon and never saw them again, because I certainly have. What I'm saying is that I think the only "right" formula is the one that works and feels right for you. It's a romance after all, not an equation.