How soon should you expect to have sex when you start dating someone? That question is one that has become commonplace with the recent changes in sexual mores. The majority of the population in western countries have opted to abandon the traditional model which previously set strict guidelines for sex within relationships. While the traditional model is far less practiced, there has not been a universally agreed upon standard for when sex will happen.

The Traditional Model

In this model of courtship, sex is not supposed to happen before marriage. At the very least, sex outside of marriage here is considered taboo or otherwise frowned upon. Women were supposed to be virgins before they married, and men were supposed to propose marriage and follow through with a wedding before he would get sex from a woman. Those who were in violation of this standard while dating would be heavily pressured to marry as soon as possible if the woman finds out that she was pregnant. The term “Shotgun Wedding” should clue us in to how serious this pressure was, as the couple would not be truly given a choice once they already undeniably crossed the line in terms of this standard. Such a marriage would happen quite quickly as a means to cover for the fact that premarital sex had occurred, as having a child out of wedlock was not socially accepted by any means.

Current Dating

Couples today are not bound by this same model. Instead, individuals are free to come up with their own rules and standards. There are still some who will still abide by the traditional model, but without the societal enforcement that is quite rare. For those who do not wish to follow the traditional model, there comes issues in navigating how to determine when sex can happen. This is because in absence of a traditional standard for when sex should happen, there is no way to know for sure what the other partner’s standards are for how soon sex should happen. This means there are many cases where the question needs to be asked or someone chooses to initiate and see if there is reciprocation for sex.

The problem with this model is that it relies on full honesty for both men and women, and there are many cases where there is great incentive to lie. For women who want to make it seem like they are “not that kind of girl,” they may make a man wait for an arbitrary period of time to see if he is serious about a relationship. This is a major problem if the woman has in the past indeed been “that kind of girl,” since she is putting up a false front about her attitudes on sex. That is, she is acting as if she places great value on commitment before sex when previously she has not had that standard.

For men, there are those who will only be looking to get as easy sex as possible, which means that the woman’s strategy to have a waiting period is not unfounded. The type of man who is only looking to get sex as quickly as possible is going to be willing do or say whatever he thinks will get him sex the quickest. In the event that he believes he will not succeed in having sex with a particular woman or not have it on a timeline that he would accept. Many women will still have sex with this kind of man even if they so desire to have marriage in the future, as they either see such a man as an opportunity to “have fun before settling down,” or misguidedly think that leading with sex so soon will make a man want to commit even if he has shown no indication or has outright admitted that he wants nothing serious.

No longer worth the wait

The ultimate problem with the waiting game comes when a woman who has previously given away sex for little to no investment decides to “settle down” and look for a decent man. With this switch to her looking for a long term commitment, she now no longer gives out the sex so easily, either by claiming that she is “no longer that kind of girl” or outright lying about her previous sexual history and how quickly she previously gave away sex. Either way, this leaves the commitment minded man being required to make the greatest amount of investment in a woman while getting far less benefits in relation to his investment, and often even less in absolute terms. Men becoming more aware of this worsening deal means that if they choose to wait as long as a woman demands for sex, so men have as a result become disincentivized from even trying to be traditional men in the first place.

Whether or not women like it, once a woman has chosen to sleep with a man at her earliest point, she has set period of time as the new standard for how cheap sexual access is with her. Any man who has to wait longer is essentially paying more for than what it is worth. This becomes an even greater issue when marriage is in question, as marriage is the greatest level of commitment that can be attained in a relationship. What makes the marriage so special when the previous price for sex was shown to be lower than that with other men? When men can get sex without the marriage, and even without the commitment, there is far less incentive for men to pursue marriage in the first place. This applies for both the men that pursue sex with no desire to provide commitment and to men who would otherwise be glad to provide commitment if the woman was willing to practice great restraint with sex. The new rules make it so that men who pursue sex with no commitment get what they want (assuming the capability is there with such men) while the men who still want to be traditional men lose out in finding far less women who have reserved sex for committed relationships.

When a woman gives sex to a man, she is rewarding his behavior. You get more of what you reward and less of what you punish. Even if women do not see it this way, they punish the commitment minded men by not reserving sex for committed relationships only (especially when it comes to marriage). No amount of rationalization hamstering or mental gymnastics changes this. If women want men to give them commitments, they need to give men a reason to commit. Making the man you claim to love the most pay the greatest price for sex does mean that you love him less. No matter how much women insist on it, making a man wait for sex does not equate to her being a higher value woman when she sold it for less previously. And ultimately, the men who see these women giving away sex to other guys for less but demanding that they commit more in order to get sex understand that waiting becomes a sucker’s game.