Many of us were lucky enough to grow up with friends and family who were invested in our dating and romantic lives. And because of this same care, many of us were also advised on how sexual activity should factor into a relationship: who, what, where, when and how! If you grew up in an environment like this it’s likely you also were told the ideal time to have sex when dating was a certain number of dates (the number varies, depending on who you ask).
This “date rule” comes from good intentions of course, but when it comes to deciding to have sex, the only real rule that matters is that everyone is comfortable, happy and consenting.
By The Numbers
Ok, so you want the hard data? Here’s how sex by the numbers breaks down, based time versus number of dates (because in all honesty, how do you define a date?). One study from 2014 found that about half (47.9%) of people in relationships waited a few weeks before having sex, and about 35% had sex either on the first date or within the first few dates. As you can see, there’s a pretty substantial variance in behavior.
A second study in 2017 asked men and women specifically how many dates they usually waited before having a sexual experience with their partner. On average, men reported waiting about five dates, and women reported a preference of waiting closer to nine dates. Overall the average was about eight dates.
Those are the numbers, for what it’s worth – and we do not put a lot of stock in them because counting dates and applying a one-size-fits-all mentality is not a foolproof way to dictate your sexual behavior!
The Myth of Date Rules
That’s right, date rules are a myth! Many of these rules come from outdated knowledge of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unintended pregnancy, potentially the observance of religious customs and/or an adherence to social norms and appropriate behavior regarding sexual acts. There is a strong emphasis on controlling and limiting sexual autonomy, especially for women, in the name of remaining eligible, desirable or well-regarded.
It’s worth noting as well, that these rules are only assigned to opposite sex couples, meaning they do not translate well to other types of relationships. None of these factors should impact how you and your partner(s) enjoy or do not enjoy sexual experiences, unless of course you want them to. (Though we do want you to be informed and armed with accurate information!)
There is no proper number of dates to secure before sexual activity is assumed or scheduled, nor is there a rubric. Every relationship is different and sex should be considered in the context of only that relationship. We at ONE® are sex positive: we think everyone should enjoy the type of sex they like, with whomever they like, whenever they like. This may not line up well to date rules, but it is quite literally our business!
And It’s On!
When you do decide to start having sex, it is important not to lose sight of safety. Safer sex is a great way to protect your partner(s) from STIs and unwanted pregnancy. Through the use of condoms, you can achieve both of those objectives!
Check out our collection of condoms and premium lubes here on our site, and make sure you’re always prepared for your next encounter. If you need some tips and tricks about starting the conversation around safer sex, check out our previous blog post here.
Another part of sexual safety is consent. Every time you have a sexual experience, all involved parties should be consenting on an ongoing basis. We like to call this active and evolving consent. Sex can be many things, including fun, romantic, exhilarating and pleasurable, but without consent it is sexual assault.
What is Active and Evolving Consent?
Whether you’re having casual sex or looking to wait to have sex, it is important to think about sexual consent. Here at ONE®, we believe that consent should not just be a one-time deal, but should continue through a sexual encounter to make sure everyone is enjoying the experience.
Here are some good tips on how to incorporate active and evolving consent into your next encounter:
- Always get consent, every time. This includes everything from casual hook ups to long term relationships. You cannot rely on body language or assumptions. Everyone has a right to opt in or out of sexual activity, no matter how you know them.
- Consent is not a finish line, it is a series of checkpoints. You don’t necessarily need to slam on the brakes, stop everything and have an in-depth conversation though. This can be as simple as looking your partner(s) in the eye and asking “is this ok?” or “you feeling good?” Not only is this a helpful way to make sure everyone is still into it, but it will show your partner(s) that you care about their experience as well.
- Sober sex is great sex, especially with new partners. Being of sound body and mind is critical to having the ability to grant sexual consent. If you haven’t been with someone and aren’t sure how they respond to any substances (including alcohol and drugs), it is often just simpler and safer to wait until everyone sobers up. Legally speaking, someone who is under the influence cannot grant consent, even if they are being verbally affirmative.
- Age of consent varies by locale. Age is absolutely a factor in the legal definition of granting consent. Someone under the age of consent is not considered to be legally capable of granting consent. Make sure you know the law wherever you are having a sexual experience. Not only are there serious repercussions for all parties, but not knowing your partner(s)’ age or the local law is not an excuse. These laws are in place to protect people and should always be followed, without exception.
- Sexual assault and dating violence is real, repulsive and rampant in some settings. From college campuses to workplaces to homes, sexual assault and dating violence is an epidemic in this country and is vastly underreported. Be a part of turning the tide and ending the violence.
- Healthline - How Many Dates Before Sex
- Women's Health - How Many Dates Before I Have Sex
- Men's Health - How Long To Wait Before Having Sex