How Long Should You Wait?

There is no set number of dates or amount of time that you should hold out for. Screw the “rules.” Forget those reality TV matchmakers. Ignore your mom. No magic number will automatically ensure that the person you’re seeing is in it for the long-haul. At no point is it completely safe to take your pants off and still guarantee that this relationship will work out.

Stop asking your girlfriends if they think you should wait. They are not you. They don’t have the authority to decide whether or not it makes you a slut if you sleep with that guy on date number three. They’re only going on what they’ve heard, from expert sources like their boyfriend’s “bros,” or Bravo TV. And don’t get me wrong, they mean well. Your friends don’t want to have to pick up the pieces again, the way they did the last time you got dumped. They think that maybe they’ve figured out a formula to help you avoid that. But you’re all grown up, and that means you have to make your own adult decisions. You get to decide when and where and how you’re going to give it up, and that does not make you anything but human.

Dating someone means that you’ve accepted the risk factors involved — mainly the fact that the person you’re dating can decide it’s over at any point, for any number of reasons. No allotted amount of time that you attempt to you keep your clothes on is going to change that. So if you’re reading this, and you’re currently struggling to hold out until that three-month mark with the man who you hope is Mr. Right, do yourself a favor and ask him to come over. Tonight.

If you’re still wondering if maybe, just maybe, it could have worked out with that last guy if you had just held out for a few weeks longer, stop torturing yourself. If someone doesn’t want to see you again after you’ve engaged in this grown-up, physical expression of love, he wasn’t that interested in you to begin with. Cut your losses and move on.

If you can’t imagine navigating the dating scene without having a hard rule about when the right time is to get your private parts involved, I can give you the answer: You should wait until you absolutely cannot wait any longer. And if that happens to be during taboo dates 1-3, you should go for it. If it’s further down the line, that’s okay too. You should wait until it feels like you won’t be able to function in your day-to-day life if you don’t sleep with this person. You should wait until you’re an hour’s commute away from either of your apartments, at some ungodly hour on a weeknight, and you still feel compelled to make the journey. You should sleep with them if it feels more important to you than anything else you could be doing, if it feels like you’ve been waiting years and not months or weeks or days (hopefully not hours, but I won’t judge). You should give it up if you can’t be with them in public without having to fight the urge to make out like teenagers — if you’re suffering from this all-consuming thought about what it would feel like to be underneath them, and you can’t focus on a single other thing than that.

Conversely, if you’re still not sure if you should sleep with this person, then don’t. Don’t do it just because your relationship has hit the three month mark and it seems like the thing to do. Don’t do it just because you’ve had too much to drink, and you’re only a block away from his apartment, and it would be way more convenient than trekking back to yours. Don’t give in because your friends think that you’re being ridiculous about holding out (we’ve already covered your friends’ opinions on this).

There are no rules. Stop being so hard on yourself. Do what feels right. Prove Patti Stanger wrong. TC mark


image – Shutterstock


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  • Benny

    How long should you wait? I think if this is what occupies your mind during the day, then just do it right away. There are more interesting things in this planet than when to hop in the sack with someone. Find a life – thank me later.

  • Only L<3Ve @

    […] Thought Catalog » Love & Sex Add a comment […]

  • Greg

    How long should you wait?

    Answer: Marriage.

    • mel

      Marriage? Really? I had no idea there were still people like you out there. Interesting.

      • Greg

        Yes, I am one of those “old-fashioned value Southern Christianity” types. There was even a funny article written about us here on Thought Catalog a bit ago, accurate too.

    • ladaysandnights

      and what happens if you’re not sexually compatible? what happens if he has a small penis?? WHAT THEN?!

      • Katie

        There are some people who that wouldn’t matter much to. If sex is really important to you, waiting until marriage probably isn’t a good idea for you, but it’s not that important to everyone. Waiting until marriage is a perfectly valid choice- again, not for everyone and not for most people, but it’s certainly possible to do so and be perfectly happy in that marriage.

      • Emily


      • jmgfootball123

        If you’re relationship doubts come down to the penis size, then the rest of your relationship must be pretty off as well. Seeing as to how Sex is supposed to be enjoyable, but not the only facet of a relationship. You’re statement seems very shallow to me, as it screams “I’m selfish, what about me?!”

      • ladaysandnights

        okay. im glad that’s what it seems like to you.

  • SaraLily

    Thank you!!! I have this kind of talk with my friends all the time. Some have read that Steve Harvey book and believe the nonsense about making the man wait – and though I agree to a certain point, I am also not going to limit myself if it feels right. I agree with what you said. If it doesn’t work out, cut your losses and move on. It sucks when it’s a guy you like, sure, but as the saying goes, “there’s plenty of fish in the sea”!

  • womp

    sex positivity!!!

  • krystal

    PREACH CHIL’. although, hours? goddamn.. i’d have to judge.

  • Katie

    Everything about this is just so, so right. Thank you for getting it.

  • Emma

    This is perfect. I’ve been running this dilemma through my mind for days now. So thank you.

  • My Alias

    I find the waiting game so strange. Why should you hold out for a set amount of time? And say if you do wait 3 months, (and the man is still around) I have one question.

    Let’s be very serious here – Was it the best 12.8 seconds of your life?

  • ladaysandnights

    and i dont even know how someone could wait 3 mnths to have sex with someone they’re attracted to. that seems like self inflicted torture.
    i like sex.

    • Katie

      People have different sex drives. I’m uncomfortable having sex outside of a relationship, and even then, I’d make sure I really loved the person first. Sex is just more important to some people than it is to others. Personally, I prefer masturbation to risking pregnancy, slight as that chance is with birth control, with someone I don’t love. If all I want is an orgasm, I can give myself that. But I realize that I’m unusual and that most people have no problem having sex earlier than I’m willing to.

      The bottom line is the whole point of this article- you decide for yourself, don’t let anyone decide for you, and don’t make others feel like your opinion matters in their personal decisions.

  • Laura

    Nicely said Danielle! Couldn’t agree with you more :)

  • Maya

    Good read! I especially like the last line about patty…lets all prove to her that we can do what we want :)

  • Emily

    ” No magic number will automatically ensure that the person you’re seeing is in it for the long-haul. ”


  • Garance

    The three month mark? I thought it was the three dates mark…. who waits three months?

    • Coco

      I know… I feel like a whore reading that..

  • rikkicustodio

    check – no rules, just love all the way :)

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