This difference becomes particularly critical as couples naturally move past an initial period of intense attraction and excitement into a relationship more characterized by companionship and partnership. Mark Regnerus, author of , explains, “couples who hit the honeymoon too early—that is, prioritize sex promptly at the outset of the relationship—often find their relationship underdeveloped when it comes to qualities that make relationships stable and spouses reliable and trustworthy.” Couples who have sex early in their relationship are at risk of developing lopsided commitment levels (i.e., the woman is more committed than the man), less healthy communication patterns, and less ability to manage differences and conflict.
For the other dependent variables, the participants who waited to be sexual until after marriage had significantly higher levels of communication and sexual quality compared to the other two sexual timing groups. The second study, by Sharon Sassler and her colleagues at Cornell University, also found that rapid sexual involvement has adverse long-term implications for relationship quality. Are these dating patterns compatible with the desire to have a loving and lasting marriage later?In fact, couples who wait until marriage to have sex report higher relationship satisfaction (20% higher), better communication patterns (12% better), less consideration of divorce (22% lower), and better sexual quality (15% better) than those who started having sex early in their dating (see Figure 2).These are important questions to ask since most single adults report that they desire to one day have a successful, lifelong marriage—and while dating, many couples move rapidly into sexual relationships. Couples who do nottest their sexual chemistry prior to the commitments of exclusivity, engagement, and marriage are often seen as putting themselves at risk of getting into a relationship that will not satisfy them in the future—thus increasing their probability of later marital dissatisfaction and divorce.In fact, as noted in Figure 1, recent studies have found that between 30 and 40% of dating and married couples report having sex within one month of the start of their relationship, and the numbers are even higher for currently cohabiting couples. However, two recently published studies call into question the validity of testing sexual chemistry early in dating. This study involved a national sample of 2,035 married individuals who participated in the popular online couple assessment survey called “RELATE.” We found that the longer a dating couple waits to have sex, the better their relationship is after marriage.