How Long Should Couples In Relationships Wait Before Getting Intimate?

People have long wondered how long couples in relationships should wait before getting intimate, and now science has provided the answer...
Credit: Alamy

People are asking an important question about relationships – how long should couples wait before getting intimate?

For many couples, moving too fast or too slow can be a source of anxiety.

Knowing when to get intimate with a new romantic partner can be tricky.

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Rushing into things can cause issues down the line – but waiting too long can dampen that initial spark!

Getting the speed and pace of a relationship correct in the early days can ensure a happy and healthy relationship that can really last.

Well, now science has weighed in and may be able to offer the answer couples crave.

Couple in bed.
Studies have looked into how long couples should wait before becoming intimate in relationships. Credit: Alamy

Illinois State University communications professor Sandra Metts’s study examined whether saying ‘I love you’ before becoming intimate would have a positive impact on the relationship.

Her study of almost 300 college-age men and women found that those who say ‘I love you’ before getting physical tend to have a happier relationship.

In fact, many couples who do the deed before saying ‘I love you’ tend to find saying those three little words rather awkward!

And it’s not just saying ‘I love you’ – Metts has a list of things to do before sleeping with each other.

As per IFL, it ‘includes getting to know the person, sharing a first kiss, then building up to an expression of commitment’.

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Psychotherapist Toni Coleman agrees with this, as per Business Insider.

“Having a good level of communication and an understanding of where the relationship is headed also helps ensure the experience will be positive,” she says.

Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist from California, also tells Business Insider: “The most important thing is you both agree not to push. Be clear that the person is comfortable.”

Goldsmith believes there is a number of hours couples should spend together before getting down to business.

And that number is 36 hours.

These hours don’t have to be consecutive, though, so don’t worry.

Couple hugging.
You should apparently spend at least 36 hours together before getting intimate. Credit: Alamy

They accumulate over the course of several dates, and a typical couple will fulfil the quota in a matter of weeks.

However, it can be worth taking a little longer.

Coleman advocates waiting until the ‘honeymoon period’ of the relationship is over.

“You move past that, and your feet are more on the ground,” Coleman explains, adding that couples who ‘waited until that level fared a lot better than people who had s** on the first, second, or third date’.

Of course, there’s also a more old-fashioned option – waiting until after marriage!

A study by Dean Busby, the director of the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University, claims that the longer a couple waits, the better.

However, it’s worth noting that this isn’t exactly an unbiased source, as the Church of the Latter-Day Saints prohibit intercourse outside of marriage.

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Written by Annie Walton Doyle

Annie Walton Doyle is a content editor at IGV who specialises in trending, lifestyle and entertainment news. She graduated from Goldsmiths, University of London, with a degree in English Literature. Annie has previously worked with organisations such as The Huffington Post, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Harvard University, the Pulitzer Prize and 22 Words.