More hereDelaying sex makes for a more satisfying and stable relationship later on, new research finds.
Couples who had sex the earliest — such as after the first date or within the first month of dating — had the worst relationship outcomes.
"What seems to happen is that if couples become sexual too early, this very rewarding area of the relationship overwhelms good decision-making and keeps couples in a relationship that might not be the best for them in the long-run," study researcher Dean Busby, of Brigham Young University's School of Family Life, told LiveScience.
Busby and his colleagues published their work Dec. 28 in the Journal of Family Psychology.
The intricate nature of sex
Past research on sex and its link to relationship quality has revealed two different paradigms. In one, sex is considered essential to a developing relationship since it allows partners to assess their sexual compatibility. Following this line of thinking, couples who marry before testing out their sexual chemistry are at risk of marital distress and failure later on.
The opposing view posits couples who delay or abstain from sexual intimacy during the early part of their relationships allow communication and other social processes to become the foundation of their attraction to each other. Essentially, early sex could be detrimental to a relationship, skewing it away from communication, commitment and the ability to handle adversity, this thinking suggests.