Early Sex = Less Sex, Short Relationships

Quick sex = quick relationships?

Quick sex = quick relationships?

Having sex early on is associated with short-term relationships. And less sex while in them.

That’s what sociologists, Mark Regnerus and Jeremy Uecker, learned after researching young adults for their book, Premarital Sex in America.

When couples in their 20’s went to bed the first day or the first week of knowing someone, only 14% were still in a relationship a year later. If they waited a month or two, 26% remained together. After six months one-third were still a couple. 

So while couplehood isn’t likely after having sex the same night you meet, it’s not impossible.

But sexual interest also decreases quickly among those who have intercourse early on. Maybe because most people think sex is better when they have a strong emotional component. And the sooner you start having sex, the less people seem to communicate about it. So it’s probably not as great as it could be.

No surprise then that these shorter relationships also involve less sex. 63% of couples who had been together at least four months “did it” at least twice a week. After seven months the number rose to 72%. After a year 80% got it on at least twice-weekly. And couples who had been together over a year averaged five times a week.

Whether the low rate of long-term coupling is a problem depends on whether you want a tryst or something more. And there’s a good possibility that people who want sex, and little else, are just more likely to hop in the sack sooner.

Interestingly, if you’re a youngish 20-something and you wait six months to consummate, your chances of keeping the relationship still aren’t too high. But maybe it’s not surprising that young people are more interested in having experiences than finding a mate.

Related Posts on BroadBlogs
Did You Score Last Week?
Profound Relationship vs Intense Sex
How Guys Think About Sex & Dating

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on July 7, 2014, in psychology, relationships, sex and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.

  1. It is said that, If we enjoy everything in start itself, nothing exciting remains for later. For me, having sex means I trust that person completely with my life and I am in a serious long term relationship. Generally, people who fall in love at first sight or who are in their 20’s are not in love but its mere attraction that makes them feel they are in love. They have sex without love. Only few true ended up in long lasting relationship.

    • You may have a point. The sociologists who wrote this book, “Premarital Sex in America,” also found that couples who wait until marriage to have sex typically seem to have more of it for a longer period of time, compared with couples who don’t. I was surprised to read that. Maybe they are more love, which makes it hotter? Maybe they already have the lines of communication going — after all they had a lot of time to communicate without sex — and that makes sex hotter as they communicate what they like and don’t? They really appreciate it once they get it? On the downside, some couples who wait find they are sexually incompatible (though that can happen anyway, since people’s sexuality can change — women’s in particular — after marriage).

      Maybe I’ll have to write about that sometime, too.

  2. I don’t think it matters as people, especially guys having sex within a week, are not caring how often they have sex with the girl each week the next 3 months of so. As a man simply wants sex and with that girl for a short period so her not wanting that much sex the next week or so is not a big deal as he’s probably already planning on getting in bed with the next cute girl he sees or maybe has a blackbook or girls that he knows or can contact to go from there…

    • I don’t understand your comment.

      The research shows these trends.

      And the theoretical guy you describe is someone who doesn’t appear to want relationships. (And yet most men prefer sex in relationships.)

      Main point is, if you just want sex, it works great to sleep around. If you want relationships, best not to.

  3. It’s interesting. I used to think the “timing” of sex shouldn’t matter- but I do think there is something to be said about developing a connection before having sex for the first time. The former can really change the experience of the latter. Not to mention with oxytocin kicking in for women it can be a good idea to know who you are sleeping w/ before the fog of desire/bonding causes the loss of objectivity.

    • Yeah, I think it does often have an effect. And I think that people need to be aware of how much it does — or not — and not feel like they have to fit social scripts that tell them how they are supposed to be, whether the script is to be open to casual sex, or not to be.

  4. Basically you see short relationships with intent for something serious. Whereas, I see them as half and half. Some where perhaps the sex too early causes a short relationship. But perhaps its not sex early causing it, but simply the relationship since sex came so early shows that the relationship was based all on mainly on physical attraction, which is why lack of sex causes it to fizzle or the intent was for physical satisfaction or not to be all in it. I mean how many find “the one”.

    It’s pretty hard,so basically you will be in a relationship with a girl and shes nice and attractive, but you know even if you like her that you will never marry her. Yet people get in 2 years relationships and so on, which seems odd and a waste of time when it’s simply their bf or gf. If I’m sticking around for that long, it’s gotta be a woman I love and not simply love, but think is a “keeper”. I think part of it is infatuation causing people to stat in relationships for a long time when that person was never the one they were going to marry. So basically with so few being the “one”, you will have relationships and have a girlfriend or girlfriends, so of course they will be short if they aren’t marriage material, but you have a girlfriend for a little while because of the perks, but knowing that they aren’t the one. People have to be doing this when in short relationships too.

    Girls do this too for simply companionship and guys do too. So its not fwb, but not serious either. I think some know or find out soon that who they are with is not the one, so they know going in this won’t last real long or who they will committ to for long term, which is why it’s short term, because its never serious which makes it casual and very sex related. If I’m with a woman who I don’t think is someone I want to be with the rest of my like, it’s a waste of time to be with her for a year or so. When I could be either having. flings, or dating, or having other relationships and finding one who I could see myself marrying.

    • re “Basically you see short relationships with intent for something serious.”

      I’m not. See my response to Athena. I’m talking about association, not causality.

      That said, in another part of the book the authors do talk about sexual economics which do suggest some level of causality — the pattern aligning with what I discussed here.

      And if someone is interested in relationship and not casual sex, someone who only wants sex is less likely to stick around for a couple months until they get some. And in those two or three months a relationship is going to be formed, most likely.

  5. I’m confused – are they lumping one-night stands into a broad category of “relationships”? Because that would seem to skew the results. I hope they’re not assuming that every male-female interaction is a “relationship.”

    • That’s not the question.

      The question is whether having sex quickly has any association with long-term v short-term relationships. And it does. But that might be because people having sex quickly only want sex, and not relationship, as I wrote in these sentences:

      “there’s a good possibility that people who want sex, and little else, are just more likely to hop in the sack sooner.

      “Interestingly, if you’re a youngish 20-something and you wait six months to consummate, your chances of keeping the relationship still aren’t too high. But maybe it’s not surprising that young people are more interested in having experiences than finding a mate.”

      But I just added this point to another commenter, Bob:

      That said, in another part of the book the authors do talk about sexual economics which do suggest some level of causality — the pattern aligning with what I discussed here.

      And if someone is interested in relationship and not casual sex, someone who only wants sex is less likely to stick around for a couple months until they get some. And in those two or three months a relationship is going to be formed, most likely.

      • “That’s not the question.”

        Oh? I would think it’s very important to understand how “relationship” is defined in order to understand what results we are capturing. If every one-night stand or fuck buddy arrangement is deemed to be a “relationship,” well then of course early sex is associated with shorter relationships with less frequent sex. All that shows is that people are good at scratching the itch if they’re not otherwise committed.

        But if we were limited to, say, only those people who thought they had long-term potential with the person they were dating, and we got these results, I would think those findings would be more meaningful.

        “That said, in another part of the book the authors do talk about sexual economics which do suggest some level of causality”

        I don’t know if I will ever get around to reading this book, but I would be very interested in how they tease this out. Because you know the pro-purity crowd will jump ALL over this as some sort of ironclad “proof” that having sex early somehow magically irreparably damages the relationship. Nothing to do with all the layers of interpersonal dynamics of course; it’s all about the sex.

      • I don’t see how having sex within a few days of meeting someone could be defined as relationship sex. Relationships develop over time. Maybe that’s why the researchers didn’t make a distinction.

        As to the question of encouraging purity, the sentences I quoted to you were meant to dispel that. Here they are again:

        “And there’s a good possibility that people who want sex, and little else, are just more likely to hop in the sack sooner.

        “Interestingly, if you’re a youngish 20-something and you wait six months to consummate, your chances of keeping the relationship still aren’t too high. But maybe it’s not surprising that young people are more interested in having experiences than finding a mate.”

        Isn’t it better to acknowledge the data and make that point instead of ignoring the stats?

        And, this info could be helpful for many.

        You can’t be autonomous and sexually empowered if you are being run by sexual scripts, whether the script says everyone should be pure or the script says everyone should do casual sex.

        Right now, the dominant script on college campuses says everyone should do casual sex/hookup sex. And some young women do it hoping a relationship will follow. Some hate hookups and get drunk to tolerate them, thinking this is the only way they can get a relationship. (The data also show that this sort of thing is much harder on women than men, maybe because female sexuality is much more repressed by our society — although both women and men typically prefer relationship sex.)

        I even had a student thank me for this post because she had been struggling with giving sex when she didn’t want to.

        Young women with these mindsets need to know the truth so that they don’t feel they have to behave sexually in ways that are emotionally hurtful and disempowering to them.

      • “I don’t see how having sex within a few days of meeting someone could be defined as relationship sex.”

        Which is why it depends on how “relationship” is defined for their purposes, or if they even use that term. I scanned through the amazon description and a few reviews, but without reading the book I really have no idea how they are defining any of their parameters.

        “As to the question of encouraging purity, the sentences I quoted to you were meant to dispel that.”

        I wasn’t worried about you trying to sell the purity myth. It’s my own familiarity with the way that pro-purity folks work that makes me confident that this book will provide lots of material for them to twist to their own destructive purposes.

        “Isn’t it better to acknowledge the data and make that point instead of ignoring the stats?”

        You are correct that if something is true, it remains so regardless of what anyone thinks about it. For the record, I’m not ignoring the stats – I’m questioning what they mean and what type of conclusions (if any) can be appropriately drawn.

        I think a big part of what makes me leery is that there seems to be a lot of assumptions from everywhere regarding what is inherent about sex. So when someone finds, for example, that women in general don’t deal well with hookup culture, the obvious solution becomes “don’t have sex!” rather than “rethink what you want out of sex, if you want it at all.” At least, that’s the type of opinions I seem to keep stumbling upon (not yours. of course).

      • Well, I’m all about the social construction of sexuality. Many, if not most of my sex-posts involve that.

        Early sex is defined by the authors as I wrote it: When couples in their 20′s went to bed the first day or the first week of knowing someone

        Has nothing to do with relationship at that point. They just met.

        BTW thanks for your questions. Both reader questions and student questions inspire a lot of my blog posts. As yours has. I’m planning to write A post based on this portion of a response to your question:

        You can’t be autonomous and sexually empowered if you are being run by sexual scripts, whether the script says everyone should be pure or the script says everyone should do casual sex.

      • Hi! I found your blog from reading a piece on The Good Men Project.

        Below, you mentioned some of the findings regarding the casual/hookup culture with college kids. I am 52, divorced, and very very conservative on many issues. However, I always keep an open mind and seek knowledge and understanding. I found your views on the hookup culture quite interesting….

        Recently, I read a book by Donna Freitas, “The End of Sex….” on the hookup culture. Also, I am now reading a book by Laura Stepp, “unhooked.”

        What I see is that many women who write for Huffington Post and some of the female editors at GMP take an “empowering” view of this hookup culture for women. However, what little I have read thus far would seem to indicate that serial dating (“relationships” under 3 mos) is touted for exploration purposes. But, evidence of the harmfulness is omitted. Am I incorrect?

        I would tend to believe the finding in this book. While I have never engaged in casual dating/sex, I really do not see how the conclusions could be otherwise. As you stated, if you’re in it for the sex, then that is your prime motivator.

        What I am really interested in find out (HELP!!!) is the new attitudes I see with Boomer women. Increasingly, these women seem to be taking the same attitudes about casual sex and women in their 20s. Perhaps it is due to leaving unfulfilled marriages and seeking exploration and different experiences?

        I like your blog. While was once very much into GMP, I don’t like their censorship and wanting contributors to share their social and PC bent. I am surprised the piece by Mr. Cadet made it!! Seriously.

        Jules

      • I’ll be doing a piece later on how you can’t be empowered if you’re behaving inauthentically. If casual sex is authentically empowering, then fine. Shouldn’t be slut-shamed. If it’s emotionally difficult to do hookups, as it often is, then that’s not empowering, either.

        Glad you like my blog.

  6. “And if someone is interested in relationship and not casual sex, someone who only wants sex is less likely to stick around for a couple months until they get some. And in those two or three months a relationship is going to be formed, most likely.”

    Perhaps, but you’d be the least I would think to look at things in a black and white manner. Sure a person perhaps wants only sex might not stick around for a couple months until they get some. But they might. You know I’m sure how complex and complicated people are with incentive and motivation. PErhaps a man is tired of one night stands and finds them boring now and doesn’t want that, and likes regular sex and the idea of it. Maybe he’s willing or having it planned he will be with a girl for an x amount of time, maybe 3 months and then dump her and then to the next girl for 3 months. Maybe a man wants the best of both worlds or thinks he can get it by being in a relationship or having a gf, so getting regular sex and cuddling and a companion.

    So he might not want just sex, but really isn’t into it for the long haul and a lot of it is based on sex and the physical part. He likes having a girlfriend, but basically like a “lease”, doesn’t want to commit, because he still eventually wants sex with other girls and not to be tied down, so maybe be with a hot girls for 3 or 4 months before getting to the point to where things could get close and then back out and to the next girl. I know that’s not nice, this isn’t me, but I’m just saying more guys can try having their cake and eating it too and can be jerks in different ways. It’s usually a guy having a one night stand and never calling the girl that can be a jerk but guys can do this stuff knowing well in advance it’s going to be a superficical relationship.

  7. Which I explained why and why it’s more guys doing that than you think without intent for a serious relationship and a lot of it even if not all, to be based on sex and physical attaction and fun.

  8. I thought you were saying that a man who only wants sex is less likely to stay with a girl for a few months even though he is getting sex from her and not willing to be with her for a few months and it’s wouldn’t last that long. Which I was saying a man can want casual sex and even when getting sex early could still want a relationship though not serious that could last a few months because of the reasons I explained.

    • No. As you figured out I meant that a guy who just wants sex is unlikely to “waste his time” with a girl for a few months, without getting it.

      And some long-term relationships do start with sex on the first date. But the statistics show that long-term relationships are more likely to come, on average, with people who wait. No doubt partly for the reason I just gave. People who just want sex are simply more likely to hop in the sack sooner.

  9. It’s true, which is why some girls use it as a test to see a man’s intentions when holding out with a guy as far as sex goes. To see if he’s still interested or will stick around a month or so even if they don’t have sex. Though that’s not always the best thing to do or tactic either. As it doesn’t necessarily prove a man wants more always or a clever player guy can get around it and deceive if he wants to and still show interest and keep with her for a few months but while having sex with other women during that time without her knowing.

    • Well to the extent that what you say is true,that’s too bad because the data shows that women who want relationships, but who end up sleeping with lot of guys, become depressed and distressed. And given what the data show, they would be well advised to wait.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: