While dating during the pandemic, I’ve noticed some of my typical habits and patterns have changed—like, for example, how long I typically want to wait before I feel comfortable sleeping with a new partner. I don’t know if it’s a result of quarantine, my preferences in general changing, some kind of sexual awakening, or something else entirely, but in the past few months, I’ve just felt…hornier. Is there any reason to hold off, though? (Of course, after my new partner and I take precautions that make us feel comfortable with the risk level we’re taking on by having sex during a pandemic, period.) Meaning, is having sex too soon in a relationship still a thing? I certainly used to subscribe to the idea that sleeping with someone too soon might lead them to lose interest. But, frankly, I’m just really horny right now. Should I act on it?
First, know that it is healthy and helpful to acknowledge and feel our feelings, and I’m obviously already a fan of the practice, given that I’m writing this column. Second, I believe that you’re hardly alone in feeling hornier than you usually do right now—in fact, I’d guess that a great many people can relate. On these steamy August days and nights, when it’s almost too hot for clothing, the notion of not feeling able or allowed to safely date and experience romance or a summer fling can be extra frustrating. In pre-pandemic times, the warm air alone might have filled you with a sense of potential—to be able to head out for an adventure, with no idea what promising new path the hours ahead may put you on. Now, the summer environment is mostly just oppressively hot, without a given physical or theoretical outlet for seeing out any romantic musings.
You should have sex with someone when you want to have consensual sex with them. That is the right time for you to have sex.
All that said, I also believe an “inner teacher” mantra could be applicable here: You should have sex with someone when you want to have consensual sex with them. That is the right time for you to have sex. And especially if, as you say, you and your new partner have both taken the necessary precautions to feel safe about having sex during the pandemic, then by all means, take care of your needs.
Now, regarding whether or not having sex too soon in a relationship is a concern worth paying mind to, I say absolutely not. When I think back on my experiences navigating casual sex years ago when I was single, I remember a few potential partners who loved a good chase. And, quite frankly, those “hard to get” style games never did much for me, which is probably why I slept with every boyfriend I had on our first night together. And, if I didn’t sleep with someone on the first night? It probably wasn’t going anywhere.
It’s possible that a number of my partnerships may have fizzled as a result having sex too soon in a relationship, but I don’t think my choice to consent to sex on the first night is what ended things so much as the people with whom I was having said sex simply weren’t the best fit for me. In other words, I don’t, even a little bit, regret having the casual sex I had, because that was what I wanted to do, and the potential for a resulting relationship simple wasn’t meant to be.
What your question ultimately comes down to is what you’re looking for with this partner: Are you more concerned with being in a relationship than getting it on? And what will your personal reaction be if the outcome of having sex with someone doesn’t go the way you planned?
Most importantly, introspect to consider what, exactly, you want right now and let that be your guiding North star. If you change a part of yourself for someone else, you’re lying to yourself and the other party, and it’s likely something you’ll need to address it down the line.
None of this is to dissuade you from being physical with someone whenever you’re both ready, feeling it, and feeling safe about engaging. Each person is so different, so while it’s possible that some potential partners may well like “hard to get” interactions, I’m more interested in what you prefer. Enjoy knowing that you (and only you) have the complete power and autonomy to decide what you want to do with your body.
As CEO of Dame Products, Alexandra Fine translates the nuances of our sexualities into human-friendly toys for sex and sexual wellness products. A lifelong student of sexual health, Alexandra earned her master’s in clinical psychology with a concentration in sex therapy from Columbia University. In founding Dame Products, she intends to start necessary conversations, to listen rather than assume, and to create products that enhance intimacy.