Is Jumping Into Bed Quickly Harmful to Relationships?

Posted by on May 4, 2018 in Conscious Living, Relationships & Sex with 2 Comments

Distraught couple

By Justin Lehmiller | Good In Bed

Are couples who start having sex right away not as happy in the long run? A new study has found that heterosexual romantic partners who had sex within the first month of seeing each other reported lower levels of relationship satisfaction, communication, and commitment compared to partners who waited six months or longer to begin having sex.1 However, these effects held only for women, not men, meaning that timing of sexual activity was not related to how men felt about their relationships. The popular media has jumped on this study running headlines such as “How Leaping Into Bed Harms Relationships” and “Sex Before Marriage Adversely Impacts Relationships.” These media reports go on to claim that early sex “stunts” relationship development and causes “unhappy” marriages. However, if you look at the actual data, it will become apparent that these reports are sensationalized and that it is far from clear whether early sex is truly “harmful” to our romantic lives.

Related Article: Believing This One Thing Makes Women Happier In Relationships


For starters, keep in mind that this research is correlational in nature, which means that we cannot make any assumptions about cause and effect. Thus, even though there is a statistical association between timing of sex and relationship outcomes, it doesn’t mean that those outcomes were caused by how long people waited to have sex. It could just be that people who have sex sooner are different in some way (e.g., in terms of personality) and perhaps those differences are responsible for producing the observed association. Thus, saying that timing of sex “causes” harm or negatively “impacts” relationships is just plain wrong and irresponsible because we cannot conclude that based upon these data.

Related Article: New Study Links Woman’s Personality Type to How Frequently a Newlywed Couple Has Sex

Second, every single media report has ignored the fact that average levels of satisfaction, communication, and commitment were high for both men and women no matter when they started having sex. For instance, let’s look at relationship satisfaction, which was rated on a scale ranging from 0 to 12 in this study. The midpoint for this scale is 6, which means that anything above that represents satisfaction and anything below that represents dissatisfaction. For women, those who had sex in the first month had a satisfaction score of 7.9, while those who waited six or more months had a score of 8.5. For men, the numbers were 8.2 and 8.5, respectively. Thus, average levels of satisfaction were high for all groups, so where is the “harm” and all of the “unhappy” couples? In my view, what we’re dealing with here is a question of statistical significance versus practical significance. What I mean by this is that while the scores may be statistically different between groups, is that one-half point difference in relationship satisfaction all that meaningful in real life? That’s debatable. Perhaps if the researchers showed that early sex was linked to a higher likelihood of divorce, we could make a case for relationship “harm.” But if everyone is reasonably satisfied and committed and the differences are small between groups, it seems disingenuous to claim that early sex is really hurting people’s relationships.

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  1. The beauty of every relationship depends on the partners involved and the values they all adhere to. Sex before marriage and after marriage and within what period in the relationship it takes place, is not relevant to determine the success of the relationship if the mind frame is right and a clear purpose for the luv is established.

  2. Sex is important. My husband and I started our journey together with great sex connection and it flourished to be a beautiful fairy tale. We travelled our life together till the day he died (16 wonderful years). Commit to love and respect … mature adults know what they want and this silly power play game will end in separation with our without sex.

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