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How long should I wait to have sex with someone I started dating? I don’t want to be too easy, but I don’t want to lose him either.

The idea of being a slut or a prude is longstanding. The scarlet letter was based in the 1700s and we are still dealing with the same nonsense. Let’s talk about why that is.

First, your decision to have sex is completely your own. Whether you want to have sex often or not at all, your choice is valid and should be respected. Our culture has a hard time allowing women to express their sexuality. If you have a lot of sex you’re labeled as a slut, but if you don’t have sex you’re labeled as a prude. So either way you lose. You might as well make a choice that makes you happy.

Relationship experts and women with strong opinions have all kinds of rules and formulas on how to decide how long you should wait before sleeping with someone. Among a poll of my friends I heard the first date (to get the awkwardness out), three dates and a month. Quite the variety. In “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man” by Steve Harvey (who is suddenly a relationship expert?) he recommends waiting 90 days before sleeping with a new man. His reasoning is that a man should have to prove himself to you within those three months before you “reward him.” To the contrary, sex educator Reid Mihalko says that sleeping with someone on the first date, or first encounter, does not always mean a one night stand.

The most important thing regardless of when you choose to have sex is communication. Talk to your partner about safe sex. What kind of protection are you planning to use? When was the last time you were tested for STIs? What do you like and dislike in bed? These things are so important to discuss before the mood is set so that you are both on the same page. And if you can’t have this conversation with them, maybe you aren’t ready to have sex with them.

Also talk to your partner about expectations, which doesn’t always have to be awkward. Be honest with yourself about where you’re at too. Are you looking for a serious relationship? Do you just want to hook up, nothing more? Be clear about what you want so that no one has their feelings hurt later. If you don’t want the same things, maybe reconsider. You can learn more about hormones, hooking up and sex from the Sex Nerd Sandra podcast about Friends with Benefits.

There is no set formula of when it’s time to have sex with someone you’re dating. It depends on the people in the relationship. It’s up to you to evaluate your own needs and decide when it is the right time for you. Take your time and talk to your partner; there’s no rush.

–XO, Millie

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