Dear Barb—A Question of Sex

Dear Barb:

Hi, I am a woman in my late twenties, and I’ve been dating since I was 15.  Some of my relationships have been long term, some have been only a few weeks.  I’ve even had a few one-night stands.  To be honest, I am tired of dating and meeting people, as it is so difficult during COVID .  All the stress of the virus, plus the changes in lifestyle has caused me to see many things differently.  When we get through this and I start actively dating again, I am considering a new perspective.  Most of my relationships have involved sexual intimacy, but I want to change that and try to develop a relationship before becoming sexually active.  Some of my friends say it is better to have sex right away, that way you can see if you are compatible with the person; others agree that it’s best to develop a relationship before having sex.  I’m confused, I need some direction.  Looking forward to your perspective.  Thanks, Beth. 

Hey Beth:

Thanks for your letter.  COVID-19 is making everything in our lives difficult, but we have to be positive and believe we will all get through this together.  When to have sex in a relationship is a personal decision.  There is no right or wrong.  It comes down to how you and your partner feel.  What you decide will depend on what type of relationship you want to have.  Is it a casual sexual relationship, or do you want a relationship that may turn into a long-term partnership, possibly ending in marriage and a family?  Today casual sexual relationships are more acceptable than in the past, but there are still some societal judgements, especially for women.  So ultimately this is a deeply personal choice that you and your partner need to make.  It’s important that you feel comfortable enough with each other to be able to discuss what you want from a relationship, including sexually.

My advice would be to take your time and don’t rush into a relationship, whether sexual or nonsexual.  Get to know each other.  Discuss whether you will be exclusive or continue to date other people.  Even if you have had sex early in previous relationships it does not mean you cannot decide to wait in a new relationship.  I believe COVID-19 has changed many people’s thinking about what is truly important in life and that’s okay.  Change is growth and that is always a good thing.

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