Having Sex Early May Harm Relationships in the Long Run

C. Price

Written by: C. Price

C. Price

C. Price is part of DatingAdvice.com's content team. She writes advice articles, how-to guides, and studies — all relating to dating, relationships, love, sex, and more.

Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement. She has worked at The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Gwinnett Daily News, and The Gainesville Sun covering lifestyle topics.

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A recent study suggested having sex within the first few weeks of a relationship can cause harm to the relationship over the long term.

The study was produced by Brigham Young University (a private university owned and operated by the LDS Church) and looked at general relationship satisfaction, communication levels and the stability of the pairing.

Surveying 11,000 unmarried individuals in serious relationships, the study found couples who had been dating for a year or less reported lower overall relationship scores if they had sex with their partner within a couple months of dating, as compared with couples who either abstained from sex or who had sex later on in their relationship.

“Having sex earlier in the relationship led

to lower levels of satisfaction and communication.”


Even after researchers took into account race, education, number of sexual partners and religious attendance, the findings did not change.

However, some relationship experts are finding fault in the study, arguing against both the methodology and the results of the study.

According to Justin Lehmiller of Harvard University, the study only looked at couples at one specific point in their relationship and didn’t perform follow-up or long-term evaluations, stating it was impossible to determine whether the difference in satisfaction levels related to timing of sexual intimacy or some other external factor.

Furthermore, Lehmiller noted the difference in satisfaction levels between couples who had sex early and couples who either abstained or had sex later in their courtship was statistically insignificant — “one-tenth of one point on a five-point scale.”

As Lehmiller concluded:

“Does one-tenth of one point really mean having sex on the first date will kill your relationship? No, and it would be disingenuous to suggest that based upon these results. It may have nothing to do with sex. Perhaps there are personality differences between those who jump into bed and those who wait that could explain the association.”

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