Most of us want to feel chosen, connected and cared for. Unfortunately, it's easy to be fooled into thinking you are falling in love, and one of the sure ways to cloud your judgment about your new partner is having sex too soon.  Here are the top reasons how a hasty decision to have sex endangers your relationship health.

  1. Chemistry. Sex sets off a chemical reaction in the brain.  Dopamine levels rise, pleasure increases and you don't want to stop the rush.  During and after sex, the urge to want to be close to that person strengthens, and you might think, "This is the right one for me."  And you could be correct.  But your brain has also released oxytocin, the hormone that boosts the attachment to newborns to their mothers. A hurried choice to have sex could leave you feeling close to someone you don't know, like or respect.

  2. Reality. This power of sex creates blind-spots about love and your partner. You want so much to sustain the good feelings--and justify your sexual behavior—that you begin to overlook and minimize any warning signs about this person possibly not being a good mate for you.  For example, you might explain away insensitivity or immaturity as "everybody makes mistakes."

  3. Self Image. A dating pattern of sex too soon signals problems of insecurity and low self-worth. This "hole in the soul" feeling of being unlovable and alone can propel you to attach quickly and fall in love at almost any cost. You are especially vulnerable if you have a history of childhood abuse or parental arguments and divorce. 

So, what can you do to protect yourself from being blindsided in love?  Here are a few starter tips.

  1. Keep your dates casual.  Hang out with friends—and then ask them for feedback. 
  2. Do a time-limited activity together such as going to a sporting event, art museum, or wine tasting.  Pay attention to how your partner acts such as managing time together or apart.  Actions speak louder-and reveal more about a partner-than words. 

  3. Skip the romantic dinners and walks on the beach.  True romance happens AFTER you know someone.

  4. Pass up going back to each other's place.  If you aren't ready to end the date, go to a coffee shop and chat.  And nix the alcohol and other mood-altering substances.  They hinder clear-thinking, too.

  5. Observe your partner's behavior with you and with others.  How does the person treat the wait staff, for instance?  Think of words you would use to describe your observations—and see how many of them are negative.  For example, does your list include adjectives such as "flirtatious," "demanding," "opinionated" or "negative?"  

  6. Focus on learning about your date's values, lifestyle, stress management and interpersonal ease of communicating about feelings, likes and dislikes.

Making a wise choice always involves elements of luck and timing, but you can increase your love success by taking your time and not compromising your true view of your date by activating a surge of your sex hormones.


For more articles and information on Dr. Wish check out her bio on our Medical Advisory Board page.