I don’t let myself get hungry very often. In all honesty, the moment my tummy grumbles, I start the search for a snack. I certainly don’t have to look far or wait long to find satisfaction. In a world of 24-hour access, fast food, drive-through coffee and entertainment at the speed of light, waiting isn’t a feeling many of us are familiar with anymore. And while we hate to practice patience for much of anything, we definitely don’t want to wait in the dating realm. With the possibility of intimacy just a click or swipe away, the world of relationships moves faster than ever these days.
But what if the very things that make our lives easier – efficiency and speed – are backfiring when it comes to matters of the heart?
Intimacy Takes Time
What if patience was the key to a healthy dating relationship? According to psychologists and sociologists, speed is actually the enemy in the dating arena. Researchers agree that courtships based on infatuation and physical chemistry tend to fizzle out fast because they fail to allow the relationship to evolve at a natural pace.
On the other hand, couples who build anticipation and focus on fostering a partnership rather than accelerating it are associated with more enduring satisfaction. But even though we know rushing a relationship is bad for us, couples often jump in the sack and drink the sweet poison of a failed relationship before they allow it to begin and flourish. Our desire for immediate gratification is killing our relationships.
So how quickly are we jumping into relationships? A recent study by SeekingArrangement.com polled 100,000 people to find the average length of their romantic milestones in dating relationships.
The study found that “the average number of dates per week with a new partner was two, meaning that couples tend to say ‘I love you’ seven weeks into a relationship. First kisses tend to take place two dates or one week into the dating process, and the first time a couple has sex is, on average, after four dates to two weeks.”
The speedy dating behaviors don’t stop there, however. “Introducing a girlfriend or boyfriend to friends and family took members an average of six weeks,” researchers reported, “and moving in with a partner took a respectably longer period at around 30 weeks into dating.”
In a culture of drive-through sex, are we surprised at skyrocketing divorce rates when we can’t even wait until the third date to hook up?
A Different Approach
But what if there was another way? What if taking your time to wait to have sex and live together was worth the wait because the prize resulted in a stronger relationship? Even if religious views are taken out of the picture, research shows that rushing a relationship is disadvantageous.
Sharon Sassler, a sociologist at Cornell University, interviewed more than 150 cohabitating couples. Sassler discovered that most cohabiters with college degrees move in together only after a long stretch of dating. More than half have been couples for over a year, with an average of 14 months of dating before cohabiting. More than half of the cohabiters without college degrees move in together after less than six months of dating. Her findings suggest that younger couples who rush living together and marriage show higher divorce rates than those couples who finish college and take their time building a relationship before jumping into a committed union.
All relationships need time to mature and cultivate. Not unlike a seedling that can’t be rushed to produce fruit, a fragile relationship between two imperfect humans will need the space and time to grow and develop naturally. Usually, the underlying reason we rush a relationship is fear and insecurity. We are afraid the other person will slip away or maybe they will discover who we really are and leave.
Another issue occurs when faith-based couples struggle with sexual urges and purity and believe that if they rush marriage, the temptation will flee. Unfortunately, the glue of sex in a weak relationship won’t bind a thin connection for long. The Bible suggests that “perfect love casts out all fear.” Our fear of waiting holds us back from the greatest blessing – a strong partnership built on companionship, mutual trust and love.
Time Builds The Strongest Relationships
So go ahead and get the drive-through burger, but when it comes to dating, take your time to jump in the sack. I recommend you take a long time and consider waiting until the honeymoon. There’s nothing like waiting for your beloved and experiencing all God has to offer in the marital bed.
Also, consider holding off on living together until marriage and allow yourself the time to get used to the idea of being a couple. Oneness isn’t developed overnight. It’s a tricky and complicated process that deserves a precious investment of time and energy.
Date through a full calendar year and give your relationship the best gift ever – time!
You may also be interested in How To Set Healthy Boundaries In A Relationship That’s Just Beginning
- Psychology Today. “The Colors of Love.” March/April 1993: 36.
- Research Study by: Seeking Arrangement.com