Advice: Starter Sex

Hara Estroff Marano advises a late 20-something about how to recognize the right time for sex in a new relationship.

By Hara Estroff Marano, published on March 15, 2011 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016

Six months ago I met an incredible man, and for the first time in my life I feel like I've found somebody that I can really connect with. I'm 28, and although I have been in several relationships, I've never had sex. I decided that I wanted to stay a virgin until I met a man who would truly commit to me. This has driven my previous boyfriends away; they never seemed to be able to get past six months before pressuring me for sex. This boyfriend hasn't confirmed how he sees our future panning out, but the sex question is starting to come up quite frequently. Should I sleep with him? I really don't want to lose him.

Late 20s is about the time that most people, including men, begin to think about making long-term commitments. And six months is usually when people begin to get serious in a relationship. So growing commitment right about now is not an unreasonable test of someone's interest. Only you can read the signals of seriousness in your relationship. But you may be putting too much pressure on your beau if you are expecting him to "confirm" how he sees your future. Future goals are not something to confirm; you can't make them or have a fixed idea of them and then expect a partner to simply go along with your goals. Rather, they're something that two people sketch out roughly before a commitment and then more solidly construct together after. Asking a guy to "confirm" anything about the future is enough to scare most away. Maybe you're doing a little too much thinking about the future and not enough about now. Try ignoring the topic of your future for a while. After all, if you are the one who keeps bringing it up, you can't get a true test of his interest; you want him to bring it up spontaneously. The best gauge of when to have sex is when you find someone you enjoy being with and feel close to, who understands and respects you—even your less-than-wonderful side. This is the person who, you are sure, returns the feelings you have for him. Does he feel as close to you as you feel to him? Mutuality of affection is, as the lawyers say, necessary but not sufficient. Can you trust him? Does he meet your needs? Don't worry about losing him; the most important thing you don't want to lose is your self-respect.