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The Sex Rule

Dear Philippa,

What is your opinion about premarital sex? As a mature woman I would like to know if there is a time limit, like only after five dates before this should happen, or not without commitment first?

�Teresa, Seattle, WA


Dear Teresa,

Your question reminds me of the form you fill out at the doctor's office that has a space where you indicate your gender. I confess the wicked side of me always wants to write "as often as possible" next to the word sex.

There is something about filling out forms or following rules that makes me not want to conform.

We are not all the same and we do not all fit into certain boxes. Dating rules don't work for me. They are just too rigid. Too much depends on the individual and circumstances. I believe that people need to listen to their instincts and use their common sense.

Take the rule that says you should give everyone three dates before deciding if they're right for you. Sure, it's good to give yourself some time to get to know someone and find out if the chemistry kicks in. But that doesn't always take three dates, especially if you've done your homework first and figured out the kind of people with whom you feel the best. And if you want to bolt on a first date because the other person irritates the heck out of you, puts you to sleep, or just plain makes you feel unsafe�why would you want to go through that two more times?

Should there be rules about when you should have sex? I'm not talking about religious teachings (our personal beliefs are very important). Beyond morality and the religious reasons, we often set rules about premarital sex because we know that sex has the power to change a relationship and we want to protect ourselves.

If I have sex too soon will he respect me? If I have sex with her will she think I'm real serious? If the sex isn't great will that ruin our good relationship? Our minds can fill with negative possibilities because sex makes us feel vulnerable.

Sex is a way we use to get closer to someone, break down the barriers and share some intimacy. If we are a lonely or need affection, we seek closeness through sex. Sometimes sex is just recreational, no strings attached, simply ships passing in the night. And sometimes sex becomes the driving force of the relationship and we get what I call "Lust Blindness".

The fact is we all seek sexual intimacy for different reasons. Decide before you're dating anyone why it is you want sexual intimacy with someone. Be honest with yourself and withhold judgment. Be clear about your intentions and then seek out someone who shares them. Whether that's waiting until you're married or waiting until you feel secure that you're both headed in the same direction.

There is nothing wrong with wanting a level of commitment before sharing sexual intimacy. But sex should never be used to gain that commitment. A balanced relationship develops intimacy through many sources, not just the physical. Visualize yourself sharing a loving, balanced relationship with someone.

See yourself tuning into your instincts and trusting them. Tell yourself that you are capable of attracting people into your life who want the same thing you do, people who are ready to love and be loved in a healthy, committed relationship.

Become clear about the kind of person you want to bring into your life and you will attract him. Listen to your heart and be true to your own inner voice and personal beliefs, then you won't need rules to tell you how many dates you need or when to have sex with someone. You'll know when it's right for you.




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