We live in a culture where sex is thrown around willy-nilly, but it’s a wildly powerful thing. It has more power than I think we give it credit for and breakups are far worse when you’ve slept with the person. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying never have sex. I’m simply saying perhaps we should slow down and take it more seriously.
- Something happens when you have sex. The French expression “je ne sais quoi” means “I don’t know,” but it’s sort of a magical not knowing. It’s a mesmerizing one. Sex is like this. Something very significant happens and no one can really explain it. Sure, there’s science to explain the chemicals and whatnot, but sex is almost a spiritual experience. It’s intense for just about all humans. Can you explain exactly what it is that happens to you and the other person?
- There’s an exchange of energy. Because of the intensity, you build a bond. There’s an exchange of energy between the two people. Oxytocin is released, which promotes bonding and attachment. Oxcytocin has been called the “love hormone” because it brings people together. One website found that “whenever a person is sexually involved with another person, neurochemical changes occur in both their brains that encourage limbic, emotional bonding. Yet limbic bonding is the reason casual sex doesn’t really work for most people on a whole mind and body level.” Sex changes us on a chemical level.
- Holding off from sex means giving space to feel things out. How often do you date someone for a few short weeks or months only to find that it doesn’t work out? This happens all the time. It’s because compatibility is tricky and it takes time. In the meantime, it’s helpful to refrain from having sex while you’re getting to know each other. This gives you space and time to feel things out instead of barreling into the intense act of sex.
- A breakup hurts like hell if you’ve slept together. Have you ever had the experience where you’ve broken up with someone you slept with and there’s so much pain? Sure, in long-term relationships this is inevitable, but it’s not inevitable in the shorter term relationships. If you sleep with people right away then find it not working out, I imagine it’s painful. Breakups are much sharper when sex was involved.
- It’s not always a science, though; it’s anecdotal. The whole breakups hurting more if you haven’t had sex thing isn’t scientifically proven (that I know of). It doesn’t mean it’s not true, though. I’ve had many women in my life, including mental health professionals, say that this is true. Perhaps it’s not your experience, but I think it is the experience of many women.
- I’m not saying never have sex. Look, sex is a lovely thing. It’s fantastic and so necessary for most of us. It’s a totally natural human thing to want. I’m only suggesting thinking about not having sex right away. Once you are in a committed relationship where you really feel you know each other—that’s when it’s a good time to do the deed.
- The hurt is pretty much inevitable in LTRs. If you’re in a long-term relationship, you’re highly likely to have sex. It just is what it is. This is totally fine and makes perfect sense. If the relationship doesn’t work out, the breakup is going to suck, but it’s just part of the process. There isn’t much you can do. Just got to feel the pain and walk through it.
- It might just be good to wait/go slow. A study found that “when a commitment is made and love is expressed before a couple starts to have sex, the sexual experience is perceived to be a positive turning point in the relationship, increasing understanding, commitment, trust, and sense of security.” It was also found to cause negative things if there wasn’t a bond and commitment first. This is why it’s good to go slow—get to know one another. There’s no rush.
- Then moving on takes less time. Again, this isn’t a scientific fact, but rather it’s anecdotal. I’ve found that moving on after a breakup with someone you’ve never slept with takes less time. It’s arguably cut in half or into a third. The time just seems to move along a little quicker when there hasn’t been sex yet.