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Sex from all angles: Waiting to Consummate

Monday, 26 May, 2014

Words by N. Nemaric
Illustration by Sarah Haris

I’ve never been all that into the concept of patience because, really, why wait? Why put off ‘til tomorrow what could be done right now, in the back of the car? To that end, when it comes to sex and relationships, I’ve never felt one should prevent the other. But there is an overwhelming feeling that some sort of waiting should occur. Three dates, three months, three minutes of undivided eye contact. We all have our standards. But does any of it actually affect our chances of finding love?

People can form insta-bonds after a hook-up. You screw, you sigh, you spoon and suddenly you’re feeling way more attached to this person than you did six or seven minutes earlier. Are these hormonal rushes always a given or does “no strings attached” actually, verifiably exist?

It all comes back to science. When we kiss or cuddle, oxytocin levels rise. For reasons unknown, women produce more of this hormone, which clinical psychologist, Carol Rinkleib Ellison, calls the “hormone of attachment”. Since oxytocin lowers our defences and makes us more trusting, it places women in a vulnerable position: when they sleep with a man, they are more likely to fall in love.

You’re probably wondering, though, how waiting forms part of this equation. Here’s how: When you don’t jump straight into bed with a person, you get more time to know them. You learn about their foibles as well as their strengths, which means you form a more balanced view. During sex, though, the love hormones are gushing. It becomes much easier to overlook these flaws.

Sex can feel a lot like love. Never, really, are two people physically closer. It’s easy to confuse one for the other, particularly when chemicals are being released in your brain. By waiting, your intellect has a fighting chance at making proper judgments, before you start feeling all connected. Of course, when you’re feeling lustful and they’re looking mighty fine, resistance can be a challenge.