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01 September 2010

Delay sex for a better relationship

Average relationship quality is higher for people who take it slowly than for those who become sexually involved in casual dating, or friends with benefits relationships.

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People who "hook up" for casual sex can have as rewarding a long-term relationship as those who take it slowly and establish a meaningful connection before they have sex, says a new study.

University of Iowa researchers analysed relationship surveys and found that average relationship quality was higher for people who took it slowly than for those who became sexually involved in 'hook-ups', 'casual dating', or 'friends with benefits' relationships.

However, having sex early on wasn't the reason for this disparity, according to UI sociologist Anthony Paik. When he factored out people who weren't interested in getting serious, he found that those who became sexually involved as friends or acquaintances and were open to a serious relationship were just as happy as those who dated but delayed having sex.

How the study was done

The study analysed a survey of 642 heterosexual adults in Chicago. To measure the quality of the relationships, people answered questions about how much they loved their partner, their level of satisfaction with intimacy in the relationship, the future of the relationship, and how their lives would be different if the relationship ended.

"We didn't see much evidence that relationships were lower quality because they started off as hook-ups," said Paik, an assistant professor in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

"The study suggests that rewarding relationships are possible for those who delay sex. But it's also possible for true love to emerge if things start off with a more 'Sex and the City' approach, when people spot each other across the room, become sexually involved and then build a relationship," he added.

The study is published in the journal Social Science Research.

 
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