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How long should you wait before you have sexDating rules can be awfully confusing. Should you go on three dates before you sleep with him? Or maybe, like Steve Harvey says, wait three months before giving him the “cookie?” There are so many different opinions about when to have sex, you can lose your mind.

I say dump the rules. I believe there are very few hard and fast “rules” when it comes to dating. I come from a place of self-dignity. If you’re interested in a lasting, loving, long-term relationship and not a booty call, I think a good time to have sex is when you know you both want to be exclusive and you’re both free of STDs (or you’re willing to share each other’s STD).

And while sex is important in a relationship, it’s only one critical area of compatibility.

According to Dr. Sam R. Hamburg in Will Our Love Last?: A Couple’s Road Map, there are two additional and equally important dimensions of compatibility that will help you have a successful relationship. If you are compatible in all three, you’ve hit the jackpot and by all means, hit the sack!

The second area of compatibility is being on the same wavelength as your partner. Is your partner your best friend? Do you see the world in the same way and have the same outlook on life? Does he “get” you, and you him? Ideally, your partner is someone that you don’t have to explain yourself to. Being on the same wavelength leads to a very harmonious relationship.

The third area of compatibility is the practical dimension. This refers to how like-minded you are in the practical aspects of daily life together. There are many daily decisions that are made when you live with someone. Don’t underestimate the importance of sleep patterns, eating habits, how you spend and save money, where to vacation, or what you do for fun. What kind of furniture do you like? There are couples that never fully furnish their homes because they can’t agree on the style of furniture to purchase.

The practical dimension may not seem so important to you while you’re dating, but imagine living with someone whose personal habits were so different from yours. Imagine that you can’t agree on how to spend money or where to vacation. This starts to chip away at a relationship and soon you’re working hard to make that relationship work.

If your relationship doesn’t have these three areas of compatibility, you will probably not end up in a lasting, loving, long-term relationship.

Many successful relationships have two of these components but are missing one. The problem is, they often struggle in the area that’s lacking.

For couples that are lucky enough to find someone compatible in all three key areas, their relationships are easier, more fun, and less work.

Now that we’ve established what you need for a successful loving relationship that LASTS, let’s get back to the question about when to have sex.

When to have sex?

If you’re not yet sure where you stand in the relationship and don’t yet know if you are truly compatible, proceed with caution.

When it comes to sex in a relationship, men and women usually have different agendas. Men often date looking for sex and bump into love accidentally along the way. Women usually date for love, and sex bonds them in ways that make them a little stupid.

 The oxytocin hormone released during sex, the same one that’s released during breastfeeding and bonds a mother to her baby, gives women a false sense of attachment. Before you know it, you’re thinking he’s your soul mate, even though some key areas of compatibility may not be met.

My advice is to pay attention to your gut. Are you feeling respected, valued, and understood for who you are? Are you respecting him as a whole person? If so, and if the attraction goes beyond the surface, go ahead and kiss, fondle, and enjoy each other sexually, but as Patti Stanger puts it so eloquently, just don’t stick it “in, in, or in” until you know that you both want an exclusive relationship.

I said I don’t like dating rules, but if I had to have one rule, this would be it: When you’ve both agreed to be exclusive and you feel you can trust his character, accountability, and overall “mensch factor,” feel free to jump into bed and have great sex.

What works for you? Have you ever slept with someone too soon? Have you slept with someone on the first date, and ended up marrying him? I want to hear your thoughts.

Wishing you a love-filled New Year!

For a copy of my FREE report, “The Top Three Mistakes Midlife Daters Make (and how to turn them around to find love now)” please click here.

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