Move dating into relationship
Controlling for a number of important other variables (age, number of prior marriages, children, education, income, and financial strain), the researchers then compared the relationship quality of couples who waited less than a month, 1-6 months, and 6 months or more.
Because the study was a cross-sectional one, meaning that people were not followed over time, this meant that it was impossible to determine whether people destined to have worse relationships jumped into sex sooner than those who would go on to be satisfied with their partners.
The researchers weren’t sure if this finding reflected something unusual about the sample or that people just aren’t very good at estimating how long it takes for relationship to progress to sexual intimacy. Slowing things down for women, but not men, meant paying attention to other factors that would ultimately improve the relationship such as commitment and emotional intimacy. Early sexual activity symbolized relationship commitment. Again for women, but not men, having sex early in the scheme of things signified to them that their partner was committed to the relationship.
For men, having sex early in the dating period didn’t actually have that same meaning. Entry into cohabitation accounted for the negative effect of relationship tempo on quality.
Chaotic and impulsive these series of entries and exits into relationships, called “churning,” take their toll.
However, they do seem to attach different meanings to sex as an indicator of commitment.
Rather than going through the process of critically evaluating whether the relationship is right for them, they make the decision to marry out of factors such as convenience, economics, or—the sex.
Cornell University policy researcher Sharon Sassler and her research team recently decided to study relationship “tempo.” Based on the hypothesis that churning leads people to enter less than satisfactory relationships, they investigated the connection between the timing of when couples first had sex to their later perceptions of relationship quality.
Falling head over heels in love means, to many couples, having sex as soon as possible.
The rush of infatuation leads people to take the next steps in their relationship without looking objectively at the odds of the relationship succeeding.