A lot of American dating coaches say if a woman sleeps with a guy too early she’s giving him the message that he doesn’t have to treat her like they’re in a proper relationship. They say once you’ve made it easy for him to sleep with you, he won’t need to put in any effort and he’ll never see you as serious girlfriend material.

But I think it’s more about deciding what trajectory you want to experience.

Do you want what you’ve probably done many times before, where you have sex fairly soon, when you hardly know each other but want to enjoy the novelty of being intimate with a new person?

You’re both adults, it’s no big deal, you like each other and you can’t see any reason why not to.

But what often happens a few weeks in?

The novelty wears off. You start to settle into a routine. You start to discover things that irritate you about each other. You don’t go out so much. Neither of you is making much effort. You don’t seem so interesting to each other. You start to think about whether they’re right for you. You feel trapped even if you’re having fairly good sex.

You had the high point early on, and now it’s all downhill from here. I call it the burn then crash trajectory.

What if you saved the high point for later?[1]

What if you spent time getting to know each other first, found out whether you were right for each other and focused on the person rather than your sexual attraction towards each other?

Then when you DID become intimate, it would be very different. The best sex would happen when you actually knew the person you were with.

And during the time before that, each date would be pretty exciting because you HADN’T been intimate. As economists tell us, scarcity increases value.  The more you withhold sexual intimacy from each other, the more you want it. And the more you will value the other person and will make the effort to get to know the real person.

And if you weren’t sure if you were attracted to them or not, waiting will probably increase your attraction.

But I don’t think I’ve got that self-control, I hear you say. I’m like the kid in the experiment who has to eat the marshmallow right now rather than waiting and getting two.[2]

I say: You’ve tried the first trajectory many times. You can do it that way again. But why don’t you try the delayed gratification trajectory just once? You know, as a kind of experiment? The kid who waits for double the pleasure is supposed to be the more intelligent. You can do it. And the sex might be really, really good.

[1] Later is relative to what you normally do. So if you normally wait till the fourth date, then try waiting until the eighth.

[2] Children who can delay gratification by waiting and getting two marshmallows do better at school and are healthier. See Mischel, W. (2015). The marshmallow test: understanding self-control and how to master it. Random House.