When’s The Right Time For Sex?

Timing is everything when it comes to love and dating. Here, 7 gay men reveal their personal timetables for getting intimate.

By Dave Singleton

hen’s the right time for sex? If ever there was a loaded question, that’s it.

Of course, the Internet speeds up dating. With a few clicks, you can meet someone
“With the right man, there really isn’t a wrong time.”
in ten minutes. But should intimacy race at a fast pace, too? After all, when it comes to dating, there’s no turning back time or touch.

With answers ranging from carefree (“Anytime’s the right time”) to conservative (“If you want a real relationship, wait”), seven gay men weigh the pros and cons of when to, as Olivia Newton John sings, get physical.

Get clear on your goals
“If you’re just looking for hot sex, then anytime’s the right time if your date has the same mindset. But if there’s even the shred of possibility that you might want a relationship with the guy, the safer bet is to wait until you know each other better.”
—Aaron, 32, sales executive, San Diego, CA

Don’t do it on date #1
“Sex on the first date can ruin any chances of a second date. I’ve found that keeping the mystery alive, even for a few days, gives you an incentive to see the guy again—and it’s the second date that really tells you whether you two will get along. I remember one great first date, where after dinner, I simply leaned in to give a good night’s kiss, with the promise that ‘I’ll call you soon.’ I did. We had sex on the second, marvelous date, and a year-and-a-half later, we’re still together.”
—Shane, 30, writer, Atlanta, GA

When the emotional connection clicks…
“I used to say, ‘Anytime’s the right time. Let’s get horizontal.’ That’s why I reverted to old habits when my 17-year relationship ended. I needed to relearn the difference between sex and romance. As an experiment, I took a 100-day vow of chastity that resulted in many touch-free dates. On one of them, I confessed and, to my surprise, this wonderful man was willing to wait for my silly vow to end. That told me all I needed to know. It ended on day 62. When there’s an emotional connection, there’s no need to ask ‘when.’ You just know, and it’s wonderful.”
—Mark, 46, consultant, New York, NY

Learn to slow things down
“After years of casual fooling around, I made a clear-cut decision to develop a long-term relationship. I factored sex into that decision, rather than let it make the decision. I am
“When I was younger, it was easy to confuse love and sex.”
glad my partner of seven years and I waited several dates before becoming intimate. Waiting to set the stage for a serious relationship was in keeping with my goal.”
—Bruce, 46, architect, Los Angeles, CA

Trust your gut
"The right time for sex depends on the man. With the right man, there really isn’t a wrong time. It could be the first hour or the first month. I’ve had both experiences. My first boyfriend and I debated the timing. But in the end, it didn’t matter. He wasn’t the right man. The timing debate was irrelevant. With my second, we talked about sex in general, but never about timing. It just progressed naturally. When I say there is no right time, it’s that the right time is not an event; it’s just natural.
—Jacob, 26, paralegal, Syracuse, NY

Don’t sweat the schedule
“The right time for sex is any time that’s inconvenient or unconventional, because that, of course, adds an exotic, dangerous, Red-Shoe-Diaries-except-with-dudes element. Many men have the ability to compartmentalize sex and love to the point that the timing of one won’t compromise the other. But here are two general guidelines that I’ve learned:
  • Bad sex kills the relationship regardless of when you have it.
  • Great sex won’t save a bad relationship.”
—Christopher, 30, consultant, Washington, DC

Let your heart lead
“When I was younger, it was easy to confuse love and sex. Eventually, with a few partners under my belt, I learned to differentiate the two. I stopped worrying about the right time to have sex. Instead, I focused on the right time to give my heart. Before meeting my partner of ten years, we’d chatted online for a couple of months. Technically, we had sex the first time we met. But my heart already knew the timing was right.”
—Chris, 40, production manager, Alexandria, VA

Dave Singleton, an award-winning writer and columnist for since 2003, is the author of two books on dating and relationships. Visit Dave’s website and send your dating questions and comments to him at
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