Dating and timing

"It becomes much more difficult to objectively see each other's character traits" says Susanne Alexander, a relationship coach and author of Can We Dance? "Some couples then slide into engagement and marriage only to discover they have missed seeing major aspects of each other." While not every dating scenario that involves sex leads to marriage or even a serious relationship, couples do owe it to themselves to talk about where they see their relationship going and how sex might change the relationship -- before they get in bed together. The woman may assume sex implies a commitment; the man may not see it that way," Allen tells Web MD.Having an honest conversation with yourself about sex is just as important as discussing it with your partner, experts say.

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While you can't apply a one-size-fits-all response to sexual dating rules regardless of age or experience, professionals who have studied the topic say it is a good idea to develop a set of prudent dating rules - before the big date.

By and large, Allen and other relationship experts endorse a cautious approach to the dating rules of sex.

"Every woman and man should know their boundaries before they start dating, and most of us don't," says Cheryl Mc Clary, Ph D, JD, professor of women's health at University of North Carolina-Asheville.

When Mc Clary refers to boundaries, she's not talking just about the physical boundaries that come with sexual territory. "Emotional wholeness is crucial to the decision process of whether or not to have sex," Mc Clary tells Web MD.

While a dating partner may not welcome this news, it at least can minimize later disappointments.

So, too, does an up-front conversation about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

I reflected on how the gym represents a kind of "so-near-yet-so-far" deal when it comes to meeting women because while they may be right there prancing around covered in sexy sweat, the environment never really seems appropriate for meeting and flirting around as it does in a nightclub.

People are in a different frame of mind at the gym and often broadcast a variety of nonverbal "stay away" signals that only the boldest dare challenge.

"My advice is this: wait as long as you can," Allen says.

Her rationale for these dating rules may seem obvious, but many people tend to forget in the heat of the moment.

However, after a little experimentation and some intense pondering I think I may have identified a few nuggets hiding amidst this apparent wasteland, such as: 1) If they are locked-up in their own little i Pod universe, they are most likely out of reach as far as a DIRECT approach is concerned.

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