If you grew up in a religious household like I did then you were probably told that
“good girls wait until marriage.”
Then there was the 6th grade health teacher who told us that
“sex is the greatest gift you’ll ever give to a partner and so you should cherish your virginity and give it to the right person.”
Her advice was so loosely interpreted that some girls started plotting the loss of their virginity before the end of the class period.
And then there’s Steve Harvey and his 90-Day Rule. If you haven’t read his book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man Steve’s 90 day rule encourages women to wait 90 days before having sex with a man. The 90 days is compared to the 90 days one must wait to receive benefits at a new job. He argues that just as a new employer requires vetting time before investing in health insurance and fringe benefits for an employee a woman should require some vetting before giving away sexual benefits.
In this article I’m going to share my opinion and then I’d like to hear yours. I want to emphasize first that this is only my opinion, and if you disagree that’s cool, no judgement.
The Religious Decree – wait until marriage
Forget Steve’s Rule to “Wait 90 days before having sex” most religions say that we should wait until marriage to have sex. I personally believe that God is not like a parent. Remember when we were kids and you’d ask your mom why you couldn’t do something. Remember the famous response? “Because I said so!”.
Or if you went into beg mode she might answer, “No means no.” I used to hate these responses because they provided zero explanation. I don’t think God is this way. I think when God tells us not to do something he has distinct reasons and typically those reasons are to help us live more safely, happily an productively here on earth. I don’t think it’s always about getting enough “good points” for entry into club Heaven. For me personally, an obsession with good vs. bad, right vs. wrong, heaven vs. hell drives me insane and consumes me with constant guilt. It’s a lot easier and more productive for me to focus on how God’s instructions may have been given to help us here and now. So why would God even care if we wait or don’t wait until marriage for sex? I think it’s because in a society where we don’t wait and people have multiple sexual partners in a lifetime there is an increase in:
- Babies born to single moms
- Unwanted pregnancy I’ve Never Been More Pro-Choice
- Maury drama – not knowing who the father of a baby is
- Sexual transmitted diseases
- Heartbreak, and etc. Heartbreak, When it Feels Like Dying: 10 Steps to Overcoming a Bad Breakup
We have so many forms of protection against unwanted pregnancy and STDs. So let’s focus on #5, Heartbreak. If we wait 90 days before having sex does it decrease the probability or intensity of heartbreak? Do we need to wait even longer i.e. until marriage?
For most people 90 days can be a relevant amount of time to learn key things about another person. Think for a moment about any past relationship you have had. In my 20s I did a lot of what I call “micro-dating”. Micro-Dating is when you are in a relationship for about 3 months, 90 days. Typically by the end of 3 months I would know that I did not want or need to date the person any longer. It was a enough time to gather enough information about the person to assess that it was not a good fit. Unfortunately, this didn’t always mean that I would instantly walk away from the relationship. Often I would allow things to drag in hopes that maybe new information would be discovered or doubts that I hadn’t given things a fair assessment. Whenever I finally did end things, I could always look back and know that things had truly ended after the third month. Likewise, I knew with certainty after 3 months of dating my husband that I wanted to marry him.
Minimizing your Investment – a reason to wait 90 days before having sex
In my opinion, and I emphasize that this is only my opinion…. I think it’s a lot easier to walk away from a ill-fit match if you haven’t invested too much. An investment can be sexual, monetary, time or any number of other things. How investing too much in significant others can be detrimental to your own growth. I think this is the heart of Steve’s Harvey’s 90 day rule. If you don’t wait 90 days before having sex and and things don’t work out, you may feel regret that you invested too much. It’s uncomfortable to talk about the 90 day rule with regard to sex because we live in this culture that is plagued with double standards and religious guilt. This is why I appreciate Steve’s comparison to an employer giving out benefits. The company I currently work for values fringe benefits at 63% above our salaries. That is huge! In other words, if you earn a salary of 50k, it actually cost the company $81,500 to employ you. But what if they hire you and you turn out to be a dud? To minimize their losses and protect their investments a company will hire you for a 90 day probationary period. If after 90 days both parties find that it was a good fit, they will kick in those benefits. If ever you’ve hired a new employee you will likely find that 90 days is enough to see if the employee is a good fit. Using this logic, I would argue that it isn’t just sex women should refrain from in the first 90 days, but that it’s also any other form of large investment. Don’t combine cell phone bills, don’t move in together, don’t refer them for a job, don’t loan them money, etc. In general don’t do anything that will make it more difficult to walk away in 3 months if you decide it isn’t a good fit.
Stigmas & Double Standards
Stigmas and double standards annoy me.
“Don’t buy the cow, when you can get the milk for free.”
Or maybe you’ve heard that men won’t marry a woman if she sleeps with him too early because he a) likes the chase and b)will assume that she sleeps with everyone too early and is thus not wife material.
I can’t tell you if this is true or not. I’ve asked lots of men, including my husband if they think this is true and the answers vary. What I can tell you is that I don’t care to spend time guessing which men value these beliefs and which men don’t. You will exhaust yourself playing these games, and frankly it’s frustrating that as women we are always the ones being judged. Double standards suck! So how can you avoid them entirely?
Know that with the right person, you can’t mess it up. There is no such thing as messing it up if it’s the right fit.
The right fit will think your dorky demeanor is charming, your love handles are sexy curves, and your frizzy hair is free-spirited.
Likewise the right person will find your abstinence endearing and value driven, or your sexual prowess modern and liberating. With that said, you and only you need to make the choice to wait or not wait. If you choose to wait and a relationship fails because your partner wasn’t willing to not wait, then this wasn’t a good relationship. It wasn’t going to work regardless. Likewise, if you choose not to wait and a relationship ends slightly after you’ve given it up, don’t assume it ended because of sex. Chances are it wasn’t going to work anyway. Instead of evaluating how the decision to wait or not wait affected your relationship outcome, spend more time evaluating how you feel. Now that the relationship is over, do you feel relieved that you didn’t invest more sexually, monetarily, time wise? Do you feel regret that you invested too much? Modify what you do in future micro-dating scenarios based on these feelings.
Waiting Beyond 90 Days
Let’s assume you make it past the micro-dating stage and you know that the person is a good fit. I told you that I knew after 90 days I wanted to marry my husband. Well this doesn’t mean that he knew. He actually didn’t know he wanted to marry me until about 5 or 6 months. It then took another 2 years for us to actually tie the knot. So what does this mean with respect to Steve’s rule? Once you know is it safe to start investing sexually, monetarily, time wise? I think it depends on your own particular set of values and emotions. Some people will still be devastated if after two years of serious dating a relationship doesn’t result in marriage. Some people will lament on all of the investments they have made with serious regret. Others will appreciate the time spent together, the lessons learned and be able to walk away peacefully. My college roommate made a strong argument that if you invest in too much before marriage i.e. pre-marital sex, living together, joint bills, etc. it leaves a man no incentive to make the next big step. Patiently Waiting to Get Engaged
Good luck! Dating isn’t easy, especially when there are so many double standards and opportunities for judgement. Whatever you choose, be confident and happy with your choices, and if you aren’t then change them. My final request is that you don’t extend judgement and double standards by judging your fellow woman. It’s hard enough being a woman right?! Please share your thoughts on this topic below!
And if you haven’t already read the book, below is an affiliate link. It’s a great read!