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.
I’ll skip over the gory details of the extensive analyses and controls that the researchers imposed, but rest assured that they did everything they could to tease apart their findings.
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.
In an online study of nearly 600 married and cohabitating couples in which the female partner was less than 45 years old, Sassler and colleagues examined measures of relationship quality, sexual satisfaction, communication, and conflict.
For women, but not men, the factor most related to early sexual involvement was later sexual satisfaction.
Having sex early in a relationship, followed by cohabitation, sets the stage for women to be less satisfied with the sex they’re having now.
Unfortunately, many of these hurried unions lead to disappointment as the relationships falls apart before it’s even had time to take shape.
Putting them into practice isn’t always easy, but it is critical.
It’s not so much the sex, however, but the cohabitation itself that it leads to which then leads the couple to slide, unthinkingly, into wedlock (or continued cohabitation).
When couples are led by sexual desire, financial need, or an unexpected pregnancy to get married, they are less likely to stop and examine whether they share similar life values, goals, compatibility, and emotional intimacy.
Couples tend to move quickly into sexual relationships.
Over one-third reported having sex within one month after they started dating.
The rush of infatuation leads people to take the next steps in their relationship without looking objectively at the odds of the relationship succeeding.