Couples who abstain from sex during the budding stages of their relationship are happier in the long run, according to a study.
If sex is introduced into a relationship too soon, it can mar the development of a thriving and satisfying relationship, researchers found after questioning 600 married and co-habiting couples on their levels of happiness and satisfaction.
Published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, the Cornell University researchers found that those who started their relationship at a slower pace, not jumping into bed at the first opportunity, were more satisfied and happy with their relationship.
Researchers asked couples how well they communicated, how often they disagreed, how emotionally active they were in the relationship, at what level they rated their sexual satisfaction and at what point they started engaging in sex in their relationship. The couples were also asked about financial worries and other factors that could have skewed the results.
Around 28 percent of the couples said they waited at least six months before having sex while a third of the couples admitted to having sex within the first month of dating.
Women seemed to benefit most from abstinence. While men didn't seem to benefit quite as much as women, abstinence did seem to relate to having less arguments with their partners.
Overall, researchers discovered that couples who kept things above the belt for at least the first six months of their relationship scored higher in every category analysed – even their sexual satisfaction – when compared to those who had sex within the first month.
"Good sex is sometimes confused with love; some couples overlook problematic aspects of their relationship that ultimately matter more in the long run," researchers wrote in a report.
Abstaining from sex allowed the people time to discover each other’s personality traits and whether or not they were compatible without the risk of sex shrouding judgement and an unfulfilling long-term relationship developing, according to researchers.
"The rapid entry into sexual relationships may, however, cut short this process, setting the stage for “sliding” rather than “deciding” to enter co-habiting unions,” they reported
They believe that dating is an important step in making critical decision on whether or not to develop a relationship.
"A strong sexual desire may thwart the development of other key ingredients of a healthy relationship such as commitment, mutual understanding or shared values."