It made me feel gross.” Why does exclusivity make such a difference?
Perhaps because people feel they can really let loose when they're secure in the relationship.
Explains Leslie, 30, of Madison, NJ: “I’m self-conscious about my body as it is, so I know that when I feel like unabashedly ripping my clothes off in front of him, I’ve reached a safe place.” Getting to this point is a gradual process.
“I like to have a few kissing sessions, sometimes clothed, other times partially clothed, to get used to the idea of being naked,” she says.
But for most of us, it’s sometime between those two extremes, though exactly when is up for debate.
While there are no hard-and-fast rules, men and women do rely on certain signposts to know when they’re ready for sex with someone new.
“I like a long buildup to sex,” says Helen, 44, of San Anselmo, CA. A drawn out flirtation leads to more anticipation, which leads to really hot sex.
If you do it right away, it’s over shortly, and he may lose interest.
The key word is know — not assume, or guess or hope.
Once he delivers that kiss that literally makes my knees weak, and it feels like there are fireworks going off inside my body, I usually decide that the time is right for really great sex.” No doubt, stripping down in front of someone new can be a little nerve-racking.
Perhaps that’s why some people use their comfort level with being naked as a way gauge if they're ready to go all the way.
“It’s emotionally comforting to know the person you’re sharing your body with isn’t bedding someone else in his spare time,” explains Dana, 25, from Brooklyn, NY.
“It makes sex more passionate and meaningful.” For other people, sex comes before a serious commitment — in fact, having sex is the very way they figure out whether they want to hang around for the long haul. C., explains it this way: “I’m not a dog, but I am a guy.