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The 90 Day Rule: Why Are We Really Waiting?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Hampton U chapter.

Although the normalities of dating have shifted due to societal factors such as the evolution of technology and social media, one thing has remained a constant: The Wait, otherwise known as the 90 Day Rule. The idea of waiting to have sex dates back to biblical times. Some people may choose abstinence for religious reasons, while others wait due to reading literary dating guides such as Steve Harvey’s Act Like A Woman, Think Like A Man. For those who don’t know, editorial magazines and dating guides have notoriously recommended that those in new relationships abstain from sex for 90 days. During the 90 days, the couple is supposed to get to know each other emotionally and establish a foundation that isn’t based on physical chemistry or attraction. The importance of establishing an emotional foundation before introducing sex into the relationship lies in the fact that it’s one of, if not the best, ways to make sure your connection with your partner is on the track of love and not lust. 

Twenty to thirty years ago, many women abstained from sex for the fear of being referred to as, “fast.” Society leaned more on the conservative side back then, so it was understood that any woman who rushed into sex could be deemed as promiscuous, classless, and therefore not worthy of marriage. The 90 Day Rule served as a governing principle for new relationships; if both parties were still standing by the end of the 3 months, the new relationship was deemed to be on the right track. If your partner could wait, they were worthy of your body. However, anybody who failed to respect the 90 Day Rule was ruled unworthy of sex due to their refusal to establish a strong emotional connection prior.

But, in the age of sexual liberation and fluidity, does the 90 Day Rule still hold the same weight it once did? 

In my opinion, there’s no way to fully know what your partner is doing every second of every day; so there’s no way to know if y’all are waiting, or if you’re waiting. Your partner could tell you they’re committed to waiting 90 days and have sex with somebody else for 89 of those days. In this scenario, the 90 Day Rule only causes your partner to wait 90 days for you and may satisfy their sexual needs elsewhere, which defeats the whole purpose of cultivating a deeper emotional connection. 

Then there’s the chance that you wait for 90 days, only to have sex with your partner and realize the two of you have no sexual chemistry at all. Yes, it happens. Following the awkward encounter, you will likely be faced with the decision of staying in the relationship off of the strength of your emotional bond in hopes that the physical bond will grow over time. Personally, I believe that in a scenario like this, you can always discuss ways to improve sex, but the possibility of improving the emotional aspect of a relationship that is built around sex with a partner who deems sex as a dealbreaker is less likely. 

So, why are we really waiting? I wait for comfortability, not because of Steve Harvey’s advice, or societal stigmas. I believe that one cannot have a positive sexual encounter with anybody if there is no level of comfortability, familiarity, and trust between the two partners. I find that setting specific wait times for sex only prolongs how long the abstinence period feels, and what is supposed to be a time for growth will be overshadowed by feelings of resentment and sexual frustration. 

Everybody is worth the wait, but my advice is to set your own pace and boundaries. The right one will wait, but the right one could also make you throw your 90 Day Rule out after the first date. 

Cheyenne Paterson is a senior English major, Strategic Communications minor studying at Hampton University from Boston, MA. She aspires to combine storytelling and an editorial style of writing to increase audience engagement and advocate for brands and corporations. Cheyenne is the Editor-In-Chief for Hampton University's Chapter of Her Campus, a regular contributor to Impressions of Beauty, and the President of the Peer Counselor's organization on campus. In her free time, Cheyenne enjoys dabbling in interior design, perfecting her homemade coffee, and baking new recipes!