For new couples, moving too fast or too slow when it comes to getting physical can be a big worry.
Many people wonder when the best time is to start being sexually intimate in a relationship.
The answer is complicated, spanning anywhere from a few dates to a few months after beginning to spend time together.
Valentine's Day is coming soon, signaling a romantic milestone for many couples. But for some new pairs, the worry that your relationship is moving too fast or too slow can become a major concern.
Which got us wondering: When is the best time to start being sexually intimate in a relationship, according to science?
The answer is complicated, spanning anywhere from a few dates to a few months after you start to spending time together.
One of the reasons it's hard to determine the best time in a relationship to have sex is because there hasn't been a lot of research tackling that specific question. Few studies have looked at the health of a relationship as it relates to when couples first had sex, and the research that has been done mostly features specific samples of people — mainly college students or married heterosexual couples.
But here's what we know about commitment and sex
In the early 2000s, Illinois State University communications professor Sandra Metts performed a study to find out whether having an emotional connection — in particular saying "I love you" before having sex — could have a positive impact on a relationship.
Her study of almost 300 college-age men and women found that it did.
In fact, Metts' results suggested that couples who had sex first then said "I love you" after had a negative experience: The introduction of that conversation was often awkward and apologetic.
Metts' study provided a list of classic steps partners should take before they get physical, though it's not a clear indicator of the exact timing to have sex. The list includes getting to know the person, sharing a first kiss, then building up to an expression of commitment.
That emotional connection is one of the key elements of any relationship, psychotherapist Toni Coleman told Business Insider in 2015.
Having a good level of communication and an understanding of where the relationship is headed also helps ensure the experience will be positive, she said.