Remember dating? You were the prize, and he played the game to win your affection. It was all so innocent and fun. You flirted a little, but not too much. That initial boy-girl attraction left you and him a little breathless. Maybe not right away, but at some point you both thought, Could this be the one? 

In the old days, your first connection would have been eye contact across a classroom, at your place of work, or a casual meeting through a friend of a friend. In recent years, your first interaction might have been online in some chat room or Facebook connection. No matter, there was an attraction. You liked his sideways sense of humor, his sturdy jawline, or his twinkly puppy-dog eyes. I invite you, right now, to think about that moment, that give-and-take between you and your future husband.

Where did it go from there? Part of you wanted to move things along, but something told you to slow down and get to know this character before acting too impulsively. You sent out a batch of signals. He picked up on some. He missed some too. You realized that telepathy does not work, so you became a little more obvious. If you didn’t know, he was just as nervous as you. Go ahead and ask him to recall those tantalizing moments of your early courtship.

From here at my keyboard, I would not dare judge your first kiss. It might have been electric. Or not. For Rita and me it was a single short kiss on her front porch at the end of our first official date. It left me with a smile and a bunch of unanswered questions. It was early spring in my senior year of high school; she was a year younger. Who could have seen the future back then? Only God.

I would not be surprised if your first kiss with your future husband was also on a first or second date. That seems to be the American way. If you grew up in a more conservative home, it might have taken several dates or a serious commitment from your admirer. For some that first kiss may have come early and opened a floodgate of smooching that I hope didn’t go too far too soon.

One of the things men like best is the chase. The quest. In the early days of a relationship, couples are eager to listen and learn about each other. Of course, his motives are different than hers. She’s trying to discern whether or not he will be a good friend, father, provider, and partner. He, on the other hand, is trying to figure out what she likes and how he can persuade her to let down her guard. He’s trying to get to the next level of romantic interplay.

When he sends his cleverest signals, she may ignore them or miss them entirely. But the most fun is when she receives those signals loud and clear, but pretends not to. It’s not a tease. It’s not mean. It doesn’t cause him to rev his engines and then slam on the brakes. (Always frustrating, if you didn’t know.) What she is saying is, “Hey, buddy. I am interested. You have my full attention. But be patient, because I am worth the wait.” If he’s the right guy for this gal, he knows this is all just part of the chase.

Which leads to this important side note. Premarital sex pretty much eliminates this wonderful romantic courtship. And that’s a real loss for any couple. Going too far too soon shuts down all that great interaction and illumination. She never gets a chance to gather all the information she needs about her possible future husband. And he never learns how to truly romance his bride or how to be patient—a skill that’s necessary for all good husbands. Instead of trying to figure out each other, sexually active unmarried couples spend all their time trying to figure out when they’re next going to have sex.

If you slept together too soon, you may want to make up for some of the missed courtship by intentionally sharing more of your hopes and dreams and telling him you’d like to be wooed. (I’d love to hear his reaction to that request.) Or even ask this question, “Do you think we slept together too soon? What if I would have made you wait?” Don’t expect a serious answer. He’ll probably say something like, “Oh, I would’ve dumped you and married (fill in the name of an ex-girlfriend).”