Let's Wait a While

Did she just make not putting out sound sexy?

"There's something I want to tell you
There's something I think that you should know
It's not that I shouldn't really love you
Let's take it slow"
Janet Jackson, "Let's Wait Awhile"

Life's too short to make a mistake
Let's think of each other and hesitate
Young and impatient we may be
There's no need to act foolishly
If we part our hearts won't forget it
Years from now we'll surely regret it
Chairmen of the Board, "Give Me Just a Little More Time"

A Sister Trope to Celibate Hero, where the character (more often male than female) declares that they've no intention of having sex just for the sake of sex. Either they're waiting for "The One", or they think they've found them, but the timing isn't right (and if it's Their First Time, they want it to be special).

A common thing in many religions, which declare that sex is sacred and must be saved for the wedding night. In fact, pre-marital sex used to be a taboo topic, but nowadays it seems to be an unquestionable standard.

If the character who wants to wait is male, it's usually to show him as a romantic or old-fashioned (often both), probably due to the belief that usually A Man Is Not a Virgin. If female, there's about the same chance it'll be because All Women Are Prudes.

A frequent variant is an engaged couple deciding not to have sex again until after the wedding to make their wedding night "special". (Even though, y'know, they could have made it even more special by not having sex at all until the wedding...)

Compare Good People Have Good Sex. Contrast Nature Abhors a Virgin, Everybody Has Lots of Sex.

Occasionally paired with Insatiable Newlyweds to show that the couple weren't waiting out of prudishness.


Anime & Manga
  • In Girl Friends, due to both sides mistakenly assuming that their still virgin partner already had sex with somebody else, Mari and Akko had a very awkward first attempt that ended with this.

  • Batman's Timothy Drake, the third Robin. He's one of the few persons in the Bat-Family (and the DCU superhero community) who hasn't done it. The dude's had at least 5 girlfriends, and has been propositioned for sex thrice. Gotta love that guy.
  • In New Warriors: Firestar, Nova and Namorita break Justice out of the convoy taking him to prisonnote . After Vance convinces them to let him face the music, Nova, Namorita and the guards look the other way while he and Firestar "have a private goodbye." Angelica wants to, but Vance convinces her that their first time should be more special than a quick rut in the woods.
  • Scott Pilgrim and Ramona Flowers do this in volume 1. After their first "date", Scott ends up at Ramona's apartment with the (literal) girl of his dreams half-naked, on top of him, in bed. Ramona abruptly changes her mind about sex, and they still sleep in the same bed. Scott professes to be fine with this. It's unclear whether he's telling the truth or is just willing to let her set the pace and take what he can get in the meantime; when he's with a woman he really likes, he has a tendency (especially this early in his Character Development) to be pretty whipped.
  • In 9 Chickweed Lane, Edda and Amos attempt the "abstinence until marriage" route. We find out about this after they apparently immediately broke that vow and Edda comically tries to convince Amos that he dreamed it. (Amos knew and played along, because he thought it was sweet she was thinking of his honour.)
  • In Ultimate Spider-Man Annual #3, Peter Parker and Mary Jane discuss whether they're ready to take their relationship to the next level. In the end MJ decides she's not, and Peter tells her that while he wants to sleep with her, he's more than willing to wait until she's ready.
  • The 40-Year-Old Virgin: The protagonist and his love interest decide to wait until they've had a certain number of dates before they...do it.
  • Brought up in the film adaptation of Like Water for Chocolate by Pedro to his new bride Rosaura. However, the marriage is not of love but simply to delay an uncomfortable marriage obligation (Pedro married Rosaura to be close to her sister Tita, his true love). Pedro throws in one successful excuse to why they should wait but eventually the deed is done (to produce a son).
  • In Jumping the Broom, after having a one night stand with a man who already had a girlfriend, Sabrina decides that the next time she has sex, she will be married. She eventually meets and gets engaged to Jason, and they decide they will abide by that rule.

  • Anita Blake didn't put out until the sixth book in the series, due to a bastard ex-fiancee.
  • The "engaged" version also happens in Odd Thomas. Tragically, before they can actually consummate their love, the girl dies.

Live-Action TV
  • There never seems to be any question that Cory and Topanga in Boy Meets World are going to wait until they are married, although Cory has a harder time waiting than Topanga does. At one point during the engagement, she shows him her butt as a compromise to placate him.
  • The "engaged couple agreeing to wait until their wedding day before they do it again" happened on Scrubs with Turk and Carla.
    • In the case of Scrubs, it lasted less than an entire episode, by the time Turk comes around to the idea as being romantic, Carla has had such a rough day that she needs some loving affection and changes her mind. Turk is happy to oblige. In season 1, Carla mentions to Elliot that she usually waits a month to sleep with new boyfriends. As she puts it, she likes to make them wait until they think they are never going to get in her pants, and then jump them like an animal (which usually takes about a month).
  • Friends had the same situation with Monica and Chandler. Seeing as these are the two who declared they were the best the other had ever had, the decision didn't last long. Within a week, they staged a pretend fight to "break off" the engagement so they could sleep together again.
    • A variation also occurred on How I Met Your Mother. Marshall and Lily decided not to sleep together, in the literal sense, for a few days before they got married but they couldn't stand to be away from each other.
  • Appears no less than three times in Gossip Girls first season. An ongoing plot in the first seven episodes is Blair wanting to lose her virginity to Nate, who keeps putting it off. Dan also takes this stance with Serena for a few episodes. And Chuck Bass, of all people, tells Blair in the season finale that they should wait a while and "do it right this time".
  • Arrested Development:
    Ann: And then that first time, after waiting and waiting, itís gonna be so awesome! Because itís not just going to be my love and George Michaelís, but Godís love, as well. God, itís gonna be incredible!
  • On Friday Night Lights, the first time Julie and Matt attempt sex, they realize they're doing it just because they each think the other is "The One." They're correct about that, but decide there's no rush to have sex and that they'll wait until it feels right.
  • Subverted in How I Met Your Mother, where in a flashback, Marshall and Lily decide to wait to have sex... and then do it ten minutes later.
    • Victoria and Ted planned to wait a month, but got too impatient after the first two weeks.
  • In Grey's Anatomy Erica and Callie agree to wait before having sex because they both think they aren't ready to have sex with another woman. A few dates later, they consummate their relationship.
  • Provides lots of humor in Girlfriends when Good Bad Girl Lynn starts dating a celibate man. He initially refuses to date her due to her...reputation, but she convinces him that she can wait. She's...not very good at it.
  • Blanche dated one man like this on The Golden Girls - she was so confused by the idea she misinterpreted it as him not finding her attractive.
    • Inverted in one episode with Sophia. Despite both of them being in their eighties, she decides to jump into bed with a man quite quickly.

  • The Trope Namer is Janet Jackson's song "Let's Wait A While".
  • Jermaine Stewart's "We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off." The lyrics can be summed up as thus: "Don't move so fast and try to get to the sex right away, it's insulting and unclassy - let's just have fun and enjoy ourselves before we go any further." Interestingly, the POV character who wants to wait is male.
  • Avril Lavigne's "Don't Tell Me."
  • Lady Antebellum's Just a Kiss goes, "So baby I'm alright, oh, let's do this right, with just a kiss goodnight."

  • Nick and Ki from General Protection Fault: Nick wanted to wait until he and Ki were married because he's an old-fashioned romantic. Ki thought his explanation was the sweetest thing ever.
  • Dominic and Luna. Dominic learns that Luna's first time was an (intentionally engineered) utter disaster, so she has some serious hang-ups about intimacy on top her own self-esteem issues. It works out in the end, though (Three words: "Worth. The. Wait.)
  • Tipper and Charles from Namir Deiter, much to the annoyance of their roommate Gabby, who wished they'd stop crawling the walls and start crawling each other.
  • Joyce and Walky, due to Joyce's near-psychotic aversion to "pre-marital hanky-panky."
  • In Penny and Aggie, Marshall repeatedly says this to Karen, because "we're kids." (The real reason, as the comic later reveals, is that he thinks having sex too soon will make him like his hedonistic mother, whom he resents.) However, Karen's self-esteem is so tied up in Marshall "wanting" her that she deliberately walks in on him in the shower and, when he still refuses to make love, gives him a hand-job without asking. After several months, Marshall decides he's ready and they consummate their relationship...but break up soon after for unrelated reasons.
    • A Fan-Art strip parodies this Marshall/Karen trope by portraying them in the future as newlyweds. As Marshall carries her over the threshold, the blushing Karen raises the question again, but he says, "Don't be silly. We're still just kids."
  • The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! obliquely addresses this here.
  • In Mťnage ŗ 3, Gary said this a couple of times when his then-girlfriend Yuki attempted intimacy. How much of his motives were being a gentleman and how much was due to concern over the violent psychotic breaks male genitals caused her is up in the air.
  • Taken Up to Eleven in this Something*Positive strip during a marital preparedness course.
    "Oh, we got married seven years ago, but Gary really want to wait until it's special."

Video Games
  • In Baldur's Gate II: Shadow Of Amn, this is the proper choice when romancing Aerie, near the end of the quest. If you accept her invitation and do the deed, in the morning after she will break up with you because she wasn't really as ready as she thought, and you took advantage of her emotions. If you tell her to wait, she'll later be happy you did the right thing. Besides, you have other opportunities in the expansion.
    • Viconia's romance takes a different approach. You can bed her fairly early on (and will break off the relationship if you don't accept), but later on considers it just a tedious duty ("Let's just get it over with"). You can respond by just having sex as usual... or offer to just cuddle, since she's clearly not in the mood for anything else. Viconia is very suprised at this un-drow-like option, but says afterwards that it wasn't bad.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, the romance option with Alistair plays out like this. You can convince him to go to bed instead of waiting for him to feel ready and approach you, but the love scene doesn't play and he seems unhappy about it.
  • Kate, the true love interest of Grand Theft Auto IV, no matter how many times Niko dates her, she will not sleep with him.
  • In Mass Effect 2, a romanced Garrus asks to wait until just before you start the Suicide Mission.
    Garrus: You know me. I always like to savor the last shot before popping the heat sink (Beat) Wait, that metaphor went somewhere horrible.
  • Another Bioware example is in Star Wars: The Old Republic: during the Jedi Consular's romance path with Nadia, he turns her down the first time she propositions him for sex, telling her that she's acting out of fear, grief, and desperation, not love. Her pleading with him to acquiesce and eventual admittance that she does fear losing him at any moment just cements this as the right decision in his mind. And it is—Nadia later thanks him for it, apologizes for her behavior, and agrees to take things slowly, so they can truly appreciate what they have instead of rushing it.

  • One blogger on Israblog once told his friend that he cared enough about his girlfriend when they first started dating that he decided to take things very slow with her. That just made her think he was gay.

Western Animation
  • Parodied in Clone High. Everyone expects to "go up a base, sex-wise" on Prom Night, which for Gandhi would mean going from A Date with Rosie Palms to dry-humping a girl through their clothes, a prospect that excites him to the point that he becomes fixated on it. After some false starts, he finally gets together with a willing partner in Marie Curie, only to stop abruptly and say that they're so young, maybe they should wait. She replies that "I guess the driest love of all is abstinence."

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