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As a matchmaker and dating coach on Manhattan’s upper east side, I found myself charmed by an article and television clip of Oak Harbor, WA., bride-to-be Rachel Welch, 21, and her fiancé, Todd Ritter, who committed to not kiss until they are bound by marriage. The couple, engaged since December, plans to be married this summer and will share their first kiss only after they are legally pronounced man and wife.

This has been the philosophy I have come to recommend after counseling thousands of singles who find themselves unhappily ensnared in sexually addicting dead-end relationships that are in every way, besides the intimate aspects, unsatisfying and incomplete. In fact, my advice to the singles I work with is to take the no-kiss rule one step further and to adapt a “Hands-Free” policy—no hugging, no stroking, no hand holding!

When I get the anticipated pushback, usually from the men, I answer that these loving gestures are “appetizers” that can lead many people to lose resolve,  detracting from the whole point of dating—namely, to hone in on the one person you will want to live with for the rest of your life. My question to those who protest is, if you had reservations at the finest restaurant for dinner, would you down a bag of Doritos before you left the house? Some things are just worth the wait.

Much has been written about abstinence,  refraining from touching does a number of things. It acts as a filter, helping people focus on their partner’s character without the distraction of physical ties. This enables them to leave a relationship with less pain than if they were engaging in intimate touching, cutting short dead-end relationships. If the relationship is a viable one and the couple takes it to the altar, by the time that first kiss is exchanged after the wedding vows are complete, the couple will truly know each other inside and out—in every way but the physical—leaving some of life’s sweetest mysteries to be explored with utter commitment and sanctity for years to come.

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