Save Yourself Till Marriage? November 8, 2010

Save Yourself Till Marriage?

Sexie Sadie has a lot to say about the problems with abstinence-only sex education, but in the process, she raises an important question about why some people “save themselves” for marriage:

I’ve never understood the concept of “saving yourself for marriage”. What exactly is one “saving” by waiting until the blessed wedding night to have sexual intercourse? An unbroken hymen? And what does one expect to accomplish by doing so? Moral fortitude? The rhetoric itself implies that proprietorship thing that bothers me so much about many relationships, and this phrase in particular tends to be fairly gender focused — a girl is told that if she saves herself until the right man comes along, then she can give herself (as if a prize) to him once he has demonstrated his love for her enough that he might marry her. Really? Is this a message girls should receive? That they are part of a purchase contract, the bargaining chip in an antiquated marriage negotiation? I just can’t get on board with that. I don’t think I could have been on board with that in 1910. I sure can’t understand how that scenario regularly plays itself out 100 years later, and during a time (and in a place) where gender equality is at it’s most immutable.

And what about the boys who are saving themselves? How many of them are rushing into these marriage contracts simply for the sake of winning that coveted prize of shameless, church-approved sex?

Someone told me the other day that he had met a 21 year-old woman who wore a purity ring. What did I think of that? He wanted to know.

I said, I think she’ll make someone a frustrated husband some day.

Outside of religion, the most common reason I’ve heard for why people say they’re waiting for marriage to have sex is that it’s somehow more special at that time. You’re “officially” committed to each other and you’re sharing something with your significant other you’ve never shared with anyone else.

Sadie makes a good point that experience can be a wonderful thing. You don’t love the person you’re with any less if you’ve had another relationship in the past. And the experience you bring to the table — knowing what (generally) makes you and the other person feel good — can give your relationship a head start in that area.

But some people don’t want a head start. They want to run the whole race together. Is that such a bad thing?

I once read a story about a Christian couple that waited until their wedding day for their first kiss. I wouldn’t want to wait until my wedding day for that moment, but if they do, I don’t really care either way. Hell, it’s kinda cute.

But I don’t get anyone who’s opposed to that couple waiting just because they would never do it themselves.

We hate it when Christians rail against gay sex as if it’s a bad thing. We say: If you are opposed to it, then just don’t have it. If two gay people want to sleep with each other, who gives a damn what you think?

Yet, I get the feeling a lot of liberals would mock a couple that says they’ve saving themselves for marriage or waiting to have their first kiss. (At least privately.) Those aren’t exactly parallel situation — we’re not trying to pass laws against waiting to have sex — but it would be a little hypocritical to tell another couple what they should or shouldn’t do with their sex lives.

Was your first reaction to the couple-waiting-to-kiss story to scoff at them? To roll your eyes? To shake your head? To accept it and move on?

I’d save any anger for the moment they act like they’re any better than me because they waited till marriage to do anything sexual. No one deserves the holier-than-thou attitude from them.

There’s nothing wrong with waiting.

But there’s nothing wrong with having safe sex before marriage, either.

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  • I can see the appeal of waiting…I mean think of looking forward to that on your wedding night?!? That’d be awesome, you have no idea what you’re getting yourself into.

    And, on the other hand, what if you are completely incompatible as sexual partners? What if the husband loves it and the wife discovers she’s not to fond of it…then what?

    Either way, not kissing before marriage? Yes, I would make fun of them.

  • Brice Gilbert

    It’s a personal choice I suppose that has nothing to do with the rest of us. But it’s still a little strange. I guess it depends on the persons reasons. We are probably so used to the reason being some sort of weird religious purity thing.

  • Uncle Bob

    I “hate” the wrong-headedness that motivated the couple to be chaste until marriage. It’s like watching a child getting ready to put their hand on a hot stove, I think it is quite reasonable to feel sad for what they are about to experience, let alone speak out about it.

    You can’t compare that to legislating my preferences. There is a football field worth of gap between those two things.

  • There’s nothing wrong with waiting.

    One thing I would suggest is wrong with it.

    It can muddy the waters of why you are getting married in the first place. Are you getting married to make a long term commitment to another person and/or create a stable environment in which to raise children?

    OR are you getting married so you can have sex in a “socially” acceptable way.

    Not waiting automatically rules the second (very bad) option out.

    I’d like to thing that the difference between us and other animals is that we do things for reasons other than our primal urges.

  • Santosh Anand

    I had a clear cut requirement when looking for a wife. You can either be my wife or my equal. To be an equal you have to contribute half the money into the household, check the noises half the time at night, and in dangerous situations if only one of us can be saved we toss a coin.

  • Karmakin

    I’m one of those people who thinks that there’s something wrong with it. I think that by waiting until marriage, you don’t know if you and your partner are sexually compatible. Now, it might work out. But then again, it might not.

    I wouldn’t hate someone for it. But I do think that generally it’s ill-advised.

  • yaoi_myantidrug

    I wouldn’t scoff at waiting until marriage if I thought it was a decision that people came to on their own, that it’s something they choose for themselves, and was agreed upon by potential spouses.

    But in most cases, it’s likely they were told they had to wait until marriage, and is likely something neither person wants.

    And as Ryan Benson said, what happens when you discover you’re incompatible, or if it’s just a major letdown for one or both people?

  • In my opinion, waiting till marriage to have sex is one of the dumbest ideas. Sex is extremely important in the couple’s life and if the they are sexually incompatible there are great chances to end this relationship.

  • cat

    I honestly don’t care if other people delay or never have sex. What I don’t like about the ‘saving yourself until marriage’ people is that they are always intensely condescending and judgemental towards others. I have yet to meet one that did not think that they were better and ‘purer’ (they love that word) than those who had sex. Also, telling them you are queer makes their heads explode.

  • Viggo the Carpathian

    Was your first reaction to the couple-waiting-to-kiss story to scoff at them? To roll your eyes? To shake your head? To accept it and move on?

    If I thought it was solely their decision I would accept it with a head-shake of confusion, but accept it non-the-less as a personal quirk. However, I don’t think that any of this ‘saving’ yourself if a totally personal decision. It is all built on pipes of taboo and vast stores of ignorance, superstition and false history.

    To each their own if it truly is their own… but fuck coercion, even the silent traditional type.

  • What’s all this talk of sexual ‘incompatability’? Is that euphamism for ‘they don’t like the same positions I do’?

    @David McNerney

    It can muddy the waters of why you are getting married in the first place. Are you getting married to make a long term commitment to another person and/or create a stable environment in which to raise children?

    That is perhaps a risk, though presumably those who are waiting for religious reasons will also have this long-term commitment idea about marriage as well.
    On the flip side, physical intimacy can obscure the issue and sometimes make people blind to personality issues that they might otherwise have seen.

  • I think it very depends why someone’s “saving” themselves. I do think it’s kinda cute someone waiting ’till they wed to share their first kiss, but, again, it’s not something I could do.

    My main issue would be the motivation – if it was down to a belief that sex was wrong outside of marriage, then that would be a shame. But still the individual’s choice.

  • Beijingrrl

    What I find wrong about the “waiting for sex” way of thinking is the fact that it gives sex too little and too much importance at the same time.

    By waiting, it’s implied that sex has so little importance in the longevity of a relationship that it doesn’t matter whether or not the couple is compatible before making a lifelong commitment.

    Conversely, I’m facebook friends with a high school classmate who’s wife recently left him. He’s planning on waiting until marriage again because he feels that every person he has sex with lessens his value to his future spouse. That just made me so sad to read. He’s a 40-year-old man who feels bad about himself because he chose the wrong person to marry and have sex with the first time. Somehow, the act of having had sex makes him have less value.

    That said, people make bad choices about marriage all the time and I certainly wouldn’t mock them for it, but I probably would secretly shake my head.

  • Kaylya

    I think it’s important to note that the quoted elements are in the context of talking about government funded abstinence only sex ed.

    There’s nothing wrong with arguing that saving oneself until marriage might not always lead to the most stable relationships. As has been posted here before, the fundamentalist Christians have the highest divorce rate – and this can very likely be linked to saving themselves for marriage (either: sexual incompatibility, marrying too young because they can’t have sex otherwise, or, I’m sure in some cases, partners who find out later on that the other one had previous undisclosed relationships..)

  • Villa

    But I don’t get anyone who’s opposed to that couple waiting just because they would never do it themselves.

    This (and the parts that follow) sit badly with me.

    Some atheists (for reasons Sadie lays out clearly) do think that chaste marriages are unwise. But, those arguments are rather more nuanced than “I would never do that myself.”

    And, it feels like outright equivocation to conflate, “Says, in private, that chaste marriages are bad idea” and “Conducts a decades long campaign to harass gays, ban homosexuality, and pass constitutional amendments to prohibit gay marriage.”

    Yes, in a sense, both of those things are ‘opposition’. But one of them is not like the other.

  • Nathaniel

    Is there any activity that’s more enjoyable if you practice less?

    Is basketball a better experience if you join a team before ever touching a ball?

    Is it best to do figure skating before you or your partner have ever been on the ice?

    Then why is sex better if you and your partner have never done it before?

    And should we really be okay with the spreading of that attitude?

  • I disagree with the way you’re looking at the writer of the piece. I don’t think she’s scoffing at them or rolling her eyes at their naivete. I think she’s genuinely worried about several very plausible problems that come about with this way of thinking. The biggest of which is probably extremely unrealistic expectations.

    If you’ve denied yourself something that is so very hard to deny, for so long only to give it to one person, then what happens if that relationship doesn’t work out? What if your partner develops a drinking problem and becomes abusive? How long do you stay with them out of obligation? And when the relationship finally does end after a lot of avoidable misery, how much baggage do you carry around for THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, that you are “damaged goods” or whatever?

    The fact is, to quote Dan Savage, all relationships will fail until one doesn’t. And though the first one you have might be the one that doesn’t, it’s not where the smart money is.

  • Silent Service

    Got to agree with a lot of people here. Who wants to wait till you’re married to find out if you’re terribly incompatable?

    And why in the world would you want your first time to be on your wedding night? I can’t think of a more stress inducing thing to do to yourself at a time when you’re probably more exhausted than you’ve ever been in your life. First thing my wife and I did on our wedding night was take a nap as soon as we made it to the hotel. Sex was much more fun when we woke up at 5 AM afer a good power nap than it would have been at midnight while too exhausted to move.

  • Catherine

    I went to an evangelical christian school and I know many people who rushed into marriage right at 18 just so they could finally have sex. They weren’t prepared for everything else that marriage entails and many of them were divorced by 21. So sad

  • PC

    I’m a little disappointed by some of the comments here. I thought we were supposed to be open-minded? That doesn’t just mean willing to shun traditional Puritanical beliefs about sex, but also to respect those who choose to follow those beliefs.

    Granted, I definitely don’t share those beliefs. Sex isn’t some magic act that you automatically become amazing at when you’re with the right person — sex is physical exercise. And like any kind of physical exercise, you get better at it the more you do it.

    But if people want to save themselves, let them do it. My sex life won’t be affected.

  • Secular Stu

    You know why Glenn Beck became a Mormon? ^^^This is why.

    “I apologize, but guys will understand this. My wife is, like, hot, and she wouldn’t have sex with me until we got married. And she wouldn’t marry me unless we had a religion.”

    Withholding sex shouldn’t be used as blackmail.

    but it would be a little hypocritical to tell another couple what they should or shouldn’t do with their sex lives.

    A large number of Christians think gays shouldn’t have a sex life, period. On the one hand, you’ve got people saying “this might not be helpful for a long-term relationship”, on the other you’ve got people saying “this is wrong and disgusting and makes the baby Jesus cry.”

  • I have two friends (that I know of) who are saving themselves, either for marriage or at least until they go pretty far down the serious path with a girlfriend. One is pretty conservative, kind of Christian, and the other is a very liberal militant atheist. They each have their own, personal reasons for it, and since each acknowledges that it’s a personal decision, I simply say “good for them” and leave it be.

    I think the people who mentioned sexual compatibility hit the nail on the head in a big way. I’ve been in my current relationship for three years, and there have been a lot of issues along the way (distance, age, religion), but sexual compatibility has probably been the biggest one. We’ve had size issues, frequency issues, adventurousness (yes, that’s a word) issues along the way, and while we’ve worked through them for the most part, if when it comes time to make a long-term decision on where our relationship is going we didn’t have knowledge of these issues, it could lead to the wrong decision being made and a lot of problems going forward.

  • I take a more pragmatic historical view: before pregnancy tests and the germ theory of medicine, an intact hymen was a quick way of verifying that a girl was not knocked up or infected with some nasty STD. So, “clean” girls were a commodity to their families, worth a good price in trade or favours … or not. In certain cultures, who gets annoyed when a young woman has sex? The family, primarily, because she’s somehow worth less to them as a bargaining chip. It sounds cold and heartless … which it was, and still is in some parts.

  • I’ll add a vote for responsible pre-marital sex.

  • Ah, if I had it to do all over again — but youth is wasted on the young. (Apologies to the young, I couldn’t resist the opening.) By that I mean, we all make bad decisions when we’re young out of nothing but the lack of experience. Obviously, if your first sex partner isn’t your partner for life, whatever, it too is a failed relationship, just damned easier to get out of as long as you don’t wind up with the legal status of child in common and, there’s ways of preventing that.

    If I had it to do all over again, I would not wait for Mr. Wrong. What a freaking mistake. I definitely don’t think I should have lost my virginity in high school; I was not mature enough. But that dude I came yay close to going all the way with when I was 19, I should have. But I was still in the hangups of just coming out of that repressive Christian childhood and had not yet given up gawd belief, just Jesus. He was in that window when I stopped believing in Jesus but hadn’t yet worked up the nerve to go into the local synagogue and talk to the rabbi. If I had that to do all over again, Bob, I’d totally do you.

    If I had, I doubt I’d have been as naive when Mr. Wrong came along for beginners. In fact, I might never have fallen for Mr. Wrong in the first place and my life would have been totally different because Mr. Wrong has been dead for almost 15 years and still has fucked up my life.

    Because he turned out to be such a freaking horror that I had to skip state with my daughter and that has caused me to be poorer all my life, even into the pension I’m now collecting, which would be hundreds more a month. Not to mention, I’d have bought a house if I hadn’t had to do that and would have had the mortgage paid off by now and only maintenance and property taxes to worry about. Most years, they’d be less than the rent I pay. Yes, even in New York. So spendable income wise, it’s safe to say I’d have, no lie, $500 or $600 more a month. Can I kill my dead ex-husband all over again? God fucking damn him.

    Okay, that off my chest. (Pisses me off but I’ve long since dealt with it. It’s only when it comes up relevant in conversation that I rant like that any more. No point in it.)

    This is a personal choice. As long as they accept it’s personal and don’t act superior about it, it’s their business even if it is a mistake. When they act supior or call themselves purer or some such other nonsense, they make it your business by butting into yours and, well, being just plain snotty about it.

    I understand the writer’s wanting to caution against it and it’s an article worth writing. I’m glad she is because I wish I had read such an article. I don’t know if it would have made an impact (god knows, it was the ’70’s and being a virgin was a little weird and that or my friends saying things like the comments above didn’t) but still. I think she’s just trying to give anyone open to hearing it a warning and the cons to think about when all they’ve heard are the pros and cudos to her for it.

    Still, it’s a personal choice each individual and each couple has to decide for themselves. Bob broke it off with me so long ago because he didn’t want to be chaste. Even then, I accepted that and didn’t blame him. We went back to being friends only then drifted off into life going our own ways. I regret it. I was comfortable with him. He was gentle and kind and probably would have been a good first experience. But what’s done is done. I made the only choice I could at the time given my background and state of mind. It is what it is. Before him, at 19, I wouldn’t have been ready.

    I do think being celibate by choice should stop being taboo, however. It’s a choice, yes. But it’s a choice that should be respected. I loved sex when I was having it. But I am currently celibate by choice and I think that’s what currently works for me now. I’m not worried about getting pregnant since I’m post-menopausal but you do still have to be careful not to pick up an STD. Yes, you can take steps to prevent that but nothing’s 100% sure except abstinence.

    However, that’s not even it. If that were all, I’d just protect myself. In the early ’80’s, I got laughed at for insisting anyone who slept with me wear a condom — mostly by my female friends — I’ve never run across a dude who wouldn’t shrug and say sure. At least, I’ve never been turned down because I’ve insisted. Frankly, if I ever had I’d shrug and say you don’t get this then and break it off with him and look for someone more respectful of my needs.

    Then along came the AIDS scare and when people finally realized the hard way that it wasn’t just a gay disease, no one was laughing at me any more. I think there’s a lesson in there about the importance of a good sexual education including how to prevent disease and unwanted pregancies and I think it should be mandatory in junior high. No parental permission necessary. This was the case for me. It was part of my mandatory health class in seventh grade and I’m still grateful. I protected myself even when others weren’t because of it and if I had had to get a permission slip from my mother, it never would have happened.

    I’m celibate by choice for two reasons: I am not comfortable with one night stands. I don’t judge other people who are. That’s their damned business but they are not for me. And I don’t want the emotional entanglements of a romantic relationship currently. So I abstain and have been for a while. How long a while is none of your business but let’s just a long while.

    If some dude comes along and changes my outlook on the latter, then being celibate by choice would change but right now, my life is full enough without romance and I’m not open to the complications of it. I have no deep yearning for a soul mate and have always been happier during my periods alone. Those stretches grew longer and less suspectible to breaking until I finally just decided I’d rather be alone. Since I’m not someone who’s comfortable sleeping with someone I haven’t built a loving, trustful relationship with, I’m celibate by choice.

    It’s really that simple. But it’s taken as so freaky by almost everyone, even people who are broadminded about homosexuality and multiple partnerships and is also so automtatically associated with religiousity (the last thing in hell I want to be be labelled) as if there’s no other reason to be celibate by choice, there’s a tendency not to broadcast it. I’ve reached the point where I’ve said why am I letting others make me feel ashamed of a choice that is right for me that I’m making more of an effort to be honest about it. I don’t go around saying hey, you know what, I’m celibate by choice but in discussions such as this one on sexuality, I’ve lately grown more open about it.

  • talynkotr

    Personally I was waiting for marriage at one point in my life. Not because of religion but because I knew myself. I have an addictive personality and I had already hurt one girlfriend (emotionally not physically) because I stayed in the relationship after I knew it was over for me simply because I wanted the physical pleasure of her company. I really didn’t want to be that kind of person and I figured that if foreplay could muck up the waters that bad, sex would be worse.

    Then again I changed my position as I grew as a person and changed my position when I realized that it wasn’t marriage I was waiting for but my own commitment in the relationship. Along with becoming better able to control the addictive aspects of my personality. Then again I still don’t drink so I do still have some control issues.

  • Viggo the Carpathian

    Compatibility is a huge issue, it isn’t just position pref as one commenter said. I would fear that anyone not understanding compatibility issues has had limited exposure.

  • michelle

    My husband and I waited to have sex until after we were engaged and moved in together – about a year before the actual wedding – but it amounts to about the same thing. Not that it matters, but our primary motivation was fear of pregnancy outside of what we knew would be a permanent relationship (and wouldn’t you know, we brought our son home on our second wedding anniversary – a son we conceived on birth control.) What confuses me is all the talk in the comments about needing to know whether or not you are sexually compatible before marriage. In my opinion, they are the people putting the emphasis for reasons to marry on sex, not the people waiting. Maybe my husband and I just got lucky ( no pun intended) that we were compatable. However, I cannot imagine a reality where sexual incomparability could possibly outweigh all the wonderful reasons I truly married him. Other people’s sex is other people’s sex. Stay out of it. It is arrogant and hypocritical to judge one person’s choice while considering yourself more enlightened or liberal for advocating for another person’s choice. Sex between consenting adults should be just that, between them, whether it is homosexual, heterosexual, swinging with the neighbors, bisexual, with three people or thirty, every night with someone new, or every night with the one and only, whatever. If a woman were forced to wait by family or a religious community, yeah, that’s oppression. But it seems to me that many “feminists” these days are getting just as pushy as oppressive men. The desired goal of feminism should be equality of choice – whatever that woman’s choice may be. Definately teach kids about safe sex; abstinence only policies are terrible. But some people do chose abstinence, and that should be okay.

  • The conservative view of female sexuality – that premarital sexual adventures spoil women for marriage – has some empirical support:

    http://socialpathology.blogspot.com/2010/08/defining-slut.html

    Atheists tend to dismiss conservative social beliefs too readily as superstition, when in fact these beliefs often incorporate defensible generalizations about the consequences of human behavior.

  • Flah the Heretic Methodist

    What people do or don’t do is their business, but unfortunately, in xtian culture, the church makes it their business too, and creates this mythology around a “pure” sexual relationship that begins only when the white bridal veil comes off. (And it’s almost 100% focused on the bride. Rarely is anyone thinking about the groom’s purity, because hey, he doesn’t have anything to break, does he?)

    It just makes me sad, because it puts so much pressure on the wedding night, where as Silent Service mentions above, you’re tired and overwrought to begin with. And when that mystical event is a letdown…when the holy spirit doesn’t visit the “sacred” marriage bed and provide the Puccini and fireworks….how depressing is that? How many people’s First Time was all that great?? (And yes, I’ve heard it put in those terms, that there would be “three” in the bed. Yikes.)

    On a personal note, I want to take a minute and thank all the women my spouse was with before me. Good training, ladies, bravo!!

  • bigjohn756

    Read On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan for an example of what could happen to a couple who abstain until marriage.

  • Compatibility is more than position preference. It can involve frequency of sex, kinds of foreplay, and whether you like sex at all.

    I was a Christian virgin, as was my ex-husband when we married. We couldn’t wait to have sex–probably why we got married within five months of meeting each other. Once the knot was tied it turned out I loved sex–and he didn’t. One of our many problems.

    I see many young virgin couples who seem to think that this status will guarantee them a marriage of sunshine and roses. I feel compelled to point out to them that, while that’s vaguely possible, it’s not guaranteed and being inexperienced with sex is more likely to hurt than help.

    And Sadie’s right about making someone a frustrated husband. Most of the girl’s I grew up with as a Jehovah’s Witness had seen sex so vilified that they never became comfortable enough to do it even after marriage.

  • michelle, I think you’re confusing what people are saying. It’s not *the* issue, outweighing all the rest, but it is *an* issue, one that should be weighed amongst all the others when making that decision. People can have their reasons for waiting, and they aren’t necessarily bad reasons, but they should also know that there is a potential issue that they won’t be finding out about until after things become a whole lot more permanent.

  • Well, not waiting until marriage doesn’t really save you from the sexual incompatibility issues. If you marry on love, you may still retain some incompatibilities. It may be worth it, but it may still make you crazy. Communication can go a long way in that, but incompatibility alone isn’t a reason not to wait, really.

    I think the better reason is, is there a benefit to waiting? Other than not having to worry about birth control and STIs, there’s no benefit. Married sex is plenty special even if you’ve had sex before. I assure you 🙂 Why? Because it’s safer. Because it’s forever. Now, I know plenty of people who rushed to marriage because they had trouble waiting. I’d hate to be there, even as hard as my first year of marriage was.

  • Eddie

    The sex thing is hard for me to judge because I’m asexual (not celibate). I didn’t choose to not want to have sex. But saying that I’m not frigid. I can talk about sex and I don’t think it’s wrong in the slightest and I think those who act so childish about the body and sex are weird. You’re not impure if you have sex. I’m a bit Shinto about sex – it should be celebrated as something normal and wonderful.

    I think the idea of waiting until marriage can distort the reason for marriage. But it is a choice and if that’s in their belief then go ahead. But I wouldn’t recommend it.

    I’m not very fond of celibates myself. I’m asexual and I have to make sure the person understands that and very often celibates are on a different track to me. I’m like “No, I’m not like you, you’re waiting, I’m not”

  • i disapprove of waiting, for all the reasons SS mentions, but also for a very simple and practical one. sometimes, people just aren’t sexually compatible, but they don’t know it and in fact feel a great deal of attraction before they’ve had a sexual encounter which helped them realize “it’s not gonna work.” for women esp, it’s important to have a parter who understands your needs, and frankly, bumbling virgins are the very last ones to do that. there are a lot of other reason i could list, but the short version: sacralizing sex? of course as an atheist i reject that. there’s nothing special about sex, every species *must* have it to survive, and far too many of our problems in this world are caused by powerful people with stupid hangups about sex that they take out on the rest of us in non-sexual ways (war, etc).

  • Kimpatsu

    Me laughing at people who are “saving” yourself for marriage and supporting gay rights are two different things. (And, no, I would never pass a law against abstinence.) The issue here is that conservative Christians have been duped, into (1) believing that homosexuality is evil (“a sin”) and that (2) sex before marriage is evil (“a sin”). I’m opposed to anything that is born of an untruth and ignorance. That’s why I laugh at purity rings, and rail against homophobia, and know damn well that I’m not being hypocritical about it. They’re two sides of the same coin.
    And Sadie can’t use the apostrophe correctly, which is the real sin here.

  • Meredith

    Respect for what someone else wants to do with their sex life is a two-way street. Everyone I know who waiting until marriage (or claimed to) had a real superiority complex about it. I really feel no compulsion to grant a respectful attitude I would never get in return.

    Sure, I was not a virgin when I married, not by a long shot, but I was also then 29 years old, as opposed to the 20, 21, and 23 years old that my “waiting” friends were at the time of their marriages.

    Few things:

    1. My body belongs to me. When I have sex, I’m not “giving” anything. We’re TOGETHER, sharing an experience.

    2. I don’t consider anything magical about virginity per se, at least as it relates to PIV sex. As far as I’m concerned, if someone else’s genitals are in one of your orifices or vice versa, you’re not a virgin.

    3. This attitude of “waiting” contributes to the very dangerous attitude of “and that’s why we don’t have to teach about birth control.” And you’d better believe I don’t have a lick of respect about that.

    4. Virginity focuses on girls, not boys. It’s the job of the girl to be pure. Are there chastity balls where boys pledge their purity to their mothers?

    5. The idea that sex = bad almost certainly leads to antiabortion attitudes, which I also have no respect for. A focus on the role of the girl is also why I will forever contend that being antiabortion is misogynistic.

  • L

    As a mother of three daughters, I have never spewed the line my mother handed me: Sex is a gift from God between a married man and woman. She also implied that it was for procreation purposes only. She actually believed that my reason for marrying my first husband was Catholic guilt over having had premarital sex (rather than just wanting to get the hell out of her house.) My girls know sex is pleasurable and natural, preservation of the species and all, and at 18 and 15 are not in any rush probably because they haven’t been raised with the ‘forbidden fruit’ attitude.

    If you’re buying a car, you take it for a test drive. Wear a seatbelt and make sure there are airbags, but take it out for a spin and be sure it drives well.

    To the purity lovers: Good luck with that.

  • 1. My body belongs to me. When I have sex, I’m not “giving” anything. We’re TOGETHER, sharing an experience.

    I can’t agree with this enough. I am not a prize to be purchased, but a person to be loved, enjoyed, and respected.

  • Lindsay

    The reason that I tend to be opposed to this viewpoint is that I think people decide to wait without actually ever being educated about the true costs and benefits of waiting versus not waiting.

    Personally, I was raised in a rather conservative church in a very conservative town. The public school taught aggressively abstinence only sex ed, and in Sunday school, they brought in couples from the church to tell us about how sex is a great thing but ONLY when you’re married. So for a long time I assumed that I would wait until marriage because I would be a horrible shameful slut if I did anything else. So I was basically forced into that position, which I think is very common for people who ‘decide to wait.’

    Also, I think our culture views sex more as a commodity than a performance, which is an inadequate model for the actual act, because it assumes that the first few sex acts are worth more than the subsequent acts (especially for women) and creates feelings of intense shame in people who don’t guard their virginity like it’s the Holy Grail.

    So I guess what I would say is that if someone chooses to wait because they have weighed all of their options and fully understands the risks and rewards of that decision, then more power to them. But if they do it because they’re convinced God will send them to Hell for giving a hand job, then I have less respect for that ‘choice’ and would be inclined to try to argue with them.

  • @Meredith:

    “4. Virginity focuses on girls, not boys. It’s the job of the girl to be pure. Are there chastity balls where boys pledge their purity to their mothers?”

    We have a double standard because we have two sexes, with different reproductive strategies.

    As for asymmetrical standards, in developed societies women have the freedom to put out for all the alpha males they want, while sexually rejecting the lower-status men. The genomic evidence suggests that women consider about two thirds of the male population in every generation reproductively undesirable, and in modern conditions women have started to reassert their own preferences – hence the apparently growing number of men out there like middle-aged male virgins and the sexually discarded like George Sodini.

    Yet nobody I know of argues that women should show this majority of men some consideration.

  • and i have to add, and in my experience this is particularly true of conservative religious types, sometimes “waiting” is really cover for “i’m a closeted homosexual but i will never come out.” i’ve seen this time and time again among my conservative friends and coworkers. the conversation usually goes something like “i haven’t had sex with my marriage partner in a long time, i’m so sad. s/he doesn’t like sex with me, and i don’t know why. i’ve tried so hard to make my marriage partner interested. i’ve read all the books, bought toys and sexy movies to share, and nothing has worked. it must be all my fault.” and that’s when i say “has it occurred to you s/he may be gay?” for too many people raised in ignorance about sex, their ‘gaydar’ is entirely lacking and they get into these hurtful, unfair sad marriages with people who generally end up slinking around the gay bars 25 years after the wedding night, down-low types praying they won’t see anyone from their church there.

  • Isn’t the Christian divorce rate higher than the non-Christian divorce rate? There is something wrong with a lack of sexual chemistry. We are not judgmental because we don’t like the idea of chastity, we’re judgmental because the evidence shows it’s a bad idea. Just think of the women or men that cannot bring themselves to divorce. The suicides. The adultery. The depression. All of these things could be avoided with a little pre-nuptial nookie.

  • This can be analyzed and picked apart until the cows come home. I think michelle had it right with this comment:

    “Other people’s sex is other people’s sex. Stay out of it.

  • Mike

    Was your first reaction to the couple-waiting-to-kiss story to scoff at them? To roll your eyes? To shake your head? To accept it and move on?

    If I did have that reaction, it was not because of their attitudes towards intimacy or sex, but because those attitudes indicate that they are most likely religious fundamentalists that think they’re…

    better than me because they waited till marriage to do anything sexual.

    I find it highly unlikely that anyone who waits, does so without forming a negative judgment on those who don’t.

  • i hope you’re not implying women “owe” men sex, Mark Plus. mostly, if a guy isn’t getting laid, it’s because he doing something wrong to the women in his life, or to himself that makes him unattractive to most women. you’ve just got to believe, and in civilized countries this is proven true by the high rates of very sexually active women (sweden, norway, etc): there is a partner for everyone. everyone. it just takes some people longer to learn how to find them.

  • jolly

    For women it seems it would increase the chance you are about to marry a gay man in the closet.

  • mai

    The problem is when a person’s (always the woman’s/girl’s) worth as a person is defined by her being a virgin and therefore somehow ‘pure’. It enforces the idea of sex as a commodity: something a woman gives and the man gets or takes. The thought of women waiting for marriage so they can offer their first time as a gift makes me sick.

  • Digitus Impudicus (formerly Aaron)

    I keep thinking if the last scene from “40-year-old Virgin”.
    Maybe they all think they will get a musical number.

  • Of course, people are free to have their own values and opinions on sexuality. And that means they are free to wait until marriage to have a sexual relationship with a partner.

    But doesn’t mean that this choice could have potential negative consequences. Here’s a cautionary warning from the Unitarian Universalist minister and public health/sexuality educator Rev. Debra Haffner:

    Haffner describes herself as “a minister and a sexologist.” During her talk, she voiced her support for gay marriage, premarital sex, and abortion rights. Amusingly, however, she said that she felt like a conservative compared to the rest of the speakers at Sex Week.

    Only at Yale can a pro-choice, feminist Unitarian be made to feel conservative.

    Haffner opposes the freewheeling hookup culture that prevails on most college campuses. However, she added that it was important for people of faith to remain “sex positive.” And she criticized religious restrictions on premarital sex. “As a religious leader,” she said, “I made the decision that I would not marry virgins. . . . I think sexuality is too important to a marriage.”

    Source:
    “Sex Week at Yale, Day 2”
    http://www.nationalreview.com/phi-beta-cons/39845/sex-week-yale-day-2

    Please note that this is a conservative political journal web site but she is paraphrased as saying basically the same thing on the Yale Daily News web site as well:

    Reverend reconciles sex and religion
    http://www.yaledailynews.com/news/2010/feb/08/reverend-reconciles-sex-and-religion/

    Before anyone thinks that Rev. Haffner is being unfair to virginal couples, she isn’t saying that they should be restricted from civil marriage in the same way that political and religious conservatives are with same-sex marriage.

    It’s just that she cannot in good faith marry a couple who doesn’t know if they are sexually compatible. Virginal couples can still get married by clergy who are OK with abstinence until marriage or the local justice-of-the-peace.

  • Another Rev. Debra Haffner quote on this topic (she was writing about a Christian private school who fired an elementary school teacher for having sex outside marriage — i.e. conceiving a child before their wedding):

    In fact, I believe that sexual compatibility is so important in a marriage that I won’t perform a wedding for a couple that has only engaged in the least intimate sexual behaviors. In my time as ordained clergy, I have never performed a wedding for a couple who isn’t already cohabitating. I believe that an ethical sexual relationship is defined not by the marital status of the partners (nor by their sexual orientations or genders), but by whether their relationship is characterized by love, justice, mutuality, commitment, consent and pleasure.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-debra-haffner/non-virgins-need-not-appl_b_612326.html

  • gribblethemunchkin

    Personally, yeah, i’d roll my eyes at someone that was “saving themselves” for their marriage night. But thats all i’d do. I wouldn’t launch education programs telling them how wrong they are, or try and introduce laws to make them have sex before marriage.

    And thats what differentiates me from fundamentalists. I may think its silly, i may say so, but i’m not going to do anything about it, its none of my business.

    It only becomes my business when they start inflicting it on others beyond themselves. This is what we’ve seen with the purity rings, purity Dad and daughter balls, abstinence only sex ed, etc etc.

  • Willee

    Personally, my girlfriend and I waited quite a while to have sex, mostly to avoid the risk of pregnancy when we were still both living with our parents, but also because I was seriously struggling to break out of the brainwashed mindset which I had been raised in. I know for me that sex is a very personal emotional thing that I could really only enjoy with someone I loved, but that doesn’t mean that is the case with everyone.

    I’m all for people waiting for when both they and their partner are comfortable with going to the next level, be that on the first night or after a couple years. I do however think that the focus in Christian culture to wait till marriage generates a lot of horny kids who will jump on the opportunity to get married simply for sex, and in a lot of cases give it too much focus while at the same time not fully enjoying the beauty of it, and has the possibility of hurting their marriage.

    There are good reasons and bad reasons to wait to have sex, but almost always religiously backed reasons are wrong or even hurtful. I don’t believe there is a one size fits all rule for when or why to have sex.

    And now I leave you with the words of South Park’s Chef:

    Stan: But Chef, when IS the right time for us to start having sex?
    Chef: It’s very simple, children; The right time to start having sex is…seventeen.
    Kyle: Seventeen?
    Chef: Seventeen.
    Sheila: So, you mean seventeen as long as you’re in love?
    Chef: Nope, just seventeen.
    Gerald: But what if you’re not ready at seventeen?
    Chef: Seventeen. You’re ready.

  • BlueRidgeLady

    I am 100% about bodily autonomy-that is a sacred human right. If someone chooses of their own volition to abstain, that’s their entitlement and no one has the right to pressure them to do otherwise.

    However, this “purity” movement isn’t about bodily autonomy at all. It is scare tactics and sex-shaming. The idea of someone being “damaged goods” is not a positive sexual idea!

    There is also the huge problem of this idea being more forced upon young women, not being equal to that of young men-not that I think it should be forced on either. When I attended church as a youth, in about fifth or sixth grade we signed pledges to remain “pure” until marriage. That is a disgusting tactic to force upon a child who doesn’t even have many sexual feelings yet, who doesn’t know a biological desire yet. You are making them promise something abstract and then making them feel guilty when they inevitably break that promise. It is all based on guilt and shame. Guilt and shame are horrible reasons to not explore your sexuality and it makes me sad so many young people are remaining uneducated about sex because of guilt and shame. How can you have a positive sexual experience when you view sex as dirty or shameful before marriage?

    The whole concept of “saving” oneself if also an implication of ownership of bodies, mainly womens’ bodies. Marriage was used as a property transfer back in the day and this idea illustrates that perfectly.

    Do I even have to get into the pedophilic implications of the obsession with female virgins and hymen-breaking? I certainly hope not.

  • Thegoodman

    I agree and disagree with the quoted text.

    1. “saving” yourself for marriage is archaic, impractical, sexist, and least of all…boring as all hell.

    2. I disagree that a woman waiting until she is married for intercourse would make her an unloving/sexless wife. Every person has their own libido and she might be a sex maniac once she loses the chastity belt. Her husband could also have the libido of a sloth. The key for them will be meeting in the middle.

    My wife gave it up to me (and not only me) before we were married, she is an atheist…and I am a frustrated husband. Being an atheist floosey pre-marriage doesn’t say anything about your married sex life; just like being a prude doesn’t either.

    Married sex and unmarried sex are two very different things; I recommend them both for everyone.

  • CP

    While I personally have no desire to ‘save myself for marriage’ many of the comments here seem to be going too far in the other direction. No one should be pressured into having sex before marriage if they don’t want to, and that’s what may happen with the idea of refusing to marry somebody because they haven’t had sex. The idea that you have to be a virgin to have a compatible marriage is stupid, but the idea that you somehow must have sex before you marry someone is equally stupid.

  • Vas

    For me it’s like this… YKINMK,BYKIOK but it seems for many, and in particular the abstinence crowd the battle cry seems to be YKINOK.
    Not cool, nuff said.

  • t Tyrrell

    Virginity is, at best, a curable perversity.
    -Robert Anson Heinlein

  • The issue isn’t ‘saving or not saving yourself’ the issue is imposing “saving yourself” onto others. It makes NO difference to anyone else if you decide not to have sex/hold hands/do whatever until marriage/college/age 40. But deciding that public policy must be based on the choice NOT to have sex is where things get ludicrous. The problem with American brand Christianity is the ridiculous desire to impose this on everyone around them. Imagine the kerfluffle that would ensue if some other religion tried to do the same…

  • Ash

    Great comments from everyone here.

    I’d only add that, for me, the issue isn’t waiting per se, but the reasons behind it. I certainly don’t care if a couple has or does not have sex. What matters is why. My primary criticism is aimed at the concepts of sex-shaming and female-as-property.

    There are plenty of good reasons to hold off: emotional readiness, worry about pregnancy, or simply the excitement of resisting a building desire.

    But I think it is worthwhile to combat the notions of “purity” and “sin” in relation to sex. Saying “There is no shame in getting it on” is not the same as saying “There’s something wrong with you if you don’t have sex right now.”

    As for the couple who waited to kiss: I just feel sorry for them.

  • Daniel

    I only have a problem with chastity before marriage because it makes me wonder if its a sign of deeper issues. Why not develop sexual skills? I’m not necessarily promoting random one night stands left and right, but I see no problem with friends with benefits, sex being a part of all romantic relationships, etc.

    My wife and I were both very experienced when we began dating and it was never an issue, except in that we both had a rather good idea of what we liked and weren’t shy about sharing that information.

    I’ve never had a problem with birth control not working. I was sexually active for 7 years prior to dating my wife with no problems. My wife and I were sexually active for 8 years; conceived the first month we stopped using birth control when we wanted a kid; went back on for two years and stopped again for the second kid, which took four months.

    I guess that since I don’t see a mystical/ spiritual/ religious aspect to sex, I see it as an aspect of relationships that should be developed, just as every other element should be developed. If I were to say, “My girlfriend and I have decided not to engage in our hobbies / politics / religion / chores / plan finances / etc. until we are married so we can share those experiences as a couple.” the response would be wildly different than if I said no sex. I don’t think it should be.

    As others have stated, the chastity / gay marriage issue is not comparable. No one is legislating against chastity.

    I might think its an odd choice, but lots of people do things I think are odd.

    edited to add:
    re: Married sex and unmarried sex are two very different things; I recommend them both for everyone.

    I find the two to be identical. We joked about it on our wedding night. “Any different?” “Not really.” “Great! Let’s do it again.”

  • slingshot

    What’s all this talk of sexual ‘incompatability’? Is that euphamism for ‘they don’t like the same positions I do’?

    Are you a virgin??? Or just one of those ppl who think “sex” only means penis-in-vagina intercourse and nothing else, maybe a few positions? That right there is a sign that you are incompatible with a lot of people.

    I myself find sex to be very important to my relationship, and have definitely found that the christian idea of “penis + vagina = compatible!” is not true.

    I don’t really care if other people want to wait. I certainly wouldn’t advise it (if I were asked), but I’m not suggesting making some LAW about it, or not allowing virgins to marry or somesuch like they want to do to gays.

  • Camus Dude

    Even if it’s not wrong to wait, that doesn’t mean that the idea that one should wait isn’t ripe for mocking.

  • Aguz

    Well, some people are really asexual, or at least not-so-into-sex. I never felt like doing it, and hell, if I’m not letting religion to push me to wait until marriage I am neither letting society to make me felt obligated to have sex. I’ll do it, when I fell like it, with whoever I fell like it and taking the necessary measures to avoid unwanted pregnancies and STD. That’s about it.

  • If I was in store for a lifetime of boring, repressed, guilt-wracked sex, I probably wouldn’t be eager to get started either.

  • Meh! I don’t care about marriage at all. It isn’t for everyone or I’m pretty easy going whether or is a man and a woman, two of the same or even more if you can handle it. If you want to have sex and have someone who also want to have sex then go for it. If not then there is always Rosie Palm and her five delightful daughters.

    I for one wouldn’t be willing to endure some stupid, middle ages ritual of taking ownership of a woman from her father just so I can have sex. All I need is a willing partner and my favourite pirate hat with a feather in it. Now some people don’t agree but then they don’t have my hat and they really don’t know what they’re missing out on.

    What I don’t understand is why people would want to wait. No, actually anticipation is a great aphrodisiac so I do understand that. What I don’t understand is why they tell anyone else. Like we care. I don’t care if you’re having sex. I don’t care if you’re not having sex. I don’t care unless it is me that you’re not having sex with. Unless I don’t want to have sex with you…then I don’t care if you do.

    I think I need to lie down now.

    Also I thought the silver ring was something completely different and had to do with men over forty. My bad.

  • Claudia

    But I don’t get anyone who’s opposed to that couple waiting just because they would never do it themselves.

    It’s pretty simple to understand though. I reserve my right to disapprove of someone doing something I don’t think is a good idea for them. Of course I would never dream of prohibitting it, but as it happens I don’t think abstinence vs. non-abstinence before marriage are merely two equal choices. I think abstinence before marriage is an actively bad idea for those that practice it.

    Sex is important for everyone save the tiny minority of asexuals. Being sexually compatible is not a given. I think it’s pretty damn risky to decide to marry someone without making sure you are compatible with that person. Hell, I think it’s best couples live together for a time before marriage, that they essentially live as spouses BEFORE they sign the contract and especially before they have kids. Leaving aside the fact that pledging abstinence is going to lead to a lot of rushed marriages (in turn leading to a lot of painful divorces), sexual compatibility is not optional. Do you have the same libido? Do they have some essential turn-on that’s a huge turn-off for you? Are you or your partner simply really bad or non-giving in sex? You really want to find these things out before the “I do”.

    Dan Savage has actually said that he can see one sliver of acceptability of abstinence applicable only to heterosexuals. If you’re willing to do everything other than vaginal intercourse and save that particular for the wedding night, it could work out. If you’re sexually compatible in every other respect the risk goes down that the final act will somehow fuck things up.

    So no, I don’t approve of abstinence before marriage. I wouldn’t call it immoral, but I would call it dumb. Unlike those who disapprove of homosexuality however, I’m not about to impose my views by law. I have no plans on marrying someone from the abstinence crowd. If they want to take monumental risks with their future, that’s their choice.

  • Vanessa

    Those commenters who say having a lot of sexual experience is better for marriage have the same “holier-than-thou” attitude as that of people who wait to have sex until marriage because it makes them “pure”. They are both equally arrogant positions in my book. The idea that inexperienced sexual partners are worth less is the same as the idea that non-virgins are worth less.

    And here’s a thought, why not talk about sex with your partner? You can get a good idea of whether you’re sexually compatible without actually doing it that way.

  • cat

    @BlueRidgeLady, I liked your comment in general, but this part jumped out at me “fifth or sixth grade we signed pledges to remain “pure” until marriage. That is a disgusting tactic to force upon a child who doesn’t even have many sexual feelings yet, who doesn’t know a biological desire yet.” Um, that’s not so true for some of us. By sixth grade, I was pretty much physically fully developed and had a ton of sexual desires (yes, I was one of those kids who could pass for eighteen at twelve, physically). It isn’t less damaging to kids who develop early to hear about how sexual desires are wicked when they know they have more than most of the other kids.

  • Grimalkin

    I wanted to avoid sex until I was in a committed relationship. My reason was that I wanted to have a solid foundation to the relationship before getting into the physical aspects because I had observed in other couples that significant issues were being dealt with simply by having sex, so that the underlying problems were never really resolved.

    I also knew that emotional/value compatibility is very important, whereas every relationship goes through periods of lots and little (or no) sex. So I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t mistaking physical compatibility for anything else.

    The result? My boyfriend and I had sex for the first time after dating for about seven months. We had a ‘private wedding’ first (totally non-legal, just the two of us – we promised to stay together in the long term). At 26, we will soon be celebrating our ten year anniversary of togetherness (5 of marriage). I credit our decision to get to know each other as minds before we started exploring each other as bodies for some of that.

    I have absolutely no opinion on whether it’s better or not to wait _for other people_. Waiting was right for me and my husband, it’s what worked best for us. But the same strategy can backfire for people who are different (most of my friends who got married having had only one sexual partner are now divorced – the main reason? Feeling “trapped” because they regret having not playing the field first). So as far as I’m concerned, it’s up to every individual to look at themselves and decide what works best.

    Trying to shoe-horn yourself into a model that may or may not be best for you simply because some old (hopefully) virgin guy in a dress says so is pretty much the stupidest reason you could have behind your decision, though.

  • Bill

    I’m relieved I didn’t wait, even if I was much older than my peers…26. I didn’t know what I was doing and didn’t realize my girlfriend got really frustrated sex started with my erection and ended with my ejaculation. I also have a woman friend who lost her fiance when she told him she was raped – because she wasn’t “pure” and he didn’t think it was fair to him even if it wasn’t her fault. Still can’t wrap my head around that one. He wasn’t worried about the dysfunction, just that he wasn’t there first. The insecurity of evangelical men astound me time and again.

  • Robert W.

    Claudia,

    Hell, I think it’s best couples live together for a time before marriage, that they essentially live as spouses BEFORE they sign the contract and especially before they have kids.

    I am confused by this statement. Are you saying that you think it is best for couples to live together and have kids before they get married?

    I disagree that people should live together before marriage. Marriage is discounted enough in our society as it is. In my opinion living together cheapens it all the more.

  • Eliza

    I only recommend sex before marriage like the others because you shouldn’t make that long term committment to someone too selfish to value your pleasure as much as theirs. My own little rule is six years before you bring up engagement: 3 years getting to know them, 3 years getting sick of each other. Sex is too important to leave to conversation only. My first boyfriend didn’t like the idea of cunnilingus. I learned early vaginal penetration alone wasn’t enough. He didn’t think his refusal was a big deal and that I’d eventually “learn.” It opened my eyes to his inflexibility in other areas of our relationship. You shouldn’t FEEL pressure to have sex before marriage, but you need to STRONGLY consider it. Marriage is a contract after all.

  • As another (gray-area) asexual, I’m really happy to see this post. Too often, it’s implied in sex-positive spaces that everyone just wants as much sex as possible, and anyone who is even a little less than enthusiastic about sex must be doing something wrong. Even if no one ever says so explicitly (though sometimes they do), that is the impression I get. Before identifying as asexual, I used to feel uncomfortable when sex was brought up in the atheist community for precisely this reason.

    And yes, there are many advantages of premarital sex vs waiting for marriage. But it’s important to understand that these deserve rational consideration, not just a knee-jerk response. There’s no sense in shaming someone for waiting for marriage unless their reasons are blatantly irrational. Okay, so some people do have blatantly irrational reasons, but a knee-jerk response alienates those who find good reasons (and I’m not just talking asexuals).

    Ironically, I personally would not wait for marriage. This is because, for me more than for others, sexual compatibility is a potential issue. Also, I don’t think sex is special, and “saving” it will not make it any more special for me.

  • jolly

    When I was in my 20’s and 30’s I overlooked a lot of disagreements with potential girlfriends. I was a very sexual person and my brain just didn’t work well until after I had sex with someone. No I didn’t just grab anyone willing but my brain just hid things from me. Like the song asks, ‘Why does love make you stupid?’

  • BoomerChick

    Why deny yourself pleasure? Yes, I’m a hedonist. Sexual activity and hormones drive a big part of human life force.

    Hormones peak when you are young and contrary to what many people would have you believe sex is not as good when you get older. It is just a biological fact. Your body ages, you may become disabled or injured and that special sexual enjoyment will end or at best be modified.

    Don’t wait, experiment, have fun, have sex with or without emotional attachment (there is no god watching). Of course be safe but go for it.

  • Grimalkin

    I’m a little concerned by all the people talking about sexual compatibility. I honestly have to wonder how many of these people have actually been married (or in a long-term relationship).

    Sexual compatibility is always changing. A long-term relationship will go through periods when you are completely compatible and hot for each other and doing it a couple times a day. Then you might not want to touch each other for a couple months at a time. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the sex, it’s just that sex doesn’t happen in a vaccuum (unless you’re really kinky). Life gets in the way, kids get in the way, jobs get in the way, etc.

    So whether or not the sex is great when you first start dating really isn’t much of a predictor of what sex will be like in 20 years, or even 5 years!

    People have cited size issues, adventurousness issues, etc., and honestly, that all comes down to respect and love. Sex, the first couple times you have it with your first or new partner, will probably suck. What makes a great sex life is not being magically “compatible” in a physical way, but rather being compatible in an emotional and personality way. I’m not nearly as interested in sex as my husband is (eek! incompatibility!), but we do fine because sometimes I’ll work a bit harder to get in the mood, and sometimes he’ll back off if it just isn’t working.

    When it comes to sex, you make your own compatibility, especially over the long term.

    @Eliza – You say that “you shouldn’t make that long term committment to someone too selfish to value your pleasure as much as theirs.” I agree completely. However, sex is only one expression of this. There are many ways to determine if you and your partner are compatible in a give-and-take way without having sex, and there’s no reason to think that people who don’t have sex before marriage are walking into a commitment blind.

    I sincerely hope that this is all just Zeitgeist talk and that the commenters here aren’t really using sex as the litmus test for their relationships. There are many wonderful reasons to have sex, but that’s about one of the least reasonable and least helpful ones I’ve ever heard.

  • Claudia

    I am confused by this statement. Are you saying that you think it is best for couples to live together and have kids before they get married?

    I think couples should live together but absolutely should not have kids before marriage (or until they are in a lifelong relationship, even if they don’t marry for whatever reason). Marriage is undoable (with difficulty) but children are not.

    I’m less certain about living together before marriage than I am about sex before marriage. I guess I think that marriage is a Big Step and should be taken when you are already sure. It may be a little less like a romantic movie, but for me marriage needs to be an affirmation of a pre-existing lifelong committment, not the start of one. Maybe this “cheapens” marriage, but I think that anything you can do to ensure you only marry someone you really intend on spending your life with is worth it, even if it means being all-but-married before the actual ceremony.

    @Miller, asexuals that wish to marry should marry other asexuals. Nothing wrong with it at all. If the couple agrees that sex is not important at all and doesn’t bother trying it before the wedding because it’s going to be an insignificant portion of their lives, then fine. Also fine if someone is a firm asexual who dislikes the idea of sex; as long as they marry someone like them, should they elect to marry. Asexuals are in a peculiar position because sex isn’t as important to them so obviously discussions of compatibility or rushing into marriage for sex are totally irrelevant. The general point is that it’s risky to enter into a lifelong partnership with someone without exploring essential aspects of that relationship. If you already know that sex isn’t one of them, then obviously 90% of the above thread does not apply to you or other asexuals.

  • FresnoMikey

    Our first nine months are spent in total physical skin contact. Mothers, family, and friends hold and kiss babies. It is the way we should always be throughout life except for the religions that have made us unnatural. Having seen World War II death up close and personal no wonder the Europeans are more affectionate with each other and in public.
    They do not buy the anti-sexuality of the church. They understand living here and now and enjoying themselves.

  • Lesilu

    I find nothing wrong with people waiting until marriage to have sex, and I find the attitudes so against it as distasteful as the those vehemently against premarital sex.
    Other people’s sex lives are their own business, it’s not universal. It’s not “dumb”, “puritanical”, or even a “bad idea”. And while, yes, it’s likely that most waiting for marriage to have sex come from strict religious background, what’s with the people asserting beliefs on their part? What’s with the assumptions that they’re anti-abortion, are against homosexuality and homosexual marriages, or are only getting married to have sex? Illogical assumptions.
    There are “non-theist” who have or are waiting too, and several posts have listed some valid secular reasons.

  • LeAnne

    i would hate to not know how my husband was in the sack before i committed to spending the rest of my life with him! what’s funny, is a lot of christians make these vows, and then realize that they’re shit, so they have sex, but no one’s ever taught them about birth control, so they’re usually the first ones to get knocked up..

    hilarious, if you ask me. but that’s coming from one of the few people i know that are my age (20) without a child.

  • LeAnne

    also, catherine said:
    “I went to an evangelical christian school and I know many people who rushed into marriage right at 18 just so they could finally have sex. They weren’t prepared for everything else that marriage entails and many of them were divorced by 21. So sad”

    that’s the other thing. a lot of christians rush into it because they’re POSITIVE (at 18? lmfao..) that this person is their TRUEEE LOOOOVE, and then they realize a couple years later that they’re incompatible or one cheats or what have you.
    i’ve seen it multiple times and it’s painful to watch.

  • Robert W.

    Claudia,

    Thank you for the clarification. And i agree, children should come after marriage not before. Unfortunately, you see it just the opposite alot of the time.

  • Robert W.

    LeAnne,

    that’s the other thing. a lot of christians rush into it because they’re POSITIVE (at 18? lmfao..) that this person is their TRUEEE LOOOOVE, and then they realize a couple years later that they’re incompatible or one cheats or what have you.
    i’ve seen it multiple times and it’s painful to watch.

    That happens whether you are a Christian or not. Its called being 18 and in love. And yes it is very sad.

  • Grimalkin

    @Claudia – There is no reason why asexuals should only marry other asexuals. Asexuals, hypersexuals, and everyone in between should marry people that they are comfortable and happy with. If you are a sexual person and you are happy with an asexual, and the two of you can find ways to make it work, there is absolutely no reason why you should let your sexual preferences keep you apart.

    @LeAnne – As Robert W. pointed out, it’s not just Christians who marry young. But the “it’s TRUEEE LOOOOVE” phenomena is not restricted to 18-year-olds either. I have known many 25, 30, and even 50 year olds who get married far too quickly or with far too little consideration, because they mistake the passion of a new relationship for the ‘slow and steady’ love that will get you through the years. I’ve known many people who make this mistake serially.

    I would even venture that most people in Western, or at least North American, culture have trouble distinguishing between the two. I take, as my evidence, the number of people in this thread who think that having sex with someone will tell you whether the two of you are sufficiently compatible for marriage, since this displays a lack of understanding that sex is very different with someone you’ve just started a relationship with as it is with someone you’ve been married to for a couple years.

  • LeAnne

    yes, i should clarify that this isn’t JUST a young, christian, teen thing. i do see it more often in the categories above, but it does happen to everyone.

    i guess people should just be more skeptical about what they believe is ‘real love’, etc. i personally think pretty critically of my past relationships (the ‘wow, i’m glad i realized this wasn’t TRUEEE LOOOOVE like i once thought’) but i wish more people would too.

    it’s hilarious to think that in a world of 6 billion plus, that you’d find your *soulmate* in your tiny town of nowhere, USA.

  • Grimalkin, as you quoted a number of things I said, I can only assume you were talking to me. No, I have not been married, but yes, I have been in a long-term relationship. You seem to be under the impression that so long as everything else is there, the sex will work itself out, and that compatibility isn’t an issue. While I would agree that people don’t need to be perfectly compatible, I think you are downplaying the negative impact a large degree of incompatibility can have on a relationship. Not that we can put actual numbers on these things and stick them in an equation, but for any couple, they will have degrees of compatibility or incompatibility in a wide array of areas in their relationship, and the higher their overall compatibility is, the more likely they are to succeed as a couple. The point I and others are making here is that sexuality is one of those areas, and by waiting until you’ve signed the contract to find out about that one, you’re making the decision blind to how a fairly important area of a relationship will be. Yes, if it isn’t a perfect match, both sides can work to “bridge the gap,” but the gap may be a lot larger than it is in your particular relationship, so just because you and your husband love and respect each other doesn’t mean that couples who can’t bridge that gap don’t. And that’s something that they probably should know about going into the more permanent arrangement that is marriage.

  • I believe that sex is at its heart a biological activity. So if two people love each other non-platonically, they are likely to feel sexual attraction. Denying themselves that pleasure does not make any sense to me. However, if they wish to, its their choice, who am I to have an opinion. But the idea that their abstinence is morally superior to my giving in to my desires that is stupid too.

  • Grimalkin

    @Kevin S. – I quoted some things that you said because you gave voice to ideas that have been very common in this thread in a very succinct and quotable way (kudos!), but I wasn’t directly responding to you so much as to the general thread. Just to clear that up 😉

    I understand what you saying, but I am having trouble envisioning an aspect of sexuality that is unique to the bedroom *and* unsolvable without an innate compatibility between partners.

    I do realize that if my sexual history has any deficiency, this is it. It’s entirely possible that I’ve just been compatible enough with my partner, and never experienced having a partner with whom I have not been compatible, and that this is why I’m just not “getting” where people are coming from. But it isn’t as though I don’t talk about sex, both with my partner and publically, and I simply have not encountered a situation where innate sexual compatibility would be a requirement. I simply cannot think of any difference between partners that couldn’t be solved through a lot of love, a lot of patience, and a whole lot of communication. Now, if you and your partner are incompatible in the areas of love, patience, and communication, that could definitely be a major issue – but it wouldn’t be one that is restricted to the bedroom.

    If you can think of any specific examples, I would very much like to hear them.

    I in no way meant to imply that couples who can’t shake the picture frames off the walls don’t love and respect each other. I definitely do agree that innate compatibility is an integral part to having a long term relationship that works and makes everyone involved happy. I’m just not convinced that sex is something so isolated from the rest of who we are that questions of sexual compatibility can’t be answered through non-sexual exploration of each other. For example, one commenter mentioned sex as a way to identify a possible lack of give-and-take – but I would argue that this is something that can be discovered without the need to actually have sex. It’s a fundamental personality trait (and/or indication of someone’s respect for you) and will manifest itself in non-sexual areas of your relationship.

    Phew, I’m wordy…

  • I posted this in response:

    http://shaunphilly.wordpress.com/2010/11/08/saving-yourself-for-marriage/

    Waiting until marriage is not only silly, it can be harmful.

  • Vas

    The idea that inexperienced sexual partners are worth less is the same as the idea that non-virgins are worth less.

    Well first off those ideas are not the same ideas, in fact they are pretty far apart, almost diametrically opposed ideas. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that you are talking about their fitness as a marriage partner, because if you are talking about their fitness as a sexual partner you could not be more wrong. If you ask me an inexperienced sexual partner has very little worth at all and much less worth than an experienced sexual partner. Great sex is not something that just happens by accident, sex has skill sets and they must be practiced if you want to be good at sex. Some people might think all sex is good sex, I’m not one of those people. I know a great many people who are in a relationship with a lame fuck and it is a sad place to be. All sex is not equal, some sex is better than other sex, each of us gets to decide what is good sex for themselves and I think it’s a good idea for people in a relationship to have similar definitions of what constitutes good sex… or you could just throw the dice and hope for the best, good luck with that.

  • Jon Peterson

    Oh, I certainly rolled my eyes at the “waiting to kiss” couple… but that’s about the extent of it. I’m certain that I will have entirely forgotten about them within the hour.

    Why? Because it matters not with respect to my life. I hope their first kiss on their wedding day is everything that they hope it’ll be, and I fear that they may have exaggerated expectations that may cause a certain extent of disappointment that is not befitting of such a joyous and memorable occasion… but its their choice to make; I wish them the best of luck with that, and shall promptly move on with the variety of distractions that were just presented me in today’s CodeProject daily newsletter.

  • @Grimalkin

    Sexual compatibility is always changing. A long-term relationship will go through periods when you are completely compatible and hot for each other and doing it a couple times a day. Then you might not want to touch each other for a couple months at a time. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the sex, it’s just that sex doesn’t happen in a vaccuum (unless you’re really kinky). Life gets in the way, kids get in the way, jobs get in the way, etc.

    So whether or not the sex is great when you first start dating really isn’t much of a predictor of what sex will be like in 20 years, or even 5 years!

    People have cited size issues, adventurousness issues, etc., and honestly, that all comes down to respect and love. Sex, the first couple times you have it with your first or new partner, will probably suck. What makes a great sex life is not being magically “compatible” in a physical way, but rather being compatible in an emotional and personality way. I’m not nearly as interested in sex as my husband is (eek! incompatibility!), but we do fine because sometimes I’ll work a bit harder to get in the mood, and sometimes he’ll back off if it just isn’t working.

    When it comes to sex, you make your own compatibility, especially over the long term.

    Yes! Well said. If you enter into marriage as a commitment then that involves working through all this kinds of issues together, because you love the person (even when the limerance – warmfuzzy feelings may not be as present)

  • Vas

    If you can think of any specific examples, I would very much like to hear them.

    How about crazy kinky shit? I find that this stuff pretty much has to be worked out in the bedroom, (and I use the term bedroom here loosely). All the talking, contract making, questionnaires, interviews etc.are no substitutes for boots on the ground action, that is why safewords are so popular. Hey if your kink is not my kink that’s fine with me but I don’t want to set up shop with you if we are not on page with this. People may like the sound of something and think they are all in, but may change their minds when hanging from their ankles with electrodes attached to their junk and I’d like to know this before signing on to an extended contract with them. Just saying…
    V

  • And here’s a thought, why not talk about sex with your partner? You can get a good idea of whether you’re sexually compatible without actually doing it that way.

    Wrong. I went that route. All the talking in the world about what you think you want does not equal what you will actually like or be like in practice.

  • Vas

    Sex, the first couple times you have it with your first or new partner, will probably suck.

    Well that has simply left me,(almost completely) gob smacked. This is such a bizarre concept I don’t even know what to say except WTF. Probably suck!?!

  • Ginger

    I understand both sides of this one. I think the main problem with the idea of “saving yourself” is the idea of sexually experienced women as damaged goods. Growing up Fundamentalist, I learned that I was supposed to “save myself” because I “belonged” to my future husband, and that if I “gave myself” to another man, I was depriving my husband of what I owed him (control over my sexuality). The idea of “saving myself” for my rightful owner was an idea that poisoned my view of sex for years.

    On the other hand, my husband and I waited an awfully long time (though not until we were married)before we had sex with each other. Not because of religion or purity. We waited because we wanted our sex life to be something special and positive that we were both ready for and excited about. And it was better because we waited. And if a person or couple feels that waiting to have sex will make them happier, they should do it. But not because either of them is entitled to the other’s virginity, and not because sex is something shameful or polluting.

  • I lean on the side of determining sexual compatibility, but on the other hand you can be blinded by “love” . . . also known as a fabulous rack or a juicy Johnson.

    There are definitely two sides to this story, but neither position deserves criticism in my opinion. I believe we should respectfully accept a couple’s choice if they choose to reveal it.

  • Grimalkin, my ex and I waited for marriage to have sex. Both of us wanted it so much! We talked constantly about what we wanted out of sex and what we would like to do. As I mentioned upthread, it turned out I loved sex and he did not. This was hardly the only issue that lead to our divorce, but it was a large one.

    Would I have known that there were other problems with him if I had taken more than 4 and half months to get to know him before marrying? Sure. But we couldn’t wait that long. We wanted the damn sex.

    Waiting may work well for some people, but not for the majority. And you can’t really know whether you’re in that happy minority until you’ve done it.

  • Claudia

    I understand what you saying, but I am having trouble envisioning an aspect of sexuality that is unique to the bedroom *and* unsolvable without an innate compatibility between partners.

    A large number of kinks could fall into this category, particularly if they rise to the level of fetishes. Of course a couple doesn’t need to have the same kinks, but it’s pretty important that if there is one thing that is central to partner A’s sexuality, it not be something that repulses partner B. Watersports comes to mind. There are people who are natural subs or Doms and need that power play in their sexual lives. If compromise is possible, that’s great, but often people need to try things out before they know whether they can go along with certain sexual experimentation.

    Wildly divergent sex drives is another thing. If one of the partners is just not that into sex and the other very much is, there’s likely to be issues of resentment. Sure the less sexual partner can concede to sex and the more sexual partner can back off from asking. People with differing sex drives can potentially come to workable agreements, but if the difference is big enough, sometimes that’s not possible.

    There are people who are not sexually monogamous, so that they can commit to a single emotional partner but not to a single sexual partner. For those people, other agreements are needed. Someone who requires openness in the relationship should not marry someone who wants full monogamy.

    One thing that’s been brought up is the fact that sex drives and practices change over time. This is of course true and requires, when it causes conflict, communication and compromise. However the fact that you may encounter turbulance along the way does not mean you get on a plane that bounces you around when you haven’t even gotten airborne. It seems the height of optimism to assume that initial incompatibility will blossom into awesome sex over the years.

  • Secular Stu

    LeAnne,

    that’s the other thing. a lot of christians rush into it because they’re POSITIVE (at 18? lmfao..) that this person is their TRUEEE LOOOOVE, and then they realize a couple years later that they’re incompatible or one cheats or what have you.
    i’ve seen it multiple times and it’s painful to watch.

    That happens whether you are a Christian or not. Its called being 18 and in love. And yes it is very sad.

    One big difference being the young Christian will have tension between hormones and dogma that a young non-believer won’t have. If you can’t have sex until you’re married, that can lead to poor judgement regarding marriage a la Glenn Beck.

  • Why buy the cow if you are a little goat curious and need to do some experimentation?

  • CatBallou

    Mark Plus, linking to a page that links to a study by the Heritage Foundation is not providing “empirical support.” Just reading the first couple of comments on that page was enough to see that these people are deeply misogynist.
    Atheists do not dismiss conservative social beliefs as “superstition”; when such beliefs are dismissed, it’s because they’re “bullshit.”

  • Julie

    If I were to say, “My girlfriend and I have decided not to engage in our hobbies / politics / religion / chores / plan finances / etc. until we are married so we can share those experiences as a couple.” the response would be wildly different than if I said no sex. I don’t think it should be.

    Wordy McWord from Wordshire.

    I’m a little concerned by all the people talking about sexual compatibility. I honestly have to wonder how many of these people have actually been married (or in a long-term relationship).

    Sexual compatibility is always changing. A long-term relationship will go through periods when you are completely compatible and hot for each other and doing it a couple times a day. Then you might not want to touch each other for a couple months at a time. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the sex, it’s just that sex doesn’t happen in a vaccuum (unless you’re really kinky). Life gets in the way, kids get in the way, jobs get in the way, etc.

    So whether or not the sex is great when you first start dating really isn’t much of a predictor of what sex will be like in 20 years, or even 5 years!

    People have cited size issues, adventurousness issues, etc., and honestly, that all comes down to respect and love. Sex, the first couple times you have it with your first or new partner, will probably suck. What makes a great sex life is not being magically “compatible” in a physical way, but rather being compatible in an emotional and personality way.

    I disagree entirely, and I am married. Yes, your sex life changes as your relationship progresses. But the big, overarching themes – what you like, what they like, what you’re willing to do and what they’re willing to do – generally stay the same. (If you’ve been doing it awhile, that is. This does not apply to virgins as you only discover what you like and where you draw the line through actually having sex. Another reason not to wait until marriage.)

    I am absolutely, 100% opposed to anal sex. I don’t enjoy it, I find it painful, and it’s not something I’m willing to compromise on. My husband understands this and is fine with it. However, if anal sex were something that he really enjoyed and wanted on a regular basis, we would have a problem, perhaps even an insurmountable one. Sex doesn’t exist in a vacuum, you’re right. It is a very real, very important aspect of how a couple relates to one another. If there are intimacy problems the whole relationship will suffer. No amount of emotional or personality compatibility will compensate for a dysfunctional and resentful sex life, and no amount of compromise can compensate for extreme divides in sexual preference.

  • Vas

    sex doesn’t happen in a vaccuum (unless you’re really kinky)

    Sex doesn’t exist in a vacuum

    For more on sex in a vacuum see below link,

    http://latexwiki.com/index.php?title=Vacuum_Bed

    This link is informational and not porn, however if you are interested in more adult oriented info you should be able to find your own porn link with no problem now that you know what you are looking for.
    Always happy to help.
    V

  • SecularLez

    If people want to deny themselves sex, that isn’t my problem provided the guy not getting any sex isn’t trying to rape me.

    In any case, I’m all for people doing whatever they like sexually provided it hurts no one and its among consenting adults.

    I don’t like people telling me who I SHOULD sleep with and I don’t tell others WHO they should sleep with or WHEN they should sleep with someone.

    Life is short and I personally want to experience a lot of women before I die.

  • Miko

    I don’t care about getting an imprimatur from either the church or the state, so the whole concept of marriage seems silly to me. But I see no harm in delaying sex until you enter into a committed relationship with a person, which is what such an idea really ought to be about anyway.

    And the experience you bring to the table — knowing what (generally) makes you and the other person feel good — can give your relationship a head start in that area.

    According to Sartre (in Part 3 of Being and Nothingness, “Being-for-Others”), the desire to do this is predicated on the goal of overwhelming the other person’s reason through the provision of ecstatic pleasure, to be used as a means of controlling them. For the most part, Sartre and I part ways after the second part of B&N, but if we assume that what he says is phenomenologically true for most people, then such a “head start” could be a bad thing for a couple/polyamorous-group that wishes to form a stable and mature relationship.

  • Demonhype

    Nobody in this thread has said that sexual compatibility is the “litmus test” for a happy marriage at all, and it’s amazing how many people have misunderstood this. The only thing that has been said is that sexual compatibility is one element that should be considered, as well as the fact that it is often a rather important element that contributes to making or breaking a marriage. Nobody has suggested that it is the most important or sole element that will magically lead to a forever-marriage, or that sex prior to marriage will guarantee a good marriage–only that it is a fairly good way to figure out these things ahead of time rather than after you’ve signed a legal contract together.

    I would also suggest that sexual compatibility could entail the willingness of your partner to compromise or compensate or otherwise work through it, which is something else you could find out before marriage. As much as it might suck to love sex and find out your partner is not a fan (or vice versa), it would suck worse to find out your partner isn’t particularly willing to work with you to figure something out, or even that s/he has no sympathy or consideration for your position in that regard.

    I also find it amazing that so many find having a personal opinion to be the same as imposing and legislating such an opinion on others–which is a false equivocation. We all form judgments and opinions regarding others every day, and having an opinion is not “as arrogant” as those who impose it on others. I would submit that it is impossible to remain entirely neutral on any subject, and it is normal to agree or disagree with the decision of another person or with their reasoning. And with that, it is also not a bad thing to have general discussions about such subjects, or to tell the person in question what you think of their decision should they ask honestly for your views on the subject. Civilization wouldn’t have advanced one iota if we all just kept our heads in the sand and never formed or expressed opinions. Where the line gets crossed is when you try to find ways to impose your opinion on others, either by legislation or by de facto means (denying housing or employment to gay people or unwed mothers, for example).

    That said, I’m a virgin with a voracious sex drive, and my reasons for that have little to do with guilt or tradition and everything to do with what I’m ready for now. And I have had sex-positive people want to “help” me, sometimes by trying to set me up with someone. When I make it clear that I’m not really interested, the sex-positive people tend to respect my decision without any superiority or attitude or “arrogance” toward me. Even when they don’t know my reasons I have never felt disrespected.

    On the other hand, sex-negative “wait until marriage” people give me this regard as if I’m some kind of superior moral being for avoiding “teh seks” and will congratulate me for my moral fortitude in “saving my purity”. This is infuriating to me on so many levels, as well as being horribly insulting to myself and others. I find it disgusting that they would celebrate my purported superior worth entirely due to an unbroken hymen, or that they would value the girl across the way less because she’s somehow damaged from the horrible crime of having sex. And, of course, should I have sex prior to marriage, all that superiority will magically drain out of me as far as their concerned, transforming me from a madonna to a whore (the typical binary options for traditional womanhood).

    And yes, I do tell them my reasons and that I’m not superior due to being a virgin. And they usually back off, but with that look that says that I’m no better than a whore-in-waiting.

    No, the sex-positive people are in no way “as arrogant” as the abstinence-only wait-until-marriage movement. And I use the word “movement” because there are, on occasion, people who wait for their own reasons who do not project whoredom onto people who choose differently, but they are rare and not often affiliated with any of the official accouterments of the waiting/abstinence only brigade.

    This just sounds suspiciously like the “Richard Dawkins is every bit as bad as that guy who killed Dr. Tiller/the guys who did 9/11” people.

  • Grimalkin

    @Vas – The idea that experience = good at sex and lack of experience = lame at sex is a bit silly to me. For one thing, we’re talking about marriage, not a one-off lay. So regardless of your partner’s level of experience at the time of marriage, there’s nothing keeping them at that level. So yes, maybe the first couple months of your marriage will have terrible sex – but then you find your groove (*teehee*), get to know each other, and the sex gets better.

    I also imagine that personality has a much bigger part to play. For example, someone with a lot of experience but who is cocky will probably be a horrible lay because they might think that their experience makes them experts. They may not take the time to get to know YOUR body and YOUR needs. A virgin, on the other hand, may be a blank canvas, ready to learn all the tricks that work for you without hangups about what really got their last partner going.

    “This is such a bizarre concept I don’t even know what to say except WTF. Probably suck!?!”
    Sorry. It will definitely suck, so brace yourself. Better?

    @Palaverer – I never, ever advocated waiting to be the right choice – merely the right choice *for me.* I think that if you were so focused on sex that you were talking about it all the time, and getting married in 4 and a half months because you couldn’t wait longer for it, that’s a good indication that it wasn’t the right choice for the two of you.

    I disagree that you can’t know which is best for you except in retrospect. Waiting felt right for us, and we definitely didn’t feel the immediacy that you describe! Waiting until we were sure we wanted to commit to each other felt right at the time – physically as well as ideologically. Perhaps that’s a commentary on our sexual compatibility, ha!

    A couple people have talked about extreme kink as possible barriers to a good sex life if compatibility isn’t established, and you’re right. I retract me earlier comment. If you can’t get yourself going without a cup and two girls getting involved, by all means have sex early on in the relationship (or meet people through fetish clubs). Know yourself and know what you need.

    For the vast majority of people, people who are able to have fun without someone peeing on them, this doesn’t apply. Getting to know each other mentally and emotionally is sufficient to predict your future sexual compatibility. It will be enough for you to learn if your partner is likely to be a sharer, willing to listen to you and respond to your needs, etc. When we’re talking about vanilla sex, or even light kink, you won’t be pushing boundaries and the things you need to know about your compatibility will likely come out long before you’re ready to tie any knots should you choose to wait.

    @Claudia – You mentioned widely different sexual appetites as an issue. For the most part, I would say that this is a problem in every relationship. When a relationship first becomes sexual, most people want to have sex all the time. It’s exciting, it’s new, it’s fun. Then you start to fall into the “okay, it’s Tuesday night. I guess we better have at it. Can we try to do it a bit quicker this time? I don’t want to miss Survivor.” Sometimes, even that will stop. Then, suddenly, one partner goes through a stage of wanting sex ALL THE TIME (I’m pregnant, that’s me now) while the other partner is still in the “Tuesday nights… maybe” stage. A couple months later, they switch.

    Now yes, if you have a real difference form the norm in your sexual appetite – if you are asexual or hypersexual – that’s a different case. But if we’re talking about the normal variations between people’s sex drives, we shouldn’t have any marriages or long term relationships at all because those variations will be as great within a single person across time as they are between two people at any given time. A perfect example is my pregnancy – I’m normally the “meh, sex” one, but for the last three months or so, I’ve been driving my husband bonkers. I’m actually having to learn to deal with him saying “no”!

    I’m also getting the impression that you are assuming that sex has to be genital-to-genital interaction or penetration, which it definitely doesn’t. My husband does usually have a higher sex drive than I do – so we bought a fleshlight. When I really really don’t want sex and he really really wants it, I can just hold it for him and we can “have sex” (read: cuddle) without me actually having to do anything I’m not in the mood to do. That’s just one example of a possible solution.

    Now, can the difference in sex drives be a point of tension? Of course! People go crazy about all sorts of things. That doesn’t make it a legitimate source of tension. There’s no reason to feel resentment just because person A is saying ‘no’ more than you would like, or person B is asking too often. Couples have the option of working together to find solutions that leave both parties satisfied. The fact that many don’t is a shame, and a testament to how badly we prepare our kids for their future relationships.

  • Julie

    Grimalkin: What I’m getting from you is that if a couple has one partner who is oversexed and one who is undersexed, or any other “vanilla” sexual incompatibility that they cannot reach a compromise on and “let” destroy their relationship, then they fail as a couple. Which I agree with in a literal sense, but not in the sense that you’re portraying; that of a holier than thou, smug married woman who is above such trivialities.

    Sex is valued differently by different people. Some couples may be able to work through a difference in sexual appetite, some can’t. This isn’t due to some failing in their character or flaw in their commitment to one another. Some people will never have their sexual and intimacy needs satisfied by their partner merely holding a Fleshlight or dildo while they masturbate themselves on it. And that’s fine, but why it’s so important to establish these things early on.

    Does the amount of sex a couple has go through phases? Yes. Which is only one of the reasons why I insisted on living with my husband before we got married. We lived together for 3 years, more than enough time to fall into a comfortable sexual rhythm and experience all the typical things that typically effect sexual frequency (stress, work, school, finacial problems). I would recommend it to any couple considering getting married, as it allowed us to discern whether we were truly compatible on every level before signing any paperwork.

  • Grimalkin

    @Julie – I really can’t understand how you’ve interpreted my comments has being holier-than-thou. I am responding to people saying that waiting until commitment is BAD EVIL HORRIBLE by saying that no, it can work, it can be positive, and that, for some people, actually having sex is not required for determining future compatibility.

    I’m the one arguing for “live-and-let-live,” and defending the legitimacy of choices people make that are not in line with what is clearly the norm opinion here.

    I have said, over and over again, that if sex is really important to you, you are probably someone who needs to have it early on as part of your ability to judge the suitability of your relationship. This doesn’t mean that you are fail. All it means is that you have to know yourself and know what you need.

    This is the problem with getting into long discussions. I’m responding to specific points and these are getting interpreted in a much more generalized and broader scope than I ever intended. I have tried my best to repeat as often as I can, without getting too boring (I hope), that I am advocating for everyone to know themselves and do what’s best for them.

  • Indigo

    Even without getting into religious arguments or the absurdity of virginity as a concept, I tend to oppose the idea on the grounds that you can’t “both start running the race together” – any more than you could say you want to share your complete financial history or anything else important to the marriage. Sure, you could open your first bank accounts together or buy your first home together, but it’s just not possible for your first financial experience of any kind to be with your spouse. It’s possibly even less do-able with sex, since sex is so wired into us. I guaran-damn-tee that before you get married, you will have a sexual dream, or an orgasm, or at least become aroused – whether you want to or not. Sex and sexuality is a continuum, a journey rather than a destination (if you’ll forgive the cliche). You can’t just turn it on when you want it to start, since it’s something you were likely born with.
    Because of this, you can never turn your whole sexuality over to someone else. Nor should you. It always belongs to you. You can share it with your spouse – with only your spouse, if that’s what you want – but just like the rest of your life, they can never own it or control it.
    So basically, while I think someone of course can decide the right thing for them is not to have a shared sexual experience until marriage – I tend to think the basic reasoning is flawed in almost all cases.

  • Julie

    Grimalkin: Actually, no, you’ve pushed your own agenda the whole way while making vague, placating noises about exceptions of “extreme kink”, etc. You’ve maintained that for most people:

    For the vast majority of people, people who are able to have fun without someone peeing on them, this doesn’t apply. Getting to know each other mentally and emotionally is sufficient to predict your future sexual compatibility. It will be enough for you to learn if your partner is likely to be a sharer, willing to listen to you and respond to your needs, etc.

    No where in this statement did you even imply a caveat that it applies to “some people” or that such a thing “is possible.” It is a blanket statement that you’ve portrayed here as applicable to every relationship, except in extreme cases of watersports or scat fetish.

    You’ve also stated that differences in sexual appetite are not “a legitimate source of tension” in a relationship, because YOU were able to overcome your and your husband’s differences with the use of a sex toy. So yes, holier than thou and smug.

  • Dan

    Grimalkin –

    I think we might differ on what constitutes “normal variation”. I have friends who are into exhibitionism, mild to severe B&D, mild to severe S&M, role play, watching or creating porn, a wide variety of toys, and/or a huge variety of views as to what orifices are fair game and when. I don’t really consider any of that to be “abnormal”, but there are several that I am most definitely not into and two that have been deal breakers in previous relationships.

    One in particular was a two year relationship that began struggling once intercourse became a part of it. Intercourse was most definitely a source of tension by the end of the relationship.

  • I think my big issue with “waiting” is not the fear of incompatibility. I think two people can figure out how attracted they are to each other and as long as a couple is open to discussion about sex, they can make it work. They also need to discuss expectations before they commit to each other.

    What I REALLY have an issue with is guilting young people into waiting until marriage, only to have them rush into it because they can’t wait to have sex guilt free. My parents did that at 20 and 22 and have experienced a rough 35+ years. And, yeah, no divorce. Same religious guilt. And the kids suffered for it. But I guess we were born, so I should be thankful for that?

  • gsw

    @muggle:
    BE PROUD!
    You would be surprised (or maybe not, but I was) how many women are still stuck in an abusive relationship with mr. wrong, many due to a religious upbringing that told them it is their responsibility to make the marriage ‘work’.
    When I tell them a marriage should be fun, excitement, mutual support and great sex – they just look. When I say this does not require a contract, they look shocked.

    Be prouder, you removed your daughter from a sphere of evil influence. Many women do not manage that and the children suffer.

    You burnt your boats for the sake of your honour, pride and your daughters life. (Me, I burnt his boats – but then he still lives.)

    I wish you many grandchildren – so you can teach another generation the importance of self-respect and accepting responsibility for your life.

  • omg

    Wow, I’m surprised at some of the responses here; I thought this was ‘friendly’ atheist?

    Personally, I’m an atheist, and I think there’s nothing wrong with waiting, and nothing wrong with not waiting either.

    I do agree that some people who wait have a false sense of superiority, and some wait for poor reasons (sex is evil, etc).

    However, there are plenty of people who wait and DON’T have that sense of superiority, NOR have they been indoctrinated with puritanical beliefs about sex. This is why I wouldn’t sneer/ roll my eyes at someone at the mere mention that they are waiting.

    Also, what is so wrong with waiting to kiss? If you think it’s silly, that’s fine, just please keep that thought to yourself. Ridiculing someone for that is plain rude; if a couple chooses to express their love in this way, it’s f*cking RUDE to spit on this expression of their love.

    I’d hate to live in a society where people felt pressure to kiss and have sex at a certain time, otherwise they’re WEIRD.

  • omg

    I’d just like to add that sometimes I dislike being in atheist spaces, whether it’s online or offline, precisely because of this sex issue. I’m a woman, who isn’t committed to waiting till marriage. Yet, I really dislike the intense pressure felt by young women today to ‘give it up’. In most atheist spaces I’ve been in, this pressure/ attitude is really pronounced, partly because men make up the majority.

    Honestly, I think some of the people here are overreacting. There’s definitely pressure to wait, but the pressure to ‘give it up’ is FAR STRONGER today.

  • Claudia

    I’m also getting the impression that you are assuming that sex has to be genital-to-genital interaction or penetration, which it definitely doesn’t

    I can see where you would get that impression this far down in the thread, but that’s not my intention. If you go back a thousand years ago to my first comment, you’ll notice that I mentioned that “waiting” wasn’t that bad if all you were eliminating was vaginal intercourse, while doing everything else, because from sex play you can probably get a good idea of how well you mix with your partner. Someone who can keep another satisfied while handicapped by one less sex act is unlikely to become suddenly a problem once you remove that limitation.

    You’ve mentioned coming to workable solutions with your husband. That’s great, and every couple that wants to survive has to learn the art of compromise. However you seem to imply that there simply cannot be such a thing as two people whose sexualities are too far apart to be workable. I’m getting an undertone that you think that any distance so large that it can’t be bridged by well meaning people has to involve a pathology of some sort, so that it is impossible for two “normal” people to not find sexual compromise possible. Feel free to correct me if I’ve read you wrong on this.

    I think we can agree that not every pair of people with complementary sexual orientations can create a good marriage no? There are people that, without having anything wrong with them, simply aren’t well suited to one another. We easily accept that people can have incompatible personalities, or life goals or attractions. It’s understood that two people can be perfectly healthy and decent people but simply not compatible as a couple. So why is sexual compatibility excluded from this equation? It is unlike other aspects of a relationship in that in many cases you really don’t know before you try if it can work out, but other than that, it’s one more element to take into account. Most people here aren’t arguing that sex is the only thing to take into account. However many seem to be arguing that sex is unique in that it should never be a make or break issue, that there is no distance too large to bridge. Somehow I suspect that they (or you?) would not say the same for other aspects of a relationship, so why is sex different?

  • Steven

    “Alas that love, so gentle in his view, should be so tyrannous and rough in proof”
    W. Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet)

    Now there’s a quote that should figure prominently in all sex ed and marriage prep courses. I can’t take anyone seriously who makes a decision to get married without knowing what their partner is like in bed. Sadly, as others have mentioned that isn’t a clear indicator of what a couple’s future sex life will be like but at least it should reveal any immediate issues. If I had a son I might even say to him “Son, have as much sex as possible before marriage because it’s damn certain sure you won’t have any afterwards”. I suppose it is hypocritical that I wouldn’t say the same thing to my daughters but even if it shouldn’t be, it is different. It’s a real shame that unhealthy attitudes towards sex seem to prevail in North America. Far too many marriages fail because one partner blames the other for not meeting his or her sexual needs. Significant numbers of men and women go outside their marriages because they’re not “getting any” at home. Perhaps if we were more sex positive and could re-image sex as a healthy human activity instead of the home of sin and disease (or as a chore, or as something a woman “gives up”) then at least some of the heartache fostered by those negative attitudes would be lessened.

  • There’s a difference between ridiculing individuals who choose to wait for sex, and ridiculing a culture of waiting for sex.

    If I have a friend who is waiting to have sex, depending upon the kind of relationship we have, it may or may not be my place to express my opinion on that. If someone submits their personal story to a message board or blog discussing the benefits or perils of waiting, it is appropriate to voice opinions on that.

    And regardless of what individuals decide, it is valid to discuss (and be supportive or critical of) waiting in general.

  • Grimalkin

    @Claudia – Perhaps I’m just really failing at explaining myself. If sex is fundamental for you, of utmost importance, if you need to have sex your way every time or you can’t be satisfied, or if you have desires that require a close alignment – the best thing you can do for yourself and your future relationship is to have sex and assess compatibility.

    I just don’t think that the majority of people fall into this realm. For the majority of people, sex differences are slight enough that the couple can compromise, or teach each other, so that it never becomes a deal breaker.

    The idea that I am responding to here is that you HAVE to have sex before you make a commitment, and that couples who value sexual compatibility lower than other forms of compatibility are “doing it wrong.” I even said at one point that both partners being willing to wait for sex is probably a good indication of sexual compatibility, because both are ranking sex in the same life-priority order.

    You say that I’m excising sexual compatibility from the general relationship compatibility issue, but I’m not. In fact, I’m doing exactly the opposite. I’m saying that you don’t suddenly turn into a completely different person when you’re in the bedroom, that sex and sexual behaviour is not isolated from the rest of who we are. I’m saying that overall relationship compatibility is a very good predictor of sexual compatibility, and that couples who mesh really well in every other area probably won’t suddenly flop as soon as sex is introduced. I’m the one who ISN’T cutting sex out of our lives and making it somehow special and unique and totally different from everything else that makes us who we are.

  • Claudia

    @omg, I don’t think that believing that sex before marriage is a good idea is the same thing as believing a woman has to “give it up” in the slightest. I generally find the atheist community to be fairly fearsome in terms of defending the bodily autonomy of women.

    Now what is true is that there seems to be a false equivalency here. Most of the people who are “waiting for marriage” are doing so for religious reasons. One can’t pretend that the “purity” group can be treated the same as the probably far smaller group who is “waiting” for other reasons.

    Generally speaking, I think it’s a terrible idea to marry someone without having a sexual relationship first, at least if you intend on having a sexual marriage. However that doesn’t mean I find anything wrong with people not jumping in the sack on the first date, or think any woman who wants some sort of commitment before having sex is a prude. Some people aren’t comfortable with sex without emotional commitment. Some women are rape survivors and hence quite understandably need to have 100% confidence in a partner before getting sexual.

    I think every person has a 100% right to decide when they are ready for sex and I can see that there are legitimate reasons for waiting for some people. However I maintain that marrying someone you intend to have sex with without trying them on for size is akin to buying a house you’ve only seen in pictures. It might work out, but it’s a hell of a risk. But the fact I think waiting until marriage is stupid doesn’t mean I think waiting until you are an actual couple is stupid or not automatically agreeing to sex is stupid. I think you’ll find that most people agree.

  • Grimalkin

    @Claudia – About the religion thing, I totally agree! But I also don’t want to be lumped in with a hyper-religious sexually repressed crowd.

    So I think that the framing of the issue is all wrong. I think that nearly every single person who has posted here can agree on one thing: that being sexually repressed is bad. But beyond that, I don’t think that anyone has the right to judge the sexual choices of others, or to say that one choice is better than others without even knowing the couples involved.

    On the marriage bit, I’m surprised at the focus on marriage. What’s the difference between a commitment and marriage, other than tax benefits? I don’t know about the US, but here in Canada, getting out of a marriage isn’t all that much more difficult than getting out of any long-term relationship in which many assets have been shared. All you have to do is wait the necessary amount of time, go down to city hall, and pay your $100 for the paperwork.

    I’d put a lot more emphasis on tying up your assets, such as buying a house or even just buying furniture, or having kids/pets together. That’s when the lawyers often need to get involved, whether you’re married or not.

    But back to my point, I don’t think that there is all that much about sex that is isolated from your overall self. If you are 100% compatible as a couple, I just don’t see that a sex issue will suddenly change that because sexual incompatibility issues will have emerged elsewhere in your relationship. Again, we can chalk it up to my lack of experience, or my personal sexual preferences, but I’m not priviledging sex as something that is isolated from the rest of who we are.

    So rather than it being like buying a house having only seen pictures, it’s more like buying a house when you haven’t explored every single nook and cranny. You already know a great deal about the house’s character and structure, even if you don’t know every weird creak that you might hear on particularly windy days.

  • I’ve got to object that those of us who waited always feel morally superior. I don’t remember judging people who chose not to wait. But then again, it was the ’70’s.

    Mark Plus that article is an oinker. It assumes that a woman’s goal in life is to have a stable marriage. You can take that assumption and shove it up your ass. My goal is to remain unmarried. I learn from my mistakes and marriage is not for me. If I am ever involved romantically again even if it lasts 20 years, we’re not even cohabitating. You don’t have to live together to have a great sexual relationship.

    Unfortunately, I always outlast the dude in not wanting to make that next step. No, you’re not moving in and neither am I. Ultimatimums end in break-ups. Where the hell are all these guys as unwilling to commit as I am? To me the ideal relationship would be to be faithful but not live together. I’ve known couples who have done this but I seem to have no luck finding a dude who’d want this. Sooner or later, I hear the bullcrap about just wanting someone there in the middle of the night. Sigh. Well, it’s a nice fantasy.

    Eddie, that’s another thing I hate. Conflating celibate and asexual. I’m not waiting. I’m really kind of hoping I’m never stupid enough to fall in love again but I’m celibate by choice, not asexual. I wish I were asexual since that would make it a whole hell of a lot easier though the longer one is celibate, the easier it becomes. But it’s an important difference. I’m choosing not to have sex for practical reasons (not comfortable with one night stands and don’t want a romantic involvement) not because I don’t desire it.

    “As a religious leader,” she said, “I made the decision that I would not marry virgins. . . .

    You’re kidding me on this, right? She’s wacko. What’s she do? Give them a sexuality test to make sure they know enough about sex to marry? Frankly, her stance is as ridiculous as keeping yourself pure for marriage.

    @muggle:
    BE PROUD!
    You would be surprised (or maybe not, but I was) how many women are still stuck in an abusive relationship with mr. wrong, many due to a religious upbringing that told them it is their responsibility to make the marriage ‘work’.
    When I tell them a marriage should be fun, excitement, mutual support and great sex – they just look. When I say this does not require a contract, they look shocked.

    Be prouder, you removed your daughter from a sphere of evil influence. Many women do not manage that and the children suffer.

    You burnt your boats for the sake of your honour, pride and your daughters life. (Me, I burnt his boats – but then he still lives.)

    I wish you many grandchildren – so you can teach another generation the importance of self-respect and accepting responsibility for your life.

    Thank you, gsw. I am actually. But don’t get me wrong. I have had sex outside of marriage since then. Just not in a long while. I have reached a place in my life where I really think I don’t need it. It’s been long enough that it’s waned (though that’s probably also in part to my growing disabilities, how sexy does one feel in chronic pain; I know I’m not though every so often the thought of a massage from some hunk is a nice fantasy, love Tylenol’s commercial featuring that for their pain patch) but I learned one thing when I first tried being celibate by choice: people routinely get horny and it passes whether they do something about it or not and whether it passed because they had sex or because enough time elapsed, it also comes around again. Just human nature. Unless, of course, you’re asexual.

    I have one grandchild and I love the grandparent thing. I do concede, however, that I’d feel a whole lot more lonely without the offspring. As others have mentioned there are other components to relationships and while there are no romantic components, I have people to talk to, including two who regularly say I love you and hear it from me, even if it is a different kind of love. Celibacy is probably easier because I’m not lonely. Because I’m not and my life is full and not empty, there’s no longing for a life companion.

    I am amazed at the women who feel that way. I never stopped being surprised by it because it seems like such a no-brainer. It’s sad to see women (or men) who stay in abusive relationships because they’re afraid of being alone. I want to give them a shot of courage. I want them to realize that if they only go out into the world and brave it, they will find fulfilling things to do and friends and companions they have far more in common with by doing those things and will actually feel more satisified in the end.

    At least, that’s been my experience. 🙂 Lucky me.

  • JB Tait

    I have too many dear friends who were convinced by their affianced, to wait for it until marriage, who were gentlemen and complied, and who then found themselves trapped in a marriage that was sexless except to conceive a couple of kids. They were men of principle and so wasted their lives being frustrated while they raised their children and remained faithful, and then when it was time to move on, discovered that they were no longer interested in or able to have the physical enjoyment they had given up for so long. I commend them for their strength of character, but I also pity them for their loss.

  • Grimalkin

    @JB Trait – I have known many people who had sex before marriage and it was wonderful and exciting. However, when they married and libidos started to slow (as it does when you’re in a relationship with someone for a long time), found that they had very incompatible sex drives. The rest of the story is the same as yours.

    Your compatibility as a newly dating couple is going to be *very* different from your compatibility as a married couple celebrating a 20-year anniversary.

    As another commenter said, there are two kinds of sex: Dating sex and married sex.

    For this reason, I wouldn’t use sexual compatibility as the litmus test for marriage, or even as an important test. You’re just going to be changing too much as you age and your life situations change. You need to make sure that your psychological/emotional/value compatibility is strong first and foremost, because sex won’t keep a marriage going during a lull.

  • Vas

    Grimalkin > “Sex, the first couple times you have it with your first or new partner, will probably suck.”

    Vas> “This is such a bizarre concept I don’t even know what to say except WTF. Probably suck!?!”
    Grimalkin> Sorry. It will definitely suck, so brace yourself. Better?

    Wow you are just completely off the rails.
    and then this little gem..

    Grimalkin> someone with a lot of experience but who is cocky will probably be a horrible lay because they might think that their experience makes them experts.

    Maybe cocky maybe not, but one thing is certain, experience is what makes experts. News flash many people find confidence sexy, and confidence comes from knowing what the fuck you are doing. People who lack confidence and skill point at confidence and call it cocky, fine put in the time to improve your skill set and then come talk smack, until then your just blowing smoke up peoples asses. Some people enjoy driving around in a jacked up old Civic, it’s all the car they need, this does not however qualify you to drive a high performance race car, try it and you likely to end up in a wall unlike the real McCoy who is able to go the distance . I like to drive race cars and I’m good at it. I have every right to be as kinky a bastard as I want to be, the fact that it makes no sense to you means fuck all.
    Julie has your number and as far as I’m concerned is spot on in her estimation of you. Your condescending attitude towards kinksters reads loud and clear, your slip is showing. I get it you think I’m probably a horrible lay, keep telling yourself that if it comforts you cause it ain’t the feedback I get.
    Have fun with that Honda.

  • Grimalkin

    @Vas – How am I being condescending towards people who are into kink?

    And I’m sorry, but it doesn’t matter much to me how much experience Brad has with Brenda, because what Brenda likes may not be what I like. I would place willingness to listen to ME and learn what I like far above simply having sexual experience, because that’s what will lead to better sex in the long run.

    Unless we’re not individuals and one body is perfectly interchangeable with any other…

  • slingshot

    If you can think of any specific examples, I would very much like to hear them.

    Sure. I’m really into pegging. Not all guys are into this. Or what if the GUY is into that, but the girl isn’t. Are they compatible? Frankly, that’s one of my (and my partners) favorite activities.

    I also don’t get off with just intercourse. I prefer fisting, and toys. Would I be compatible with guys who are against using anything but their dick? I’ve met plenty of them, and I’m sorry, but I am NOT going to make a lifelong commitment with them. If they are great in other non-sexual areas, I’ll just be friends.

    My partner likes porn. Would he be compatible with someone who was adamantly against it?

    Both me and my partner have TONS of sex toys, and enjoy masturbation as often as sex. Would we be compatible with someone who was against masturbation, or against toys?

    I have some friends not into monogamy, in open marriages. Would they be compatible with someone who monogamy was a requirement?

    Sure, certain things change through the years in a relationship (I’m in a very longterm one myself), but things like libido, etc. My partner doesn’t suddenly become selfish in bed.

  • slingshot

    I agree experience with OTHER PEOPLE doesn’t necessarily mean anything. I’ve been with many guys who had experience and therefore thought they knew “what women like” and didn’t pay any attention to the fact that it’s not what I LIKE.

    While I’ve had plenty of previous experience, I am my partners first. In my experience, sex is always not as good at first with a new partner until you learn each other anyway. But not all people are WILLING to learn and explore and listen. That is why I wouldn’t commit to someone without having sex first (and not just once, but for years!!)

  • slingshot

    As another commenter said, there are two kinds of sex: Dating sex and married sex.

    In that case, I’m not getting married. Problem solved?

  • Grimalkin

    @Slingshot – “In that case, I’m not getting married. Problem solved?”
    Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. You start having married sex whenever you’re in a long-term relationship, regardless of whether you’ve signed a legal document or not. Sorry! 😉

    “That is why I wouldn’t commit to someone without having sex first (and not just once, but for years!!)”
    Again, whether someone is willing to listen to you and learn what you like is not something that is isolated to the bedroom. It’s a personality type and a level of respect – something that will come out through non-sexual areas of your relationship. Finding out whether someone cares enough to take the time to learn about YOU as an individual doesn’t require that you have sex with them.

    But yes, every body has a learning curve, and it takes time to get to know each other. This is where experience really matters, I’d say – the experience you have with each other. That’s one of the benefits of married sex, it won’t have the intense passion of dating/casual sex, but it’ll be reliably good. And if you crave the new experience thing, there’s nothing stopping you from experimenting together!

  • slingshot

    But yes, every body has a learning curve, and it takes time to get to know each other. This is where experience really matters, I’d say – the experience you have with each other. That’s one of the benefits of married sex, it won’t have the intense passion of dating/casual sex, but it’ll be reliably good. And if you crave the new experience thing, there’s nothing stopping you from experimenting together!

    I absolutely agree. I think the sex with my partner is actually BETTER with every year, even if it has “calmed down” a bit. I like this kind of sex better, frankly. Sure, we’re not staying up all night like we used to, but sleep is important too. lol

    I personally love sex too much to wait, and see no point in it, but I don’t really care if that’s what ppl want to do. In fact, if BOTH ppl want to, that’s a form of “compatibility” itself IMO. I wouldn’t be compatible with someone who valued some legal contract so much that they wanted to do that before sex. I don’t even want to get married at all, although if I had a reason to, I might. I don’t like the whole idea of it, especially since some of my friends aren’t legally allowed to. So I certainly wouldn’t be compatible with someone who needed that to have sex, as we’d just never have sex, or I’d be pressured into marriage, or he into sex. Bad either way.

  • Kevin

    My wife recently relayed to me the fact that her friend was worried sick about a development in an otherwise wonderful relationship. Basically, she and her boyfriend had decided to have sex, and she discovered that he was of slightly-less-than-average size.

    Paraphrashing her words:

    “I thought this guy was ‘the one’, he’s perfect and I’m so happy when I’m with him… As you know, if he’d asked me to marry him before last week, I was ready to say ‘yes’. But now, I’m not so sure. My prior boyfriend was well-endowed and I really enjoyed that; in comparison, I’m just not excited about sex with my current boyfriend. To me, I guess size just plain matters. Anyway, if my boyfriend proposed now, I’d definitely have to think about things… I don’t know if I can commit to a life of sexual disappointment.”

    Adding some more background to this – this friend had been in some really shoddy relationships before this one… that she had *anything* positive to say about the prior bf was shocking (although it maybe explains a bit about how it lasted for as long as it did). In the 10 years I’ve known her, I’ve not seen her so happy about a guy as she is this one; nor as generally happy as she’s been for the 6 months they’ve been together.

    To the active participants in this discussion, based only on this admittedly miniscule snapshot of my wife’s friend’s life, can you speak to the impression she’s made on you, and how her reaction strikes you?

    I’m particularly curious to see if Grim and Vas, who seem just about ready to take up arms, come away with a different read of the situation.

  • Vas

    @ Grimalkin
    I like your focus on yourself, ME ME ME, nice style. People are not interchangeable and everybody likes different junk. I like different junk as well, your implication that someone who is experienced is somehow a one trick pony is absurd. You act like I’m saying I’m good at fucking in one particular way and say to hell with what gets my partner off, nothing could be further from the truth, (personally I think the insert tab A into slot B model of sex is way overrated). You know someone can have experience, and listen, and compromise, and act for the pleasure of someone else and be able to rise to the occasion precisely because the have the experience. But I guess that sex is some kind of special category apart form all other endeavors wherein there is no need to practice to be good, it just happens… right?
    If you can’t see how you are condescending nothing I can say will open your eyes. Just keep chanting, “it’s all about me, it’s all about, it’s all about me” and enjoy your better sex in the long run, (hope your groove (*tee hee*) doesn’t dry up while you’re waiting)

    Do you think just anyone could rise to the occasion that slingshot suggested? Not everyone could, could I… yes I could. Does it mean slingshot and I could forge a relationship based only on the ability to engage in such activities, certainly not. But if I was not able to meet those needs or desires why should I expect slingshot to give that up to be with me…. unless I only think about ME, ME, ME. If slingshot and I hooked up for recreational sex should we expect that it would suck… no, it might suck but not necessarily, and if by chance it did suck I’m not waiting around for better sex in the long run and neither should slingshot.
    (the above is in no way meant to imply that slingshot nor myself would even want to hook up, I used slingshot as an example because of the subject matter of her post, fisting is not as simple as it may seem and should not be attempted without a solid understanding and some instruction would not hurt either, listening to your partner, while necessary, may not be enough for safe play. Again to be clear I don’t know slingshot and am not suggesting we could, or should, or would even want to hook up.)

  • Claudia

    @Kevin, go tell your wife’s friend to watch this.

  • slingshot

    @Kevin, they have toys that the guy can wear that can increase his size to whatever she likes. There’s no need to break off an other-wise good relationship for such a reason, IMO.

  • slingshot

    But if I was not able to meet those needs or desires why should I expect slingshot to give that up to be with me…

    Exactly. And I think experience DOES make a person better, generally, although sometimes it has backfired with me. For me, experience with fisting DEFINITELY makes them better. But experience with girls who fake their orgasms, so they are totally convinced just putting their dick should bring me to instant orgasm, is not helpful at all. I’m not convinced “talking” rather than “doing” can make you good at anything.

    And no one can know if they are willing to fist before actually trying it. They might SAY sure, i’d do that, but when then when they actually did it realized it freaked them out and wouldn’t want to do it anymore. Better to find this out before your attached than later, imo.

    Of course, again, sex is really important to me, it’s one of my favorite things to do, and for me is one of the main differences between a relationship and a close friendship. If they are just dandy in other areas, I’ll just be friends. To others, sex is just not as important, and that’s fine too. Again, compatibility – someone who doesn’t think sex is as important as I do wouldn’t be compatible.

  • Vas

    @ Kevin
    I think it’s a good thing she knows up front particularly if she “[doesn’t] know if [she] can commit to a life of sexual disappointment.” not that a little dick is equal to a life of sexual disappointment, but if she thinks it is that’s what counts for her. Like I said the whole sex as penis into vagina thing is not the end all be all. Maybe he will rise to the occasion, maybe not. Maybe he doesn’t know how to rise to the occasion, maybe she doesn’t know how either. It could be that they are both inexperienced and it seems hopeless or it could be that she just plain old likes big dick and it’s hopeless. She could always just marry him and hope for the best, but it sounds like a bad plan to me. In the end she gets to choose and if a tiny dick is a deal breaker then that’s that. Better to know now and make an informed choice than to have it sprung on her on her wedding night, what a horrifying experience that would be. Informed consent seems like a fair deal to me, withholding information seems kind of shady to me. I suppose you don’t need to have sex to find this out, maybe it would be better to take her out for a romantic dinner and tell her over desert “So baby I… well you see… umm I’ve got a ummm…. a little dick… that’s okay right?” or you could just start to get busy and she could decide if she wants to withdraw further consent upon being presented with the tiny wiener. but to keep the dick under wraps, (knowing full well it is tiny) until after she is your wife… bad form.
    If I had a tiny dick I might be all for saving it for marriage and making sure my future wife felt the same way, perhaps then my pure and chased wife would never catch on *facepalm*.
    In the end I think they should sex it up for a while and see if they can find a way to make it work… before they get married.

  • Grimalkin

    @Kevin – There was a very similar problem in Ask Prudie (on Slate) recently, so I’ve given this a bit of thought. For me, personally, this wouldn’t be an issue. I don’t really get my jollies from penis/vagina penetration (most women can’t orgasm just through penetration, actually) – so the size just wouldn’t matter. Manual stimulation, or the use of toys, is a perfectly acceptable alternative if the size issue runs that way (may be more of a problem if he’s too big).

    But that’s me. If this is something important to her, if this is a “deal-breaker,” then that’s that. There isn’t much she can do about it if she’s not happy. I do think it’s a shame, given what you’ve said about her history, that she would let something so easy to compensate for prevent her from being with someone who makes her happy otherwise – but again, that’s me.

    This is also a situation that resolves the ‘sex before marriage’ question. If she knows her needs, and she knows that she can’t be happy with someone who is not sufficiently ‘endowed,’ then she is a person who should have sex prior to making a commitment.

  • Grimalkin

    @Vas – You’re insane. I’m saying “me me me” because I’m the only person I can speak with authority about. You seem to have great difficulty in reading comprehension as I did say, explicitly, that if the choice is between a) someone with experience but who doesn’t listen, or b) someone without experience but who does listen, I would pick B. *I* would pick B (there’s that “me” stuff again). If you would still pick A, that’s great. Good for you. That doesn’t make your choice right for all people any more than mine is.

    I also never said that experience doesn’t make sex better. In fact, I said quite the opposite – that sex gets better the more you have it with someone. There’s that reading comprehension tripping you up again! However, we are talking about marriage, not one-night-stands. If you are just having casual sex with someone, I absolutely agree with you that experience is what you want to look for. But in the context of marriage, when you are going to have years – decades – to work on your sexual exploration, a partner’s experience when the relationship first begins is fairly meaningless because they will be gathering experience by being with you anyway.

    You seriously need to chill.

    @slingshot – I agree completely – mutual willingness to wait is a pretty good indicator of later sexual compatibility. I’ve said this a couple times, but it seems to get lost in the din. If one partner is freaking out because the NEED to get laid right away, while the other isn’t all that interested, you really don’t need to have sex to know that you probably won’t be compatible.

  • Everyone’s going out of their way to say that sex is no more special than any other area of compatibility for marriage. I disagree. While it is not the litmus test for marriage, it is probably more important than, say, hobbies or political viewpoints. You can share such things with friends. But sex is viewed generally by society (and particularly by traditionalists who advocate celibacy) as being one of the only activities that is reserved solely for marriage/long-term monogamous relationships.

    Sex, while not the only reason for forming a relationship like marriage, is one of the main reasons for most individuals.

  • Grimalkin

    @Palaverer – If that’s what makes you happy, good for you.

    But I can’t imagine a worse hell than spending the rest of my life, sharing my finances, sharing the raising of my children with someone who was not also my best friend – regardless of how good the sex might be.

    I would say that the only universal litmus test for relationship compatibility would be value compatibility. Once that’s established, the order of the other aspects is a personal thing.

  • Kevin, speaking from experience, I have this to say: size does matter. Period. Point blank.

    Claudia, all that video said to me is that Savage has no clue what it’s like being a straight woman. Thumbs, tongues, dildo are all well and fine but, damn, the real thing is waaaayyyy better. Waaayyy!!! And a straight gal has just got to have a satisfying one once in a while instead of being teased with lesser goods.

    I’m afraid a tiny dick would say to me we can just be friends too. It just wouldn’t be adequate.

    And people lay off Vas. He’s right and he’s freaking you out because he is. Frankly, if I do fall in love again, I want to know if the dude’s freak and my freak are not the same thing before I invest too much into the relationship because it ain’t worth pursuing if they’re not. As a friendship yes but as a romance, no.

  • Okay, since I like personal stories so much I’ve just got to break the tension with a humorous one:

    My mother (yes, that overly pious one) did like to tell how my father shocked her on their wedding night. As they were going to bed, he turned to her and said:

    “Aren’t you going to take your teeth out?”

    Then proceeded to remove his. Seems at 28 years old, he already had false teeth and thought that was perfectly normal.

    (ha! Yeah, I know that was corny. But I thought I’d lighten it up a bit. BTW, this is a true story.)

  • slingshot

    @Vas – if you were a woman saving sex for marriage how would you whether you liked a big or little dick?

    I didn’t know I liked big dicks when I was a virgin.

    And I like them bigger than any really are, so actual size really doesn’t matter to me, lol.

  • Spherical Basterd

    Great comments!

    I’d say I would roll my eyes at the kissing abstinence thing since a kiss is one of the most basic forms of of affection. It seems to me that openly denying yourself and your future partner such a simple show of affection until some arbitrary date in time is nothing more than some contest to demonstrate some sort of extreme moral superiority.

    As to sex absinence, what ever floats your boat baby but it ain’t my cup o’ tea. It’s not something I would want imposed on me, nor would I impose it on anyone else. I told my daughter the facts about safe sex and let her know that it was a healthly expression and made birth control (pills) and safe sex (condoms) available, no questions asked, to her when she was 14. Personally, I found it rather creepy as a father to dictate and spy on my daughter’s possible sex life. As to purity balls and rings I will not apologize for my militancy when I say “Religiotard please”.

    What no one has mentioned, unless I missed it is that the most important organ for sex is not the dangly or juicy naughty bits, but the brain
    and the growing evidence as to how it’s “wired”. It seems to me then, that to abstain completely from sex, you have to give up thinking. Well, at least some thinking.

  • AxeGrrl

    If the comments in this thread demonstrate anything, it’s that people should mind their own goddamned business when it comes to the sex lives of others.

    Stop caring about what’s normal/abnormal, be open enough to be able to find someone who’s on the same sexual page as you, and don’t judge anyone who isn’t.

    It’s fascinating that this subject seems to bring out some of the more judgemental tendencies in some here.

  • Claudia

    @muggle, it’s personal tastes I suppose. I guess for me a decent size might be a plus (within reason, too much is a big minus) but certainly not the most important thing. In my (probably a lot more limited than your) experience, there is exactly no correlation between a guys size and how much fun I have. In fact, I’d say that the less “goal oriented” a guy is in terms of getting to vaginal intercourse, the better, since they’re more likely to not be a one-trick pony.

    You’re anecdote about your parents will haunt my dreams, ewww. Funny, but I hope like hell this never happens to me.

  • Grimalkin, but you could, under certain circumstances, share your finances and the raising of your children with a best friend whom you were not married to and not having sex with. People often do this with friends or relatives. My point was that sex is one of the few things in life that is generally reserved for only “special” relationships and that’s why we talk about it like it has “special” significance over other compatibility issues. When you say things like, “if that’s what makes you happy, good for you,” I have to wonder what the hell you’re talking about.

  • ButchKitties

    An individual’s choice to wait or not wait, barring any issues of consent, is a personal decision that simply none of my business.

    However, the societal glorification of virginity as some sort of virtue or prize is my business, because it’s damaging. The way some religions idolize virginity, it becomes a *thing* that defines a person’s (let’s be honest, a woman’s) value, and its loss can be devastating. Here, a woman is dumped by her fiance because she isn’t “pure”. In other parts of the world, women are executed for being raped because the loss of the virginity means the loss of their value as unpolluted baby-makers.

    Religions started glorifying female virginity because there was no such thing a paternity testing. In societies with patrilineal inheritance, men were very worried about making sure their heirs were really their heirs, and the best way to get that assurance was to very rigidly control a woman’s body. “God said so” was a convenient, and effective way to make assure cooperation. The ugly side effect of using “God said so” to justify a temporal need is that times change, but God doesn’t, so we end up permanently codifying temporary fixes. We have paternity testing, which is more reliable than virginity-worship. The underlying need to tell women to wait until marriage is gone, but the idolization of virginity, and all the terrible baggage that comes with it, remains.

  • VK

    My mom is strongly catholic, but when the issue of pre-marital sex came up when I was a teenager, she said “you don’t buy a pair of shoes without trying them on first.” I think this is good advice for anyone, and as long as you’re not trying on every damn pair in the store and wearing those little sock things to protect your feet, there’s nothing wrong with trying on pairs you have no intention of buying.

  • TBH: I thought ‘how cute’ about the waiting for the kiss couple. However, OTOH, I think it is a bit disturbing that people, well girls, onsider their virginity so important.

  • Learning how to take care of ourselves would not only include physical hygiene. We should be mentally sound, emotionally satisfied and socially prepared to be considered well-rounded individuals. The aspect of sex should not be disregarded. It has many benefits especially if done with care.

  • Tom

    I’m a Christian and do think it is God’s plan that we restrain from sex before marriage. But I would never (and have never) “condemned” my friends for not following that suggestion in life.

    I will say that despite years of celibate courtship and enduring a hundred people asking “what if you’re not sexually compatible” and every other reason to have sex before marriage, I am now happily married with a pretty rocking sex life when a lot of friends have been ditched by long term boy/girlfriends and are starting to feel a bit old, lonely and weary from experience.

    This pithy little maxim of “you don’t buy shoes without trying them on” sounds wonderfully wise, but in my opinion is flawed beyond remedy. Because you might buy shoes without trying them on, if every time you tried a pair of shoes they somehow bound to your feet and pulled off some skin when you removed them, and when you went round trying on shoes you were rubbing bits of other people’s skin all over your feet from previous trials. Or, if you knew that actually you needed some other benefits of those shoes (steel toe caps for instance, or being waterproof) and were happy to trust that with time they would become more comfortable but it wasn’t going to be something on which the purchase of the shoe rested.

    …if that’s not pushing the analogy too far!

  • Tom

    I’m a Christian and do think it is God’s plan that we restrain from sex before marriage. But I would never (and have never) “condemned” my friends for not following that suggestion in life.

    Isn’t that a little inconsistent? I don’t mean to offend but if you genuinely believe that God wants something a certain way and your friends are doing the opposite then shouldn’t you speak up?

    I will say that despite years of celibate courtship and enduring a hundred people asking

    Really is it any of their business?

    I am now happily married with a pretty rocking sex life when a lot of friends have been ditched by long term boy/girlfriends and are starting to feel a bit old, lonely and weary from experience.

    Anecdotes don’t mean too much when it comes to evidence to support your assertion. My own experience of 18 years of living with someone, fathering our children and having no intention of ever getting married is that most of our friends marriages have collapsed. Some of their second marriages have collapsed too. Relationships sometimes fall apart. It takes effort to go through life’s various challenges as a couple. Marriage has very little influence on whether the relationship will survive or not.

    This pithy little maxim of “you don’t buy shoes without trying them on” sounds wonderfully wise, but in my opinion is flawed beyond remedy. Because you might buy shoes without trying them on, if every time you tried a pair of shoes they somehow bound to your feet and pulled off some skin when you removed them, and when you went round trying on shoes you were rubbing bits of other people’s skin all over your feet from previous trials.

    I think that your analogy says more about your attitude to your partner and to sex. Personally I want to know enough about my partner’s sexual history to protect myself (and vise versa) and to determine where we draw the line in sexual activity.

  • bria

    Isn’t that a little inconsistent? I don’t mean to offend but if you genuinely believe that God wants something a certain way and your friends are doing the opposite then shouldn’t you speak up?

    I actually agree with him and I don’t think its inconsistent at all. Me saying what I ‘think’ doesn’t mean I know all. It is simply what I think. I perfectly accept that I could be wrong which gives me no position to condemn someone else. I am not God, so why should I take that upon myself. All I know is how I have interpreted things for my own life.

    I don’t claim to know all which I think it what many people think about Christians. I use to blindly be obedient to many aspects of Christian faith but I have most definitely come past that. My decision is my own. I don’t see sex as evil and am perfectly aware that is a natural and pleasurable thing. It just happens to be something I would like to wait to do. I have a pretty clear understanding of my sex drive and I have been with people who are pretty clear as well. It’s all about the individual. What works for me, I know doesn’t work for everyone else.

    If we could all just respect everyone decisions about things, even if we don’t fully get them, I’m pretty confident the world would be a better place. 🙂

  • You truely are a friendly atheist because i am a religious woman I agree with you…strange… 😉 you know many mistakes from ultra-conservative church and false teachings , in my humble oppinion , have been driving people out of the church itself and out of the love teachings of Jesus: love, understanding and justice notion. A big hug.

  • i mean: a girl’s body is not a trade object and such perspective of containing lust until you go on honeymoon. doubles lust! turns the woman’s hímen a prize without even regarding her as a full human being but merely a body part…it is almost this right? ;-D

  • Luci

    I dunno, guys, I think the writer here has a point. I mean, I’m 18 and I don’t want to have sex, and I’ve said that to people before, and now pretty much no one wants to go out with me (either gender!) when they found out that I’m serious about not wanting sex. But I really want love and romance, I’m just uncomfortable with sex right now! 🙁

    I feel like I would have to have so much trust in someone before I would be comfortable being so vulnerable with them, but I’ve never been in a relationship where trust can develop enough 🙁 Then people say I’m so “naive” and immature because I don’t want to have sex.

  • Luci, there is a difference between waiting until you are ready for sex and obeying a social rule put together by religious leaders. The former should be fully supported by anyone who has even a modicum of respect for women’s autonomy (or men’s for that matter). The latter is plainly ridiculous and should be ignored as irrelevant.

    The outcome may be the same, of course, but the reasoning behind the decision should be your own. Deferring your decisions to a pastor or priest is to give up your autonomy and that should not be encouraged. Sex will still be there when you are ready for it, don’t let anyone dictate to you when that is. If your partner doesn’t respect your decision then they may not be the person for you.

  • xanadux

    I’m a 21 year old, attractive, single, educated, socially intelligent (future financially independent) woman who is an abstinent agnostic. I don’t need to be abstinent, but I chose to be. I told myself this at age 10 and again recently when I just turned 21.I’m abstinent in the strictest sense of the word lol, never even had a kiss. lol. It makes me feel that much better to know that I’m a rarity lol.Also, I don’t like the term ‘slut’. I may be abstinent, but I don’t judge others who aren’t. Everyone is entitled to their choices. Who am I to judge how someone should live their life? THe only person I’m in control of is myself.We are out there

  • xanadux

    * neither am I a prude. lol