Let me clarify: I’m not a virgin. That ship sailed ten years ago. It was my first serious relationship, and I was desperately in love with my boyfriend. We broke up a few years later - eighteen to twenty-three is the age when people grow up, and sometimes they grow apart. I was heartbroken when the relationship ended; though I’m not sure that he was. Anyway.
In my next relationship too, I was physically intimate with my boyfriend. And I think that was really where things went wrong for us. We were so caught up in the sex - how to make it more fun, more exciting - that we forgot to work on the relationship itself. We loved each other (I think he definitely cared more about me than my first boyfriend did), but we never really figured out how to connect with each other outside of the bedroom.
We had different interests, very different career paths - and whatever time we got to spend together, we ended up doing what was fun for us both. Sex. I never learnt to watch cricket with him because he loved it. He never learnt to read a book in quiet comfort with me because that’s what made me feel peaceful. Two years into the relationship, we ended up without knowing how to resolve conflicts, how to just be comfortable with each other outside the cover of bedsheets. We still loved each other (and three years later, he still has a piece of my heart), but we didn’t know how to get along. It was devastating for us both - having to accept that love was the easiest part of a relationship.
I was single for a couple of years after that. And I really, really missed being physically intimate with a guy that I loved. And yet, a year ago, when I started seeing my current boyfriend, I made a conscious decision to not get into bed with him.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I am very attracted to him physically. And when he kisses me, I burn. But stronger than that sizzle is my memory of the bleak, empty feeling I had at the end of my previous relationships - that inability to connect any longer with people I had cared for with all my heart.
This boy and I - we are very serious about each other. And we will get married in a year’s time. It’s what we’re looking forward to. This decision of mine to not have sex until we’re married - he gets it, he accepts it. On days when desire threatens to overwhelm everything else, and we can barely keep our hands off each other - it’s hard to be together on those days and still adhere to this rule I’ve made. But at those times, I remind myself that, more than anything else, I love the fact that we spend time with each other doing things. We laugh, we talk, we go on vacation together, we nap wrapped in each other’s arms.
So my decision (and now my belief, really) to not have sex before marriage - it’s not moral. I mean, it’s your life, you sleep with who you want, when you want - who am I to judge? And I really do enjoy sex way too much to believe that abstinence is a sustainable way of life for people. It’s really about what I have learnt about myself - that sometimes physical distance is simply an aid to building greater emotional intimacy. It works for me. Because despite the sexual frustration both my boyfriend and I feel every now and then, we are happier with each other than we have ever been before. Here’s hoping it lasts… :-)