These thoughts have been rolling around in my head for weeks. Perhaps it’s because I have daughters, and they are witnessing the classmates graduating with the coveted MRS. I’m also living among a demographic of young professionals, and shacking up is common. It’s also a little bit of deja vu of my old life. It seems every day I ponder this truth:
It’s worth waiting.
Of course, this advice seems to fall on deaf ears these days. Or, let’s face it, even in “my day.” And truthfully, most of us don’t truly appreciate that it was worth waiting until it’s too late.
Having sex with someone has certainly become trivialized in some circles. No big deal. Something you just want to get “over with.” Who wants to be the remaining pathetic virgin? I’m sure there are many exceptions. The only thing that kept me a virgin through High School was Catholic School, fear, and the misguided fantasy I wanted to be a nun.
Here’s what usually happens:
Our first real love often comes along during a time of raging hormones and undeveloped brains. Fuzzy and confusing morals. Search for self apart from family (and possibly rejection from family). A thirst for the thrilling and edgy. Even if your family taught you that it was worth waiting to give your purity to your eventual spouse, your friends seem to all be “doing it.” The cute guys seem to expect it, the girls who deliver seem to land the cute guys, who otherwise will just ignore you. Enter your first “true love,” and your silly little 16-17 year old brain (mine was 19) thinks, “This is the one I will spend the rest of my life with.” He possibly is asking for proof of your love and devotion. So, you let your passions, dreams and fantasies take you into his arms and the delights to be found there. Your emotional, passionate love takes wings. It makes you feel “mature” engaging in such an “adult thing.” And, well, sex feels pretty damned good. Why was everyone cautioning you to wait? Spoilsports!
Until you realize he’s not all that. Or that you really don’t have much in common. Or that the other girl’s C-cup was more enticing than your A-cup. Or that most teen guys (and many men in general) just want to score and will say anything to get you into bed. Or that you have changed (duh) and can’t imagine being with this person for the rest of your life (my 19 year old realization).
Being wanted is quite an aphrodisiac. Never mind the motives or the morals. Feeling sought-after and desired–which most of us mistake for love–is irresistible. Especially if love was sparse or highly conditional in our family.
Statistically, I believe that most of our first loves do not become our forever loves. I have known a few “childhood” or “High School sweethearts” who have lasted a long time. But I’ll wager there are many more who don’t make it (The most comprehensive study on marriage and age that sociologists cite was published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2001, from 1995 data, and it found that 48 percent of those who marry before 18 are likely to divorce within 10 years, compared with 24 percent of those who marry after age 25).
So, here’s where the problem begins, that slippery downhill slide…
The wrapping’s off the present. What was once intact is forevermore gone. And, well, even if you aren’t still holding a candle for the first guy, you remember how good intimacy felt, the connection, the highs and endorphins, the presumed power, and even the lure of the forbidden. Yep, there IS a Garden of Eden analogy here. What you didn’t know was probably better for you.
When the next guy comes along, you aren’t so stalwart about guarding your “honor.” I mean come on, we’re not silly little virgins anymore, are we? We are wise, mature women. And we like sex. We maybe are pretty damned good at sex. We convince ourselves of the lie that we like uncommitted sex just as much as guys do… but we are now wiser and we know how to use our sexuality to ensnare a guy. Oh, the lure of feeling desired.
The dilemma is that the average age of marriage these days is 27 and 29 for women and men. That’s a long time to live with raging hormones. Yet those of us who didn’t wait know something the ones who are still waiting don’t know.
Sex is addictive. Once you’ve had it, you really want it– again and again. Maybe not even because it feels good, but more because it is so bonding, it is a primal force within us to be one. This is GOOD in marriage. It’s how God designed it. Many who have spent their 20s and even 30s single yet not virgins, possibly had a “F**k buddy,” a safe person with whom you were friends but it was well understood never a commitment. You tell yourself it’s OK to just use each other because it’s mutual.
It’s a dangerous spiral. We tell ourselves that we’ve already “sinned,” and since we can’t undo what’s been done, we just keep on. We allow ourselves a little moral relativism and believe that “I’m not hurting anyone…” For some, the notches on the bedpost start to really add up. Before you know it, those notches correspond to parts of your heart irretrievably being torn away, lover’s faces (and touches) indelibly imprinted. No matter how you vow to shake them, you have vivid memories of most if not all of those partners with whom you shared the ultimate intimate. Whether or not you want to admit it, engaging in that one-flesh magic with anyone other than a spouse has a heavy future price. And that’s not even mentioning the risks of sexual diseases or unwanted pregnancy.
For the long-single, you reach your late twenties or thirties and possibly have had as many relationships as your years. You finally find “the one.” You marry him. You commit to life together, you make vows. You are happy to finally have found him. And, he’s a good guy. A wonderful guy. A trustworthy guy. It’s happily ever after, right?
And your penance for the dalliances of your single years? You don’t forget a single face. They pop unbidden like ghosts between you and your life mate. You feel guilt. You can’t help it, you make comparisons, and then you feel worse. You blend all the previous experiences together and expect it in one meal, that one person just can’t realistically deliver. You struggle to be focused and satisfied; mentally and emotionally committed to your forever love.
And the whole “true love waits” thing? Many of us probably have mocked it. But it’s more about loving yourself, the person God intended you to be and the life He wants for You, than it is about waiting for sex. His plan was pretty good.
And the ones who wait for marriage? For those who kept their purity, it’s the first time; it’s the only time; there is nothing else to compare it to. There are no limits or boundaries to where it can go. No expectations of what it should be or should feel like. You work these things out together. You grow together in a safe and trusting space unlike that of a fling.
Now, that’s worth waiting for…