What’s your first reaction when someone says they “waited for marriage” or when someone mentions the concept of virginity? Do you cringe? Are you ambivalent? Does it resonate with you? Does it bring up some family and cultural baggage? Is it outside of your normal life but you’re curious? All or none of the above?
Everyone has a different relationship to virginity, and when they choose to or not to have sex. This highly personal decision is usually swayed by culture and society, familial values or religion, hormones and natural human desires, and everything else that makes you, you.
In an era of sexual revolution for all genders, people are learning more and more how to have autonomy in their sexuality. Many people assume that sexual autonomy has to do with learning about pleasure, sex toys, different types of relationships – and it does. But part of the choice is in deciding when you have sex, regardless of the world around you.
Although it’s not as common as it used to be, some people choose to wait to have sex until marriage. Why is that? Are there benefits to waiting? Do virgins have it all figured out? Let’s get to the bottom of this somewhat controversial, but very real part of being human.
Virginity is a Spectrum
Before we get into the whys, benefits, and all that jazz, we have to clear something up. Virginity is a spectrum. What do I mean by that?
When it comes to your body and intimacy, you get to decide what you consider sex. You might kiss but wait to do anything under the clothes. Maybe you’re ok with breast touching or manual stimulation down there. Some people may engage in oral sex or even anal sex, but not have vaginal sex (if you or your partner have a vagina). Some people who choose virginity may still want to masturbate in whatever way works for them.
If sex is a buffet – you’ve got options. No one sexual act is better than another. Kissing can be just as intimate as penetrative sex. The theme is your body, your choice, so you decide what “virginity” means to you.
Why Do People Wait?
For most people, sex is one of the top sources of pleasure, which begs the question – why do people wait until marriage?
The most obvious answer is tradition. That tradition might be rooted in religion, culture, familial values, or something else. These values often intertwine too. Some virgins take religious vows that are upheld by familial values and the culture that they’re immersed in. While these are the most obvious, they’re not the only reasons that people choose to stay virgins until marriage.
For some, sex is a part of their self-discovery that they chose not to engage with until marriage. Say someone’s sexuality goes against their family’s and culture’s beliefs, so they felt shame expressing it, or didn’t know how to navigate it, and waited to have sex until they were able to somewhat overcome that and come into themselves. Or they had some sort of discomfort in their body or self-confidence that prevented them from pursuing sexual relationships. They may have had mental or physical health issues that put a hold on their intimate life. Others were focused on opportunities and other areas of their lives, and their sex life just wasn’t a priority.
There are so many reasons why someone might wait for marriage, and they’re all valid. When someone chooses to wait until marriage, they don’t owe anyone an explanation. They might even be onto something.
The Benefits of Waiting Till Marriage
You might wonder why someone would stay a virgin until marriage, but there can be benefits to waiting! Before you scoff, hear us out.
Getting to know your body
Generally, the older you get, the more time you have to get to know yourself and your desires. This might allow you to be more choosy about what partner(s) you pick, and get to know your body and what you want out of intimate relationships.
You may have better sex
One study found that couples who waited until marriage to have sex rated sexual quality 15% higher than people who had premarital sex. This may be because people are able to build a solid foundation and practice other forms of intimacy well before they start having sex.
You may have a better relationship
The same study showed that couples who waited to have sex until marriage rated their relationship stability as 22% higher and their satisfaction with their relationships 20% higher.
Waiting to have sex can give you time to develop skills in your relationship before bringing sex into the equation. Sex is a great way to increase intimacy but it can also be a distraction from building communication and other skills.
In the same vein of people creating their own definition of virginity, you can also choose to become celibate at any point in your life. Have you been having sex for a while but feel like you want to approach your relationships differently? Or hit the reset button?
Again, it’s your body, your choice. You can choose to become celibate at any point in time, no matter how much sex you’ve had or how many people you’ve had it with.
It’s Your Life
If you haven’t picked it up yet, the theme here is your body, your choice. So, no matter what your family, religion, or culture says, you get to decide what’s right for you. If that means waiting until marriage to have sex, great. Or you want to create your own definition of virginity. You could meet someone special and decide that in that relationship you want to wait until you get married. Or maybe this was just a fun read, but you’re very content with having an active sex life.
To each their own! There are so many ways to experience pleasure, intimacy, and connection, whether or not sex is involved. The most important thing is that you feel empowered and confident in your choice. You do you!