Deciding to wait until marriage was the easy part. Constantly defending that decision – from my teens till my late 20s, to the men I dated and to curious friends and classmates – was much harder…

The decision to wait to have sex until my wedding night was entirely my own. Sure, growing up in a Christian household – with a mother who encouraged such a choice – had something to do with it. But my decision was not for God, not for my mother or father, not even for my someday-husband.

It was for me.

Deciding to wait until marriage was the easy part…

The idea of having sex with just one person, my spouse and the love of my life, felt beautiful and freeing. However, in modern culture, it’s not the norm. Constantly defending that decision – from my teens till my late 20s, to the men I dated and to curious friends and classmates – was much harder.

Perhaps unlike most other virgins, I skated close to the line. I didn’t put all sexuality off limits, just intercourse itself. I set my own rules, which was exactly what this was about in the first place. I didn’t want to be pressured into anything, so I decided what I would do – and with whom I would do it – when I wanted.

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Even when men knew about my decision to abstain from sex, I had to keep reminding them. It started by turning down the opportunity to sleep with a chiselled guy from my college swim team. Making out one night after a party, our bodies pressed against the bathroom wall, he asked: “Can I stick it in for just a little?” Nope, because “just a little” would mean I was no longer a virgin.

After a rooftop date in my late 20s, rolling around with our clothes on, another man asked: “Should I get a condom?” Startled by his presumptuousness, I slid my body off the bed and out of his apartment. My girlfriends later confirmed that his question wasn’t abnormal, that this was often how two consenting adults might approach casual sex. I had no idea.

I reached a point in my time as a virgin where I realised I needed to tuck my ego back where it belonged

It was tempting to think that because I wasn’t having sex until marriage that I was somehow holier or ‘better’ than other people, or that I deserved something for my ‘valiant’ efforts. But I didn’t deserve any extra chocolate up in heaven, or here as a mortal, because I had chosen to wait. It was my decision, and it wasn’t a better or worse or holier decision than anyone else’s.

A life without pregnancy scares or wondering if I’d slept with a guy too soon made the rocky road of romance a bit simpler

Sometimes, though, alone in my room or hiding upstairs at a party, I convinced myself I was the last virgin on Earth. In these moments, I would drum up support – mostly on Google. Stumbling upon a blog written by someone who’d also decided to wait, I scrolled down to read the comments.

One woman had typed: “Sometimes all I pray is, ‘Jesus, please just let me have sex before I die.’ ” I wondered how that girl got her sticky little fingers on my prayer. For a virgin, not dating someone and not being engaged didn’t just mean being single; it could also be really lonely… with no sense of when that loneliness would end.

In my Googling I discovered three-time Olympian Lolo Jones also made a pact to stay a virgin until marriage. She once said in an interview: “If there’s virgins out there, I’m going to let them know, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life – harder than training for the Olympics, harder than graduating from college, has been to stay a virgin before marriage.”

I took a screenshot of Lolo’s words and pulled them up on my phone a few dozen times in my 20s. I’d tell myself: See, I’m practically an Olympian.

A difficult part of abstaining till marriage was hearing the comments made by those who didn’t know I was holding out

I’d hear friends say things like: “I can’t believe they get married without having sex. It’s like buying a car without test-driving it first.” It wasn’t the statements that hurt. It was my own sadness of feeling different – of knowing I was different. I wondered if my car would indeed drive. I wondered if they were right. Was I foolish to wait? Would my decision be worth it?

There are a few perks to being a virgin, though. In a doctor’s office or hospital, whenever an X-ray tech would ask the standard “Any chance you’re pregnant?” I’d report with 100% accuracy that I wasn’t. A life without pregnancy scares or wondering if I’d slept with a guy too soon made the rocky road of romance a bit simpler. Now that I’m married, I can enjoy the best sex of my life without comparing it to any previous partners.

Leading up to my wedding night, my girlfriends were giddy for what I was about to experience. They’d been rooting for me all along, waiting to see if I’d succeed at the challenge I set out for myself.

I probably confused many men I dated. But over the years, most guys showed respect for my decision. The guy I dated for years never once pressured me to have sex. Now that I’m married and sexually active, I’m even more impressed by the fortitude of those I dated and didn’t sleep with.

When it comes to love and sex, our choices are our own, and we shouldn’t have to defend them

When I look back at my years of patience, I wonder: Did I actually have to defend myself? Maybe people were more supportive than I’d conjectured. Maybe I felt I had to justify my choice to myself, even though I knew I’d made the right one. When it comes to love and sex, our choices are our own, and we shouldn’t have to defend them.

Article by Jenna Jonaitis, first published on ‘Washington Post’

Author: ANA Newswire