So What’s Wrong With Waiting, Anyway?


Demand of yourself, even if no one else demands of you. ~Pope John Paul II

Before I begin today’s post, I need to ask that my readers approach this topic with open hearts and minds. It’s a topic that, as a society by and large, we either trivialize or don’t talk about the way we should. By writing this post I’m sharing a part of myself I so rarely do. So, at the end, if you’d like to laugh, I understand. I really do. Most of society does laugh at women (or men) in their 30s who are still chaste.

Say what?

Yes, I said it. I’m about to be 32, and I seem to be well on my way to becoming the title character from the movie The 40-Year-Old Virgin. As far as I know I’m healthy, have not been abused at any time in my life, nor have I made a commitment to a religious order. I’m not gorgeous, but nor am I a hideous goat. I think about guys a lot (as my many posts about the fictional H.M. Murdock will attest). I just never got around to having sex with anyone.

Don’t get me wrong; I’ve had my chances. I’ve dated several guys over my lifetime, one of whom lasted almost three years. I’ve cuddled up on the couch, and kissed guys before. But never once did I go past the proverbial first (or maybe second) base. Maybe at some point I wanted to. It just never felt right. After a very long time, I’ve learned to listen to my instincts when it comes to a decision that important.

God, I feel so virginal

What I really hope to do here is shed some light on some of the harmful myths about non-teenage virgins. I’m sure there are a lot of us out there, though there’s no scientific way to tell. Everyone lies about sex…or, perhaps, the lack of sex. I hope to empower men and women like me who have made a conscious decision for whatever reason, and to let them know that they are not less than anyone else out there. There’s a curious stigma in American culture, especially for women: she can have too much sex, but if she doesn’t have any sex at all, she’s marginalized just as much. This one, then, is for all the 20-year-old, 30-year-old, and, yes, 40+-year-old virgins out there. You’re not alone.

Abstinence is a religious thing, and those who choose it must be zealots or nutcases. There are surely a lot of people who grew up in very religious households thinking sex was somehow “wrong” or “evil.” I’m not one of them. Religious denominations from Christianity to Islam to Buddhism stress abstinence to some degree or another. I was raised in pretty much a permanent agnostic household and remain in a theocratic Twilight Zone. However, I like to believe that there is a benevolent God or Gods out there, and he/she/they would smile upon someone who can keep his or her lust in check. That is one of the traits which separates humankind from the animals. You don’t have to be religious to be chaste by choice.

Those who choose abstinence are either frigid, or have been abused, or are denying a part of themselves. Sex has become a sort of unofficial rite of passage in our hypersexualized Western culture. If you’re past your teens and still a virgin, you may be considered hopelessly nerdy at best or defective at worst. Admittedly it’s not an easy choice to make. On a daily basis we are bombarded with countless sexual images and messages in the media. Going against that grain takes a strong level of commitment. Is wanting to avoid STDs or unwanted pregnancy being “frigid?” If you ask me, it’s just smart. As for abuse, there is a lot of abuse that goes on, sadly, but its victims are just as likely to become hypersexual themselves rather than abstinent. And denying a part of oneself? In my opinion, it takes a sound and sane mind to make the decision to wait until marriage, particularly at a young and impressionable age.

Everybody’s doing it anyway, and those who say they are virgins are just lying. Again, there’s no positive way to tell how many adults (18 and older) are virgins. Many might be pressured to lie, even on an anonymous survey. Personally I’d be honored to discover that the person I was dating had been saving himself until marriage. It would make his sexual history a lot less of a jumbled mess (remember, when you have sex with someone, you’re having sex with all of his or her past partners too.)

It’s impossible to keep a commitment like that. We all have urges. This one is hard to debunk. At the root of things, all people have sexual desires to one degree or another. It is what we do, or don’t do, with those desires which sets us apart from mere animals. I’ve seen teenagers who choose to wear “purity rings” ridiculed and mocked by their peers. Why? Is it really so bad to make, and keep, a sacred commitment? Again, I’m not particularly religious, but neither do I believe that any of us are perfect. We all make mistakes and fall short of the glories of God/the universe. That’s not to say that a person can’t make and keep a sacred vow. It’s not easy, but most noble and lofty goals aren’t.

Virgins, especially older ones, are just the butts of jokes. Sexuality should be a private thing (at least, I think it should be.) Unless you’re in a position to disclose, nobody knows your sexual history but you. Contrary to popular belief, it’s impossible to tell who’s a virgin and who’s not by the way they walk, or act, or dress. It may have become popular to make fun of adult virgins as of late, but who really knows who they are? Just reading research for this post, I came across dozens of anonymous “I’m 30, and still a virgin” posts on message boards from men and women all over the world. Ultimately, unless one is a celebrity, professional athlete, or other highly visible figure, who cares? It’s between you and your partner. If your partner objects, he or she might just be too shallow for you.

The people who stay virgins past high school are just the losers and undesirable types nobody wants anyway. Honestly, if I could change one thing about American pop culture, it would be our unhealthy obsession with sexuality. People are measured by how “hot” or “sexy” they are instead of looking at their character. I’d be more likely to be attracted to someone with a strong moral compass than a hot and sexy young thing with no sense of self. It takes honor to forego sex until marriage. If that’s considered nerdy, or unattractive, I just don’t care.

Waiting until marriage is pointless, because people cheat and get divorced anyway. Why bother? Ah, this is the argument I hear most often when it comes to waiting. Because over half of marriages end in divorce, and many more are destroyed by infidelity, what’s the point of making a virginity pledge? I’d argue that it’s the same reason it’s worth saving up for a house built on a strong, firm foundation rather than a cheaply built one on unstable ground. Making a solid commitment means shared values and common goals. I’m not saying divorce didn’t happen in my parents’ and grandparents’ generation, but was it really as rampant as it is now? They made commitments, and stuck to them. For better or worse, in sickness and in health. That’s not to say marriages won’t have rough patches. They will. But all really good things, as my late grandfather once told me, are worth a few bumps and bruises along the way.

This post isn’t supposed to be a sort of militant push for premarital chastity, complete with medieval metal belts for the ladies. Nope, that’s not what I’m  going for. Instead, I’m making a very personal decision to write about an issue near and dear to my heart and maybe clear up a few misconceptions. In the end, that choice is a personal one. I think each person has the right to make his or her own choices without fear of judgment. And no, I don’t think there is such a thing as a universally right or wrong choice for everyone. That’s one of the things which leads to totalitarian thought.

As for me? I’m about to be a 32-year-old virgin. Laugh if you will, but I’m still waiting for the right guy to come along. Until I do, well, I guess I can wait a few more years…or decades.

Waiting...it's not so bad

Special thanks to L.C. for her feedback on this post. Thanks to all my readers for their continued support.

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~ by Howlin' Mad Heather on June 11, 2011.

4 Responses to “So What’s Wrong With Waiting, Anyway?”

  1. I don’t find that funny or something to be laughed at. I applaud it really, waiting for the right person, seems sensible to me. I can’t quite decide if I’m waiting for the right guy or marriage as of yet though 😄

  2. This is an interesting post, if only because I haven’t seen many others make their virginity a thoughtful decision. Admittedly, I am a 32-year-old virgin because I believe it honors God, but too often the anti-sex sentiment has painted the wrong picture of the why.

    God does not condemn the beauty or passion of sex; on the contrary, if I believe that a God that is concerned for with my best interest, that God would want me to enjoy sex at its fullest. If we are truly created by a higher power, who but that creator would know the most efficient function of the human machine?

    So where as I may have once viewed sex on a list of Christian don’ts, I can now perceive how my abstinence has protected me from understanding or practicing sex in a damaging manner. It is not out of pride or being a prude that I remain a virgin (as there is clearly nothing wrong with my desire), but I cherish the idea of sharing man’s most intimate act with one woman even more than that desire. So if God created that to be “good,” that’s a pretty amazing thing to eventually receive.

    I also work with abused adolescent girls for my job, so I’ve seen the damage that can be caused by a hypersexual view of oneself and others. Granted, abuse provides an extreme case for the distorted understanding of sex, but even the pain caused in voluntary sexual relationships leaves baggage for the intimacy of future relationships. If the damaging of minds and bodies are such an obvious effect of uncommitted sex, we should be able to make the wise decision to abstain, with or without a God. I’m pleased that you clarify this point so well.

  3. Thank you for blogging this, I really enjoyed reading it 🙂 It’s interesting because I’ve never heard the perspective of someone who didn’t align themselves with a specific spiritual/religious belief that felt so strongly about saving one self’s sexuality.

    I am also a Christian and remaining pure, but I have thought of…”what if…” I grew up in a different family and didn’t have a relationship with God… but I feel convinced that regardless of spirituality that I’d wish to save myself for my husband. I believe the beauty of such an intimate experience is amplified and will be more rewarding in an environment that is without guilt, fear or later resentment, and with complete commitment to one another in unconditional love.

    It’s such a precious gift that is so easily cheapened. I appreciate the notion of sex in the true commitment of marriage as a selfless act…. As an expression of unconditional love to one’s wife/husband rather than for self gratification. That is the real difference with casual sex.

    Thank you for encouraging me and I pray you remain encouraged! I know it will all be worth it 🙂 What you are doing is both courageous and admireable. I know your future husband will admire that about you. 🙂

    • You’re welcome, Chloe. I know it’s not a popular stand, especially with all the stuff in the media, but I feel it’s the right and honorable one. Glad to hear someone agrees with me.

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