I remember being taught by my parents that sex was supposed to happen inside marriage, but that’s not what I learned in school. In “sex ed” classes they told me that you should wait till you are in love and until you felt that you were ready. I looked around and saw that all of the teenaged boys and girls in my grade felt that they were “ready”—at least that’s what our hormones were telling us—and what does that mean anyway? Then I saw how feelings of love changed as quickly as popularity statuses and promises of love were made and then broken over and over again, in the backseats of cars and in our parents basements.
By the end of high school I knew that holding off on sex wasn’t as hard as my teachers made it out to be or as easy as my parents made it seem. I graduated high school with a few “this must be love” romances under my belt and still managed to hold off on sex, so why did they think I couldn’t do it? But it was hard. It wasn’t a simple matter of deciding not to, like my parents made it seem. I wanted to have sex and I didn’t, having sex made sense for me and it didn’t, I felt like I was ready and I wasn’t all at the same time. Still, I held off and I still do, because I know that sex is only ever safe and only ever easy within the security of lasting love and marriage.
Not having sex still continues to be difficult, a kiss still holds sway over me the way it did when hormones were something new. But another thing that hasn’t changed since high school are the rules I live by, that help me to hold off on sex, even when I feel like giving in.
The truth is, holding of on sex can feel like a loosing battle if you don’t set certain boundaries for yourself. It might sound juvenile—harkening back to the days when your parent’s gave you a curfew—but making rules for yourself helps you to accomplish all sorts of things in your adult life (like getting to work on time and dieting) so why not make rules for your love life?
Here are 4 rules that help me to hold off on sex, even when it’s hard.
1. Be clear from the start.
I always know I’m in dangerous territory when I have been casually dating a guy for a while and we still haven’t had a conversation about sex. Chances are the other person is already wondering when/if sex is going to happen or maybe even thinking about how to make a move. Better not wait till you are on the defensive and in the awkward position of having to rain on anyone’s parade. Ask the person you are dating what they think about sex before marriage and then be clear about where you stand. Being clear means the other person is not left wondering if he or she might not be able to change your mind. A tip from someone who has been there: saying ” I don’t want to have sex until marriage,” is not as clear as ” I am not having sex until marriage.” Hear the difference? The first sounds like ” we’ll see…I don’t always get what I want.” The second way sounds like,” try it and I will slap you.”
2. Be on the same page.
After you have have gotten the sex talk out of the way, it’s time to see if you are on the same page. The person that you are dating might not be holding off on sex, but it doesn’t mean that he/she can’t respect your decision and want what you want for yourself. That being said, holding off on sex is 10x easier when you are dating someone who has the same ideas about sex as you do. Why? because when things start feeling a little steamy, you don’t want to be the only one saying it’s time to slow down. I have been in both situations, and trust me, I would much rather feel like a team player then a police man in the relationship.
How do you know you are on the same team? Well, if you are both acting like it. A good tip off that you are on your own, is if you are asked to explain yourself more then once. It’s natural for people to have questions when you tell them you are not having sex and discovering the reason for doing so is a good way to get to know a person, but you should only have to answer the question “why?” once. If your man/woman starts grilling you on “why?” every time you express your need for sexual boundaries, then he/she is not on your team. Another way to know if the person your dating is on the same page, is if they act like they want what you want, this means you are not the one always reminding them how far is too far.
3. Move painfully slow.
As you get physically closer to someone, it’s natural to want that kind of closeness to get progressively closer and closer. It’s like that children’s book, “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie,”… he is going to ask for a glass of milk. For this reason it’s a good idea to try and get to know one another without all the physical stuff for at least a month. The best way to do this is to date, like the way your grandparents did. Go out on a date, avoiding couches or being alone at his place or yours. There are plenty of fun ways to date without setting the mood for something physical, my favorite ideas are hikes or even just long walks, picnics in a public but peaceful spot, meeting for breakfast or lunch, or any date during the day time hours. After a month of getting to know someone through conversation and outdoor adventures, you will likely feel more confident about moving the relationship forward or will know it’s time to call it off.
4. Take your pulse.
It may sound stuffy or nerdy, but removing yourself from temptation is a thing and it works. Of course you and your man/woman are going to want to get in bed if you are in a room with one—what hard working adult doesn’t at the end of a long day! Even if the plan is to just lay there and snuggle, if you guys are attracted to one another, things will likely escalate pretty quickly—you know it’s true! Take your pulse like this regularly, what is making things hard? If you are really serious about holding off on sex, skip the temptations—like the bedroom—and move it somewhere a little less comfy.
What about you? What do you do to help you stay committed to holding off on sex?