There were no married people in my friend circle in my early twenties. My friends were mostly single, some in long-ish term relationships, but most of them not. One of my closest friends was a guy from high school who talked about girls constantly, and often about his lack of experience in the sex department. The female body, and the act of sex, were to him a foreign land he wanted to explore, but he lacked any real experience. He wanted the opportunity to take a few “test runs” before he met the woman of his dreams.
I know that many people have fallen into the mindset that you should have a sex “test run” before hunkering down and committing to one person for life. As someone who had plenty of “test runs” before marriage, I can tell you: Sex just doesn’t work that way.
While the argument may be that the more sex you have the better and more comfortable at it you will be, sex outside of a lifelong commitment left me feeling less confident and more unsure of myself and my body.
I don’t recall a single conversation about sex with any of the men I had sex with. It was assumed I was comfortable with the things we were doing in bed, but it was never discussed. I was trusting men with my body when I could not even trust them with my deepest thoughts and feelings. I didn’t feel safe enough to share. I didn’t know how to engage in meaningful conversations about the physical act of intercourse because those relationships lacked the deep vulnerability that I now know only accompanies lifelong commitment.
Instead of making me feel more confident in the bedroom, sex before marriage had the opposite effect.
When those relationships eventually ended, I inevitably felt insecure about what I had offered them, my body included. I felt as if my body itself had been rejected and brought those feelings into my subsequent relationships, including my marriage.
Healthy sex in marriage requires me to be confident in my own skin, but I now see how having uncommitted sex actually undermines that.
While it took time, my husband’s and my lifelong commitment to one another laid the foundation for the deep vulnerability I needed to heal from those feelings of rejection. My husband and I had to work through these feelings by being open and honest with one another about our sexual history, our insecurities, and our fears. While my husband and I both had “test runs” prior to getting married, it took us over a year to be comfortable with one another in the bedroom.
Meaningful sex comes from a deep abiding love and respect for another person, a person you have committed to physically and in every other way. It comes from knowing your flaws and imperfections will be held in the tension of the beautiful person you are and are becoming, that the person you are having sex with has committed to see you through that transformation. Sex is not something you can practice with one person and hope to grow in with another. A “test run,” even with your future spouse, isn’t helpful without the lasting commitment of marriage in place first.