On the very first date I had with the man who would become my husband, over glasses of iced coffee on a sunny September afternoon, he told me, with a cockiness that I still find adorable:
“I have three requirements for the woman I date. One, she can’t be living with her parents. Two, she has to have a car.”
I didn’t tell him where I stood with these requirements, but I met these first two. “Three, she has to be good in bed.” And there it was, the nail in the coffin that I faced with every guy I met. I had no idea if I was good in bed. I was a virgin and had made a promise to myself that I would remain so until my wedding night. And I was certain he wouldn’t want me because of it.
There came a second date, and then a third. The “requirements” weren’t brought up. We were headed into relationship territory—my first real relationship—but I still wasn’t certain where I stood with him. I still feared he expected something from me that I wasn’t willing to give. I kept asking him “Do you really want to be with me?”
He hadn’t asked me to be his girlfriend yet, so I was afraid he was going out with other women too. One night we were walking to dinner, and he asked me if my roommate was seeing anyone. He was just being his conversational self, but I was so wrapped up in fear that he was going to stray that I actually replied, “Why, are you interested?” I hated how insecure it made me sound, but I was genuinely worried.
It was my roommate who helped me realize that it was probably time to have a real conversation about what was on my mind. If he had expectations that I wasn’t willing to meet, I had to be honest with him. I cared about him, and I didn’t want to string him along. I was afraid to talk about it, though, because I was falling in love with him. But if he didn’t want the same things I did, then I would have to face the fact that we weren’t right for each other.
So I told him, haltingly and nervously, that to me, sex was something special I wanted to share only with my husband. He didn’t respond right away, but he didn’t reject me either.
But a few dates later he brought it up again, saying, “I thought over what you said, and I don’t agree with waiting for marriage to have sex. I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to be experienced before marriage. But I want to respect your wishes.”
I was so surprised and touched by how much he had thought about it. I felt then that he truly cared for me. It made me feel special that he would take what I said seriously, that he wanted to respect me even though he didn’t agree.
It also changed my anxiety about that first date when he set out his expectations for a relationship. He had the confidence to know what he wanted, but the wisdom to value what I wanted, even when it differed from his wants.
In the end, I didn’t meet his third “requirements.” But this man who became my husband loved me more than that requirement, and that’s how I knew it was real love.