“Let’s be serious, there won’t be another conversation,” my date said as the evening came to a close.
His abrupt announcement was startling, and quickly cut through any sense of enjoyment I was experiencing during what had otherwise been a fun date. We did have our differences, ones that certainly could have proved troublesome in the long term. But this was a first date, and we had barely scratched the surface of the ‘getting to know you’ process. How did he already know with such certainty that there wouldn’t be another date or conversation?
As the date wrapped up, his reasons for shutting down any further relationship/friendship became clear: his past relationships had included living with his girlfriends and sex, mine have not. And, while I’m not one who necessarily considers sex and cohabitation in the past a deal breaker for a relationship, I don’t intend to have sex or live with a boyfriend before marriage. While on the date, I had enjoyed seeing the world through a different perspective, and would have gone on another date for no other reason than to build a friendship. But it seemed no sex before marriage was a deal breaker for him.
We didn’t talk in detail about our reasons to have or not have sex before marriage, but I bet the conversation would have been interesting and eye opening for both of us. The truth is, I’m not avoiding sex before marriage because I’m afraid of it, socially awkward, or some other crazy misconception. Instead, I’m avoiding sex before marriage because I want something more than a night of pleasure; I want decades of happiness.
Giving into sex that night might have solved my immediate desire for companionship, but it wouldn’t have solved my long-term, stronger desire for a happy, lasting marriage and a healthy sex life in marriage. Studies show that sex too early in a relationship or multiple sexual partners before marriage can have lasting effects on a happy, healthy relationship and sex life in marriage.
One study, from researchers at Cornell University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, found that women who delayed “sexual involvement for over 6 months reported significantly higher levels of relationship satisfaction, commitment, intimacy, and emotional support, as well as sexual satisfaction with their partner” compared to their peers who got sexually involved within the first month of a relationship. Researchers suggested that the “results provide empirical evidence[…] that the speed of entry into sexual relationships is negatively associated with marital quality, but only among women.” In other words, the longer a couple waits to engage in sex, the more likely they are to be happier in marriage—particularly for women.
Another study, from researchers at Brigham Young University, found that the number of sexual partners before marriage was associated with lower levels of sexual quality, communication, and relationship stability in marriage. For those study participants in my age group, 18-30, higher numbers of sexual partners was associated with lower relationship satisfaction. According to the study: “In no instance was increasing the number of sexual partners better for any of the relationship outcomes…” In other words, fewer sexual partners before marriage provides better chances of a happier marriage and a happier sex life in marriage.
I often hear from friends and other contributors at iBiL that a happy, lasting marriage is a priority—and it should be! But, great marriages aren’t built on a white dress and the exchange of rings and vows, and the hope for “one day”. There are things we can do to turn hope into reality, and waiting until marriage to engage in sex is one of them.
Not having sex until marriage is hard; it’s sometimes harder than it looks. Mistakes will sometimes be made; when desire in the heat of the moment can take you a little too close to giving in. But when you know and understand the long-term benefits of waiting for sex, and when both parties are on board with the idea, you’re more likely to succeed.
As for me, I don’t want one night of physical bliss; I want a lifetime of “happily ever after.” And I’m encouraged to know that others, like my fellow iBiL writer Brittany, share some of my feelings!