I used to assume that if I met a nice guy and things were going well, that we would have sex. I hadn’t really thought deeply about it; it was just what people did. I no longer think that’s the best thing.
When I was 15, I attended a talk where a dynamic and personable speaker spoke about sex and gave some really compelling reasons to wait until marriage. She talked about the chemicals our brains release during sex that cause us to bond with our partners and explained why the breakup of a sexual relationship really tears our hearts apart. After listening to this speaker I decided I was going to wait until marriage.
I did end up waiting longer than I would have if I had never heard that woman’s speech. In the end though, I didn’t believe that I was worth waiting for. As I’ve written before, years of abuse had convinced me that I was worthless. Not yet having gone through my healing journey, I didn’t know that I was lovable or that I deserved respect. I didn’t think I could ever hold a man’s attention by just being me.
I’ve had sex with men who meant nothing to me and to whom I meant nothing. I’ve also been with men with whom I had a relationship. What I know now is that neither compares to what sex is like with my husband.
Casual sex didn’t make me feel liberated. Using others for physical pleasure and being used by them, didn’t feel freeing. In fact, being looked on as an object rather than a person worthy of respect felt a lot like the sexual abuse of my childhood. Even though I was the one allowing it now, even though I was using these guys too, it didn’t really change the fact that my humanity was still being overlooked. Eventually I came to realize that just like cutting perpetuated my abuse, unattached sex did too.
In the context of a relationship, sex was certainly better than one-night stands, but still insufficient because there was no commitment. A boyfriend can leave any moment he chooses. That brought fear in sex because I always knew that one day the relationship would come to an end. And of course, one day it did. Without commitment, there wasn’t the feeling of complete safety that I experience now when I am having sex with my husband. There wasn’t the knowledge that the person with me loves me enough to choose me for the rest of his life that I experience now as a married woman.
Sex greatly magnifies the hurt we experience if the relationship doesn’t last. Having experienced this unparalleled pain firsthand, I’m positive there was a lot of wisdom in the practices and traditions of past generations that helped young people wait until marriage to have sex.
I don’t think we are supposed to experience that level of heartache as a matter of course in growing up. In fact, I don’t think we are meant to experience that at all. We are supposed to only give ourselves to one person who has vowed and shown through their actions that they will love us and honor us forever. We’re meant to experience sex in trust and safety, and that relationship is supposed to be for life.
Luckily for me, my husband did (and does) respect me. Because of his respect for me, I eventually began to know that I deserved respect. I wish I had known this before. And I wish more people today really knew how much they matter, including their bodies. If they could truly understand this, I’m sure they would be very choosy in picking a spouse, and they would never think about giving something so precious as themselves to a person who isn’t their spouse. Not out of prudishness, but because they recognize their own worth.
Having experienced sex both as a single woman and a married woman, there really is no comparison. Sex is actually loving now, and an expression of the respect and honor we show each other in our whole lives together. To be able to share together our thoughts, joys, and fears, and all the everyday and momentous occasions of life as well as sex: I would never go back to anything less.
The truth is we ARE all worth waiting for.