At the last high-table dinner in Oxford, I was sitting next to a sassy Spanish senorita who teaches Abnormal Psychology in Oxford. After a few glasses of wine, she asks me…
“So, are you excited to reunite with your boyfriend on Friday after 8 week and finally get to have sex with him again?”
Her question was blunt; I had no way of avoiding the inquiry straight on. I couldn’t dance my way out of this one.
“Well, actually me and my boyfriend don’t have sex… and like, we haven’t ever together – or with anyone else.”
I don’t often go around advertising the sexual practices of me and my man, but it is not because I’m embarrassed. I rarely bring it up because I certainly don’t want anyone to feel judged or “less than” or feel uncomfortable around me. If I didn’t love a guy who is more passionate about abstinence than I am, I would most definitely be having sex and I reserve no judgment for anyone who sleeps with their boyfriend before marriage. Therefore, these types of conversations rarely surface.
But endless champagne and wine at High Table dinners always lead to rousing conversations.
In high school, the pressure to run around the bases did make me feel embarrassed. I’ll never forget a friend of mine found out I hadn’t been past “1st base” my Sophomore Year and started yelling in the hallways, “O my God, no one has ever touched those boobs?” Yes, it was mortifying.
Back in the days of intense hormones & peer pressure, I was shy about talking about my choices with my body and my “lack of experience.” I had another dear friend tell me, “Katie, this won’t last. You will have sex before you’re married when you really fall in love.” I told her I would call her as I was about to walk down the aisle because I was convinced I would be able to maintain my position. When I go and visit my dear-Hun friends in New York they usually ask what Judge has or has not touched or done to my body. They always are giddy for me to experience everything a fresh or anew with Judge. On the whole, my highschool friends are now very supportive of my choices and can’t wait for me to talk with them about everything after my wedding night. They are excited for me despite our theological differences and that’s such a blessing to me.
So this post is for the people who are on this weird journey of “waiting” or for anyone who’s just curious about how two people decide they want to wait to have sex. Judge and I certainly aren’t alone and the reason I am writing a bare-all- post is because of the amount of emails and responses I received from my first Kissing Post and secondly, because so many of my friends are beginning relationships and I want to show them how Judge and I negotiated waiting.
So, back to Oxford, England. I became this abnormal psychologist’s case study and she asked me many explicit questions not only through the duration of that dinner, but throughout the entire last week on the program. Though she was entirely shocked by my sexual choice, she also was very respectful and told me countless times when I saw her how much she admired me. These questions didn’t make me uncomfortable, and I actually enjoyed discussing the ins and outs of me and my boyfriend’s physical past. After I had that talk with C., she told some other folks and before I knew it I was having this conversation with others in our program who all loved to ask me some tough questions.
“So if you do decide to marry Judge, how do you know you won’t be doing it for lust?”
“How do you know that you two fit together?”
“How are you sure you will be happily married if you’ve never lived together? You see a whole different side of men when you live together.”
“Isn’t that taxing on your relationship to kiss so much for three years and have to stop yourself before it goes any farther? Isn’t that confusing for your body?”
And I would ask questions back in return, “When you give up a certain type of food, how long do you have to go without that food item before you stop craving it? If you’ve never tasted sugar or bread, do you crave it? Doesn’t your stomach shrink when you’re dieting?”
“Did you like to find your presents before Christmas morning?”
I would explain that choosing to abstain from sex follows similar patterns of nature. With any choice to restrain one’s self from anything, it’s hard at first but then your body and mentality adjust.
I don’t refrain from sex because I think it’s bad or because I’m uncomfortable with my sexuality. I am refraining from sex because I am waiting to have sex in a context where I believe it will be BEST. I am waiting to experience sex in a covenant Holy Spirit sealed relationship. Because I do believe in a Creator, I believe he created sex to be the best in a certain context. Believing in a master designer is controversial because we are apart of a culture that honors and respects CHOICE. I think every person does have a choice to do whatever they want with their body. However, I do believe in consequences of choices. Because I believe in a master architect, I believe his blue-print for sex and his direction manual is the best. So, I follow.
Abstinence is something I chose to do because I believe the choice is romantic. I loved hearing about my grandparents wedding night. I wanted to be a virgin on my wedding because I thought the idea was so dreamy, vintage and beautiful. And now that I am engaged as a twenty six year old virgin, I can’t explain to you how exciting and romantic it feels.
We set boundries in the same way that some don’t want to look under your parents bed or closet because they don’t want to spoil a holiday surprise by accidentally tripping over your Christmas Wishlist in October. Who wants to see your Christmas gifts around Halloween or Thanksgiving? Not me. That’s why we set such strict rules for ourselves. We wanted our wedding night and marriage to be explosive.
Certainly, in the first 8 to 10 months of Judge and my relationship, kissing was hard to keep under wraps. In the first six months of dating, the oxytocin level in your body is off the charts and you are in a constant state of a euphoric high. Back in those days, Judge and I set boundaries in different settings to keep ourselves from going farther than we both wanted to go. You can read about that more in detail in this post here. Sometimes we only kissed in the day, other times we refused to ever get in a bed, other times we tried our best to not be alone in my house. We don’t really have this big struggle any more three + years in. Our bodies have learned, “Yeah, no, not happening.” So it’s not this big battle anymore. So this is my answer to, “How do you know you aren’t marrying for lust?” Judge and I feel like an old married couple right now because we’ve told our bodies no for so long, its no longer asking for things it can’t have.
There are no clear rules in the Bible about the stuff in between being friends and being lovers. What’s allowed? How far is too far? What is expressing love and what is selfish? Really, physical intimacy in the context of dating has no clear lines or rules. What’s not okay for me and Judge could be totally fine and clear-intentioned to another couple. If it’s not called sex, is it okay? I have no idea what’s best but I am excited that Judge and I have saved everything labelled “sex,” for our honeymoon. We are going to have so much to explore and experience and I can’t wait.
I believe God gives you enough grace to live and to make mistakes. Often dating feels like trial and error. We would mess up and then we would say, “Oops, help us, God. We need you still. Thanks.” The Lord is not a God of shame. His goal is not for us to feel ashamed of our sexuality or our bodies. I love my body. I love my womanhood. My friends will tell you, I even love my period. I am pro-masterbation. I am pro knowing your body well if your mind is not fantasizing about men that aren’t your husband. I am pro independent sexuality, in the context of, “Whatever is pure, whatever is noble, whatever is honorable, think about such things…” If you are feeling feelings of deep, dark, secret, shame – those feelings aren’t coming from the God I know. Jesus said, “I have come to give you life, and life abundantly!” Jesus fought slut-shame before it was a feminist term. He’s not about shame, but rather conviction with immediate freedom attached.
I only follow and do what Jesus did because I think he has lived life better than any other human in history. I am not apart of a church or family that shames anyone for their bodies or for their past or current sexual choices. Nothing shocks me. I have talked to people from all walks of life. I can talk about every kind of sex without judgement. Often, I find the same is not true if I am to discuss my choice to wait. People think people who decided to wait to have sex must be suppressed and must judge other who have sex outside of marriage. People who wait to have sex must be weird and creepy and are most definitely gay haters, right? Hopefully, my life will prove those opinions false.
The journey Judge and I decided to follow wasn’t easy and we messed up every week at least in the beginning. Judge and I would do more physically than we wanted to. Then, we would usually pray and ask for strength. Then, we would change our behaviour or our setting and most importantly assess and adjust our hearts. Remember, only God can judge the intention of a person’s hearts, and whatever we did we’d hope to put against the Creator’s standard and ask his opinion, “Why are we doing this? Why do we want to do this? Who are we doing this for?” Only the Holy Spirit can show us the true intentions and this type of adventure and attempt must be lead by Him alone. I am very skeptical of any pastor setting blanket rules and telling you, “O yes, stay vertical” or “O, don’t watch movies alone together” or any other creepy mantra that isn’t in scripture. That is legalism and scary religion. Run, far far away. If you want to abstain from sex before marriage, and YOU want to do this and no one is pressuring you into it, just ASK the Master Designer himself what he thinks about your sexuality and sex life. He is so protective over me and has led me into such GOOD, joyful places. Tune out all the weird religious noise and just ASK. He’s always given me great, surprising replies.
Sometimes, Judge and I succeeded, other times our kissing turned into much more that stimulated our bodies in ways that made us feel a very high high and a very low low or what Jessica and I call the “spike and rot.” The constant roller coaster you experience when you are first dating someone and trying to remain abstinent is challenging for sure. Both people have to be committed to the same goal. To be honest, Judge at times was much more committed than I was and it left me feeling rejected or not beautiful or confused. Sometimes a guy wanting to wait in 100% of all sexual things feels a lot like rejection and I’ve had to work through many lies that I’ve believed during that season. I’ve learned to have inner confidence that isn’t built on physical advances or PHYSICAL anything. My foundation is other than Judge. I am an independent, confidant, beautiful woman without being told I am sexually desired or needed. I am thankful that I learned to be secure in my sexuality independently from Judge’s actions or words. Now all those things are a really fun cherry on top!
My previous relationship before Judge involved a lot of “hot & heavy” passionate make out sessions which pushed as many boundaries and “bases” as possible without actually being “sex.” I never had a typical first kiss where the boy pecks you as he drops you off at your parent’ house. My first kiss ever was a full on-the-couch hour kissing session. In my previous relationship, I was always 100% aware that my boyfriend sexually desired me and he would agree to have sex with me at any moment. My first relationship was very sexual, even though we weren’t engaging in anytime of sex. So much of the mindset of that first relationship seeped in when I started dating Judge my senior year of college. I just assumed Judge would want to make-out with me from the get-go all the time. Judge did give me a peck at the door like the movies after our first date but I thought that was awkward. On our third date, I instigated the most awkward of hook ups in my bed. Thinking about it now makes me squirm. I just assumed this is what Judge would want and he was taken aback. I didn’t understand his hesitancy and confusion in the physical area of our relationship. I wasn’t used to a guy who didn’t want to make out with me every hour. Before these patterns were erased, I often took his hesitancy to be a rejection. This is still an issue sometimes, honestly, on days where I am feeling insecure.
Judge and I wanted to build a relationship that wasn’t ever-revolving around sexual desire. We chose to build our relationship on normal-friend things before we added in the sexual glue. This seems healthy and best to us. Judge was showing me I didn’t have to act like a sex-kitten to woo or keep him. He preferred innocence and fun and gentle small kisses and not the biting & hard kissing which insinuated an ability to do more. He wanted to hold me and take care of me and show me who I was as a lady without serving him sexually.
The cycle of making out and then regretting and then kissing too much again eventually ended when I gave up tight control. I learned how to feel beautiful without having to be told I was sexually desirable all the time. There would be weeks this year where we wouldn’t kiss at all and I was largely at peace in who I was regardless. That’s pretty cool, I think. So to answer the questions asked me by my Oxford friends, it’s not confusing on my body to kiss all the time and stop as much as it’s confusing to the heart.
As a woman, nothing awakens me as much as knowing I am desired. All I want to know is that Judge thinks about me all the time and wants to be with me as much as possible. I want to believe he wakes up missing me and goes to sleep at night wishing I was in his arms. I want to think that I undo him, that I make him lose control. On the other hand, Judge wants to know that I think he is capable of leadership and is strong and in control. When I would force hot and heavy make-out session, I was slightly placated but ultimately rejected. Eventually that pattern wore on us and we learned to avoid this as much as possible in large part due to Judge’s character. Everytime I tried to convince him that this or that was okay, he would stop and pray outloud about it. And it’s been worth it. As Judge and I round the four year mark on our relationship, I am very faithful that Judge is a slow-moving fella. He demonstrates a tremendous amount of foresight and patience. There’s no way we could have sustained the level of physical intimacy I wanted in the beginning of our relationship while still abstaining from sex.
Judge has shown me so many other ways to connect on a deeper romantic level through words, and service and activity. I now know what it means to show him love by waking up when the sun is rising to drop off an Iced Dunkin Doughnuts Coffee at Landmark or to bring him a spicy-chicken sandwich with honey to his work. I know how close he feels to me when I rock-climb or kayak with him (scary!). He’s learned how to speak constant encouragement over me and to show me that I am beautiful to him in a thousand other ways. He’s been bold enough to write me my most cherished love letters and he’s been patient enough to stay up late some nights with me and spend quality time when he’s very much an introvert:) These are things I never learned in my previous relationship because we were so consumed with the addictive physical aspects of love.
Most importantly, Judge and I know how to make eachother laugh because that is one of our great foundations instead of sex. Now that we are “experts” in expressing love to one another in the other ways, I very much look forward to stepping into a married life of deeper physical intimacy. I am SO excited to have lots of great sex the rest of my life with my man. I can tell just by the health and vitality of Judge and my friendship and love that the long wait will be well worth it.