Dear Readers - Here are some provocative questions and comments from my live online chat about virginity and/or abstaining from sex (June 29):
I'm in my mid-30s and still am a virgin. I was abused as a child and am very uncomfortable with being intimate. I only really started dealing with the abuse last year and hope that I'll one day be able to have a healthy, intimate relationship.
You're already on a healing path by starting to deal with this past trauma. Virginity was an understandable natural response. Hopefully, good therapy will help you put the negative experience behind you, and see intimacy as a positive aspect of a loving relationship.
Comment - I'm a husband and father who married a virgin, and, our love life has been very fulfilled. There was a lot of nervousness at first, but if you love each other, the passion will be there and she'll feel how much love you have for each other when you do have sex. We're still in love with each other!
Do you have advice on how young girls can deal with peer pressure to experiment sexually? Low self-esteem in young girls seems to allow the boys a great deal of freedom and once a couple of members of the group of friends become sexually active, it gives the green light to the rest.
Yes, peer pressure has been a factor in many young people's early sexual encounters. Parents, teachers, and other support people in young lives have to encourage strong, independent thinking, and decision-making in many areas, not just sex. But especially on those topics where we know that the group can dominate and intimidate - drinking, drug use, sex, and appearance - young people need heavy boosts of self-confidence and self-esteem.
Keeping active in areas that interest them - anything from sports to the arts - helps shape individual thinking and self-assurance.
Comment - For some people, sex is only okay in a long-term committed relationship with someone they love. For others, sex can be a commercial transaction negotiated on a street corner. Personally, I can't imagine falling in love with someone without the catalyst of sex to cement the bond. I could be very attracted and find someone very appealing and interesting but could simply not fall in love. Also, if having sex with someone I was dating took more than a few months to occur, I lost interest in them in that way. They begin to look more like a sister than mate.
Comment - Connections can be deep without intercourse and sex does not always move relationships forward.
My wife of five months proclaimed she was a virgin when we got married, and as a good Christian, so was I. A couple of weeks after the ceremony my genitals started to get irritated when I urinated. After the doctor's appointment it turns out that even though my wife abstained from sex she could still get Chlamydia from a public bathroom.
If avoiding infection was the only reason she was a virgin, then that would be most annoying. But I imagine she had other reasons, especially after she met you and knew you were waiting for marriage to have sex. However, if you doubted the doctor's answer, Chlamydia can be transmitted through oral as well as vaginal sex. So if your bride had always abstained from intercourse but had some intimacy relations, she could still have claimed to be a virgin until you two married.
Me and my friend were trying to remain virgins, and then felt we were ready after high school. But we knew so little, and had talked to so few people about it, that when the big moment came for both of us, we later realized we'd both had unprotected sex, and how dangerous that was.
I now believe it's better to be open to the information out there! What do you think?
Yes, sex education is very important, and there's plenty of real information out there about unprotected sex, risk of STD's and HIV, etc. But you have to be paying attention. Not all young people want to believe what they dismiss as "scare" stories.
Some street talk from friends is worthwhile, too, but you have to sift out the things they say when they're just showing off. You've learned a powerful lesson: From now on, make sure you're protected!
Tip of the day:
Virginity is a valid personal choice.