DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’m completely nuts for a girl and she seems to be completely nuts for me. She’s smart, funny, gets excited by the littlest things, is a complete geek, and is seriously beautiful. I think she is about the best woman I’ve ever had a relationship with and I’d totally consider her to be marriage worthy. However you knew there was a “but” coming and here it is: she is pretty religious and wants to be married prior to engaging in *any* sexual activity. That includes just about any form of physical contact beyond some heavy petting… that is any heavy petting is okay so long as it doesn’t directly bring a digital member in contact with a genital member. This in itself isn’t that scary… I’m fairly traditional in a lot of ways myself… and I appreciate that she doesn’t hold others to her standards, being accepting of people who don’t feel that way. She’s also super liberal when it comes to social mores and doesn’t worry about gay marriage and all of that.. she’s just attempting to stay true to “her walk” and as such she doesn’t want to have sex until she is married.
My concern is, what if I marry her and there is no sex? What if she finds I’m not right for her in a pants-feel type of way? Before her I’ve only had one sexual partner, and that only lasted for a few months and wasn’t that great so I know that that can happen. My own libido is maybe middling on a scale of ravenous to frigid, but I’m just afraid her’s is going to be on the frigid end and it means that by marrying her I’ll gain an awesome friend-life-partner to do cool stuff with but I’ll never get the physical aspect of it except very rarely (as in she wants to conceive, or it’s my birthday, and then I have to worry about her just lying back and thinking of England as it were, the whole time) and that’s just it. I’d be fine with a couple of times a month; I’m not a crazed sex machine who is constantly rock hard and raring to go. I actually fully agree with her in fact that I want to be completely head over heels with any person I’m having sex with because otherwise I don’t feel like either of us would be getting the full experience that both of us have said we need. I’ve talked with her a bit about this and that’s how we know we both are on the same page about how we are feeling. I think what is scaring me is that I’ve expressed how much she turns me on, how sexually she excites me, (something she has commented on recognizing due to certain things popping up between us…) and her responses to that are always deflection or to tell me how smart she thinks I am, or how much fun I am to watch movies and do geeky stuff with. To me it feels as though she wants us to stay in the early stage dating experience forever, and I’m desperate for it to become more physical at least occasionally, beyond hand holding and cuddling on the sofa..
I just don’t know what to do Doc, she’s everything I could want in a partner but I’m afraid to commit because I’m afraid that means I’m resigning myself to being a celibate life partner, not a romantic and sexual partner… but at the same time i don’t want to throw away a good thing. I just can’t seem to balance if sex is more important to me than companionship and she seems reluctant to talk about it.
Sex Or Love
DEAR SEX OR LOVE: The problem isn’t that she doesn’t want to talk about it, SoL, it’s that she’s told you how she feels and you keep pushing the subject. The reason why she’s continually deflecting you or trying to change the subject is because you keep talking about how much you want to sleep with her and she doesn’t want to have sex right now.
Now here’s the thing: sexual compatibility and sexual satisfaction is an integral part of a relationship. Personally, I think waiting until marriage is an incredibly bad idea for precisely that reason. If you and your honey aren’t compatible or able to find a working compromise, your relationship is going to fall apart. It’s completely understandable that you’re worried about your future sexual compatibility with your girlfriend. It’s a legitimate fear and you’re well within your rights to want to be physically intimate with the person you’re dating.
That having been said: people have a right to set their boundaries wherever they want, and one of hers is “no sex before marriage.” You and I can disagree with her choice, but that’s totally her prerogative and it’s as valid as your wanting to have sex before marriage. But right now you aren’t respecting her boundaries. You may be framing it as being afraid of what your sex life will be after you’re married but the fact of the matter is, you’re constantly pushing her to change her mind and give in and that is NOT cool. Concern trolling about whether this is going to lead to a sexless marriage doesn’t make your badgering her any more acceptable. The fact that she wants to wait has absolutely nothing to do with the state of her libido. Maybe she’s asexual. Maybe she’s a raging goddamn inferno of horniness and she keeps it under control through levels of willpower that would impress the Green Lantern Corps. Maybe she’s somewhere in between like most people are. But all that doesn’t matter. She’s told you how she feels and why. That’s the price of entry. You can respect her boundaries and accept that dating her means no sex before marriage or you can break up with her.
I’ll be honest with you: breaking up with her because she won’t have sex with you is going to sound like a dick move to a lot of people. There will be a lot of people who give you crap for it… and they’ll be wrong. If you have mutually incompatible needs, then breaking up is the BEST thing you can do. You want to have sex now. She does not. That’s the state of play. Sticking around pushing her to change her mind is an awful thing to do to someone you care about. Sticking around in a relationship that ultimately leaves you frustrated and upset is an awful thing to do to yourself.
There are other women out there, women who are just as wonderful who also want to have sex without necessarily saying “I do” first. If you’re not willing to wait until marriage, then you’re better off finding one of those women who’re on the same page as you and letting your girlfriend find a guy who’s on the same page as her.
Oh, and one more thing: there are times when a partner will offer to make changes that he or she doesn’t ACTUALLY want in the face of an impending break-up. If you do move to break up with her and she offers to sleep with you in order to keep you from leaving? If you take her up on that offer you will be one of the biggest a
holes possible and go to the Special Hell reserved for child molesters and people who talk in the theater.
DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’m a female virgin in my late 20s and I need some advice. One of the biggest issues I’ve run into is men fetishizing my sex life. Men either run away, view it as a challenge and want to “plant their flag”/Conquer me, or view me as their Manic Pixie Virgin Girl (if you start using that, I want royalties). The majority of “advice” I’ve been given surrounding this is “don’t tell a guy until after you’ve had sex with him”
This is obviously awful awful advice for a whole host of reasons.
I think it’s important to note here, that I’m not a virgin for any reason other than lack of opportunities. It doesn’t come from religion, or some idea of “saving myself” or Mr.Right. I’m not looking for LTR necessarily. There’s nothing “wrong” with me, I’m not broken, or traumatized. I’m a sex-positive person. Kinda just laying out all the reasons I’ve had people tell me I must be a virgin because XYZ.
The issue isn’t the why, or why men react the way they do (Say it with me everyone: SOCIETY IS THE WORST) Quite frankly I think the idea of virginity is pretty antiquated, nothing about me is going to really change. A penis doesn’t have the power to change who I am.
Question is: how do I approach this with men to avoid the aforementioned reactions?
Not Your Manic Pixie Nerd Girl
DEAR NOT YOUR MANIC PIXIE NERD GIRL: Honestly, NYMPNG? You lay it out the way you told me and my readers: “I haven’t had PIV sex, no biggie.” This tells people exactly one thing about you: that you haven’t had a particular experience. How they react to that information, on the other hand, tells you everything about them.
The thing is, you can’t control people’s reactions. You can lay the groundwork as best you can, lay things out in a “this is not a big deal” manner and generally show that you’re pretty chill about the whole virgin thing but they’ll still react however they’re going to because the problem ultimately lies within them.
We as a society are all kinds of messed up over the concept of sex and virginity and the assorted double-standards and social traps that are associated with sex just make it worse. Men are shamed for being virgins and expected to be mindless satyrs that’ll bang everything that moves, while women are shamed for having too much sex, but also shamed for not being desirable enough to sleep with in the first place. And while things have improved, we’re in that weird transitional place where women are encouraged to own their sexuality and buy vibrators in bulk but not be too slutty because women aren’t supposed to f
k like men. Meanwhile, women who are still virgins are both fetishized and to be feared because “bro, if you bang a virgin she’s gonna wanna, like marry you and s
t and you never get away from that,” because as we all know, when you’re a virgin’s first, they imprint on you like a baby gosling.
(Amusingly, but not really, I’ve seen some women worry about being a man’s first for the exact same reason. Yay, equally sh
ty treatment for all genders!)
So getting back to your question: there’s only so much you can do to avoid people having weird issues around virginity. They’re still an unfortunate part of our cultural background radiation. You can do your best to mitigate it, but you can’t entirely eliminate the possibility. For the most part, people will take their lead from you. The more chill you are, the more likely to get a chill reaction from the people you talk to, but there will still be people who get weird about it no matter what you say. Some folks will, given half a chance and an opportunity to talk things out a bit like the grown-ass adult they are, recognize they’re being ridiculous and get over it. Whether you are willing to be their emotional Sherpa on this particular issue is up to you; if they’re an otherwise cool guy you really dig, it may be worth your time to help smooth over that particular rough edge. Your call. Others will – as you have experienced – try to mansplain your own sexuality to you; these dudes can and should be kicked to the curb at your most immediate opportunity.
But on the whole: keep it simple, keep it chill. The less of a big deal it is to you, the less of a big deal it will be to anyone worth dating.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org)