For Christian Girls Who Have Chosen Virginity Because Sex is Not Enough
Updated: Apr 18, 2018
I can almost plan every flirtatious interaction down to the most basic details. Upon first meeting a guy who is interested in me, at some point, he'll glance at my finger and ask if I'm engaged or married. Once I deny either, I find myself explaining the gist of a purity ring with "It means that I'm not having sex until marriage." There's usually a short pause, during which I'll smile and sip my drink, and then there are usually more questions that fall into the realm of "So... you're REALLY a virgin?"
Yes. I'm really a virgin- all 28 years of me. And I understand why that may be hard to believe. I can count the number of virgins my age that I personally know on one hand. I’ve been accused of lying about it, asked some of the most disrespectful and intrusive questions for further details of my definition of “virgin”, and I’ve even been called everything from a “tease” to a “prude.” It's hard out here!
On my 17th birthday, when my parents gifted me with the purity ring that I had begged for for years (my best friend got one, so I wanted one, too), I was pretty excited. Remaining a virgin until marriage really wasn't such a daunting task throughout high school, nor was it during my first couple of years of college. I was young and I was very naïve about sex and relationships in general. I knew that sex was something that I should not be doing, and that was pretty much as far as that thinking went. I hadn't even kissed a boy yet!
Since then, I've been in relationships where "the whole purity thing" has been an issue. Initially, every guy says that virginity is "admirable", which I personally take offense to. Remaining a virgin takes unimaginable restraint and commitment, just to name a couple of things that go into the decision not to have sex, so to find it admirable that I can exercise self control and stay committed to a personal decision implies the expectation of weakness. I’ve learned very quickly that a major part of remaining a virgin while in a relationship is making sure that my SO and I see eye-to-eye on it being a non-issue. Leave it to denying someone of sex to quickly figure out if this is the case! This and many other lessons have been learned over my years of living a life of virginity in a changing world.
It's hard to believe that it has been over 10 years since I started wearing “the ring”. I've been through situationships and relationships where the ring has always come up, and inevitably become a bit of an obstacle to overcome, especially as I get older. And that’s what I want to talk about. For women like me who have chosen the path of virginity and are proud and confident on their journey, it can be a lot to unpack and navigate as we get older.
So what have I learned over the past 10 years?
1. Everyone has their own definition of virginity.
For some, it means absolutely no kind of physical activity with a man. For others, it simply means no sex. I've found that everyone has their own rules and qualifications for what makes someone a virgin, which muddies the definition a bit. Just make sure that you are clear on what YOU mean if you call yourself a virgin.
2. I have no idea what "born-again virginity" is.
If it is meant to describe something that happens after losing your virginity, I will clarify that if you've had sex, there is the choice to continue or stop for whatever reasons, but you never actually become a virgin again.
If it is meant to describe continuing to abstain from sexuality because you've never had sex and have since become a Christian, I get it, but calling yourself a "virgin" is clear enough.
3. Virginity is not synonymous with "prude".
People are usually surprised to find out that I'm a virgin (if they find out at all, but I guess after this post...), mostly because I'm not exactly walking around waving a giant V-flag. I go out with my friends, I know how to have a good time, and I lived in Atlanta during a time when trap music was a huge part of my music library (it still is). In all seriousness, prudishness comes with an air of excess- too concerned with being proper or modest. To choose virginity is no longer solely a decision about being proper or modest- it’s a practice of power over your own body.
4. Virgins tend to know a lot about sex, which is actually a bit hilarious.
A common misconception is that a virgin will have no idea what sex is. I'm usually able to have conversations with friends who sometimes forget that I'm a virgin, and when I can't relate or contribute to the conversation, I embrace the education. Just because you're not engaging in the act doesn't mean that you're oblivious to what happens in the world.
5. Everyone has their own reasons to remain a virgin or choose abstinence. Make sure that your reason means something to YOU.
Mine began as religious; saving myself for marriage based on biblical commands- and I’ve always been taught (erroneously) that the bottom line was “saving myself for my husband”. From a young age, I challenged this bottom-line idea. Like many of us, I've shared intimate moments with a few guys who have come and gone. When I'm married to a man who vows to be my life partner, love, appreciate, and cherish me, one thing that I can give to my husband that I haven't given to anyone else on the entire planet is my virginity. It is the one thing that I have held on to my entire life. That's what makes it such a great gift- finally being able to let go of all of that restraint, resistance of temptation, self control in sticky situations, and quelling lust (OMG, that sounds so biblical)- that's a gift that is irreplaceable and sincerely one of a kind!
Over the years, I coupled that religious reasoning with my own self value. I realized that being a virgin was one of many things that sets me apart from other women. It means a lot to me to be unique and true to myself, even in something that is very inconspicuous to the world. Even though it is small in comparison to other life situations, practicing self control in virginity has shown me that I have strength to endure even the toughest and most tempting situations. I know that my "no" means "no." I know that I have the patience to wait for what is right for me under circumstances that are right for me. Virginity is about agency, and should not be kept for the sake of a man. You have to find meaning in it for yourself.
6. Being a virgin should never be your one and only claim to fame.
If it is, GIRL, you’ve got some serious work to do! With the trending "pick me girls" phrase going around, there's got to be more to life than a veil of chastity and purity. Many people don't see sex as a big deal so they won’t always understand why it is a big deal to you. Just like you wouldn't lead with your most major accomplishment, you don't lead with your virginity either. There's got to be more to you than preparing for a husband, motherhood, and life as a married woman of virtue in today's society. While all of those things are great if that's what you want in life, there's so much more personal work to be done before those things happen!
7. As you get older, the pressure gets REAL.
I never felt ashamed of not having sex with a guy, but I definitely felt pressured to. To many people, sex is not a big deal, and that's actually what has usually turned me off about casual encounters. If it's not a big deal to you, that raises so many questions in my head from who you've been with to the fact that I would be yet another "no big deal" encounter. At some point, you come to the realization that it is your own human nature that you are denying yourself of fulfilling, so if you don’t have a good, solid reason to abstain, you will eventually give in to the pressure.
8. Actions, not words, will prove if a guy is really okay with being in a relationship with a virgin, and if YOU are prepared to be in a relationship as a virgin.
If most interactions with your SO involve some kind of pressure or attempt at persuasion to have sex, clearly, things will be a constant struggle. On a more subtle note, if your SO does not immediately respect your boundaries, that's a dangerous situation on many levels. You may often find yourself deciding between where to draw the line or to proceed with extreme caution that makes guys feel like your walls are up. In many cases, the fact that disagreements, celebrations, or even a night in watching a movie (Netflix and NO chill) do not involve some kind of sexual activity becomes an issue for one or both of you. Even if you are being told that your virginity is respected, make sure that actions, both your SOs and your own, are reflective of that same sentiment.
9. A purity ring is not meant to ward off losers.
Whether I have the ring on or not means nothing, even though I feel a bit naked when I take it off. I wear it on this finger because it fits perfectly, and it has become quite a conversation starter. Wearing it on my ring finger gets that part of the conversation started much quicker, and makes a guy's intentions known almost immediately based on his reaction. A man who is interested in me will ask about the ring and not assume that it is an engagement or wedding band. He’ll continue the conversation without questions verifying if I'm telling the truth. It's not a social experiment, it's just a ring with diamonds... not a diamond ring.
10. There is an unwritten etiquette with bringing up virginity to someone of interest.
There is a time and place for letting someone know of your situation. The time is after you've gotten to know each other and you have had conversations that would suggest that you would need to know about what kind of sexual activity would be happening between you two. Which one of you brings that up doesn't matter, but if the topic is on the table, it's the best time to make sure that you're still seeing eye to eye. From personal experience, no man has ever run away once I mentioned the v-word... at least not immediately. Maintaining transparency is essential to an awesome relationship, but perfect timing is a close second to that!