Losing your virginity, swiping your V-card, popping your cherry. There are so many euphemisms for making a sexual debut. In a culture that’s obsessed with sex and, more specifically, having it, it’s no wonder choosing to be celibate is considered, well, different. However, whether you’ve had sex a million times with dozens of different partners or are still a virgin, there are tons of reasons for choosing not to have sex, and you should never feel sexual pressure.
For some, the decision is all about abstinence. Abstinence means you’re waiting for the right person. Some abstinent people are waiting for marriage, due to religious or personal beliefs, while others are just waiting for love or to feel comfortable enough with someone. It’s also possible for someone who has had sex before to choose to become abstinent due to beliefs or just because that’s what’s right for them currently. A similar term is celibacy, the act of refraining from marriage and sex.
For others, sex is just not of interest. It’s entirely possible to be asexual, but in a culture that glamorizes sex and views it as the norm, it’s possible to still feel the pressure to have sex. Furthermore, a lot of asexual people enjoy masturbation or fall somewhere on the spectrum of sexual desire. While the idea of sex might generally disinterest someone or even turn them off, that doesn’t mean that they won’t occasionally feel influenced by outside sources or even themselves to have sex.
Almost everyone experiences sexual desire, though it’s completely normal and valid not to. Regardless of your own feelings, there’s the constant mention of sex in the media. So, if you’re just not ready to have sex right now, or if you need to take a break from your sex life, or if the idea of sex completely turns you off – how do you deal with the pressure?
Pressure From a Partner
First things first, if anyone ever pressures you or anyone you know into having sex, that person is a scumbag. Of course, if you’re choosing to remain abstinent, it’s entirely likely that your partner will still want to have sex with you. Wanting to have sex is fine. Making someone feel guilty for not being ready or not wanting to have sex with you is completely wrong. If you don’t want to have sex at this point in your life, it’s extremely important to sit down and set your limits with your partner. It might seem embarrassing and awkward at first, but doing so is absolutely necessary. If your significant other, hook-up, whoever continues to pressure you – or even threaten or hurt you – after having this discussion, it’s 100% time to leave.
It sounds cheesy as hell, but there will definitely be times when your mind is telling you no, but your body is telling you yes. When you’ve been sleeping with someone for a while, it’s easy to see these little nuances, to know when they’re ready, desirous, and willing. That being said, it’s always important to establish consent – especially when you know your partner wants to be abstinent. No matter how turned on you are, if you have your reasons for not having sex, listen to your brain and expect your partner to respect your wishes.
For a lot of people, sex is an important part of a relationship, whether that experience is going to last one night or for the rest of your life. It’s possible that some people out there just won’t be able to be with you while you’re choosing to remain celibate – and that’s okay and their decision, so long as they are respecting yours. But if your hook up or S.O. respects you and wants/loves you, they will do what’s best for you and your situation and adhere to your celibacy, temporary or not!
If you feel unsafe in your relationship, always reach out to someone. There are so many resources available, including The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
Pressure From Friends
As a late bloomer myself, I’m not really sure why any “friend” would knowingly pressure you into having sex. Whether you’ve made your decision to avoid sexual activity known to your friends or not, no one, especially those who claim to care about you, should ever pressure you to do anything. This sounds like something out of an after school special, and, well it is, but it’s still completely true. Peer pressure is just gross.
But maybe your situation is different. Maybe your friends don’t know about your desire to hold off having sex for one reason or another. In my years as a late bloomer, there were a number of times a friend would drag me to a guy’s house. We’d sit around, watch movies and drink, and eventually she’d disappear with her boy, leaving me with the friend. Luckily, everyone she brought me around was a half-decent human being who didn’t pressure me, but the expectation was still there. Whether my friend was aware of the implications or not, it still made for a lot of awkward chatting through movies and avoiding making out.
And then, there’s always the awkward conversations, the chats about sex that you just don’t know how to chime in on. In those moments, it’s so easy to feel a bit of self-hatred/embarrassment and a huge desire to get out there and get laid, if only so you know what the hell your friends are talking about. It always gets rough during “never have I ever” when half of your friends are admitting to threesomes and anal and you’re like, “Umm, I kissed a boy once?”
If you’re not sexually active and your friends are, chances are they really don’t care that you’re not sexually active. A bit of gentle teasing can be expected, but if anyone goes full-on Mean Girls towards you about your celibate status, it’s best just to get out of that toxic friendship anyway. If you’re sensitive about the subject, be open and honest with your pals. If they’re good friends, they’ll be supportive and understanding, as long as you’re not judging them in return for their sexual conquests.
Pressure From Culture
For women in particular, sexuality in our culture is a double-edged sword. While there’s a definite pressure to have sex, sexually active women (and those who aren’t but dress or behave “a certain way”) often face slut-shaming. We as a society laugh at people who wait until they’re older to have sex and even make TV shows about those waiting until marriage. While it can remain hard to keep things in perspective, it’s important to remember that your sex life isn’t the punch line to a joke and certainly isn’t anyone’s business besides your own (and perhaps your partner’s).
Pressure From Yourself
Even if you’re choosing not to have sex, that doesn’t mean you aren’t interested in sex at all. If you’re waiting (for the moment or forever), as stated previously, it’s really important to talk to those you trust and share your sex life (or lack thereof) with so they can remain supportive for you.
For some, remaining celibate means not enjoying any sort of sexual activity at all. But if that isn’t the case for you, just because you aren’t doing the deed doesn’t mean you can’t do any deeds at all. Use this time to get out there and have fun in whatever capacity you currently feel comfortable. There are so many amazing and pleasurable ways to get close to your partners, such as dates, oral sex, or making out.
And finally, abstinence for some people does completely remove self-pleasure from the picture. For me, that’s never been the case (thankfully). If you’re in the same boat as those who just aren’t getting laid for now, use this as a chance to get to know your body on your own and learn what you like, want, and need. Stock up on some sex toys and enjoy yourself!
Pressure is never fun, and sometimes it’s even unsafe and scary. But it’s important to stick by your decision and to do what’s best for you. Just because you’re not getting off doesn’t mean you can’t get on with life and enjoy it!