Friday, June 17, 2005


I spent years (mostly college years) denying that I was a prude. I was called a prude because I wouldn't have sex. Since I was only 15 when I started college, I don't think you can blame me. However, I've noticed that my "nice" or "good" girl image is almost unshakeable, despite it being many years since I was a virgin. Look how one reader was surprised when I mentioned a few weeks ago that I smoked a cigarette. That's right, I smoke! I drink! I swear! I have sex! Still, I know that's how most people will see me--as a "nice girl"--and I can live with that.

I'm not a prude in the sense that I disapprove of the sexual shenanigans I observe in the world and in the blogosphere. I am a prude in the sense that I don't know why smart, interesting, attractive women go to bed with men they barely know, with whom they don't know if they want a relationship and with whom things are almost certain to turn out badly. Why do we set ourselves up for hurt?

I've jumped into relationships too quickly many times. If I sleep with a guy, I commit myself to making things work--even if it's not a good idea. If you have sex before there actually is a relationship (and you want a relationship), things get all mixed up and out of order. It can work, it has worked, but it's very confusing. This is why sleeping together on the first date is not recommended.

Yet, why is it so hard to wait? Once sex is in the air, waiting becomes the most painful and impossible thing in the world. But before I have sex, I want to know that the guy is my boyfriend. He always either has been or I have convinced myself he would be. Whenever it hasn't been true I've felt pretty awful. At least for the last few years, I've been able to wait.

Don't get me wrong. I'm very pro sex. I recognize the biological drive. No sex may be the worst thing about being single. If any of you figure out how to have a casual sexual relationship that doesn't break your heart, more power to you. As for me, I've never looked for that and I never will. The key is to know how you feel about it. And act on it. And not feel pressured to handle things in a different way.

The way you are comfortable with, be it waiting or not waiting, first date sex, third month sex, or wait until you're married sex (yikes!), is the right way for you. Don't let anyone convince you otherwise.

I know there are men and women out there for whom sex is almost a throwaway--no more remarkable than meeting someone for a drink--and, see, that's why I am a prude. Because I don't understand it. Sex means something to me and I can't pretend it doesn't. I have friends who have had fun, casual sexual experiences, but they know that there can be unanticipated emotional consequences. Treating others with kindness is required, even when it's a casual encounter without sex.

Call me a kindness prude. I can live with that.

Grateful for: knowing what kind of prude I am.

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