It's like when you go on a diet and all you can think about is food. Anyone who is trying to get a guy to sleep with you, give it a try. When I was trying not to sleep with vip-ex (significant grad-school boyfriend) all the talking about not having sex didn't help us not to have sex.
That said, I'm pretty good at not having sex. I learned how not to have sex long before I'd actually had sex. It is harder to wait, though, now that I've had sex.
My friend Amanda began one long-term relationship when she slept with a guy on the first date. She marveled at my ability not to have sex and she asked me how I did it. We were teenagers, but I'd given it a lot of thought:
You have to know why you are not having sex. You have to think it through beforehand. That way you know you have a really good reason not to have sex. When you're with the guy, you may not remember the reason, but you can tell yourself, 'there is a really good reason not to have sex, so I won't.' It's not possible to think it through in the heat of the moment. But you can remember that there is a good reason, even if you can't remember what it is.She liked it but I don't think she applied it.*
When I would be in the clinch with a guy, I would say to myself, "there is a really good reason not to have sex."
Jamy: Stop. You need to stop. We can't.
Guy: Why can't we?
Jamy: We can't.
Guy: Why not?
Jamy: I can't remember right now but there is a really good reason.
Jamy: There is a really good reason. Stop. We have to stop.
And we would stop.
I was similarly impressive in my ability to have sex-free sleepovers. I had a summer roommate who had several guys spend the night in her room over a two-month period. I refused to believe that she was having sex with all of them. Audrey said, "I would think she was having sex with all of them, except I know it's possible that she's not--because I know you." It's true. I spent the night with guys all through college and didn't have sex with any of them. In fact, I still do. I just did it again.
Sometimes I wonder why I spent all that time in college not having sex. But I knew what I wanted. Or what I didn't want. I didn't want to get pregnant. I didn't want to think a guy was my boyfriend because we'd had sex. Once we had sex, I would want him to be my boyfriend, even if that didn't make sense. When everyone was fooling around or starting serious long-term relationships I was having no-sex sleepovers and trying to "date." I knew what I wanted, even if I wasn't going to get it. I didn't want a "big deal relationship." I wanted a boyfriend. And all that stupid old shit.
It's harder now to wait to have sex. It's still easy not to have sex with strangers. Even when I bring a guy home and I'm tempted to have sex, it's easy to resist. I reach a point where something clicks and I want to stop. I want to know the guy before I have sex with him. I want it to be fun and comfortable not strange and nerve wracking. But, that's not to say I'm happy about these long dry spells, I just don't see a better solution.
Grateful for: good instincts.
*Amanda read this entry and sent me an email, which read in part:
I DID apply your advice and still do (though I had forgotten where I got it). I even generalize it to non-sexual situations (e.g., "Right now I'm having fun surfing the web and I have no desire to go to bed, but I remember that I had a really good reason to go to bed before 11:00, so I will."). I have passed it on to clients [she is a social worker] as well.Thanks for setting the record straight, Amanda!