Saturday, July 30, 2005

How (not) to have sex

Grad-school-friend Kathy taught me: the surest way to have sex is to say, "We're not having sex."

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.
Guy: What?
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!


  1. Even though this post is quite old it is amazing! I congratulate you for being able to do such a thing. Sex is a very sentimental thing and really shouldn't be something put into play until you are with that perfect someone, even if its that perfect "now" someone.

    Thanks for sharing this post. Glad to see Amanda has offered your advice out to others as well!

    Christine H.

  2. My boyfriend and I had sex, broke up, and are now back together. This time we are more serious and have decided not to have sex until we are married. Needless to say, we will have a short engagement LOL. It's been difficult which is why I was googling 'how not to have sex' and came across your site. Self-control is hard enough as it is, and is even more so especially when it comes to sex and ESPECIALLY with someone you are serious with. it is a breath of fresh air to read your post and see that other people decide to wait and that they find the discipline to do so. Kudos. You're an inspiration. I will remember your advice :)

  3. Wow, thank you so much for writing this. Much needed advice and I pray to God that I will be able to learn from and apply it to my dating.

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