The Logic of Sex and Trusting Your Partner

Is it just me, or is discussion of sex the most taboo topic in our society. We can freely talk about a man’s beheading or whether women should be allowed to breast feed in publish, but God forbid you mention sex. Don’t say you do it. Definitely don’t say you enjoy it. In fact, you should do nothing else about sex than feel shame that you would ever even consider giving in to such animalistic urges. I’m throwing those notions out the window today because I happen to enjoy discussions about sex. Specifically, let’s talk about premarital  sex!

Until around 2011, I was set on waiting until marriage. At that point, I did not think premarital  sex was a sin. Plenty of my friends had had sex for years and I freely talked about the activity with them. Until then, I was simply convinced that, while sex before marriage may be the right path for some, it was not the right path for me.

Before I go further, I feel like I should mention my ideas on what sex actually was pre-2011. I grew up in a religious home, attending Catholic school through 8th grade and with many religious friends. Sex was also a common topic when I was in high school. Some of my friends were sexually active but those who did “everything but” still considered themselves virgins. I plan on talking about virginity on Friday, so I won’t say much on that now. Just know that, until recently, I didn’t consider anything besides vaginal penetration with a penis to count as sex.

During those young teenager years, sex was little more than an interesting topic. I didn’t think any man would be interested in me, so any serious thought on sex seemed pointless. Before I graduated high school, I would encounter Levi and Zachery who both showed me all I needed to attract men was to have female parts. Romantic interest still seemed like a long shot.

As years passed dating my boyfriend, I began to give thought to marriage. Never would my teenage self have believed a man would be interested in marrying me. That said, I did not date without thought of marriage. As I considered the dynamics of my relationship, marriage and sex, one mantra repeated in my head. If he loves you, he will wait. If he really, truly cares about you, he will wait.

There is some truth to that. No person (gender is irrelevant) who honestly cares about someone would pressure them or force them into sex. However, what does waiting prove. Can it prove that your partner loves you? Can it prove you can trust them? Can is prove you will be together forever?

This photo, “Virtual sex 04” is copyright (c) 2014 talasrum and made available under an Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license. The image was cropped to create the featured image.
This photo, “Virtual sex 04” is copyright (c) 2014 talasrum and made available under an Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license. The image was cropped to create the featured image.

The older I got, the more I sought logical reasons for religious concepts. Waiting for sex was promoted because of the heightened emotional pain that would result when a sexually intimate relationship ended. We protected ourselves by holding out. That logic made complete sense to me until I was old enough to have serious discussions on divorce and infidelity. It seemed apparent to me that waiting for marriage did little to maintain fidelity. It certainly didn’t prove a relationship would last forever. In fact, if a person really wanted to have sex with someone, what was stopping them from getting married, having sex and then divorcing? Waiting until marriage didn’t guarantee  you’d never sleep with another person because nothing can provide a 100% guarantee that a marriage will last.

It was these thoughts spinning in my head that finally brought about a breakthrough. My mantra was flawed. What I was really saying to myself was that I didn’t trust my boyfriend unless he married me. I didn’t believe with 100% certainty that he loved and cared about me. I held sex as a hostage, to be given only when he proved how much he loved me by putting a rock on my finger and following through with a ceremony.

Having established that marriage is not proof of love, trust or fidelity, waiting for sex until marriage based on proving those concepts seemed like poor logic. Marriage doesn’t prove anything. What it really does is celebrate something that is already there. More important, though, is trust. What my mantra said was that I didn’t trust a partner until marriage.

Is there anyone out there who supports marrying someone you don’t trust?

Trust, love, acceptance, passion and commitment should be established before two people marry each other. What affects the permanence of the marriage is not whether or not a vagina has been penetrated, but the faith and commitment two lovers have for each other.

I don’t believe that my idea is the only idea. The fact is, my mantra tainted my outlook on romance a bit. Women are taught to fear men from a young age and they are also taught to never trust them. We are told we can’t trust a man without marriage, as if a ring and a ceremony could somehow change anyone into a trustworthy human being.

It was clear to me trust had to exist before marriage. For some people, this might be different. For me, a girl who had this flawed idea of sex and trust imprinted into her mind from a young age, the course of action was clear. I could not marry someone I didn’t trust.

Do you believe marriage proves are guarantees anything? Did you grow up being told “if he loves you, he’ll wait?” Does such thinking cause more problems than solutions? A bonus question, considering the topic of Friday’s post: have you ever heard of God’s Loophole?

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27 thoughts on “The Logic of Sex and Trusting Your Partner”

  1. I don’t think marriage is necessary to prove or guarantee anything. It is a commitment that is recognized by our culture and can have meaning to those who get married, as most of us do. But, the reality is that it is only meaningful to individuals as they perceive it. There are plenty of examples out there of people living long and committed lives without the benefit of marriage. The commitment and trust is all about the relationship between two people that is built upon every day. The interesting thing is this — I’m willing to bet that there are a lot of married people who would tell you that getting married actually weakened their relationship.

    As for sex before marriage … I think that sex is a basic aspect of a loving relationship between two adults who feel that way about each other. I think it’s unnatural to deny the relationship of that aspect. Don’t get me wrong — I respect the decision of people to avoid sex until marriage. In fact, I think more people need to do that. At the same time, it is something that should flow naturally out of that relationship and if it’s there, it’s there. Not acting on it seems more unnatural to me. Kind of like all the married people who stop having sex at some point during their marriage — that’s unnatural too.

    1. “There are plenty of examples out there of people living long and committed lives without the benefit of marriage. The commitment and trust is all about the relationship between two people that is built upon every day.”

      That’s exactly how I see it. When it comes to sex, I agree that I respect those who choose to wait, but I don’t think it’s the right path for all. People have to do what’s right for them. No one should feel pressured to have sex just to prove something about the relationship, but they also shouldn’t be ashamed of having sex.

  2. I don’t think that marriage guarantees trust or longevity. I think that it represents a commitment between two adults. Its purpose today still as relevant as its been since its inception. I think from a practical matter, having both parents present to raise a child is still optimum, and marriage facilitates that. I didn’t wait until I got married to have sex. I had sex with the first woman I fell in love with. It turns out that maybe sex and love were confused when I was young. Lust has a way of convincing you that everything is fine. 🙂 I’ve just found out about God’s Loophole. I knew about it, but never heard of this name for it. 😉

    1. Two parents can raise a child together in a committed relationship without marriage if they want. I know people who don’t believe in marriage who have gone on to have families. Marriage isn’t irrelevant, but I don’t think it’s for everyone.

      I do think youth confuse love and sex. We do such a poor job of teaching on sex in general, let alone the emotional side of sex, that it’s really no surprise.

  3. “Is it just me, or is discussion of sex the most taboo topic in our society.” It’s not just you. My good friend (a devout Christian) and I were talking about this the other day…both of us agreed that it’s ridiculous that there is not more sex education out there, and why can’t we talk about it as freely as we talk about our other body parts?

    I do not believe marriage proves or guarantees anything. I did not grow up being told that…my family never talked about sex during my upbringing – I never even had a sex talk! I think coming from your perspective, it does cause more problems than solutions.

    1. I never had the sex talk either, not that I remember. I never remember much of sex ed, either. But then, I grew up in small town Iowa. Things are more Conservative there.

    1. The divorce rate has been steadily going down since it’s height in the 70s, though. That’s a good thing. But, people are also getting married later in life and more likely to have sex before marriage. Also, fewer people are getting married in the first place. I think there were a lot of societal pressures causing people to marry back in the day. Now, we are able to focus on what we really want in a partner or just not get married if it’s not for us.

  4. This is a very thought-provoking piece from me. As an atheist, I never had to contend with any faith-based ideas about sex and marriage so this is not a debate I have wrestled with. I trusted my instincts to guide me in both regards. Now, however, as a parent, I am aware that I have a duty to instil in my sons some kind of understanding of what sex and marriage are really all about, beyond the physical, biological and legal sense of each. So your piece prompts me to actually think about a connection between the two – sex and marriage – which I have not deeply considered before.

    For me, waiting until marriage to embark on a sexual relationship is not important. I will not be teaching my sons, therefore, that they should aspire to waiting until marriage. What I hope to instil in them is a strong sense that they should wait for the right person. The right person does not even have to be someone they envision spending their entire lives with but it has to feel like the right decision for that context then and there. However, explaining how you know that the relationship is in a place that merits that step into sexual intimacy is more difficult to teach because it is a visceral, instinctive and emotional thing, too amorphous to be taught. You just know when you know. I hope also to teach my sons about respect for themselves and for others, about self-esteem and self-worth, about the other types of intimacy that ought to be in place for physical intimacy to be the next step and hopefully those lessons will stand them in good stead too. And absolutely we need better sex education and to make sex a topic everyone can talk about frankly and comfortably. We need more robust sex education in schools, a curriculum that discusses the emotional, relationship and contextual aspects of sex – and not just developmental and reproductive biology with a bit of disease thrown in – and we need to work on getting parents to be more comfortable speaking to their children openly and without a sense of shame or embarrassment.

    As to marriage, I did not marry in order to prove anything. It was not a test of love or commitment. For a start, I actually think that moving in together, getting a mortgage together, having joint bank accounts, was a far bigger test of trust and commitment than getting married. And now we have children together so there is nothing bigger than that for the two of us anyway. For us – aside from all the legal and fiscal implications of becoming a married couple, unromantic as that may be – the reason we got married was simply to make a public declaration of our love for each other and because it was something that we both felt we wanted to do – and we almost eloped so “public declaration” was the being married bit, not the wedding ceremony or celebration. Once again, I think you just know – like the biggest epiphany ever – that you have met the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. Believe me, I had no intention of getting married at the age of 20. I was not even sure marriage lay in my future, having never been one of those girls who fantasises about weddings and marriage. But when I met and then fell in love with my husband, it was absolutely clear to me that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him as my partner. Again, I don’t think that is something that can ever be taught. You just know when you know. And marriage absolutely does not have any guarantee of longevity. We only need to look at divorce rates to see that. Longevity comes from trust and commitment, love and respect, friendship and emotional intimacy, from hard work and diligence and from a will to overcome the hard times and difficulties.

    That was a very long-winded way of saying that I think we have to equip people with the emotional tools that mean they can rely on their instinct to guide them when it comes to sex and marriage.

    1. I am very happy to make you think. We still have a very religious look on teaching sex on an emotional level. That leaves kids at risk to just figure it out themselves. I like how Kurt’s dad in Glee described sex. His son, being gay, had risk of STIs, but no risk of getting or getting someone pregnant. Still it was important that his father sat down and explained things to him.

      Seriously, if you haven’t seen it, watch it. His dad got it just right. I hope I can give that good of a sex talk should I ever have kids.

  5. It depends on what marriage & sex means to the couple. I’m a Catholic raised boy myself, and marriage was taught to me as the most sacred relationship with another person.

    And after harsh bible based upbringing, all I know is that sex isn’t the ice breaker to start looking for trust & trust doesn’t grow from a marriage. Trust in the relationship appears after that leap of faith into a person not knowing if anyone is there to catch you and find him/her with open arms ready to break your fall. Some call that falling in love, but definitions aside, trust in your partner comes from something else. It’s not before or after sex, or before or after marriage. The number of teenage moms, & divorced single parents (moms & dads) are proof enough that trust is outside sex & marriage.

    My current relationship (hopefully the last) is grounded on that belief, words are cheap, patience is key. I believe in us, and whatever happens, that faith is the only reason I trust her. Not the fact that there is sex in the relationship or that I plan on marrying her someday. Trust on another thinking human being can only stem from that faith you put on him/her.

    1. I’m not saying that sex is 100% necessary to trust a person. Only that, given the thought process I was raised in, this idea that you can’t trust one unless they wait, meaning I’d have to marry someone I didn’t trust in order to find out if I trusted them, suddenly made no sense to me. And it doesn’t make sense. But it had been drilled in me for 21 years. I could see it was illogical, but that didn’t allow me to trust.

      I grew up in a very Catholic family myself. But the only messages I remember hearing are
      1) don’t have sex
      2) be a virgin until marriage
      3) why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free?
      4) if he really love you, he’ll wait.

      That’s it. No talk about the mechanics. No talk about the emotional aspect.

      But, as I said, I’m not saying my way is the right path for everyone. I’m saying this was my thought process. This was the right path for me. We all walk our own path. Some may find it right to wait while others will find it just as right to jump right in. Either is a perfectly fine way to be.

      1. If I may refer to Joshua Harris: “In God’s right time”

        I guess that’s as Christian as it gets, and how we treat each relationship on the merits of the diversity of the people we engage with. Sex, morals…etc. become so iffy that your grey area has a different shade of mine.

        How sex plays into building trust varies into what the society dictates. In Christian-Catholic communities, there is very little room for liberal views of sex, while places of the alternative treat sex another way.

        I guess from your community and peers, sex plays a unique role into relationships and the trust that comes along. You’re just lucky enough to get a better understanding of how that dynamic works, while others struggle to see what the relationship means for them.

  6. I really like your thought process and the conclusions you came to for waiting to have sex. I wouldn’t have every thought through that much. I usually go on feelings; if it feels right and if I’m ready to take that step with a partner. Interesting.

  7. I really like the idea of waiting till you’re married, and staying with that person forever. I think it happened more in my parents’ days, but people don’t seem to see marriage as forever now. If things get tough, get out. My parents however worked on it, and are still together after all these years. I’ve never been a great believer in the concept as a whole, so it was never really was an issue for me. I totally respect people who want to wait though. If it’s something that someone really believes in, then it does seem worth it.

    1. The idea is romantic and feasible if you get married when your 15, but I personally don’t think humans are meant to wait like that into their 20s. Our brains are built to crave three things: food, sleep and sex.

      My parents also waited and are still happily married. It’s not like waiting is wrong. I don’t think anyone should be frowned upon for choosing what they want to do with their sexuality. Sex or no sex, they need to make the right decision for themselves.

  8. “In fact, if a person really wanted to have sex with someone, what was stopping them from getting married, having sex and then divorcing? Waiting until marriage didn’t guarantee you’d never sleep with another person because nothing can provide a 100% guarantee that a marriage will last.”

    Since marriage ends as soon as one or both people die, I think it is inevitable that all marriages end. If not by divorce, it will be death. The thought of death has a tendency to reduce interest in marriage or sex. At least it did for me.

    “It was clear to me trust had to exist before marriage. For some people, this might be different. For me, a girl who had this flawed idea of sex and trust imprinted into her mind from a young age, the course of action was clear. I could not marry someone I didn’t trust.”

    People would do well to listen to you about this. Trust is required even to accept a car ride from someone. I lack a general trust in people and it keeps me from even making friends. Certainly this trust must be required for any relationship at all. Marriage can be thought of as one of these.

    1. That is the idea of “til death do us part.” In most religions, death means you are free to marry again. That thought does not turn me away from marriage or love though. Instead, it motivates me to make the most of what I have today in my relationship.

      Trust in a life partner is greater than the trust we will give anyone else. We expect them to see us at our most vulnerable and not harm us, at our weakest and not look down upon us. Someone once said “love is giving someone the power to destroy you and trusting them not to.” I think that’s a perfect way to look at love and marriage. I, personally, want that level of trust before marriage.

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