The Boyfriend Who Refused to Have Sex with Me
Here’s my confession: I’m a Christian and I love sex. This troubled me a lot in the past. I crawled through the Holy Bible on scriptures on adultery and reasons for sexual abstinence before marriage, trying to convince myself to ‘do the right thing’.
Eventually, I’ve decided that I respect but disagree with the logic proposed by the Church. So whilst I don’t have casual sex, I think exploring sexual compatibility with a potential life-time partner before getting married is crucial for a lasting marriage.
Ironically, as soon as I made that decision, I started dating a Christian brother who’s determined not to have pre-marital sex. Let’s call him Levi. Spoiler alert: the relationship didn’t last long. This experience has however taught me great lessons about my attitude towards sex, as a modern woman with autonomy on my body.
I’m not shaming anyone (including Levi) who practises sexual abstinence or sleeps around. But I know I’m not the only one suffering from this dilemma and maybe my experience can give you some inspirations.
Lesson 1: How much modern relationships stress about sex
It’d appear that pre-marital sex only began to become popular around the Second World War. Many young couples decided to pop the cherry before the men were enlisted, so at least they wouldn’t die a virgin (for completeness, many couples also got married in a hurry because of the war).
Since then, acceptance of pre-marital sex continued to rise, especially in Western Europe and North America. As a Londoner, I recalled the horror on my girlfriends’ faces when I mentioned my sexless relationship with Levi. The two key questions (more like statements) were:
“What’s the point of dating a virgin? No time for dick training!” and “What if he has a small willy? Christians can’t even get a divorce. You’re going to die from dick thirst.”
From that point, my girlfriends concluded that virgins were stupid and my relationship was doomed. No one wanted to know anything more about Levi.
It’s so true that modern dating puts a lot of emphasis on sex. There are many stories about potential partners accidentally became one-night stands, and many blog posts discuss when’s the appropriate time to have sex (the third-date rule for example).
But this expectation to have sex is almost like an extreme response to the abstained past. A long-term, more serious form of dating, should involve so much more than just sex. The couple should get to know each other not only physically.
There’s a risk that if the sex is good, we’ll get hooked on it too soon and overlook other areas that are potentially incompatible. This happened to me with another ex-boyfriend of mine. Our sex life was so perfect that the first three months we barely left the bedroom. It was until the passion died down did we realise there weren’t much in common between us. Having dinner used to be sexy because we were giving each other footsies under the table, then it became a dull silence. We could only talk dirty!
Dating Levi was quite cute. As there’s no sex, we did interesting things from hiking to baking, and we hung out with each others’ friends a lot. It really allowed us to get to know each other. Modern dating routines push the relationship (if one counts 3 dates as a relationship) to the next level way too fast. The foundation is weak and once the initial spark fades, disappointments follow, as evidenced by the soaring divorce rate.
Lesson 2: the lost art of titillation
The reason Levi and I didn’t work out is not because of the lack of sex. It’s because there was no sexual spark. Doing it for real aside, if two people fancy each other, I can only imagine how much they would want the other even if they can’t. In fact, shouldn’t the restriction make it even more enticing? I’m so naughty.
Perhaps it’s because Levi’s a proper church boy or that he’s shy and inexperienced, there wasn’t any sexual chemistry in the air. Kisses were pretty dull and performative, almost as if it’s done dutifully. There was no flirting or more sexily, titillating. He wants to get married and have a family, I want everything ten steps before that, our aims were different.
In a world where people are either quick to have sex or have no sex at all, the art of titillation is forgotten. Rushing into sex means that certain ballsy date can just turn their head and scoop their mouth to yours. It is then up to you to decide whether to go on or stop. For people who kiss pre-marital sex goodbye, all temptations are to be destroyed.
Can we have a middle ground, please? Can we flirt with the idea, sweep their nose over ours, whisper playful words in the ears? Isn’t that hot, sexy and fun?
Perhaps popular music and culture have built this blunt and vulgar culture. Dancing to songs about bums (and now rapping about vaginas…) provoke people to advance in much less delicate ways, or not at all.
From dating Levi, I learned that sex for me is neither rushed nor purposeful. I won’t strip down to nakedness too quick too soon, and I will enjoy it as an elegant waltz of titillation between two people who are incredibly attracted to each other.
Lesson 3: What does good sex mean to me
“What’s good sex” remains a complex question for everyone.
Many men are influenced by the Madonna-whore complex — they wish their wives can be crazy in bed but also can’t allow a slut as their presentable wives. This is especially true for people with a religious background. Because of this deeply erroneous and extreme perception of women, many men struggle to be sexually aroused in marriage.
The question is even more complex for women. As the subject of the Madonna-whore complex, we also judge ourselves and other women with this standard. Is it OK if I show that I love sex? Could Virgin Mary be hot and dirty behind closed doors? It’s not like her vagina was closed after giving birth to Jesus.
The discussion (or the lack of it) on sex lumps physical, social, mental and even political dynamics together. It’s so messy. All these mental constructs block us from exploring freely and enjoy sex properly.
My relationship with Levi was subject to scrutiny from the beginning. My modern liberal friends and his reserved religious family all held judgements against us. Suddenly the private nature of our relationship and sex(less) life became public discussions. Although their opinions couldn't be more different, their views and opinions are all muddled, contradictory and heavily influenced by perceptions and assumptions, most often erroneous.
When my natural libido is conflicted with the teaching of God and others’ opinions, the question “what’s good sex” becomes intimidating. Is it right to even ask this question?
What does good sex mean to you and you alone? Do you have a healthy attitude towards it, something that’s so natural and intimate? Do you feel guilty when enjoying sex and dirty play? The lack of sex with Levi has led to more questions about sex than any other men I’ve been with. Breaking up with him freed me from all these doubts and burdens and I feel in control of my desire again.
It’s because of these challenging questions arising from my unusual relationship with Levi that has given me clarity about what I truly value and desire.
As I said upfront, I love God and I’ve studied the scriptures. I also want a long-term relationship with freakish good sex life. I believe I can have them all, it’s not greedy.
Good sex to me doesn’t mean sleeping around, but it also doesn’t mean not sleeping with different people. It means having the space to get to know each other, allow sexual chemistry to develop and when the time is right, there are no restrictions to stop us from enjoying it. This is my sexual autonomy.