Welcome back! Today at the Daily Bailey, we're going to talk about one of everyone's favorite topics:
Namely, the not having it.
Oh wait, people don't love talking about that. Because they like to have sex, am I right?!
Well, we're gonna talk about it! Or, I'm gonna.
This is something I've wanted to write about for a long time, and I even drafted almost 3,000 words on the topic at one point, but I'm just going to start fresh, because if I've learned anything as a writer, it's that it's OK to write several long-winded things that may never see the light of day, because it's practice, and it gets your thoughts hashed out, helps you realize stuff, etc. And then it's OK to just start fresh on the draft that finally sees the light of day, or the eyes of you right here, right now, reading this.
So let's do this. I have way too much coffee and only two cookies inside my belly and it's after noon on Saturday, and that sounds like a great condition to be in to write about virginity, yes?
OK so part of the reason I haven't published something on this topic yet is because I have a lot to talk about (it's really topics, as sex opens up a kaleidoscope of conversations) and it's hard to break it down, so I'm going to do my best to just get the discussion started. And to myself now I say no more stalling (this is like when I dance around in my living space and eat things and take another pee before a run; I love to run, but I consider the stalling portion to be a part of the workout process itself). GO:
Why I'm not having sex, AKA the Big Question here:
The answer to this question is several-fold, but I will tell you what is perhaps the main reason why I have held onto my V card up to my 29-going-on-30 year of life: because I haven't been in love.
It just seems really, really strange to me to have sex with someone who I'm not in love with. I am such a relational person, such a sensitive person, that I cannot imagine being naked, with synced breathing, etc., in one of the most vulnerable states possible, with someone who I don't feel like I can be completely 100 percent vulnerable with.
Sure, that's something (the 100 percent vulnerable part) I probably won't learn to do until I have sex, but I am capable of deciding whether I am in love or not, and so from there I can make the call on whether or not to drop trou with someone.
It's weird to me that sex can be casual:
As you continue reading this post, please realize I am speaking for me, the only person I can speak for. I'm not the Voice of Virginity here. For me to explain why I don't understand how sex can be casual is not to say that I say sex can't be casual for others. It is just me saying for me, about me, that I have a hard time imagining casual sex in my own life.
Let's start here: one thing that is very weird to me, that I have not been able to get my head around ever, is the pairing of machismo with casual sex, or sex at all.
What is locker room talk all about? How many girls one guy has banged, right?
But isn't that same guy in that stereotypical situation the guy who doesn't "feel" anything, or at least not anything feminine, or vulnerable, or that he would describe as feeling good? He's tough, he's physically strong, things roll off his back, people don't get in his way, etc. We don't usually associate him with the sensitive, caring, thoughtful guy, right?
(Tell me if I'm wrong, seriously. This is just my understanding of this stereotype. And I'm a virgin over here and also have never been in the guys locker room to eavesdrop on said locker room talk, so feel free to correct me.)
We talk about feelings in two ways -- emotional and physical.
From what I hear about sex, it seems to be essentially the one place on earth where the ultimate best emotional and physical feelings one can have meet.
So not only are you experiencing physical ecstasy during sex, but ideally, hopefully, you're simultaneously experiencing an emotional, honeymoon-we're-so-in-love-type ecstasy.*
*(I realize that sexual situations run the gamut from the horrific end of rape through honeymoon bliss, including such negative situations as: painful physical first time, one or both people not being ready emotionally for the first time, people who have fallen out of love but are still having sex, one or both persons having sex is cheating on someone else, etc.)
It just seems oxymoronic to me that someone can have the persona of not caring about someone's emotional feelings, including his (or her) own, yet can put him or herself in a situation -- rather, aggressively seeks out being in a situation -- in which the most positive physical feelings of a human body are experienced.
Am I making any sense? Does anyone else see my confusion here?
To me it seems if someone is going for the most tough exterior image possible, then wouldn't he be above sex? Above sexual pleasure? Isn't everything else about the locker room stereotype one of someone who is never vulnerable, who doesn't need to acknowledge his feelings or pain (including physical ones, what with all the weight lifting and tackling on the football field (I realize I am grossly simplifying this stereotype, but go with me on this)), who can be ON HIS OWN and be just fine?
If that is true, then why does he need to make his way to someone's bed?
My theory: because we all need connection, we all need to experience feeling. Whether we'll fess up to it in the locker room or not.
Maybe sex can be casual for some, but I make emotional connection with people really quickly, and I have a hard time not worrying about being hurt by the loss of even a casual crush. So for me, for now (and probably for always), you won't catch me casually sleeping with someone. Because I know I would be hurt. My feelings are too much into everything I do, think, experience.
ALL THAT TO SAY is that even casual sex would affect me. If I care for someone and am cared for by that person and we merely kiss several times, the loss of that relationship would be (and has been) hard for me, so up the ante on the physical and emotional connection (i.e. sex), then the oh-so-much harder it would be for me, and many others out there going through the same thing, I am willing to argue, when that kind of connection has been made and then is broken. That's my point here.
My reasons for abstinence are religious, but then again no:
I grew up attending church, and as a part of that, spent many hours of my adolescence involved in middle and high school youth group activities, ranging from serious conversations about spiritual doubt with my youth counselors to "Jell-O parties," in which my peers and I all threw a bunch of gelatin at each other. (The latter may sound sexual in nature, but I assure you it was not).
At these youth events we were encouraged, yes, several times to not have sex until we were married, or at the very least to not have sex while we were in middle or high school.
There are several arguments for or against this kind of teaching, and I understand several sides. Would I rather a teenager have protected sex and know about birth control, etc. than have him or her have unsafe sex because they were only educated to simply not have sex and were in turn not educated on the physical health topics? Yes.
Would I rather not see anyone, regardless of age, be hurt because he or she was not ready emotionally for such a connection? Yes.
I am not ignorant, and I applaud my now-defunct WB teen dramas (Dawson's Creek, Felicity) for writing into storylines pieces of plot addressing condom usage and HIV testing. Seriously, HIV testing!! When do you see that on TV now?!? And Dawson's Creek and Felicity were aired in the late 90s/early 2000s! That's laudable.
It's hard to imagine if/when I would have lost my virginity, had I not been provided with guidance through a church environment and by religious parents. A large part of me thinks I would have abstained anyway, out of fear, late physical development, and just being interested in other things at the time -- because I was young and frankly was pretty interested in making collages of magazine clippings rather than strutting my stuff in front of the boys (get me involved in a game of football at that age, however, and you bet I was flexing my muscles and doing touchdown dances, hoping to turn some heads. But that was more of a desire for attention in general, I think).
My focus as a young'n was also very much centered around simply making friends and doing my schoolwork, as I will explore further down in this post (hats off to those of you still reading, by the way. Get yourself some popcorn. You deserve it).
Another part of me fears that I would have had sex too early, and that it could have been a frightening, potentially devastating thing. If no one had told me that I had the right to wait (to be fair, it was more often presented not as a right but as an ultimate decision to make), I might not have known that.
I am beyond blessed to have parents (including a father who doesn't give a f*** (my words, not his) about what people think of his dancing in the streets or other general silliness) who encouraged me and my siblings to be ourselves, always. So it's likely I would have taken a stance of, "I am Bailey, here me roar! I will have sex when I am good and ready!" and continued on making my magazine collages in peace. But who's to say that's the case? Who knows who I would be or how I would have acted had I not been given the education I received, as I received it?
I don't think that schools should teach abstinence only. My fear is that the messages of safe sex that are being dished out these days may perhaps (and I am ignorant on this, as I do not work in a school, so I don't know what the reality is) be responding in enough defiance against archaic abstinence-only stances, that abstinence may be put in an unfair light. Again, I really don't know the reality of how these messages are delivered, but I hope the message given in schools right now is not: "Here is three hours of education on the pill, condoms, etc., and finally five quick minutes to brush over this thing called 'abstinence.'"
I say this not to defend the youth groups of America but to protect the emotional well being of the youth of America, several of whom may not be ready to have sex, even if their bodies are old enough to participate in the activity.
[Section here about what the Bible says about sex (or no sex) before marriage; removed for the time being because I'm not fully read up on the subject, and to curb the length of this post. But we can discuss this matter in "Part Two" of this post, should there ever be a Part Two.]
Finally, per the sexual education that occurred in my (religious) home growing up: if I had to peruse the issue, I would guess that my parents didn't talk to us too much about abstaining from sex because a) they probably knew what our youth counselors were telling us, and b) from knowing their kids, they probably could guess that their kids weren't having sex and weren't planning to for a long while, probably not until marriage (I'm sure we iterated this to them, too, in conversation every once in a while).
The message I did receive at home was focused on love, and the importance of love in long term relationships. We discussed this specifically and pointedly, and also watched a video from which we garnered the all important term, "pizza love."
What is pizza love, you ask?
Pizza love is that kind of love you feel for pizza. You love pizza (and I do love pizza), but you don't LOVE pizza in the sense that you would commit to it. We should, in turn, approach potential life partners with the pizza love question in mind. Do I pizza love this person, or do I LOVE this person? And does he or she pizza love me back, or LOVE me back?
So my parents did talk to us about sex, but their message -- interestingly enough -- is one that I have carried with me, and that is that sex and love go hand in hand.
Why it's not that weird (that I don't have sex):
To me, it's just not. It's the norm for me. I do think about it, more so now that I'm older, but I legitimately don't have regrets about being this age and being a virgin.
Why it's a little weird:
Sometimes it seems weird. Sometimes I wonder if I'm too late in the game to learn the game. But I learned to kiss at 25. I'll catch up. I'll be fine.
Where it creates the biggest struggle, perhaps, is in dating. Sometimes I want to walk into a bar wearing a sign that says, "Wants to marry a Christian, not having sex until marriage" (don't worry, I won't wear this sign), so that it is out of the way, and so I don't find myself in an awkward situation of having to explain to someone why, actually, we're just going to make out tonight.
But we can make out all you want.
Am I scared of sex?:
Helllllll yes! I won't lie, sometimes it's nice to have this little waiting plan I have, because it means I don't have to be that vulnerable with someone today.
Will I date someone who has had sex?
And finally, Why it hasn't been that hard for me, Bailey Brewer, to wait, due to the very specific details of my specific life:
For those of you who don't know, my father switched careers in his middle adulthood, and this resulted in more than one move -- due to his schooling and, later, placement for his job -- across state lines. I moved three times before graduating high school.
Some girls whose families move during their adolescent years somehow manage to have regular friend groups and be involved with a myriad of clubs and also have these foreign things called boyfriends in their lives, but I was absolutely not one of those girls. Some of them even become Prom or Homecoming Queen, and this is something to discuss in my therapy sessions: all my rage and jealousy and whatnot.
I managed to participate in a variety of things -- but I did so with varying levels of confidence -- and I managed to make friends -- but to this day have not, since the 8th grade, felt as if I've been part of a friend group -- and, boyfriend, wait, what? What's a boyfriend?
Would you like to know the age I was when I had my first, tried and true, real boyfriend? 25.
Maybe my libido isn't as raging as certain others. Maybe that's why I'm a virgin.
I mean I'm a human. I have desire. I have a body. I'm not dead inside.
But I just have to say that very few things in my life have followed a conventional or chronological pattern ("pattern" isn't even an appropriate word to use, as it is so far from the norm in my life). During adolescence, while my classmates were playing Spin the Bottle and Seven Minutes in Heaven, I certainly wasn't making out with handfuls of boys and meanwhile trying to talk my hormones off some "let's have sex now" cliff, reminding my body that I was a "good girl" who wasn't going to have sex until I was married.
Guys weren't asking me out, and I was spending a lot of my time just trying not to feel self conscious. Ironically I was a pretty self confident person, but that's a whole other ball of wax that we can tear apart some other time.
Some boys confessed to having crushes on me, but beyond that I don't recall (unless I totally missed it) anyone leaning in for a kiss. I believe the first time that happened was when I was 22. Not only out of high school but, by then, out of college.
I took my brother to a high school dance, for crying out loud. I just reached a point in my senior year of high school where I thought, "It's my last year of school, I love to dance, and I want to go to a school dance!" I was tired of missing out; in fact sometimes I think that was the framework that I placed my life in -- thinking I was situated in a manner to perpetually miss out. My brother Patrick was coming home from college for his spring break, so I took him to the dance. We actually had a fun time, and used the slow songs as time to take breaks to visit the refreshment table -- efficient.
This is not me asking for pity, this is just the reality of what my life was. I'm grateful that I was able to make the best of things; instead of skipping the dance, I found a way to go. But I skipped a lot of dances as a freshman and sophomore; it took me several years of missing out before I learned to dig my heels in and realize that I better make things happen or things weren't going to happen. Since then I like to think I've only become better at practicing that mentality. But I still struggle in feeling like I am outside of others' groups, and am only allowed in with an obvious invite -- possibly the same reason why I rarely date. Without a clearly worded, "Bailey I like you, I want to be your boyfriend," from a man, I will probably assume the guy just likes to watch football with me. If he tells me I'm pretty that helps, too; then again I just like to hear that someone thinks I'm pretty.**
**This can be dangerous, for women of all ages. Again, another conversation. Maybe for Part Two.
Anyway. I'm getting off track here.
So I went to college, and while making friends was a snap because I was so disgustingly used to introducing myself to strangers, maybe I just carried my head too high (after years of becoming "too" strong and growing up too fast) and the guys in the dorms found that intimidating?
Friends, I don't know. But I haven't walked through life this far just thinking, "Seeeeeeexxxxxxx. When am I going to have sex?!"
I suppose I've just had in my head for so long an answer to that question that goes something like: "Well, Bailey, you'll have sex when you're married. Meanwhile focus on finding someone who you really like who you wouldn't mind having sex with for years to come."
(OK the thinking hasn't gone quite like that. Generally I walk through each day thinking about what I'm doing at work and the book I'm reading and the next time I'll be hanging out with a friend and what I can blog about and my current crush(es) and....)
So in sum, we are all very unique creatures with very unique, specific lives of our own, and so our own sex and virginity stories are all going to be very different. Thank you for reading to the bottom of this post, if you did. I hope that this sheds light on some of my thinking on the subject. And again, I can only speak for myself.
I am happy to continue this conversation. There is plenty more I can say about all this. I really consider this a scratching of the surface. So if you want more thoughts on the matter, clarification, etc., let me know. I am aware that there is a gross number of topics related to this overarching topic that I didn't touch upon here. Trust me, I've probably thought about most of the things you might be thinking I missed here.
And finally, I will close this with this bit of information: Boys, if you're interested in dating me, that's fine, and we can make out with each other plenty, but we're not doing the deed until there's a ring on my finger...and on yours. ;)
Over and out,