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How to date with no sex before marriage?
August 12, 2010 11:51 AM   Subscribe

How to date with no sex before marriage?

I don't want any kind of sexual relations before marriage. This isn't due to religion, trauma, or a low sexual drive. It's just a choice I feel comfortable with, though a majority of the culture doesn't seem to agree with me. This has made dating really hard over the years.

Any tips on how to go about dating, given this limitation? Is there any way to signal the issue to dates early on so I don't waste time & embarrassment for either of us? I could tolerate a religious partner, so is that the dating pool I should be exploring, or are there some secular people who'd be understanding as well? Feel free to give me personal experiences or data points, as well as any relevant books or articles.

I'd rather not hear why I should change my views, as I'm bombarded with that message on a daily basis already. Please answer the question and try to respect my choices. Thanks.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (49 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
Be upfront as soon as possible so you cannot be accused of "leading them on" and ensure that any partner is truly okay with your choice so you will not be in an uncomfortable situation where they might pressure you down the line because they did not take your request to refrain from intercourse until marriage seriously. Honestly, the sooner the better, probably during the first date, just work it into conversation that you are a person with a very strong sense of self and have very specific values, including X, Y, Z, and that you are refraining from intercourse until marriage.
posted by banannafish at 11:55 AM on August 12, 2010


Don't waste your time or anyone else's; be up front about what potential partners should and should not expect from you. This will save you a lot of effort and heartache.

I've met a handful of secular people who were dedicated to waiting until marriage before having sex. They're rare, but they do exist. I've also found from extensive personal experience that being a part of a religion that preaches waiting until marriage is no guarantee that someone is going to want to wait.

Really, the best advice that I can offer is that you talk openly about what it is that you want. Don't be afraid to put your wishes out there, and don't be afraid to ask potential partners what their intentions are.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 11:56 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is onliine dating an option for you? This is something that could be disclosed clearly on a dating profile, and would establish the right expectations. In that regard, I think this is something best disclosed even before going on a date, as most people are probably going to expect pre-marital sex. It's not much different than someone who will insist on someone converting to their religion when they marry--for some people it will be a deal breaker, and neither you nor they need the aggravation of reaching an impasse later on.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 11:57 AM on August 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


I don't have any criticism for you at all, your choice is your choice, and the strength of your resolve is to your credit as a marker of self esteem.

But as your preference is very much not the norm, it will be more important for you to disclose it early on -- during that first coffee outing, or even in your online dating profile.

I am quite sure there will be additional suggestions of where to look, because for all of the rarity of your choice, it is neither unique nor dirisible, and if there isn't an online dating community with that burned into its charter I will be very surprised.
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:58 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


You could explore a religious dating pool and end up with someone who agrees with you on that issue but disagrees with you on many other things. Once you did marry that person the abstinence issue would become a moot point, and the remaining issues would become a lot larger. I don't recommend pursuing a romantic relationship with someone whose beliefs conflict with yours.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 11:58 AM on August 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


i knew a 32 year old virgin a few years back. she wasn't religious and didn't seem to tolerate those that were. she brought a lot to the table - she was successful in her professional life, cute, smart, funny, friendly. she never seemed to have a problem finding dates. it seemed like sometimes guys would date her thinking she'd change her mind, or wondering what a non-sexual relationship would look like. her relationships seemed to only last a couple months, but i found out that she got married and had a kid since we stopped hanging out.

i say all that to say it is totally possible to do what you're wanting to do.

of course you realize this will shrink your available partner pool - if you go into it knowing that, you should be fine. just be upfront, realize people will be curious about the reasons, realize some jerks will try to push you anyway. treat it like something peculiar, but not shameful about yourself. the people you want to date will react in kind. the people you don't want to date will make themselves known as well.

for my friend, she seemed to date within her extended circle so there were very few of her dates who were surprised at all, as it was common knowledge.
posted by nadawi at 12:01 PM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


No sex before marriage really isn't as unusual as you might think, but where you're looking for dates is going to have a big impact on your success rate. Something you don't mention is if you're looking to date casual or if you're looking for a serious, long-term relationship. You'll have a lot less luck if you're hoping for sexless casual dating, but some people will be much more open to the idea if both parties are clear and in agreement about what the long-term expectations are. And being open and honest about it early is key, because nobody likes to be blindsided.

If you're trying to meet people in bars or at parties, the general vibe is much more casual and relaxed toward sex. This makes it less ideal than if you're meeting people at church, although I really wouldn't join a church with the sole intention of meeting a partner. Internet dating, on the other hand, is ideal in a lot of ways for anyone with very particular needs. You can specify the kinds of things you're looking for upfront, but if you're going to go this route, be clear about what you want, just don't be judgmental about what other people are looking for.
posted by Diagonalize at 12:05 PM on August 12, 2010


As someone who waited a long time to have PIV sex, I am going to disagree and say that, depending on your restrictions, I don't think it's something that needs to be disclosed on the first date.

You DO have limits, right? If all physical contact is off-limits, then that should probably be discussed right away. But if, you are into everything except penis-in-vagina penetration, you can probably wait until physical intimacy is on the table, whenever that occurs. There's a LOT of stuff outside "sex that causes a baby" that guys and girls are into.

I don't know, maybe I lucked out - no one I met was uncomfortable with sticking to handjobs and oral, and the guys that would have been uncomfortable with it weren't my type in the first place.
posted by muddgirl at 12:07 PM on August 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yes, there are definitely secular people out there who would understand. (I know some.) If a potential partner doesn't get this, he or she isn't worth your time. But yeah, be up front as soon as possible once the relationship looks like it could go somewhere.
posted by pised at 12:07 PM on August 12, 2010


Is there any way to signal the issue to dates early on so I don't waste time & embarrassment for either of us?

Online dating, especially OKCupid. Say it right in your profile. You've already written it on Metafilter; you can write the same thing (just more concisely and casually) on a dating site. Handle it the same way you would if you were a vegetarian and only wanted to date vegetarians, or if you didn't want to date smokers. I would go into it assuming that everyone will respect your choices; if you get contacted by people who give you a hard time about it, block 'em as ruthlessly as you'd block anyone who made any kind of rude comment.

Why OKCupid? Because it lets you answer multiple-choice questions that show up in your profile (if you opt to make your answers public). Some of the most common questions are about this kind of thing. For instance, one question asks if you'd be willing to date someone who did not want to have sex before marriage. Of course, you'll say, "Yes," but it's not just that -- you can also specify which answer your ideal mate would give, and you can rate it by level of importance, with the highest being "mandatory." Obviously, make sure to select "mandatory." (There's also an option to enter an explanation in fine print below your answer -- you could add a little note to reiterate that this is extremely important to you.)

Then, anytime you're looking at someone's profile, go to the section that shows this person's answers, and try to find the relevant questions. You can filter these to show only the "dating" questions or only the "sex" questions.
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:08 PM on August 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


One more thought: I wouldn't underestimate the potential to find someone who's not religious, and doesn't generally live by this rule, but is just so into you that they're willing to make the sacrifice for you. (There could be downsides too -- you might attract people who are desperate for a companion, or who have a very low/non-existent sex drive -- but I'm sure you'll be on the lookout for any such pitfalls.)
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:13 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Let me put this from one guy's personal position. As a man, I would perhaps reach the point rather soon in a dating situation where sex began to suggest itself. Given your view, I would truly appreciate an explanation why what I wanted clearly differed from what you had in mind. Then, your position made clear, I would (1) appreciate your honesty and forthrightness and position and thus respect it; or appreicate your honesty and forthrightness and decide we differed too much in that area to have an on-going relationship. I can not truly say which of the two options I would choose unless I were really in that situation.
posted by Postroad at 12:13 PM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Seconding online dating. You can state in your profile that you don't want sexual contact until marriage. That'll filter out a lot of people for you, avoiding any need to have an awkward conversation, and no one will be able to accuse you of misleading them.

It may actually work to your advantage, making your profile stand out, and attract some people who are in a similar situation to you.
posted by fatbird at 12:14 PM on August 12, 2010


The more I think about this, the more I realize it's kind of hard to answer without getting any more information. Anonymous's definition of "sexual relations" is very important - how in-line it is with the rest of society is going to affect how early boundaries must be negotiated.

Also, unfortunately, Anonymous's gender and sexual orientation play a factor in advice. It's sort of assumed in some cultures that Guys Want Sex and Girl's Don't, so it's sometimes easier for girls to date while celibate and harder for guys.
posted by muddgirl at 12:16 PM on August 12, 2010


Is there any way to signal the issue to dates early on so I don't waste time & embarrassment for either of us?

Be upfront about it, say within the first couple of minutes or hours of knowing someone and definitely before the first date. "Just so you know, I'm not sexually active at, nor do I intend to be until I'm married. If you're ok with that, great. If not, or if you think I'm going to change my mind because of something you do, then we should part company now."

Yes, you need to be that direct and forward as soon as possible, because most people are expecting sex when dating. Yes, it sucks for you, but that's the way to do it. Otherwise, try online dating and stipulate your feelings about the subject upfront, like above. Your post doesn't say if you are female, but if you are, go slowly as some guys will probably take your stance as a challenge. Actually, even if you're guy, women might take it as a challenge.

Also, you need to be clear about what you mean by sexual relations? Is oral sex ok? Anal sex? Hand jobs? Touching of breasts? Dry humping? More than likely you're going to get questions from people asking what your limits are and you need to that out and be firm in keeping to them.

It's your life and your decision and as long as you're happy with it, that's all that matters. Best of luck to you.
posted by nomadicink at 12:20 PM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Is there any way to signal the issue to dates early on so I don't waste time & embarrassment for either of us?

Sure. On your first or second date, say "I've made a decision to completely refrain from sexual activity until marriage. I don't mean this to be coy."

There's little point in going after religious people if religiosity is at best something you can tolerate. You can expect that many religious people who are okay with or even value your decision will break up with you unless you sincerely adopt their faith.

are there some secular people who'd be understanding as well?

It's a very large world so I'm sure someone would, but your odds of meeting them aren't necessarily great.

You don't state your age. Are you under 18? Under 20? If so, you can probably find some people, especially virgins, who will be okay with your decision insofar as it means rapidly marrying and getting laid. This is not likely to end well.

If you're older than 25 or especially older than 30, I have to think you're going to have real problems. People older than 25 or 30 are likely to have had long-term relationships and to have had sex, and to know and understand sex (or at least fooling around) as an important part of growing intimacy.

I'm not trying to be cruel, and I really don't care one way or another what decisions you make about your sex life. But I cannot imagine for an instant being interested in someone who refused any kind of sexual activity before marriage. Especially when it isn't tied to some sort of religious scruples. Even if it is not so in your case, it screams WARNING: NOT SO MUCH A PERSON AS A WALKING COLLECTION OF ISSUES AND BAGGAGE, and it makes me wonder what the next odd thing you were going to be completely absolute about was going to be.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:22 PM on August 12, 2010 [18 favorites]


The thing that strikes me as tricky is that people are delaying marriage much more so than they are delaying sex. So, a guy who is eager to marry and likes you a lot might be a pretty good match however, most guys aren't ready to talk about marriage very early so the thought of waiting potentially years before consummating your relationship is probably a turnoff regardless of how much he likes you.

I think muddgirl is onto something. And I agree with her that I don't think you need to disclose this right off the bat. I mean, you can try and see how that goes but I think a little get-to-know you is warranted before this comes up. If a guy really likes you and wants to get married it could really work out. But, give the romance a chance to blossom. You could try to use code-words like "looking for an old fashioned guy who loves romance and wooing" or "interested in taking it slow" in your profile to do a little pre-weeding.

And, yeah, I would think going for the religious guys might be your best bet but if you aren't religious and don't plan on it then that strikes me as a much bigger issue than sex before marriage. Sex for the first time only happens once -- arguments about going to church could last forever!
posted by amanda at 12:26 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd say one of the most important things you can do to help yourself here is to avoid situations and relationships where the whole point is sex. Two people who have decided to postpone sex have a lot easier time of it than when only one of them has.

Take the bar scene for example. It's where a lot of people go to "meet people," but "meeting people" in this context generally means "meeting people to have sex with." So if you're spending a lot of time in bars trying to find someone to date, you're going to cause a lot of drama, because a good number of people in those sorts of places are looking for someone to bring home with them.

I'm a little ambivalent about internet dating--even though I met my current girlfriend online--because it's divorced from real-world community in ways that can make things pretty surreal. Getting involved with someone whom none of your people know and vice versa can be done, but it carries its own set of problems, chief of which is that people who know each other via an organic community tend to know a lot about each other before they start getting to know each other per se. So things like attitudes towards sex, family, life in general, etc. are known quantities that don't have to be negotiated once you've already established a bond.

But if you aren't looking for any kind of religious community--which is the place you're most likely to find someone committed to this particular idea--online dating is probably as good a place to meet someone as any. You're narrowing your options, but as long as you only date people you know share your commitment, the difficulty will lie mostly in the finding them rather than the waiting-for-sex part as such.
posted by valkyryn at 12:29 PM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Anonymous's definition of "sexual relations" is very important - how in-line it is with the rest of society is going to affect how early boundaries must be negotiated.

It's true that we don't know what the OP counts as "any kind of sexual relations." But no matter what that's supposed to mean, I would still advise being upfront about it from the beginning. OP, you can definitely expect people to want you to be unambiguously clear about the definition of "sex" or "sexual relations," since people mean different things by these.

Also, unfortunately, Anonymous's gender and sexual orientation play a factor in advice. It's sort of assumed in some cultures that Guys Want Sex and Girl's Don't, so it's sometimes easier for girls to date while celibate and harder for guys.

Well, I don't know if it's that much easier for girls. The stereotype you mentioned could make it hard for either, in different ways. It's hard for guys because they're seen as abnormal, but it's hard for girls because there's a lot of truth in the "Guys Want Sex" statement.
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:31 PM on August 12, 2010


I don't know, maybe I lucked out - no one I met was uncomfortable with sticking to handjobs and oral, and the guys that would have been uncomfortable with it weren't my type in the first place.

I very firmly had the impression that anonymous meant no sexual contact, period. No oral, no hand jobs or other mutual masturbation, nothing that gets anyone off.

I wouldn't underestimate the potential to find someone who's not religious, and doesn't generally live by this rule, but is just so into you that they're willing to make the sacrifice for you.

The hard part is going to be getting over the hurdle of getting the partner to know you well enough to really fall for you, when anonymous's choice is one that will lead to frequent rejection before that point.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:31 PM on August 12, 2010


I could tolerate a religious partner...

Be careful here. The sort of religious partner who abstains from sex due to their religion is also the sort who will want you to convert. And converting for a partner is a pretty solid step over the "living a lie" line.

And, sadly, ROU_Xenophobe is right as to how you will be perceived in the general dating community. But you know what? Fuck the general dating community and don't let them get you down. You've got convictions and you'd do well to stick to them until you're married or you decide for yourself to change. You're not going to have much long-lived success in the bar scene, but we live in the future and if there's anything the Internet has proved, it's that no matter what your views are, someone out there shares them. They might be far away or quite different from your ideal, but all the same.

You ought to drop the "I don't have sex" line as immediately as possible however, not just to not waste time, but to preserve your own feelings. You don't want to be on Date 3 with Awesome Guy only to realize that he won't compromise.
posted by griphus at 12:32 PM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm not trying to be cruel, and I really don't care one way or another what decisions you make about your sex life. But I cannot imagine for an instant being interested in someone who refused any kind of sexual activity before marriage. Especially when it isn't tied to some sort of religious scruples. Even if it is not so in your case, it screams WARNING: NOT SO MUCH A PERSON AS A WALKING COLLECTION OF ISSUES AND BAGGAGE, and it makes me wonder what the next odd thing you were going to be completely absolute about was going to be.

I feel the opposite of this. I'm a girl. If I met a boy who didn't want sexual relations before marriage, I would admire his fairly quixotic stance and the strength of character that it requires and how different it makes him than most people, and all of those things would make me like him more. But I tend to like strange people, and I tend to not mind "walking collection[s] of issues and baggage" and I tend to do dating things weirdly anyway.

You may just need to look for partners that appreciate people who are out-of-the-ordinary, assuming you are out-of-the-ordinary in other ways too. Or, date people you already know in another context. Make friends. Maybe you will slowly fall in love with one and he or she will slowly fall in love with you, already knowing your stance on sex, and then when to disclose it is a non-issue.

The thing about being a person who doesn't want sex until marriage is that you aren't going to fit into someone's "lover slot." You know, the thing that people get when they have things settled in their lives and all the sudden they realize they want a boyfriend or girlfriend. And then they go out in the world and look for a person to fit in that slot. Usually that person has to meet certain qualifications to fit in that slot. usually, in our society, one of those qualifications is "will bone me." You won't. But that's ok. You just need to find someone who is not looking to fill a lover slot. You need to find someone who meets you and then makes a you-slot and you fill a you-slot because you are you.
posted by millipede at 12:33 PM on August 12, 2010 [9 favorites]


People who feel similarly will be as frustrated as you are. If you're upfront about it early on then the ones for whom that's a deal breaker will know to move on, and the ones who feel likewise will be relieved and grateful.
posted by resiny at 12:34 PM on August 12, 2010


Getting involved with someone whom none of your people know and vice versa can be done, but it carries its own set of problems, chief of which is that people who know each other via an organic community tend to know a lot about each other before they start getting to know each other per se. So things like attitudes towards sex, family, life in general, etc. are known quantities that don't have to be negotiated once you've already established a bond.

I actually think this is kind of backwards, in my experience. If I think about, say, my coworkers who happen to be single, I have no idea what their attitudes are toward sex. But if I meet someone on a dating site, I'm likely to find out their attitudes toward sex almost immediately.

I've had some relationships that started offline with people who were already in my social circle, and I've had others where I met her online and we were learning about each other from scratch. The relationships where we were already in the same social circle didn't automatically cause us to understand each other's attitudes toward sex or family or marriage or life in any special way that wasn't possible with the relationships that sprang from a dating site.
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:35 PM on August 12, 2010


I very firmly had the impression that anonymous meant no sexual contact, period. No oral, no hand jobs or other mutual masturbation, nothing that gets anyone off.

If there is to be no orgasms in each other's presence, then this is definitely something that should be brought up before hand-holding, canoodling, or really flirting of any sort. But again, I don't think it's something that needs to be mentioned to every person that shares coffee and getting-to-know-you chatter.
posted by muddgirl at 12:36 PM on August 12, 2010


To be perfectly honest, yes, you're only realistic dating pool is the highly religious. Sure there will be exceptions, but very few and they aren't a distinct group of people you can really target. Very, very few people will be willing to have zero sexual contact before marriage. I don't know how old you are, but if you're outside of your teens or early 20's this pool will shrink even more. Even the wait until marriage religious crowd usually translate into the waiting until you're in a very serious relationship to have sex after dating for a very long time crowd. There are lots of people in the "go slow" "wait several months" "have only 1 - 3 sexual partners ever" crowd, but not many in the absolutely no sexual contact before marriage crowd.

But to more answer your question. Yes you should be totally upfront. This is an absolute deal breaker for most people and not something you are likely to talk them into (a lot of people are willing to go very slow, but not wait until marriage so I don't think trying to warm them up to the idea if you are really serious about this will be effective). All I can say is be confident and unashamed about it and you might meet a secular person who is willing to forgo sex in this one instance, but really I wouldn't hold out hope for that. ROU_xenophobe is right that even in these instances where a secular person might be ok with the actual waiting for marriage part, most people would read this as a massive red flag indicating a lot of issues that would both effect your relationship and your married sex life. I think your best bet with secular people is to have a long friendship with an individual you are interested in before dating is even a possibility. So that they know you and know why you feel the way you do about sex before marriage and then they can make a fully informed choice about moving into a romantic relationship.

Your best bet is attending conservative churches (who often actively engage in matchmaking of one kind or another) or heading to the internet and putting it upfront in your profile. Also, religiously geared dating sites would be a good idea. However, you have to remember that most people that are so religious that they insist on waiting for all sexual contact until marriage (as in not simply "technical virginity" emphasis on the quotes) are usually going to want someone equally as religious and are generally not interested in someone that is not religious or not devoutly religious. Not to mention not raised in the same faith and denomination. This doesn't appear to be you, so if you are open to religion (and this is admittedly coming from someone who is very not), now may be the time to pick a church (not necessarily Christianity it's just an easy example) and get involved.
posted by whoaali at 12:36 PM on August 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


millipede: You just need to find someone who is not looking to fill a lover slot. You need to find someone who meets you and then makes a you-slot and you fill a you-slot because you are you.

This is absolutely true, but the unspoken third category here is "someone who is looking to fill a relationship-with-no-sex slot, for one of a myriad problematic psychological reasons". That's why, hypothetically, if you hadn't ruled it out in your question, I would be urging you to confront and challenge your absolutism, rather than risk coming to think of it as a proudly-chosen stance, but given that you phrased your question as you did, my main point is to be on the lookout for such people and filter them out.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 12:38 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


"To be perfectly honest, yes, you're only realistic dating pool is the highly religious."

every story is different, blah, blah, blah - but my aforementioned friend dated some of the same guys i did and i am in no way celibate. people change their deal breakers all the damn time.

my friend seemed to have the best luck in the nerd community, even though they're generally seen as the kinksters.
posted by nadawi at 12:39 PM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Directory of Celibacy-oriented dating/social networking sites. Another site (seems Christian-oriented.)
posted by griphus at 12:43 PM on August 12, 2010


I've dated two women who made the same choice you're making. In both cases, they made it clear early on, and that was for the best. We talked about it by the 3rd date in both cases.

Dating without sex is actually pretty easy. The trick is to make sure you have that conversation so the person you're dating will know what to expect and won't feel like you're being a tease. Having that talk as early on as you feel comfortable with will be very helpful. It's actually no different than having the talk about children - whether or not you eventually want them. Or religion. Sure, it'll be a dealbreaker for some, but that's fine since they're not the sort of people you'd want to date anyway, right? You want to date people who share your values - or, at the very least, respect your values.

Sadly, when you tell a date you're not going to have sex before you're married, you will probably have to explain why you're making that decision because, as you know, many people won't understand.

If you're online dating, I don't think you have to mention it in your ad or profile, but you really do need to talk about it early on (2nd or 3rd date, perhaps) so you don't inadvertently lead a guy on. Once he knows what you're comfortable with, you can have fantastically flirty dates.
posted by 2oh1 at 12:49 PM on August 12, 2010


I think the obvious and recommended route has been covered: put an add on OKCupid that says upfront that you're abstinent.

The harder part is being prepared for the question of why.

Let's say I am your date, and that 'abstinent' does not mean no physical contact. I may be willing to accept that for a couple dates to see if I like you, but you better believe I'm going to ask you why you're not willing to have PIV sex.

I won't mean it in a confrontational way- I just want to know the shape of that boundary very clearly, and it also tells me more about you. My first assumption would be that you're religious, but obviously that's not the case. So are you willing to outline your reasons clearly? You're wasting my time if you aren't. Have a script ready, like 'I get attached easily when sex is involved and I want to avoid that before a formal commitment is made,' etc. If you were able to articulate something like that I would stick around, but if not, I would be mildly annoyed and would not call you back.
posted by slow graffiti at 12:57 PM on August 12, 2010


I'd avoid the religious if only because you're very unlikely to find one whose only damning quirk (in terms of what society considers normal) is that they don't want sex before marriage. I'm not saying it's impossible, just that it's extraordinarily unlikely.

Honestly your best bet is going to be online dating. OKCupid is probably the best one, in my own limited experience, and offers a wide variety of people. If you're going to find someone at all, your best chances are at finding them there.

If you go that route, I would very strongly recommend that you put that info in your profile somewhere. You don't have to be strident about it but it's a pretty solid dealbreaker for a lot of people and there's no point in wasting your time or theirs.

Even so, I would still advise that you can expect to deal with folks who will say they're okay with it but either not believe you, or try to change your mind.

The above, and some of the other advice in this thread, will perhaps improve your chances. But your view of relationships is kind of far outside the norm, and nothing at all can guarantee success. Basically you're a statistical outlier and you're looking for another one.

Which I realize probably sounds like a downer, so let me finish by saying that I have nothing but respect and admiration for your dedication and your discipline, and I sincerely wish you the best of luck out there.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 1:00 PM on August 12, 2010


How to date with no sex before marriage?

Online, long-distance, and upfront about no fucking before the nupping.

Put your cards on the table and get to know the other people from a distance. This will weed out most people, including everyone who really likes to fuck, so you're going to end up with someone who, apparently like you, can pretty much take or leave fucking.
posted by pracowity at 1:00 PM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Lots of good answers here, but here's mine -

Make sure you date with heavy focus on marriage and keep your expectations in check.

Personally, I would wait for the right girl but I'd have to know there was a short time-table.

Understand, though, that this is a major downside to dating you, so be realistic about the kinds of people you are going for. Be worth it.

Adding another vote to being careful of dating people from other religions and cultures. This is an epic minefield, especially if you are looking for a marriage with liberal western values.
posted by milinar at 1:24 PM on August 12, 2010


I think dating will be difficult for you no matter what. I am not trying to disparage your choice, I just don't think you have any easy solutions ahead of you, so you may as well prepare yourself. With that in mind, you might want to consider asking yourself these five questions and being very honest with yourself:

1) "How quickly do I feel comfortable getting married?" If you are putting off sex until marriage, for those who do want to date you, you ought to expect a press for a shorter interval.

2) "What am I considering sex and not sex?" Your partner is going to want to know this, very very quickly, after your revelation.

3) "Would I be okay dating someone knowing that they sought an outlet elsewhere? With my consent? Without it?" That will also come up.

4) "I have selected for someone who will wait a fairly long time for sex. What if I have selected for someone who won't be all that interested after marriage?" Sometimes, the consequences of getting what you want can be ... interesting. Someone who cannot or will not function sexually may see you as a safe haven.

5) "I am being absolute about this thing. How will I signal that I am willing to make up for this and be flexible, that I am not generally rigid?" I would be worried that you would be one of those people who has a whole series of rules, contracts, and binding agreements surrounding you.

How you answer these can help determine your dating strategy. Good luck.
posted by adipocere at 1:27 PM on August 12, 2010 [8 favorites]


I was brought up this way but "rebelled" and had sex outside of marriage when I was 20 and a half, that too with a boy who was half foreign as I thought he would not be running around telling everyone that I was a "bad girl" as things were a few decades ago in my culture. I even had a live-in boyfriend in college with a rocking sex life ;p

Today I've been celibate (mostly a conscious decision, partly circumstance and a sprinkle of personal history) for about 5 years barring one single experience 3.5 years ago that I do not regret at all. However this has put me in a quandary. I have tried "one night stands" once or twice in the past because it seemed everyone was doing it but it was not my thing. I prefer the comfort and intimacy of a long standing relationship where I can relax and commit to giving 100% sexually to my partner, something I find that comes only from the development of mutual respect and affection, among other things, including but not exclusive to romantic love.

I don't know if I would get married again in legal terms but I also know that I would be far more comfortable allowing myself to be vulnerable and intimate with someone in a committed loving relationship than simply a random encounter (something I gave up after my experiences almost a decade ago). I also know that I could not have a friends with benefits type of thing again because I have done that once, for about 4 years, and it worked out okay but today, more than 12 years later I am a different person and frankly its an effort. Even 7 to 5 years ago, I had some "friends with benefits" kinds of things for few months at a time but in the long run it was not worth the effort for me - one, a personal preference for trust and comfort before letting my hair down sexually and two, it wasn't worth the effort for putting in and recieving only 50 or 60% of what I knew a good sexual relationship could be. I really like sex, which is ironic given my situation.

I fear that where I am today, rusty and inexperienced, may hamper my future progress in this area but I hope that I am able to find a man who can overlook the inadvertent responses or signals I may give out accidently even though I would be very much interested in pursuing an intimate relationship. Learning the ropes again can take time adn however willing the mind and heart can be, sometimes the body may give a reflexive jerk out of habit and circumstance. Unlike you I have had trauma directly related to my sexuality and presence, while not raped, I know and understand that I can sometimes respond similarly.

Furthermore, I took a conscious decision not to focus on this aspect of my life about 5 years ago and instead poured my energies into my intellectual and professional development. Today I wonder what I have lost in terms of my ability to communicate desire and interact with the opposite sex, even when inside my head I want to walk up and just do it.

How does one communicate that aspect in a committed relationship? Must marriage be a legal entity or can it be a commitment given from the heart? After all, EM Forster once said "but reliability isn’t a matter of contract... It is a matter for the heart. "

How does one find the words to say that one desires but please overlook any reflexive body language and understand that we need to break through the barriers of rust and inexperience to reach a comfort zone of intimacy and trust? How does one find someone with the patience to go slowly physically and spend intimate time together just getting comfortable having someone from the opposite sex around, necking and fooling around without the pressure from the first get go that it must culminate immediately in penetrative sex whereas that may happen in a day or two or even immediately but who knows and how does one predict? Hence perhaps the need for a loving relationship rather than simply a sex based encounter. ..

So how to answer your question?

Stick to your beliefs and share them however you feel comfortable. Those who truly love you and want you will understand and respect your decision. I know a man, who as a boy, respected our cultural norms and my decision to not go "further" and today, some 26 years later, will jokingly remind me of it "fullname, x years of foreplay and no action"

I suggest you consider looking outside your own culture towards more traditional and conservative ones, where its less to do with religion and more to do with oldfashioned mores and values, that one "saved oneself" for marriage.
posted by a2 at 1:45 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Could you contact a mod and provide some more details about your reasons for this choice? It could help us be more specific about our advice, since you don't fall into many of the most common categories of people who refrain from sex during dating. Also, as others have pointed out, it's pretty important whether "no sexual relations" means excluding only intercourse, or whether it means no sexual activity at all. Speaking only for myself, I'd consider the former a big concession/compromise but one I'd be willing to consider; the latter, an absolute dealbreaker.

I'll chime in with the many who've suggested bringing it up very early. Second date sounds about right, third at the latest. Even if you're dating someone who prefers to move things forward slowly, in terms of physical intimacy, they probably expect that intimacy at some point in the relationship - don't wait for that point. Make it clear early on what your potential partner can expect, because you're asking for something very unusual that he/she may well have to respond to with "thanks but no thanks."

Do you intend to engage in sex after marrying? If you're intending to avoid sex during dating but want to have sex with your future spouse, you're going to need to communicate that very clearly too - I know people who would probably be ok with your choices, but they're largely-celibate for reasons of overall sex drive, and if you want to have a sex life once married, that kind of person isn't an option. There are whole communities online for asexual people - in fact, finding one helped an ex of mine figure out that her preference for low/no sex wasn't entirely unique, which led to us breaking up - traumatic at the time but better for both of us in the long run. That'd be a great place to start... except that you do want to have sex eventually.

In the end there is no way to "signal" this. It's something you're going to have to discuss, very clearly/bluntly, with every person you date, and at an early stage. Putting it into an online dating profile can probably help cut down a lot of these problems, but depending on how explicit you are about your expectations there, don't be surprised if you end up still running into situations where someone didn't read your profile carefully enough, or assumes/thinks/hopes that, for example, you'd be willing to have sex before marriage but in a long-term relationship.
posted by Tomorrowful at 1:46 PM on August 12, 2010


This buddy of mine was dating a girl who didn't believe in sex before marriage. The guy was doing a PhD in astrophysics, and he'd very much embraced 'geek culture'. Really nice guy and everything, of course.

He used to joke that he wouldn't be having sex anyway, so he might as well not be having sex with her.

Perhaps you could find a guy in a similar position, who would follow similar logic.
posted by Mike1024 at 1:48 PM on August 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


I think that at the end of the day it's so important for you to understand that your decision not to have sex before marriage is really a deal breaker and probably a relationship killer on so many different levels. That being said, I think the only way you'll have any success is if you can actually find someone who has the exact same feelings as you about sex before marriage. IE...is willing to wait...more importantly actually wants to wait and is also a virgin. Bottom line...sex is a very important part of a relationship. Whether you wait until marriage or not...sex or the absence of sex in your relationship will in some way or another be one of the most important aspects of your marriage or pre-marriage relationship. I recommend that you be open about this sooner then later when dating someone new. I wouldn't recommend putting in your profile if you do online dating. Most will view it as strange, or simply giving too much info. Some will even look at it and say...yeah right...I'll get this person in bed. And they'll try to date you just to see if they can "win" this battle. I would suggest that you reveal this somewhere within the first 2 to 8 dates. But as soon as things even remotely point at a relationship you need to say simply, "I really like you and I could see this relationship going very far. But you should know, I'm a virgin and I don't plan on having sex until I'm married. Just wanted to be honest with you." As you already know, this will cause most of your relationships to end very quickly. Please know...I'm not trying to say you should change your ways here. If this is what you want, I commend you for knowing what you want and you should stick to your guns. One of the most respected qualities in a human being is knowing who you are and what you want. I would definitely do online dating. I would also be open to meeting new people anywhere...you never know. As for religious people...that's a possibility but only if you somewhat share the same religious view points. Finding "the one" is hard with or without sex. So keep your head and your heart open at all times. You never know when that soul mate is going to come along.
posted by ljs30 at 1:56 PM on August 12, 2010


To attempt to restate what I said, a little better:

1) Reread adipocere's comment above; I think that checklist is downright perfect.

2) Online dating may be your best bet.

3) Please clarify what exactly the position is that you're asking us to respect. When we speak of, for example, respect for a religious person's celibacy, we're speaking of respecting the importance of their faith in their life. When we talk about respecting someone's natural low sex drive, we're talking about respecting their integrity as a whole person who doesn't feel that they need 'fixing.' What value, or preference, led you to celibacy? This is what you're going to be asking us, and a prospective partner, to respect.
posted by Tomorrowful at 2:02 PM on August 12, 2010


By and large, the answers here are really good and thorough, but I wanted to draw extra attention to a couple of points that stood out to me as I read them.

1. Online or in person, be upfront. A lot of people aren't willing to date without sex, let alone marry without proof of sexual chemistry. To avoid wasting your time and potential emotional pain, learn to talk about it comfortably and soon after meeting people you're interested in dating. Have answers ready for their questions. Don't be defensive or evasive. Make sure your circle of friends also knows so that they can be on the lookout for potential partners for you.

2. In terms of stretching a limited dating pool, religious people and religious communities are probably your best bet. However, you say you could "tolerate" a religious partner. For a person religious enough to abstain from sex before marriage, toleration from their potential spouse is probably not going to cut it. Are you willing to convert, attend services, and raise your children in the faith? If not, it's probably not fair to pursue religious partners.

You want a partner who will respect and encourage your decision not to have premarital sex. If someone dated you who said they were cool with that but who actually had the idea that they were going to try to get you to change your mind, it wouldn't be fair or respectful to you. With a religious partner, they'll want you to respect and encourage their decision to practice their religion. If you aren't willing to (happily, enthusiastically, whole heartedly) take the steps to do so, you'd kind of be leading them on, which is also neither fair nor respectful.

3. Would you be fine ending up married to a person with a generally very low sex drive? I read so many cries for help on askme from people who have mismatched libidos with their spouses. It's a sad, complicated situation that can be hard to solve and can destroy marriages.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if someone willing to abstain from premarital sex is someone without much by way of a sex drive in the first place. That wouldn't likely change after marriage. Would that be a dealbreaker for you? It's probably something you need to give some serious thought to.
posted by mostlymartha at 2:10 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


"The thing that strikes me as tricky is that people are delaying marriage much more so than they are delaying sex. So, a guy who is eager to marry and likes you a lot might be a pretty good match however, most guys aren't ready to talk about marriage very early so the thought of waiting potentially years before consummating your relationship is probably a turnoff regardless of how much he likes you."

I find that my friends who are in no-sex-before-marriage relationships tend to get married much faster than the rest.
posted by pollex at 2:55 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's a difference between "I think waiting for marriage is right for me" and "I don't want any kind of sexual relations before marriage." The latter is a hard-line preemptive rejection of any sort of physical intimacy that is reducing your pool dramatically. (Not trying to question your choice, but your choice of words.) If what you wrote is really what you meant, you need to find someone who not only is of exactly like mind, but who is capable of keeping all physical desires in check, and capable of unleashing them only when the two of you reach some arbitrary day in the future (and at which point you need to also respond appropriately, so you need to be very sure about your premise that your choice is not libido-related).

If you're not really taking that hard line, it's something you can bring up on the first date, and the other person can decide whether to go with your flow or not. If you are taking that hard line, you shouldn't be accepting dates with people who don't know your view, because it's so far out of the mainstream that to accept a date offer from someone who is unaware of your restriction would be deception on your part.
posted by sageleaf at 3:57 PM on August 12, 2010


The way my socially successful Mormon friends do it? Get married very fast. One spent a grand total of one semester in college before finding a man, getting engaged, and getting married (this after declaring, the summer before, that she was really enjoying being single and probably wouldn't date anyone seriously freshman year.)

As a geeky, socially awkward Mormon girl, my limited sexless dating success has been with geeky non-Mormons, but I'm still figuring stuff out, so.
posted by SMPA at 5:00 PM on August 12, 2010


I'm in the same positions as a male and have tried the online dating thing. My profile clearly talks about my sex life (or lack thereof), and it's never been a problem with the online dating world. I also find it much easier to go on a first date knowing the other person already knows, instead of being on pins and needles trying to figure out when to tell her because I know it is a big deal to most people.

I definitely agree with what other people have mentioned that as you get older, it's harder to find people who don't mind waiting off on sex.

And as someone involved in the whole religious-world thing, definitely don't go after somebody who's religious just because it increases the likelihood of them being celibate. Typically, people who are celibate due to religious reasons also expect something out of their partner when it comes to religion (not because they're necessarily selfish, but rather because to them it is a way of living so it naturally carries over into other aspects of their life). This expectation can easily be downplayed while dating/engaged- particularly if you all aren't living together- but will come out in full force when married and living together.
posted by jmd82 at 8:24 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


It seems to me that you are dating for the specific purpose of finding a good husband (rather than dating to find a good boyfriend, companion or sex buddy -- which is what most people get before they move onto the "lifetime commitment" stage). If this is the case, you should be very up front about that as well as your choice to not have sex before marriage. You should tell your dates, on the first or second encounter, that you are specifically looking for a husband and not looking to have sex before ye olde wedding night.

As others have pointed out, you will have trouble finding a positive reaction to your choices outside of very conservative religious communities. And as others have pointed out above, it will be very difficult to find a man in these communities who will not make your conversion an essential element of the future marriage.

All that being said, I wish you the best.
posted by Azazel Fel at 4:10 PM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


as you get older, it's harder to find people who don't mind waiting off on sex.

Not only is it harder to find these people as you get older (plenty of teens who believe in waiting until marriage will have had a change of heart by their early twenties or so), but also more and more of the people who have maintained their opposition to premarital sex will have already gotten married (since, as someone else mentioned above, it's a mindset that tends to lead correlate to marrying young). So, there are multiple factors that will continue to decrease your dating pool over time.
posted by naoko at 5:24 PM on August 15, 2010


It seems to me that you are dating for the specific purpose of finding a good husband (rather than dating to find a good boyfriend, companion or sex buddy -- which is what most people get before they move onto the "lifetime commitment" stage).

... or wife or girlfriend. We don't know the OP's gender or sexual orientation.
posted by Jaltcoh at 5:40 PM on August 15, 2010


OP: How to date with no sex before marriage?

Establish and know where your boundaries are for physical intimacy. If holding hands is okay, what about passionate French kissing? Getting drunk and watching a sexy movie together in the bedroom late at night would probably be a bad idea. Tell your partner what you deem inappropriate, and explain why.

OP: I don't want any kind of sexual relations before marriage. This isn't due to religion, trauma, or a low sexual drive. It's just a choice I feel comfortable with...

There are good reasons for not having premarital sex. (e.g. We're biologically wired to get attached to sexual partners.) You shouldn't feel ashamed just because the media says that society says that you're not normal/average.

Regrettably from religious website but still might be helpful to you:
Strategies and Guidelines
Boundless Sex
posted by jayne at 5:14 PM on August 16, 2010


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