Growing up, I was told to concentrate my efforts on two things, and two things only: 1. Study hard so that I could get into medical school one day, and 2. Find a nice, Jewish boy to marry (after medical school, that is) and don’t even think about dating until I’m ready to get serious. Neither a medical degree nor Jewish husband panned out, but I did end up subconsciously adopting my parents’ conservative views on relationships all throughout college and my early 20s.
As much as I wanted to, I just didn’t get the point of hooking up. I tried it, and after every encounter, I felt hopeless and confused as to why I felt feelings of attachment when that wasn’t the point of one-night stands. Why didn’t this person want to watch movies with me? Why weren’t they texting me? Did that “like” on my new Facebook profile picture even mean anything? I realized that I was an old-fashioned relationship person. And I wanted relationships, not hookups.
If you’ve always been old-fashioned about relationships, you’re not alone. Like me, a lot of people want to hold off getting intimate with a person until they feel like the relationship is serious enough. Whether waiting is for religious or personal reasons (or both), it’s completely valid to navigate your love life however you want to. Here are some reasons why I didn’t feel pressured to do otherwise — and you shouldn’t either.
1. It’s your life, not anybody else’s.
Know what you want, and don’t compromise those standards and boundaries for what you think others want.
For a couple years, I very desperately wanted to be that person who had cool, casual sex. A person who replied to or sent texts at 1 a.m. I wanted to not care when a person told me they “weren’t looking for a relationship.” I’d reply, “Yeah, me neither,” and flick my wrist and laugh as though looking for a relationship was the silliest thing I’d ever heard of. But this wasn’t me, and I felt like a fake. Worse, I felt like I was betraying my feelings and needs. I wanted to go see movies on the weekends, hold hands, go on date nights, sleep in until the afternoon and then read in bed until dinner. I wanted permanency.
If you know deep in your gut and bones and heart that a longterm relationship is what will make you happy, then there’s no need to betray those feelings. And try not to feel pressured if your friends’ lives don’t match up yours. It’s okay if people you know are more interested in hookups than relationships! We all want different things. Focus on you and what you want.
2. Waiting to have sex can be really fulfilling.
While I didn’t wait until marriage or a longterm relationship to have sex, it’s okay to wait. You don’t need to justify your reasons to anyone — the only thing that’s important is that you feel good about your decision, and that it makes you happy.
For many partners, waiting to either become more intimate or have sex brings them closer together. This route probably doesn’t make sex any better or worse, but it can create a really special, deep bond with your person.
3. It’s not “uncool” to want tradition.
Despite what you see in the movies or TV, it’s not lame to want to be an old-fashioned dater. Want to wait three dates until your first kiss? Totally fine. Ten dates? Also cool. Not ready for oral sex with your partner of eight months? Then you’re not ready. What’s not cool, is forcing yourself or feeling forced to do something you’re not comfortable with. Do what makes you feel happy, sexy, and safe.
4. Being old-fashioned doesn’t mean you’re inexperienced.
Regardless of what your reasoning behind going slow with your S.O. is, it doesn’t mean you’re “not good at sex” or that you need to feel incompetent. Going at your own pace is about how you feel — not about how “skilled” you are.
5. There are so many other aspects of a relationship that have nothing to do with sex.
Sometimes, making chocolate chip pancakes for your partner can feel even more intimate than sex. There are lots of acts of love and appreciation that create a connection. For instance? I love when my husband vacuums the floors. Like, it’s a total turn-on. Because I hate vacuuming more than anything (even though it takes, like, seven minutes), and knowing that I’m with someone who will take care of a task I dread is the ultimate love language for me. And this takes so many shapes and forms. It could be visiting the library together on a Sunday. It could be taking the dog for a walk. It could be cuddling. It could be making out, or a foot massage. All of those things are sexy!
6. It’s not like you *need* another person to satisfy your needs.
Look. At the end of the day, if you’re not sure how you can have your needs met solo, just know that there are SO many ways (so many toys and techniques!). Not having sex or getting intimate with a partner doesn’t mean you have to go without getting yourself off. It’s important to explore your body and get to know what it wants and needs, and what feels good. Relationship or not, you’re covered.