My boyfriend and I practice chastity. This means that we don’t have sex because we aren’t married yet. Nope, you aren’t on the wrong website. And no, you aren’t going to see me on your doorstep this weekend asking if you have five minutes to talk about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

In fact, I never go out of my way to recommend our lifestyle to others. Just like practicing BDSM or polyamory, our lifestyle isn’t for everyone. And it’s not “better” or “worse” than anyone else’s lifestyle. It’s just what works for us. I’ll share a little bit about what our (sex?) life looks like, and tell you why it’s not as weird, repressive, or backwards as you might think.

So… Why Don’t You Have Sex?

Let’s start with the obvious question. For us personally, it’s not quite as simple as “for religious reasons.” My boyfriend is, indeed, a practicing Catholic, and a virgin. The official position of the church is that couples should practice chastity before marriage.

However, I’m neither a Catholic, nor a virgin. If you ask him why he’s waiting, he wouldn’t tell you that it’s because his church told him to wait. His reasons are more complex and more personal than that (although those are perfectly good reasons all on their own). Many people do choose to wait because of their church affiliation.

If you ask him, my partner will tell you that he believes that sex is so important and intimate that he only wants to experience it with a single person. For him, that means marriage. If you ask me why I agreed to wait with him, it’s simply because I wanted to be with him more than I wanted to be having sex, and I never want to ask him to compromise or abandon his beliefs. I also think that delayed gratification will make it that much sweeter if and when we finally do go all the way.

Does That Mean That You Think Sex Outside of Marriage is Bad and Wrong?

No. My partner and I both believe very strongly in sex positivity. We believe that a person cannot lose their worth, their dignity, or their right to love and respect based on what they choose to do with their bodies, and who they choose to do it with. For us, chastity isn’t about purity. He doesn’t think of me as a present that he wants to be the first to open. Sex isn’t bad; it’s awesome. That’s the whole reason we’re waiting. It’s not about shame. It’s about love.

My partner knew that I wasn’t a virgin years before we got together. I was dating someone else when we first met. We were friends for years before we were lovers. It was never a secret, and it was never a source of shame or regret. He doesn’t think that I’m going to hell because I didn’t wait. He doesn't think that I gave away something that was meant for him. It’s more about delaying the gratification of something nice to make it nicer.

Is It Hard to Wait?

Hell yes, sometimes. But it's probably not as hard as you'd think. We don’t practice penetration of any kind, but we do get each other off manually. (Turns out there is a word for that, and it’s called frottage!) Not all couples who are waiting choose to do that, but we do.

There’s also an extra set of challenges due to the fact that we live together. To cope, we’ve built a system of hard and soft limits, not unlike the conversation someone in a BDSM relationship might have. We had a long talk about things he wanted to experience for the first time on his wedding night - seeing his bride fully naked, experiencing penetration, and performing oral sex. (I might be more excited about the prospect of oral than getting actual sex again - I haven’t found a guy willing to go down on me since I was 15 and playing Adam Sandler movies with the volume up so my parents wouldn’t hear.)

Before we started dating, I told him what I would want and need to feel loved and satisfied while we waited - to give and receive orgasms, dirty talk while we are being intimate, and a metric shit ton of cuddling. Oh, and Gerard Butler movies on Netflix. Trust me, it fulfills a need. We talked about what he had never done but would consider doing with me, what he wouldn’t consider until he was married, and what he didn’t enjoy and probably wouldn’t ever consider barring an unforeseen change of heart. (Farewell for now, pegging fantasies, but thank God for this treasure to keep me warm at night. Malory Ortberg at The Toast is doing the Lord’s work.)

What If He Sucks at It?

People inevitably think we’re crazy for waiting. This is actually one of the biggest sources of frustration for me. Not the lack of sex, but constantly justifying that lack to friends and acquaintances. (And the endless bad jokes at my expense. I will slap the next person who speculates aloud on how often I must masturbate. That means you too, Grandma.) I never go out of my way to tell people that I’m not having sex. Since I stubbornly refuse to lie about it on principle, it does come up.

The most common “concern” I hear from well-intentioned friends is that our marriage will inevitably end in bitter divorce as shriveled up, sexless prunes because we won’t know if we’re sexually compatible until it’s too late. Let me put that shit to bed right now. I think that’s dumb. He’s not a car I need to test ride before I take him off the lot.

Sexual compatibility is crazy important, but it has very little to do with his technique in the actual act of penetration and whether or not he’s any good at it yet. We’re attracted to one another. As a physical lover, my little virgin is patient, generous, and fun-loving. I’m not worried about whether he’s mastered the Way of the Seventeen Erogenous Pillars of Crotch Wielding before we seal the deal. He can learn the technical bits later. What matters to me is that he cares about my pleasure, enjoyment, comfort level, and happiness as much as his own. And he does.

I had plenty of terrible sex before I dated a virgin. Experience didn’t make my former partners any less shitty at it. Yes, while most people haven’t been awkward virgins since they had curfews and listened to Blink 182, I do get an awful kick out of defining kinky words for him that he’s never heard of before. Unfortunately, he’s now caught on when I’m completely making things up to screw with him and has figured out that scissoring doesn’t actually involve jumper cables.

TL;DR

We practice chastity because we think sex is a good thing, and not a bad thing. Yes, it's possible. No, it's not for everyone. No, we don't think we're better than you because we're waiting. Basically, it’s just another sexual lifestyle, and personal choice. Being sexually liberated means that we both get to choose what we do with our bodies and when we do it. It means, necessarily, that we can also choose to do nothing at all or “frot” each other’s brains out. It’s a good time to be alive.