Virginity: A disadvantage in dating?

Last week, I blogged about author Elna Baker, the woman who wrote an essay for Glamour called “Yes, I’m a 27-Year-Old Virgin.”

She and I would be a couple peas in a pod for that, except what she wrote didn’t explain why she is saving sex for marriage. It explained her decision to “change the rules.” Which is why a couple years later, she wrote a second sex essay for the same magazine, called “Guess What? I’m Not a Virgin Anymore!”

In one of the essays, Baker – who once had planned to save sex for marriage – said “although my virginity was a disadvantage, I stayed hopeful about dating.” She later added that after she changed her mind about saving sex, her “dating life actually improved. By not taking sex off the table right away, I made it past the four-week mark in relationships with several different guys.”

In other words, since more men dated her for longer periods of time after she decided she didn’t have to save sex for marriage, Baker deduced that what made dating difficult for her prior was the saving sex.

I could not disagree with her more, for three reasons:

1. If a person has planned to save sex for marriage and virginity strikes him or her as a disadvantage in dating, he or she perhaps has missed the point of dating. 

Lots of guys like virgins. Very few like virgins who aren’t going to sleep with them. So it’s true (and I’ve discovered this by experience): fewer guys in our culture find a girl dateable who isn’t going to have sex with them before marriage.

This is a non-issue if what you intend to accomplish by dating is to meet somebody who would suit you as a spouse. If you are saving sex for marriage, somebody who doesn’t want to save sex is not suitable for you. Suck it up and move along.

The truth is saving sex for marriage while searching for a spouse in a culture of people who mostly won’t marry you if they haven’t had sex with you does, in fact, mean your relationships with most people are going to end shortly after they start. Which, according to Baker, is the disadvantage.

But a disadvantage is “an unfavorable circumstance or condition that reduces the chances of success.” So if virginity and/or saving sex is a disadvantage because it results in few dates and short relationships with people you could never marry anway, I have to ask:

What is it that you’re really trying to accomplish?

2. That people won’t date you for more than a month because you’re saving sex does not mean virginity is a disadvantage. It means you’re dating the wrong kind of people.

3. If you sincerely want to save sex for marriage, virginity is an advantage (“A condition or circumstance that puts one in a favorable position.”). And if you aren’t a virgin but you’re saving sex from now on, being honest about it with the people you meet is an advantage, too. Because realistically, your “taking sex off the table right away” means people will, in fact, walk away just as quickly. And that is not a disadvantage. It’s a quick way to discover what you set out to learn in the first place: whether this person would make a suitable spouse.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • About a year ago I met a woman that was a traditional Catholic, like myself, on Facebook. We really seemed to hit it off. As we grew more fond of each other, we decided it was time to meet. We lived 4 hour away from each other, so it was a big deal. I drove up to see her one weekend, and the first date couldn’t have been better. She had already informed me of her “no kissing on the first date” rule, and I was actually more interested in her for that. The second date, however, we made a bad decision. We decided to go out and have some drinks. “Some” turned into many and we soon found ourselves kissing. Not an innocent kiss on the cheek, but a passionate kiss. It wasn’t that big of a deal to me. I liked her. In fact, I had fallen in love with her. On our way home, she informed me that kissing in that way was, indeed, a mortal sin. I had never heard that before because, well, I hadn’t dated as a traditional Catholic, nor had I dated a traditional Catholic. So I asked a priest in Confession about this kissing being a mortal sin. He confirmed what she had told me. Just then it dawned on me: I had been learning all about the traditions that had been swept under the rug since Vatican II, but had never bothered reading about Catholic “dating.” I was pretty amazed at what I found. Here’s a very brief article explaining a little bit of what should be understood before going on a date:
    http://catholiclane.com/dating-rules-10-rules-for-chaste-dating/

    • Thanks for sharing, Eric!

      The rules are ok, but I have a couple concerns regarding them.

      Rules, generally speaking, are superficial(that isn’t to say rules are bad, but that they don’t have depth). And so unless we grasp the reasons the rules exist, we’re gonna miss the point. So, for example, one of the rules on the list is to avoid actions that result in sexual arousal. That’s not because actions that result in sexual arousal are bad. It’s because we believe actions that result in sexual arousal outside of certain contexts are incompatible with what we believe about love. But if all we have is rules and no grasp on the reasons for them, we’re more likely to believe we can’t do those things because those things are bad. What ultimately underlies the “rules” of chaste dating is what we believe about love. And if we grasp love in that way, we won’t need as many “rules” because we’ll naturally live within those parameters. But we’ll always need boundaries, for sure.

      Secondly, in one of the rules, Fr. M wrote “You are weak!” But being told we are weak is more a part of the problem than the solution. The world around us tells us we’re weak all the time, and that as a result, it’s “impossible” to save sex for marriage. The church ought to remind us of this instead: God wouldn’t hold us to it if he hadn’t created us able to do it. We are all a lot stronger than we’re told we are.

  • I had read the article that you had posted about Elna and her virginity and also about her losing her virginity. And when I read about her seeing her virginity as a disadvantage, I think I thought it was in reference to how others (guys) saw her. For example; if a guy approached me and we are talking and getting to know each other and then he lets me know that he is unemployed and needs a ride home from our date because his mom dropped him off and she is already in bed now(TRUE STORY)…he has a stark disadvantage to say a guy with a job and reliable transportation.

    Dating is hard and one’s mindset when going into dating plays a large part to the whole scheme of things too. Some things may matter very much to some people and very little to others. And it seems like for Elna to be able to open herself up to dating she had to put sex on the table – the issue of sex was prohibiting her from dating.

    Just some thoughts. 🙂

    • Thanks for the feedback, Tiffany! And LOL @ your true story. They really know how to pick us. 😉

      I don’t disagree. How I see it is like this: You already know you don’t want to date a guy who’s unemployed and has no car. Imagine, then, that most guys are unemployed and have no cars. You have a choice: 1) move on each time you attempt to date a guy who, as it turns out, is unemployed and has no car (knowing that it’s gonna happen a lot since, in this scenario, most guys are unemployed and have no cars) or 2) suck it up or change your standards and start dating guys who are unemployed and have no cars.

      Well, most people in our age bracket don’t date without having sex. So we who are saving sex for marriage have a choice: 1) move on each time we attempt to date people who, as it turns out, will not save sex with us for marriage or 2) suck it up or change our standards and start dating people who will require us to sleep with them.

      If you pick 1, you pick it knowing you won’t meet as many men or women with whom a relationship could last. This is because most people aren’t going to date you if you’re not going to have sex with them. Not having sex IS a “disadvantage,” then, in the sense that the sea is as big as the sea is for anybody else, but there are far fewer eligible fish in it for you. But for somebody who’s serious about saving sex, I don’t see that as a bad thing. It’s an opportunity to practice patience, no doubt, but not a bad thing.

      🙂

  • Absolutely and in this day and age, no car & unemployed AND no sex can = S C A R Y. Clearly, I jest. Somewhat. 🙂

  • I think the rules are mostly put forth for the sake of maintaining chastity. The sins against chastity are often times hidden. Like I said in my comment, a kiss just seems like a kiss, but the passionate kiss brings all sorts of other sensual problems. Lust is a very slippery slope. The rules are to guard us from the initial slide. I’m a firm believer in following the rules first, and figuring out why they exist later. This is especially true for those of us that have given in to lust. A man only has to turn on the wicked television to have impure images recorded as memories that will be used against him in his weakest moment. God forbid that weakest moment come on a date with a woman who isn’t very firm in her resolve to remain chaste. All it takes is one sin against chastity and a person can go to Hell for eternity.

    In regards to our weakness , I think that we are only as strong as God’s Grace allows us to be. Since it’s important not to “tempt God,” I think it’s safe to assume we are completely helpless without Him. Nearly every time I have thought I was strong enough to resist temptation I have been humbled in one way, or another.

    Dating can be extremely dangerous. I’m very happy to hear that you have survived it for this long, and I pray that you keep up the good fight. I always find it inspiring when a person (especially an attractive young lady) is willing to stand up and become an example for others.

  • Arleen – Great article. It’s interesting that virginity today is only talked about in terms of girls. As far as guys? Mirriam-Webster has taken us out of their definition of virginity. Comforting. There are certainly no advantages for us in this world, short of a wife. To the contrary – We’ve watched nonchristian party guys climb there way up the corporate ladder by bed-hopping and other such behavior for years. Just take a look at the headlines today regarding our government. Being virtuous is not going to win us any popularity contests. We may be few in number, but we are here. Yes, I’m sure lots of guys like virgins. But there are some guys who are also virgins who will only marry a virgin. I know it’s a foreign concept today, but I think that is God’s plan. If “few guys” meant one in a million, but he was the only one you met next year, he would become your definition of a man – your “super majority.” You asked an excellent question: “What is it that you’re trying to accomplish?” If your goal is to maximize the number of dates and score popularity points, then yes virginity would be a disadvantage in the world we live in. If your goal is a permanent and successful marriage, then it would be a distinct advantage. I would go as far as to say it is a necessity. So don’t let the numbers and prior experiences with guys dim your light. Waiting will work to your advantage in the long run.

  • Anonymous

    Arleen – Please let’s be honest and describe exactly what “save sex for marriage” actually means to a Roman Catholic. I don’t know what a traditional Catholic is vs a non-tradition Catholic. A non-tradition Catholic, at one time, may have been know as a cafeteria Catholic. But if someone is going to pick and choose the teachings they will follow, then they may not be a Catholic at all. Back to the description – I was brought up in the Catholic church, sex in marriage meant everything is a sin (mutual masturbation, etc.) except penis in vagina intercourse only when there is the possibility of conception. Birth control is a sin, except for the rhythm method. Good grief – “save sex for marriage” is really not saving very much because sex within marriage is still sinful, except as I mentioned above.

    • I appreciate the feedback, but I mostly disagree with you. I’ll save your comment and respond in a future post on the blog. Stay tuned.

  • “Lots of guys like virgins. Very few like virgins who aren’t going to sleep with them.”

    There is a long story which is too long to give justice in a paragraph, but long story short, there was a young woman I met when I was 29, and she was 20, we hit it off very well, and she was a virgin, and so was I, and I am Orthodox, and she was Roman Catholic, but not very observant, rather nominally so. I was not attracted to her *because* she was a virgin, but that certainly enhanced the other attractive qualities she had. However, I knew that she was not the one, and by quite guilelessly admitting that amid our early encounters, I kind of cut myself off from otherwise having a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship in which she might have been otherwise interested (as she did say later she was “starting to fall in love with me”). And she hooked up with this other guy, and did lose her virginity to him. And I was so mad at her, and still am. Although she said in retrospect she thought she was going to be with him forever, or she would not have done it. (And yet there is a reason I use the term “hooked up”.) Part of me was grieved because of my perception of the loss of virtue, but another part was jealous or resentful because if she was going to have sex with someone, and not ensure that there was a commitment made to having it last forever, well, I could have made her happy. And it was all made worse because she retained me in the “friend zone” and therefore I got to counsel her (and I did so in all integrity, not any attempt to sabotage) when her relationship went sideways! And eventually she broke up with the guy, and eventually I decided I was not going to be her perpetual sounding board, although I do keep in touch with her periodically.

    The girlfriend I have now I have been with for four years (if you check the relationship status date on Facebook, however, you will not see that reflected because she decided we were “on a break” the other week, another long story). In this case, my girlfriend is an observant Catholic, but also not a virgin, and I am happy to report that I still am (although not as much so!) but this introduces its own tensions into the relationship. I am not in the relationship because I am in love with her, I am in the relationship because I want someone *to love*. If I were in love with her, it would be very easy to have sex. But she is in love with me, so she wants to.

    I’ve wanted to marry a virgin since I was about 14. It seemed fair and balanced that if I was going to marry a virgin, I should be one too. I won’t limit dates to virgins, but I would be happier if who I chose to date was. This probably would limit my dating options, but although I DO have a job, I don’t have a very well-paying one, or transportation, other than my feet, so that takes me out of the pool for most women anyway.

  • I think you shouldn’t worry about someone’s past. You should care about whether right now, they are living their life in accordance with God’s Will. If someone lost their virginity in the past, but repented, and went to confession, God has forgiven them and wiped clean their soul.
    It is good to only want to date someone who is saving sex for marriage.
    Yes, you should definitely hold yourself to the same standard.
    But don’t despise someone who lost their virginity in the past, but then regained their innocence through repentance and confession. In God’s eyes, that person might be just as holy or, (in some individual cases holier) than many people who are physically virgins.