My Struggle With Abstinence (and)

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To Abstain from Sex – Or Not

Adults are often unaware of the amount of thought and reflection that go into teens’ decisions to have or not to have sex. Knowing about that decision-making process is essential for helping youths grapple with the issue. Here, two teens share their thoughts about their decisions on sex and the consequences.

My Struggle With Abstinence
By Branden Teets, 18

Should I have sex?

That’s the question on many teenagers’ minds in this day and age, including mine. I wonder if I should have sex, and when the right time would be. Right now, I don’t engage in sexual intercourse, mainly because of my religious beliefs and morals, and fear of pregnancy and regret. I want to wait until I’m married, and abstain because of the possibility of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Some people think abstinence means you abstain from all sexual activity. I and many others believe you only have to abstain from sexual intercourse.

I’m proud of the decisions I’ve made in the past. I’ve been asked to have intercourse out of the clear blue. Sometimes I was asked in the heat of the moment, but I backed out every time.

Here’s why I declined.

My religion is everything to me. I’m Pentecostal Christian and I don’t believe in premarital sex. My religion strongly disapproves of sexual intercourse before marriage. If I had sex, I’d feel like I let God down and abandoned what were once my strong moral beliefs. My morals set me apart from everyone I know. If I threw my morals away, I’d look like a fool and a hypocrite.

I feel that intercourse is something very special, another form of showing how much you love the one you’re with. I’ve always thought, “It sure would be magical to have sex for the first time on my wedding night or honeymoon.” I truly believe that a person should only have one sexual partner for his or her entire life.

“If you only have sex with one person, you’ll never know what anyone else was like,” my best friend says.

Sure, he’s right, in a way. As far as I can tell, it doesn’t matter what anyone else would be like. If you’ve abstained from sex until you’re married, and you’re madly in love with your spouse, that thought will never cross your mind.

Fear of pregnancy is another reason I abstain from intercourse. Sure, STDs are something to fear, but you trust the other person to let you know if they have any infections. My friends and I don’t worry about STDs. We honestly don’t take them into consideration because we don’t think it can happen to us. We don’t sleep around, and we only engage in foreplay with the ones we love and trust.

But if a guy gets a girl pregnant, it can ruin both of their lives. I can’t imagine anything worse in this world than worrying if your girlfriend is pregnant. I’m still a virgin, and I’ve worried about it because of what went on during foreplay. The only way to know for sure is to abstain from intercourse.

I’m naturally a pessimistic person, so having sex would really drive me over the edge. I wouldn’t think about how special intercourse felt. I’d worry about whether or not she’s pregnant. Instead of counting down the days until I see her again, I’ll count down the days until her next period. Some guys don’t care, but I don’t want to go through it.

But right now, my beliefs on abstinence are being tested. I’m in a relationship with the most wonderful, beautiful girl in the world, and I love her with all my heart. The topic of sex comes up frequently. She’s 16 and I’m 18. Honestly, she’s more ready than I am.

Should I have sex? I don’t want to put her in danger. And I only want to have one sex partner. I hope that we’ll always be together. Sometimes I think: If we were to have sex, and she broke up with me after, I wouldn’t regret it. I’d know that I was in love with her and that I took a chance. I’d look back and know that I experienced a special thing with a special person.

The most important thing to everyone should be his or her religion. If I give in, I guess it will mean that my love for her is more important – and that is wrong. On the other hand, if I end up still a virgin, then so be it. No one knows what the future holds.
But I know it won’t be a spur-of-the-moment decision. I’ve thought about it enough to make a good choice. It’s important to be honest with yourself. And if I’m honest with myself, I’m honest with my religion, too.

My Journey From Innocence
By Loryn Cozzi, 17

My journey began in a library during freshman-year biology. Our class was supposed to be doing research for our thesis papers, but my new friend Tara and I decided to sit and talk instead. The conversation started off lightly, but quickly became about sex, as do many teenage discussions.

When I told her I had nothing to really contribute since I had never kissed a boy before, she was shocked. She began digging deeper, making me more and more uncomfortable. After all, I thought oral sex was talking dirty on the telephone and that “69” was a plain old number.

I didn’t want to seem like a loser, though, so I let the conversation continue. I said I would never hook up with a boy, never let him touch my breasts, never let someone go “downtown.” Tara couldn’t believe what she was hearing. In order to prove to her that I was innocent and intended to stay so, I made a bet that I would never perform oral sex or have it performed on me, and that I would not lose my virginity before marriage.

My fear of inexperience and my belief that I should be in love before having sex led me to this decision. I felt I was too emotionally immature to deal with a sexual relationship.

About a year after the infamous library conversation, I received a phone call that changed my life forever. As I walked inside after tennis practice, my father told me a boy named Dylan (not his real name) had called and asked for me to call him back. The only Dylan I could think of was a senior at school. What would a senior want with me?

After a brief conversation, it turned out Dylan wanted to hang out later that night. Since I already had a friend coming over, I invited him to come as well. The three of us had an ordinary evening together, just sitting around watching TV and talking. It wasn’t until my friend left that things got interesting.

Within minutes of her departure, Dylan and I kissed. This kiss would not only spark a make-out session on my couch, but also a 10-month long relationship, ended by Dylan moving away for college.

As our feelings for each other grew during this time, and we became more emotionally connected, the physical part of our relationship escalated as well. I not only lost every bet Tara and I had made, but I became a whole new person. I was no longer the innocent girl in the library; I was an experienced and responsible young woman.

My decision to have sex came about from many factors, but the driving force was love. I always thought that marriage and sex went along with being in love. I never expected to find myself in love at age 16. (I think it rarely happens.) Nevertheless, I knew this was the ultimate way for Dylan and me to express our feelings for each other.

The decision to have sexual intercourse was one of the easiest choices I’ve ever made, and yet one of the most complicated. We discussed the situation in great detail beforehand – for he, too, was waiting for the right person. We decided on what type of contraception to use, how to go about getting it, how to use it properly and what we’d do if anything went wrong.

We consulted books, pamphlets, doctors, friends or anything we found helpful, except our parents. We felt too uncomfortable and thought our parents would overreact and not understand the situation. Some may think this isn’t the most romantic way to go about things, but it definitely was the safest and smartest.
While many of you reading this may think I’m encouraging you to do the same as I did, I’m definitely not. It was a personal choice that I made when I was ready. I was in love and chose to express my feelings in a physical way.

Even though I’m no longer as sexually innocent as I used to be, I still make smart choices about my sexual health. I choose my relationships carefully and talk to my doctor about contraceptive options, in case I become sexually active again.

I may no longer be a virgin, but that doesn’t mean I have to have another sexual relationship ever again. I’m proud of not only who I am now, but also of the fact that I haven’t had any sexual relations since Dylan. He’ll always have a special place in my heart, but I know I’m not ready yet to be involved again with anyone, on any level, and that’s all that matters.

© SEX, ETC., published by the Network for Family Life Education at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.