Life is all about choices. One of the most important choices a woman faces is whether or not she decides to have sex before marriage. There are many reasons for this monumental choice for women and it varies for each of us. So, we interviewed X members of the Future Female Leaders community to share the reasons behind their choice to save themselves for marriage, or didn’t save themselves. In addition, we have interviewed women who had that choice taken away from them.

Here is what all these ladies had to say:

You are waiting, is this a decision you made on your own or was it assisted by faith?

“I made the decision to save myself until marriage on my own. Saving myself means I don’t have to worry about catching any kind of STD or anything like that, nor do I have to worry about an unwanted pregnancy.” -26, California

“I made this decision mostly due to my faith, but also for logical and personal reasons. You are less likely to get divorced if you save yourself, and I want sex to be something special between my husband and I. Since it’s something I can only give someone once, I want to give it to the person I will spend the rest of my life with. I want to be able to tell my husband that I loved him and was committed to him before I knew him. If I am dating a guy and it ends up not working out, I want to be able to look into his future fiancé’s eyes and tell her I helped protect his heart.” -19, Minnesota

“I made this decision based on my faith, knowing that God lovingly wants to protect us and that intimacy is designed for marriage.” -26, Nevada

“This is a decision I made on my own. As I got older my faith in God grew and reinforced this decision but when I made this decision, I didn’t have religious reasons in mind.” -22, Colorado

“The decision to wait until marriage was a decision that I made on my own but was heavily influenced by my faith. I believe that God designed sex as something to be shared only within the confines of marriage, between one man and one woman, and thus chose to live into that design.” -21, North Carolina

You are not waiting. How did you come to this decision? 

“My regret for not waiting was assisted by my faith. My now-husband and I are both very strong in our faith (now) and we had a lot of healing to work through. We both did not wait and we realized how much that hurt our spirits when we found each other. We learned what damage had been done to ourselves and that we truly had given ourselves away to someone other than each other, and that was hard knowing that someone shares a part of him that was only meant for me to experience and vice versa. The forgiveness each of us received from each other was monumental in building our marriage and our deep love for each other.” -26, Texas

“I did not wait until marriage. I grew up with a mother who was very open about sex, and who never pressured me to save myself. She encouraged me to make my own decision as long as I was always safe while going through with it. I decided not to wait because simply, that’s what I wanted. I wanted to be able to explore the physical aspects of my relationships when they got to certain points, and I wanted to be able to learn more about that part of myself.” -22, Texas

“I think the consequences of sex (having children, contracting an STD, etc.) are significant, but I never understood why protected, consensual sex was such a big deal. To me, waiting felt like building sex up to be this extremely important, life-changing event, but when I read about sex scientifically and what “losing your virginity” actually means, it did not add up. I consider myself to be a deeply emotional person, especially in relationships, but it never really tied to sex. Perhaps the easiest way to describe it is by looking at my love languages: words of affirmation, quality time, and gift-giving top my list while physical touch is a distant last place. I have never really cared for physical intimacy. So sex, outside the practical scientific concerns, never held high emotional weight. When it came time for me to decide if I wanted to wait, I did not see any compelling reason.”-23, Washington DC

“Neither me or my Husband were virgins when we met, nor did we wait until we got married with each other. I was saved before we got together but I think since I already lost my virginity and just being a part of this generation, I quite honestly never considered waiting because it’s almost assumed that when you’re with someone, you sleep together—as awful as that is. And so I just continued with the societal norm and what was normal for both of us and progressed our relationship in that way.” -20, California

What are the advantages to waiting?

 “To me, the advantages are emotional connection with my future husband. But byproducts are never having STD or pregnancy scares.” -26, Nevada

“There are so many advantages to waiting. I think some of the biggest ones are that I will never compare sex with my husband to sex with somebody else, I won’t ever feel like an intimate moment with my husband has been experienced by someone else, and it allows me to focus on my relationship from an emotional standpoint rather than a lust-driven one. People often confuse lust for love and that’s when things can get messy.” -22, Colorado

“There are endless advantages to waiting. There are worldly advantages ranging from things like self-esteem issues after being with multiple partners all the way to the changes in the release of dopamine and oxytocin in the brain. There are also religious advantages to waiting. By living into God’s design for my life, I feel much better about my decision and know that I’m living in a way that is pleasing to God. I am saving my current relationships from being needlessly heartbreaking for both my partner and I. I am saving my brain from being rewired to the point of being unable to reach satisfaction with my future husband. In addition, I’m saving my future marriage from trials and tribulations that might originate from my choice to live outside of God’s design for my life. I am saving much more than just my body.” -21, North Carolina

What are the advantages to not waiting?

“I may not have waited but it taught me so much about the Lord and His goodness and grace for us. I learned what it meant in the Bible when it said in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “Have you forgotten that your body is now the sacred temple of the Spirit of Holiness, who lives in you? You don’t belong to yourself any longer, for the gift of God, the Holy Spirit, lives inside your sanctuary.[a] 20 You were God’s expensive purchase, paid for with tears of blood,[b] so by all means, then, use your body[c] to bring glory to God!” That scripture really transformed the way I viewed myself, and how to treat not only my physical body but my spirit. I also learned about forgiveness and what it means to truly show Christ-like love because I received it from my husband in a way I didn’t think was possible. Watching him go through the process of the hurt it caused him to the grace he showed me, it was beautiful. And it exemplified Christ’s love in a physical way on Earth that I had never experienced or fully grasped before.” -26, Texas

“The advantage to not waiting is the fact that I am finding out what I like and need in the physical aspect of a relationship before getting into a lifelong commitment with someone. I feel like I have definitely been able to discover and understand myself more fully now, and that I will be better able to choose a future husband with that knowledge I have gained beforehand.” -22, Texas

“I think the biggest advantage to waiting is the connection it allows for between spouses. For example, I firmly believe when someone has sex prior to marriage, they are leaving a piece of themself with that person, if they do not marry that person. I also believe an advantage is not having to risk pregnancy or diseases and not having to deal with birth control.” -28, Wisconsin

I think the biggest advantage is being able to personally control the narrative surrounding sex. Sex does not have to do with marriage or making it past a certain benchmark in my relationships, it has to do with when my and my partner are both ready and want to do it. I think it allows my partner and I to have more open and honest conversations about sex and what we do and do not like. Times when I have tried to tie physical activity to certain “benchmarks” in relationships, particularly when I was younger, seemed to give me and my partner unrealistic expectations about where our relationship would be once the time came and our physical comfort level. Another advantage I notice is that I have learned what I actually want out of physical intimacy. For a long time, I gave into the cultural narrative around me that for women sex was dirty and shameful, but for men, it was pleasurable and fun- and that women had to make it pleasurable and fun for men or they would not have value. It was not until I started being physically intimate that I realized it is truly a two-way street. Women must understand and articulate what is comfortable for them and not feel shame for having desires or discomforts. I think if I lacked sexual experience it would have been easy for me to give in to the cultural narrative I was surrounded by because it was my only experience with sexual activity. Finally, after surviving sexual assault and a severely toxic relationship particularly from a physical intimacy perspective, being physically intimate in a way that is comfortable and safe for me truly allowed me to move past the events and reclaim physical intimacy as a choice I can make, not my abusers. I cannot imagine how it would have been if my assault was my first sexual experience, and my heart truly breaks for those in that situation. I am not saying women should have sex to prepare them for a possible assault, but for me, having a foundation in sexual intimacy allowed me to see what healthy sex is and what unhealthy sex is.” -23, Washington DC

What are the disadvantages to waiting?

“I personally haven’t run into many disadvantages over my choice, other than pop culture making it seem like waiting is a bad thing and you should “hook up” with someone just because.” -26, California

“I don’t feel there are really and severe disadvantages to what I am doing. At the end of the day I trust that everything is going according to God’s plan, and that who I end up with will be the right person in the end. To me that’s what I remember most when I face temptation.” -19, Minnesota

“Disadvantages are that our society views sex as a critical part of any relationship and it may be difficult to find someone who views otherwise.” -26, Nevada

“The disadvantages are pretty few. Things like not being able to talk about it with my friends during our morning after brunches, always losing Never Have I Ever. I just realized how silly they sound when you say them out loud but it can affect your social life. More important ones are that it can be extremely hard to date. A lot of men aren’t interested in a woman that they can’t get into bed right away, so especially in my college years, I experienced a lot of rejection because of my decision.” -22, Colorado

“I’m not sure that there are any true disadvantages to waiting. You’ll probably be ridiculed or at least misunderstood in your choice at times but this is not really a “disadvantage.” -21, North Carolina

What are the disadvantages to not waiting?

“It was just a painful process of healing and forgiveness. I thought what I was doing was empowering myself and doing what I wanted but it was selfish and ended up hurting myself and others in the process.” -26, Texas

“I think the disadvantages to not waiting have been other people’s judgement of that decision especially in the conservative political circle I am a part of. It’s always been really hard for me to see people that support me so proudly politically, make posts about women who don’t save themselves not even knowing that I am one of those women. It makes it feel like my decisions about my personal life are something to hide not because I’m ashamed of them but because other people would think less of me because they’re judging me based off of their own personal decisions.” -22, Texas

“I think the disadvantage to not waiting is not waiting can cause a disconnect between you and your spouse, I also think, for men, they are such visual people and if a man does not wait for marriage he could possibly compare his wife to another woman he had already been with.” -28, Wisconsin 

“I can definitely think of a very brief time of insecurity and sadness when I turned to sex/physical intimacy as a coping mechanism. This is bad, possibly dangerous, and ineffective. Would it have happened if I committed to waiting? Probably not. But I likely would have turned to something else unhealthy, so I think the real lesson here is learning to deal with pain in a healthy way and identifying what your unhealthy coping mechanisms are no matter where they may come from.” -23, Washington DC

Have you ever regretted your decision to wait?

“I have never regretted my decision.” -26, California

“I haven’t regretted waiting, no.” -26, Nevada

“I have not ever regretted my decision to wait. There are times where the situation seems trivial and the choice seems “useless.” I hate to even use that word to describe it because it’s so wrong but at the end of the day, I know that whatever “challenges” I face by choosing to wait would be exponentially worse if I chose not to wait. There will always be temptations but the reward is so great!” -21, North Carolina

Have you ever regretted your decision to not to wait?

100%” -26, Texas

“I have never regretted my decision to not wait until marriage. I know that it was the best decision for me personally, and that I am much more confident in relationships because I didn’t wait and was able to learn about myself. I know that when I end up married that I will have all the knowledge that I personally need to be confident in making that once in a lifetime commitment.” -22, Texas

“I regret my decision to not wait. It has caused me, many times, to think of the men I slept with prior to my relationship with my husband, it also has caused communication issues in my marriage and we have had to go through marriage counseling for this issue.” -28, Wisconsin

“No. I always knew that sex was not that meaningful to me unless the person was meaningful so I have never felt like I should have waited until marriage. Even if a relationship ended poorly, barring abuse, I have never regretted a person I chose to be intimate with because I know I felt it was the right decision at the time and what I had with the person at the time was real. As my life has continued and I experienced the dark side of sex, I have still only become more confident in my decision for the reasons discussed above.” -23, Washington DC

“It wasn’t until after we got married that I really looked back and in a way wished we had both saved each other FOR each other. I would say in some ways I regret that decision (mainly involving my past before him) based on the experiences I’ve heard from couples who waited and the closeness and bond that can bring to a relationship as well as the faith aspect involved. At the end of day though, all I can speak for is our experience and it did in a way get us to where we are today and I don’t know where we would be if our relationship played out another way so I don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed of how our lives played out.” -20, California

If you are waiting, do you also expect your future husband to also be a virgin?

“Personally, I would want my future husband to also be a virgin, but it wouldn’t be a total deal breaker if he wasn’t.” -26, California

“When it comes to my future husband, I would prefer for him to wait too, however I know people make mistakes. As long as he has a good heart, doesn’t pressure me, and agrees on the idea that religiously sex before marriage is bad, I don’t see any reason to hold that against him.” -19, Minnesota

“I would like my future husband to have waited, but I realize the older I get, the less likely that is.” -26, Nevada

“I don’t like the word “expect” here because it makes it sound like it’s a control thing. I don’t want to control my future husband. I would say that I would prefer my future husband to also be a virgin on the night of our wedding. When I was younger I always said if the right guy came around and he had slept with people in the past but was willing to recommit to chastity with me until marriage that would be okay. I also realize that this isn’t always a decision someone gets to make for themselves and men can be sexually assaulted. My current boyfriend and I are both virgins though and it’s something very important to both of us. It does give me a sense of security knowing he hasn’t seen other women the way he’ll see me on our wedding night and he isn’t interested in cheating because of his commitment to chastity.” -22, Colorado

“I do also expect my future husband to wait. By waiting, my future husband is showing his ability to be both faithful and sacrificial which are traits that I would deem important for a marriage. In addition, I wouldn’t feel the need to live up to some standard or feel pressured which further shows his love for me in that he loved me enough to keep me from those pressures. By waiting until marriage, our marriage would be an example of God’s love and provision for us as His children.” -21, North Carolina

What are some misconceptions about waiting for marriage?

“Misconceptions about choosing to wait for marriage are that virgins are prudes, or judgmental of those who aren’t.” -26, California

“I think some of the misconceptions about saving yourself for marriage is that you are a ‘prude’ or ‘boring’. I think I am the furthest thing from boring or prudish. I can have a fun time, be goofy and silly, and still respect my boundaries.” -19, Minnesota

“I think virginity is how you define it. Others may have, unfortunately, been sexually assaulted and no longer consider themselves a Virgin, however, I would consider losing your virginity to be when you choose to have sex.” -26, Nevada

“I think the biggest misconception is that we’re prude. I’ve had so many friends stop talking about their sexual experiences around me because they thought I wouldn’t know what they were talking about. I’m not naive, and just because I haven’t personally done xyz in bed doesn’t mean I don’t know what it is. I’ve also had lots of people assume I’m asexual or just not interested in having sex. I’ve had so many women say “you don’t know what you’re missing” to me. But I don’t think people would struggle so much with making that decision for themselves if they didn’t know what they were missing. Sex is fun! That’s not news to me. I also get the misconception that people assume I judge them if they didn’t make the same choice as me and I hate this assumption most of all. I don’t think you’re slutty just because you’ve made different decisions (notice how I refer to them as past decisions, not past mistakes).” -22, Colorado

“Some of the more common misconceptions about waiting are that people who wait “can’t have fun” or that they’re missing out on something. I can assure you that you can still have plenty of fun and have meaningful relationships without having sex before marriage. I would actually gamble that you’ll have more fun—less arguments—if you choose to wait. I also believe that you’re not missing out on anything worth having by waiting. You might miss out on some negatives, but that’s the goal, right? I also see people claim that there will be some extreme pressure on the wedding night to “perform” or meet an expectation. If you believe that will be an issue, I would implore you to think twice about the person that you intend to marry or how you envision your marriage to play out. If you’re marrying the right person, there shouldn’t be any pressure to perform on your wedding night. After all, you’re in this together—and now forever!” -21, North Carolina

What are some misconceptions about not waiting for marriage?

“I think one of the biggest misconceptions about not waiting, that I myself fell for, was that sleeping around with whoever you wanted was sexual empowerment and “female empowerment” in general. It’s this idea that plagues feminism; that women have control of the situation because we made the decision but in all reality, it is so damaging. This false sense of empowerment leads us to more promiscuity and that has a chance of leading to unplanned pregnancies, and higher STI rates. Unfortunately, none of that empowers women and sometimes causes them to make decisions they normally wouldn’t make because they are in crisis. Personally, I think waiting is empowering to women!” -26, Texas

“The biggest misconception is that those of us that don’t wait, don’t have “standards” and are fine with men treating us badly. I 100% do have standards for myself, they are just different standards than the ones those that chose to wait have. I still ask for the respect I deserve in a relationship and won’t take anything less than that. Not waiting doesn’t change that.” -22, Texas

“One misconception I think many people think they won’t perform well if they don’t “practice” for their future spouse. This could not be farther from the truth. I believe that since God created sex, people who wait and marry someone who has also waited will be fulfilled in the marriage bed.” -28, Wisconsin

“I think a lot of people think that if you aren’t waiting or don’t put a ton of value into sex that you just have lots of it. I don’t think that is the case. Particularly as a deeply emotional person who values intimacy in other forms, sex usually ends up occurring later/when things are more serious by default of how I approach relationships. I don’t think actively choosing not to wait makes a person much more likely to have random/non-emotional sex as some assume. I also think that when people who choose not to wait have lots of random sex it is usually a sign of a deeper issue and people who have chosen to wait should approach those conversations with understanding, not judgment.” -23, Washington DC

“I would say some misconceptions about not waiting until marriage are that if you don’t wait, you aren’t as valuable to your partner or that your relationship won’t progress in a positive or Godly way. Of course everyone is different, but all in all my Husband and I didn’t wait and we still ended up married and (maybe biased) but we have one of the happiest and strongest marriages of people I know. So while yes, I do in some ways wish we had waited—I understand that there is not one cookie cutter shape of a happy and healthy relationship. You don’t have to follow one set standard in order to have a strong, long lasting, and even faith based relationship.” -20, California

However, some people never go to make that decision for themselves because someone else made that decision for them. This is what they had to say:

When someone decided to assault you, were you planning on saving yourself for marriage or not? 

“Planning on saving myself” -21, Alabama

“At the time I was so young, so I honestly did not even know what sex was at the time (I was in elementary school). So I never knew” -24, Minnesota

“I was planning on saving myself for marriage and had only received my first kiss and boyfriend 3 months prior.” -24, North Carolina

Did you handle the assault by becoming more sexual or shut off?

More sexual for sure. It was my boyfriend at the time and he claimed I owed it to him.” -21, Alabama

“It’s pretty easy for me to shut off. It used to be much worse, but I am learning each and every day to get my strength back and be in charge of my own life and future. Although I cannot change the past, I can certainly do things to make sure that my future is in my hands, and no one else’s.” -24, Minnesota

“I became more sexually active. I was angry at God for allowing it to happen and felt worthless so I decided “screw it” and let guys have their way with me.” -24, North Carolina

Are there any triggers for you when it comes to sex?

“Absolutely. However, I keep those triggers private. :)” -24, Minnesota

“There have been random moments of flashbacks when a guy grabs me inappropriately but those have happened less frequently over time.” -24, North Carolina

What can your future partner do to make you comfortable when the time comes or what does your current partner do that allows you to be comfortable?

Be understanding. Let me play a part in deciding when is the right time. Don’t try to convince me that I owe it to him.” -21, Alabama

My partner is a superhero when it comes to making sure I am comfortable at all times – sexual or not. A common misconception I have seen, was that women (or men) who have been assaulted are only triggered by sex. This is definitely not the case for me. It can happen at specific venues, during certain conversations, when you’re out and about, or even for no reason at all. We all have a story to tell and I don’t need “special treatment” when it comes to what happened to me. Throughout my entire journey, I have only wished to be treated with dignity and respect, just like I would treat anyone else – whether they had an experience like me or not.” -24, Minnesota

My boyfriend has been so understanding and caring with me about it. He always asks me if I’m okay and makes sure I’m comfortable. If I ever ask him to stop he does and doesn’t question it.-24, North Carolina

What is a misconception about deciding waiting for marriage or not after what happened to you?

I hate the way churches approach the topic because if you’ve lost your virginity, even through assault, they teach saving yourself by making it seem as though you are worthless and unworthy of a “Godly man”. Personally, I decided that if I was already going to be seen as “unclean” there’s really no other reason to wait again until marriage. That decision would potentially be impacted by future partners and their beliefs though. Also the “it’s your fault because of what you had on” thing gets me heated.-21, Alabama

“No one has ever spoken to me in that regard, so I cannot say that I have had an experience like that. I chose not to save myself for marriage, but no one has argued with or questioned me on those decisions. They have asked “Is this hard for you?” Well yes, we try our best to heal completely but there will always be those scars. No one has ever asked how I have been able to move on so quickly, because in reality, I haven’t. I was in elementary school when this occurred, and I am now 24 years old, still fighting with my struggles from time to time. Despite all of this, I am so lucky to have this everlasting love from Jesus, and knowing that He will protect me through it all. Love wins. Every time.” -24, Minnesota

“The biggest misconception for me was that it was my fault. A lot of people at my school said that I was making it up for years because I regretted it and that wasn’t the case. I was blamed for what happened because everyone thought that I drank too much which wasn’t the case. As a YoungLife leader I have to save myself for marriage and I tell them that it wasn’t my choice, but that I choose to take my virginity back.” -24, North Carolina

To everyone who helped me by giving me your very raw stories and trusting me to keep your stories to just myself, I thank you so much for letting me in. Your stories are all going to sit with people who may not know where they stand yet and your words may help them decide one way or another. 

Whether or not you choose to save yourself or even if someone has taken that choice from you, you are so worthy and loved.

Caroline C.
FFL Cabinet Member
Follow Caroline on Twitter!