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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » Abstinence--What do you think about it? (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Abstinence--What do you think about it?
IIWafflekittyII
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I’m just kind of wondering if there’s anyone on this board who believes in abstinence. I do. I mean, I don’t see why a person couldn’t just wait until they actually loved each other, and dedicated themselves to each other, and got married before having sex? If a person really loves you, I don’t think they would have sex before marriage to prove it.
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emsily0
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well, what it basically comes down to is that it's a matter of personal choice. try to keep in mind, in having this discussion, that it's not really anyone's job to be judging others for their sexual practices. (i'm not saying you have. just trying to avoid future probs)

em


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IIWafflekittyII
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quote:
Originally posted by emsily0:
well, what it basically comes down to is that it's a matter of personal choice. try to keep in mind, in having this discussion, that it's not really anyone's job to be judging others for their sexual practices. (i'm not saying you have. just trying to avoid future probs)

em


I agree that it's personal choice. Thanks for saying I'm not judging.


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Milke
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Celibacy, you mean? I abstain from cigarettes, meat, and System of a Down; the word doesn't specifically apply to sexual behaviour.

Personally, I don't see why anyone should have to love a sexual partner, or marry them; if you're comfortable with it, and responsible about what you're doing, I have no problem with the idea that people have casual sex, or sex outside of marriage, or homosexual sex. Do remember not everyone can marry, or wants to, or wants to have only one sexual partner (some people have multiple partners at once. If everyone involved in the situation is fine with it, that is a valid option too.).

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IIWafflekittyII
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It's weird how sex is seen through culture. All through middle school, they tell you to go with abstinence, but in some high schools, they literally hand out condoms.


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lemming
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Some things to consider in this topic:

Not everyone can get married.

Not everyone wants to get married.

Marriage doesn't protect you from STDs or STIs.

Some people do not get to choose when they have their "first time."

Virginity has many different meanings for different people, and some people disregard the notion altogether: Magical Cups & Bloody Brides

These are just some of the reasons we tend to think it's best that everyone know how to take steps for safer sex (like here: Safe, Sound & Sexy – A Safer Sex How-To), even if they aren't planning on having sex until they're married.

We do have an article on abstinence here: Does Abstinence make the Heart Grow Fonder?

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Laurel Lemming
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KittenGoddess
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I think abstinance is a great idea if one doubts in any way that they are unready to be sexually active or if they simply desire to do so.

And by doubts, I do mean any sort of doubts at all. You don't understand how reproduction or STD transmission work? You don't feel emotionally ready? You have religious or moral convictions that do not permit you to be sexually active at the time? You feel like you need some sort of committment from your partner? Have some other doubt or issue? Then abstaining is clearly the way to go. I certainly don't advocate doing anything that you don't feel comfortable doing. And I think that if you aren't ready or don't want to be sexually active and you choose to abstain (or practice celebacy), then good for you. You're clearly doing what you believe is right and what you feel is good for you at that particular time in your life.

As to abstinance only sex-ed and handing out condoms...well, frankly abstinance only sex ed doesn't work. Yes, abstinance is an option, and it's a good option. But not telling people the truth about sex just makes it more mysterious. And by making it all more mysterious, you end up with kids participating in a variaty of incredibly unsafe sexual behaviors...and many of the ones participating in some of these behaviors truly BELIEVE that they are being abstinant (because they're not having intercourse or "real sex") and therefore are perfectly safe. The real deal is that they aren't safe though. There are still huge risks. However, many of those risks aren't detailed because of the abstinance only cirriculum. As far as handing out condoms goes...if that's the only way to get teens to use them, then I'm in favor of making them avaliable. 1 in 4 teens has an STD, that's a pretty high rate of infection. And giving someone a condom doesn't make them have sex. They're still in control of what they do with that condom (or they can simply choose not to take one if they desire).

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KittenGoddess
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IIWafflekittyII
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quote:
Originally posted by Milke:
Celibacy, you mean? I abstain from cigarettes, meat, and System of a Down; the word doesn't specifically apply to sexual behaviour.

Personally, I don't see why anyone should have to love a sexual partner, or marry them; if you're comfortable with it, and responsible about what you're doing, I have no problem with the idea that people have casual sex, or sex outside of marriage, or homosexual sex. Do remember not everyone can marry, or wants to, or wants to have only one sexual partner (some people have multiple partners at once. If everyone involved in the situation is fine with it, that is a valid option too.).



But still, even if you take the uttermost precautions, where a girl would still have the chance of getting pregnant, or still have a chance of catching a STD, it still doesn’t seem all that safe. Even if neither had AIDS or anything, there’s still the chance of pregnancy. Not only is abstinence is focusing on the risk of pregnancy or a STD, if can help stop a lot of emotional damage. There’s more of a chance of a person not becoming very depressed if they’re uncomfortable having sex with their boyfriend, or not sure if they were ready to have a sexual relationship.

I still agree--if the person wants to have sex, whether they’re in love or not, they’re still making a serious decisions that may or may not effect their life. The thing is this: Would if really be a wise idea to have sex before being committed? Is the person ready to be responsible for whatever happens to them? Would they really want to take that risk if they’re not?


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IIWafflekittyII
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quote:
Originally posted by lemming:
Some things to consider in this topic:

Not everyone can get married.

Not everyone wants to get married.

Marriage doesn't protect you from STDs or STIs.

Some people do not get to choose when they have their "first time."

Virginity has many different meanings for different people, and some people disregard the notion altogether: Magical Cups & Bloody Brides

These are just some of the reasons we tend to think it's best that everyone know how to take steps for safer sex (like here: Safe, Sound & Sexy – A Safer Sex How-To), even if they aren't planning on having sex until they're married.

We do have an article on abstinence here: Does Abstinence make the Heart Grow Fonder?


I never said a married couple shouldn't prepare for safer sex. I think that the article is a good one, and that all married couples should get checked for AIDS and such, and should have safe sex. STILL, if you truley loved a person, and was married, there's less of a chance of you breaking up with them, or divorce, fear of your partner leaving you, or suffering depression.


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IIWafflekittyII
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Anyone deeply believe in abstinence out there? ANYONE?
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LilBlueSmurf
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I honestly don't see the correlation b/w sex only w/i marriage and decreased divorce rates. If there is a study on this, please enlighten me

Personally, i lost my virginity when i was 16. I was not married, and had only been in the relationship for a month. Following that, i had a one night stand w/ my best friend, and am now currently involved w/ my partner of almost two years. Does it mean any less to me b/c i'm not married? I don't think so. Marriage, to me, is just a piece of paper. It's the love, commitment, communication/honesty that holds a marriage (and any relationship) together that is the key. You can have all of that w/o getting married ...

I do believe in abstinence until you're ready (emotionally, financially ...)... but i don't really think you're automatically ready when you're married, nor is there any written rule that states you have to be married to be ready.


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wobblyheadedjane
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A few of my friends are very much into waiting until marriage due to religious beliefs, and they're pretty level headed about why. One of them was in a four year relationship, and I very much admire her conviction and faith (as well as her boyfriend's, even though he is a dedicated atheist).

Personally though, I tend to agree with what Milke said: there's a whole slew of people who will never fit into the nice marriage slot (I didn't think I would, until recently) and it seems unfair to say that simply because these people don't have a certificate stating that they claimed to be committed in front of a religious or judicial officer doesn't mean they're any less responsible about sex. I know plenty of safe, loving people both inside and outside of marriages, and I know quite a few unsafe, unhappy people- again, both in and out of marriages.

So, I'd say sure, abstinence/celibacy is a fine thing... if it's the right thing for you. But it's very difficult to apply a blanket idea like celibacy to a diverse crowd of people, because it certainly won't be right for all of them.

Edited to add: what about common law marriages? I believe (in Ontario, at least) that a couple who has lived 3 months together is considered common law. Legally, they are married. Would that make any difference in their level of committment/readiness? Probably not.

[This message has been edited by wobblyheadedjane (edited 02-06-2003).]


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lemming
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This topic would really be best in Sexual Ethics and Politics. I'm going to move it there.

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Laurel Lemming
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"Maypole/The ties that bind you will unwind/To free me one day/And everything decays..." - XTC, "The Wheel and the Maypole"


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IIWafflekittyII
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:O!!! Oh dear. I was just watching a documentary on Michael Jackson, and I got distracted. Kind of shocked to see the past board locked. My misake. I have to go now, though. Bai!
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Heather
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I obviously could add a lot more.

But I would like to add just for now that even when couples can and do wish to get married, getting married is also a profoundly serious decision, and one that carries no less -- and in many ways far more -- risks, potential hardships and challenges, and no more guarantees, than sexual activity of any variety does. It gets even more iffy to automatically lump the two together all of the time, when they can often have nothing to do with one another.

There are also NO statistics to support that married couples split up with any less regularity than unmarried couples (or that those breakups, sexual issues within a marriage or unplanned pregnancies are any less emotionally difficult or painful). If there are, I sure haven't seen them, and they'd stand counter to pretty basic stats like census statistics spanning back over the last 20 years.

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Heather Corinna
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[This message has been edited by Miz Scarlet (edited 02-06-2003).]


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wobblyheadedjane
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I stand corrected about common-law in Canada, it's after six months, not three months. My bad.
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miss_hive
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quote:
Originally posted by IIWafflekittyII:
Anyone deeply believe in abstinence out there? ANYONE?


Not I. Then again, I don't really know if I ever want to get married.

As of now, I am obstaining from sexual activity because I don't feel prepared enough for consequences, if there were to be any. So you could say that I believe in it, for myself, now... But in general, I think people should go with what they want.

-miss hive


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Laura
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You know, as much as it may seem like it, it is *not* the case that you have to choose between the two options of either having sex during your teens, or waiting until you're married.

(Nobody here has explicitly presented the choice as such, I realize, but I've seen it implied lots of places, especially in propaganda or articles about the so-called abstinence movement.)

I'm 25, and I've never had partnered sex. And yet, I feel pretty strongly that if I ever do want to get married, I would not feel comfortable doing so *without* having sex with the person first. (I'm not saying that that's the best choice for everybody - just what I feel is right for me.)

So, if you really are committed to being celibate until you're married, for whatever reason, that's fine. If you want to have sex while you're a teenager (and you're really ready, and can do so safely), that's fine. But if you just want to hold off on sexual activity for *now*, without making any big commitments for what you will or will not do in the future, that's fine too.

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Question authority, but realize that authority is often right.


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Heather
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Very well said, Laura.
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Heather
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...and Waffle, if you look around the boards, you'll discover we've a good number of members in the position Laura is, and many others who are holding off on some or all sexual activity for any number of reasons.

However, those doing so simply may not wish to lob on to the "abstinence" moniker, and/or everything that seems to go along with it, including some often very limiting and incorrect assumptions about orientation, love, partnership, religion, marriage and child-rearing.

I'm not sure why you're being quite so intense about this: whatever your choices are, if they're the right ones for you, even if no one else in the world shared them (which certainly isn't so), it wouldn't make a bit of difference because they're right for you.

Personally? I was sexually assaulted at 12. The prototypical virginity mold was never open to me, which is just as well because I find it a load of misogynistic bullocks. I came of age queer, and had numerous experiences with both genders before I opted to engage in intercourse at 15. I had numerous sexual partners after than and until now, and nearly all of those experiences -- whether intercourse was involved or not, again, when you're not heterosexual, intercourse becomes more of a nonissue -- were positive and great for me: some in very casual relationships, others in very comitted ones. I never planned to be married, and marriage isn't something in my spiritual tradition, but was around 30, and separated from that partner/spouse last year. I did not find sex to be any more "sacred" in marriage than it was outside of it -- I find it all to be pretty sacred. I, personally, would very much not have wanted to "wait" for one type of sexual activity until marriage (or to be sexually active with the person I did marry, someone I was involved with on many levels for a good decade), and cannot see where there would have been a benefit in that for me -- I would not be who I am now without the partnerships I had, and over the last two decades have not found that intercourse is really any different or more intimate than other forms of sex are. I also personally found that if one insists on comparing the two or lumping them together that marriage is infinitely more complex than sex is, and am very uncomfortable with marriage being pushed, especially merely for the purpose of making it "okay" to be sexually active. As well, I've counseled an awful lot of married couples over the past few years, and while there may be benefits to "waiting" for some people, for others engaging in sex only after marriage can also have a lot of pitfalls that create their own emotional hardships.

...and everyone is going to have their own story like that (though obviously it takes having some years on to have the hindsight to look back and see if what you chose was right for you or not), and they're going to differ pretty radically because as people, WE differ pretty radically. But in years of living and doing this work, I've found that there are many, many different models and choices than can be right for a given person, not just one.

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Heather Corinna
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My epitaph should read: "She worked herself into this ground."
-- Kay Bailey Hutchinson


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logic_grrl
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It's also worth remembering that there's a big difference between deciding that something is right for you, and thinking that the same thing will be right for everyone.

For example, perhaps you feel that you personally don't want to have sex until you are married. You feel marriage is part of what's necessary in order for sex to feel right and comfortable for you.

Fine; that's your choice (and I have a lot of respect for people who know what they personally need to feel ready for sex).

But that's very different from saying that it's somehow "best" for everyone to wait until they are married (if they are even able to marry legally) before having sex.

Marriage doesn't magically protect people against STDs, unwanted pregnancies, or emotional hurt - plenty of people experience those things within marriage.

And incidentally, there is no reputable evidence whatsoever that pre-marital sex makes people any more likely to break up, get divorced, experience "fear of your partner leaving you", or get depressed (although I know that a number of "abstinence-only" curricula in the US makes these claims).

Actually, to me, these claims - like the old "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?" saying - seem to involve a very demeaning view of sex and marriage.

Call me an old-fashioned romantic, but I do believe that if people do choose to enter into marriage or any other sort of committed relationship, it should be about love and commitment - not bargaining for access to sex.

These claims seem to assume that people wouldn't have much reason to want to stay with each other or make a commitment if they could get sex "for free" before marriage. That strikes me as a pretty cynical view of human nature.


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wobblyheadedjane
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Miz Scarlett said:

quote:
I find it all to be pretty sacred.
.

I love that!

I was talking to a friend last night, and I was trying to explain that while sex with love and sex with committment (or marriage, etc) can be important, most important to me was sex with safety, both emotionally and physically. And whether I was committed or not to someone, I'd have to feel that sex was a healthy choice for me (again, physically and for my emotional self) to go ahead with it.

And Laura said that plenty of people decide to wait on sex for an indeterminate length of time in the future, and until I met my current significant other (now fiance), that was what I was doing as well.


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KandyKorn17
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I think there are a lot of good reasons to abstain from sex for a certain period of time.

I've been sexually active in the past, and I'm at a point in my life where I can't handle the stress right now. When I'm done dealing with schools, work, bills, family, friends, etc... maybe I'll worry about convincing a guy to wear a condom during oral sex.

One of my friends is really bad at having safe, responsible sex, so she stopped, because it was easier for her to not have sex than stay sober or insist on condoms or remember that the rhythm method never works..

I mean, do what it takes to keep you happy and healthy, right?

But I think Mz S makes a very good point- Waiting for marriage is fine, if that's what you want to do, but marriage isn't an alternative to birth control and safe sex. Even if you never had sex except while you were married, the divorce rate is over 50% now in America, isn't it? And people usually get married again. And people have affairs. And people forget about that time 10 years before their marriage when they shot up heroin with a dirty needle. Marriage isn't something that magically solves all the problems involved with sex.


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Sunset_Rose
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quote:
Originally posted by IIWafflekittyII:
I’m just kind of wondering if there’s anyone on this board who believes in abstinence. I do. I mean, I don’t see why a person couldn’t just wait until they actually loved each other, and dedicated themselves to each other, and got married before having sex? If a person really loves you, I don’t think they would have sex before marriage to prove it.

I agree that it would be really great if everyone thought about abstaining from sex until they were ready emotionally, and really cared about someone and trusted someone before they had sex.
However, I totally disagree with the theory that love=marriage.

For a start, I along with many other people unless the law changes can't even get married. Does that mean that I should abstain from sex for the rest of my life?
I also strongly dispute the theory that marriage works for everyone. For a start, look at the divorce rate.
It does work for some people, but it is not the right choice for others.

Basically, what I am trying to say is that I think that everyone should abstain from sex until they are ready, not until they are married.


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frenchy
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I really do (or maybe did) believe in waiting until marriage.
I see all the poitives and think its one of the best choices any one can make.
My boyfriend and I, both weren't thinking to rush into sex, both had religious views on it all and so we both thought waiting was right.
But as it turned out,7 months being together and having some of the best months together proved to a bit much for our feelings for each other and both after alot of thinking and talking with each other, about the whole thing. We both agreed that we both felt comfortable and ready to experience it. And i can say for sure we both dont regret it.
I will always though recommend waiting for marriage.

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Heather
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Just something to think about: Like Frenchy, MOST of the people advocating abstinence-until-marriage were NOT fully or partially abstinent until marriage (including most of the lawmakers like our president who sink billions of dollars into abstinence programs and refuse to fund comprehensive sex education or, say, in their promises to help with big bucks for HIV aid in Africa, don't intend to include condom use and education).

Why then would you -- if you do -- advocate that always, if you don't know what, if anything, it enhances or helps with and if it isn't what you yourself did?

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Heather Corinna
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen

My epitaph should read: "She worked herself into this ground."
-- Kay Bailey Hutchinson


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hotlittleangelbi
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i tottaly agree.im still a virgin and im going to wait till marriage.
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punkfag
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hmmm...abstinence...
I have a problem with the way abstinence is usually dicussed, simply because the whole 'until marriage' piece is completetly heterosexist. Seeing as my boyfriend and I are both seen legally as females (we're legally a lesbian couple, and we identify as a gay male couple), and same-sex marriage is illegal, I can't wait until marriage. Sure, I might meet some cute bio-boy and fall in love, but a) I won't get married as a woman
and b) I never want to get married, for political reasons, so it's really hypothetical anyway

I think that people should have sex when they are ready- whenever that is (within reason). Abstinence until marriage has always been about religion to me, rather than about personal choice and comfort. Why wait for marriage? Married couples can have bad, painful, nonconsensual, loveless sex too. Not all married couples are so madly in love.

Using the abstinence before marriage logic, if I'm queer, I can never have sex. If I think marriage is dumb, I can never have sex. If I don't want to be monogamous, I can never have sex. No thanks. I'll have sex when I feel comfortable doing so.


Posts: 12 | From: Toronto, Ontario, Canada | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Tom
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Marriages that are preceded by living together and or sex before before marriage have a 50% higher disruption rates (divorce or separation) than marriages without premarital cohabitation according to the National Survey of Families and Households.
Of 100 couples who begin a trial marriage (living together / sex before marriage) 40 dont marry. Of 60 couples who do wed, there are 45 divorces after 10 years. Thats an 85% failure rate.
Of course it is a personal choice, but studies do show that the odds of a lasting relationship improve if couples wait until marriage to have any type of a sexual relationship.

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UKgirl
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hmmm, possibly not that simple. it could be that the people in that research who co-habited/had sex before marriage had different views on marriage (hence cohabiting/having pre-marital sex) and therefore also might be more open to divorce if things started to go wrong. The reseach never said that those that didn't divorce were in a happy marriage. perhaps, just as they disagreed with cohabiting/having sex before marriage they disagreed with divorce (or thought it was okly OK in extreme situations) and thats why they have lower divorce rates, not because they have healthier relationships

[This message has been edited by UKgirl (edited 03-16-2003).]


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Heather
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The National Survey of Families and Households had 13,000 participants and was conducted ONLY within a five year period for the data avilable at this point. As well, some of the figures Tom is citing are iffy. Interested folks can find the data and abstracts for themselves here: http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/nsfh/home.htm

For instance, the data shows that of not that 13,000, but out of only 3,300 families, married couples who had lived together first were judged to be 46 percent more likely to get divorced. It also shows that after those five years, 21 percent of most cohabitating couples were still doing just that -- cohabitating, without getting married. Perhaps that's an issue for those who feel marriage is the penultimate goal, but it's a pretty realistic and hardly depressing assesment as human relationships go.

Again, Tom, please in your arguments and discussions understand that not all people can marry, not all people want TO marry, and not all people's sexual lives are about marital life, be they married or unmarried.

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Heather Corinna
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bluefreak44
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Waffle, it's nice to know I'm not alone. I believe in abstinence. I'm waiting till I'm married. I know many people think "easier said than done" when I say this, but I've waited 18 years so far. And I haven't just abstained from intercourse. I've avoided anything sexual involving body parts I can't show in public, without it being indecent exposure. And it will remain this way until I'm married. If this was just for my own reasoning, I might not be so sure I could wait, but there's a higher power I answer to. Waiting is somewhat romantic in my mind. To think that, on a couple's wedding note, each one is giving his/her purity, that he/she saved for their partner, to their partner. Like someone else said, marriage is a BIG commitment. I think once you've made ur pledge to one person for the rest of ur life, it shows more dedication than mere engagement. I know people who have been engaged and then broken up. I hope to some day marry my boyfriend, but I'm just gonna take it day-by-day and not rush anything. If I'm not meant to marry, and some are, then I'll die a virgin. Sex isn't my life.

And on the issue of virginity, and those who lose/lost it not by their own choice, I still see people in this situation as virgins (until they willfully have sex). You didn't give yourself away, some stole it. That's a totally different situation than just having sex with someone.

I help teach a program called PSI to 7th graders at my school. It stands for Postponing Sexual Involvement. We promote abstinence, but I've been careful not to inject my religious views while teaching. When I first signed up to train for the program, one of my friends was kind of teasing me about it. He said, "You're so good at this virgin thing that you're teaching it to little kids!" Just thought I'd end this post on a lighter note.


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logic_grrl
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quote:
To think that, on a couple's wedding note, each one is giving his/her purity, that he/she saved for their partner, to their partner.

Hmm ... so do you think that people who've had consensual sex outside of marriage have lost their "purity"? What is "purity", anyway?

And what about people (such as gay and lesbian couples) who can't marry at all, or who don't believe in marriage? Do you think they should abstain from sex altogether?

I'm not trying to attack your personal choice to wait until marriage in any way (actually, I have great respect for anyone who sticks by what they feel is right for them), but I'm interested in how your reasoning applies to other people's choices, especially since these issues have already been mentioned in the thread.


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bluefreak44
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I'm just gonna warn you, this will probably sound rather religious (if that's the right term) to some of you. Okay, I believe that those who have had consexual sex outside of marriage have lost their purity. Of course, when a married couple consummates the marriage, they're giving up their purity, too. To me, sexual purity just means to remain sexually pure. A version of pure (source: dictionary.com) is chaste; virgin. Another means free of defilement. Basically, that you have not "defiled" your body, by giving to someone other than your spouse. And I don't define it simply by intercourse. Basically, at least for me, anything involving parts of my body that I can't show in public, is off-limits. I know some people mess up. But there's always room to change. Of course, one can never get back his/her virginity, but after screwing up (no pun intended), he/she can pledge to remain pure. One of the guys in my youth group had sex with his last girlfriend. He thought they were going to spend the rest of their lives together, but after over 1 1/2 years together, she broke up with him the night he was going to propose. He's now in love with a really cool girl from my youth group. And he said it breaks his heart to think that she "waited" for him, but he couldn't do the same. And after the way his last relationship unexpectedly ended, he's decided to wait until he's married before crossing that line again, physically.
As far as gay and lesbian couples, who in many states cannot marry at all, I think that you can probably conclude what I think of that from my "religious" (I hate that word, but I can't think of a better one) views. I'm not going to get into that though, because I don't want to start an argument. It would get us nowhere; no one's going to change my mind and I'm almost certain I'm not going to change anyone else's mind either. So there's no use getting into it.
By the way, thanx for being so nice with your questions. Some ppl can be rather condescending, and I appreciate the fact that you weren't.

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Milke
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quote:
. . .I'm not going to get into that though, because I don't want to start an argument. It would get us nowhere; no one's going to change my mind and I'm almost certain I'm not going to change anyone else's mind either. So there's no use getting into it.
By the way, thanx for being so nice with your questions. Some ppl can be rather condescending, and I appreciate the fact that you weren't.

And thank you for presenting your views so wisely and maturely. There's no topic everyone's going to agree on, there's no way of changing someone's mind unless they desire that change, and yet trying to do so has led to countless wars and arguments. We really appreciate it when posters here have differing feelings on something and coexist peacefully, and you've just provided a great example of that.

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Milke, with an L, SSBD, RATS, TMNTP

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Posts: 5122 | From: I *came* from the land of ice and snow | Registered: Aug 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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