I'm a 20-year-old woman who wants to have sex. Not that I have a standing by partner who's ready to jump into bed as soon as I give him/her the green light, but lately I have just been thinking about it as an option.
And, oh, need I point out BEFORE marriage?
We all know very well how our society views unmarried non-virgin girls. And yes, from my research I've encountered that "if you're still thinking about what other people think of you that means you're not ready to have sex yet" multiple times, but I'd like to argue that that's much easier said than done, especially here in Indonesia. At least that's how I feel.
To make matters worse, I was raised by a single mother so all our lives we've been fighting off people's prejudice and having to prove ourselves over and over again against whatever people throw at us. I can't discuss this with my mother because she's quite conservative, but being 20 years old I feel like I'm starting to get to know and learn more and more about myself, and I really feel like this is what I need. I even envision myself shacking up with a guy first before deciding whether or not I want to spend the rest of my life with him.
So, how do I live the life I want without tarnishing me and my mother's years of hard work? How do i know that this isn't just a mind of a horny 20 years old? How do I make a decision that I'm not going to regret 10 years from now?
I see that you have given this a lot of thoughts. Let me begin by first saying this: virginity is overrated. And I'm not just referring to the hymen - that elastic membrane that is often misleadingly taken as a mark of virginity - rather it is the state of your body and mind before you conduct a sexual intercourse with another person for the first time. Those who have had sex before marriage are not less a person than their virgin counterparts.
By this, I really mean: you are not your body; you are not your genital.
Now that that is out of the way, let me also say that sex is also overrated, but it can be such an overwhelming influence in what we do (not in a good way a lot of the times - as every cheating spouse can attest to). Sex is biology, and at your age, it probably makes up a large chunk of your thoughts. A horny 20 year old is a normal 20 year old.
Should you have sex before marriage? That really depends on your own personal values. I can only offer my suggestion to not let what society thinks influence your behavior, but rather find what is most important to you.
Perhaps reverse the question. Rather than whether or not you should have sex, ask yourself: What is keeping me from having sex? Is it because you're afraid your mom or people will find out? That can be prevented of course. Are you afraid of pregnancy or STD? These can be prevented too. Do you think that your body will no longer be pure after having sex? This is a wrong way to look at sex and your body. Is it because of your own personal religious belief? Are you a little traumatized because you've witnessed failed relationships of people close to you?
Come up with as many responses as you can, and then go through each one of them and counter them if you can, like what I did with the first three questions above.
Any of the reasons you cite may be so important, or so fundamental to you as a person that it is enough to hold you back from having sex. On the other hand, you may realize that there are no strong enough reasons for you to not have sex before marriage.
When you make a decision consciously like this, and based neither on individual impulses nor external pressure, but on your own personal values, you will never regret it, as long as you understand the consequences. And as long as you prevent yourself from some of the potential risks, e.g. pregnancy, STD, violent relationship.
But these are definitely four bad reasons to have sex:
1. You think it's what cool people do
2. Your boyfriend or girlfriend forces you to do it
3. You do it out of anger or other negative emotions
4. You just want to get it over with, so you'll do it with anyone
So, do a bit more soul searching, and if you decide to do it, make sure it is with someone nice that you have a good relationship with. The first time does not always feel very nice, so be with someone you're comfortable with and who cares about you. And, really, you don't have to do it now either. It can be three, five, seven years from now, when you feel more ready and less conflicted. Your life is still ahead of you.
And whatever you do, please don't ever photograph or videotape yourself in the act. Now that you will more likely regret in the future.
Got a burning question about something? Send it to [email protected] -- in English or Indonesian -- with the subject "Ask Madge" or tweet your question to @the_magdalene.