(Unless you are...)

    Sex is great! It’s more wonderful than words can describe. Sex can be one of the most beautiful things you’ll ever share with another person. But sex before marriage has emotional consequences that can bring lifelong pain. Some of these dangers are camouflaged. Many are like quicksand, hard to see until it’s too late. Sex isn’t awesome with any of these nine emotional disasters. Why not save sex for your honeymoon with the love of your life?


    Worrying about conceiving a baby before marriage is a major emotional stress. “It’s a relief to be a virgin,” says Nicole, 16.


    Two VDs – human papilloma virus (the main cause of cervical cancer) and chlamydia (the leading cause of infertility) – are carried by at least one of every three teenage girls who have sex. VD and AIDS don’t always show symptoms, so many people don’t even know they have them.


    Many people experience deep remorse after having sex before marriage. There is often the feeling of being used. A feeling that you’ve given up something precious, and all for nothing. Premarital sex often produces regret and remorse which lasts for years. Here’s the testimony of a psychiatrist, now in her 30s:

    “From 17 to 18, I was very promiscuous. That sick, used feeling of having given a precious part of myself – my soul – to so many and for nothing, still aches. I never imagined I’d pay so dearly and for so long.”

    And one young husband says, “I would do anything, ANYTHING, to forget the sexual experiences I had before I met my wife. . . the pictures of the past and the other women go through my head, and it’s killing any intimacy. The truth is, I’ve been married to this wonderful woman for eight years and I have never been ‘alone’ in the bedroom with her.”


    There’s also guilt, which is a form of regret that tells you you’ve done something morally wrong. It’s not some unhealthy feeling your parents or your religion gave you. It’s a normal response, a sign that your conscience is working. Deon says, “It’s not  something you want on your conscience, that you’ve caused a girl to have deep emotional problems.” Jim says, “The thing I regret most of all about high school is the time I single-handedly destroyed a girl.” Ruben, 16, says he stopped having sex when he felt guilty about the pain he was causing: “You see them crying and confused. They say they love you, and you know you don’t love them.”


    Be honest! Don’t you believe in your heart that it’s best to wait for marriage? So why violate your instincts? That lowers self-respect. Catching a VD will also lower your self-respect. So will giving a VD to someone. Promiscuity (having partner after partner) also destroys your self-respect. So does conceiving a baby outside of marriage and then paying to have him or her aborted. People are not things. Uncommitted sex treats them as if they are. It hurts them, and wrecks their self-respect – as well as your own.


    If you treat others as sex objects and you exploit them for pleasure, you’ll corrupt your character and degrade your own sexuality. Good character includes honesty, fairness, decency, caring, self-control, etc. If you start messing with sex before marriage, your self-control will suffer, and sex can almost take over your whole life. Sexual addictions are out of control today.

    Promiscuity, rape, incest, adultery, pornography use (magazines, videos, Internet), masturbation, molestation, sexual harassment and prostitution are rampant. Committing these acts poisons good character.


    When sexual relationships end, there’s often a broken heart. This deep pain makes it hard to trust again. Once a person’s heart is broken, they fear another broken commitment in the future. Many, once they’ve been burned, just give up hope. People who have been used sexually are likely to have low self-respect and they often seek any kind of attention, even if it’s in other demeaning sexual relationships.


    Sex can make you feel like you’re experiencing true love. That makes a breakup very painful, which can lead to deep depression, hopelessness, and even suicide. And breaking up is only one cause of sex-related depression. The consequences of losing your virginity, getting AIDS, getting a VD, conceiving a baby outside of marriage, killing that baby, hurting your reputation, ruining someone else’s reputation, and disappointing those who trusted you can all lead to depression, and worse.

    (Family counselor Clayton Barbeau's study of suicidal teens found that in almost every case, sexual issues were a major cause of their anxiety, despair and self-hatred. Suicide counselors can help you at 1-800-999-9999.)


    Sex before marriage can also turn a good relationship bad. It can easily take over your relationship and stop other very  important dimensions of the relationship from developing – leaving a one-track relationship with no solid foundation.

    Why take risks that can cause you grief the rest of your life? Your future marriage will be much happier if you don’t have to worry about – or recover from – the negative emotional consequences of sex before marriage. Without sex, your relationship can still be great fun as you grow together, develop your own identities, chart your exciting future, hone your skills, pursue your interests, make more friends and nurture your spirit. Waiting will help each of you develop discipline and great respect for each other. It also makes for an awesome honeymoon!

Adapted from Sex, Love & You by Tom Lickona, Ph.D.

If you’ve already had sex, read the tips about “Secondary Virginity” and “Starting Over” Here

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Miss Black California, Lakita Garth. Read her powerful speech to Congress. She asked Congress to help teens save sex for marriage.

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