New readers, welcome to Dear Wendy, a relationship advice blog. If you don’t find the info you need in this column, please visit the Dear Wendy archives or the forums (you can even start your own thread), or submit a question for advice.
His Take questions are answered by our panel of smart, opinionated, and funny dudes.
I am a woman who just turned 28. Though I am not particularly prudish, I have been working under the assumption that even with the best birth control, scientifically speaking, a baby is a possible by-product of sex. My mother raised my sister and me as a single woman with a lot of love but not much financial stability. I understand all too well the struggles that single mothers (and their children) face.
Although I am not religious and am very liberal, I am politically pro-choice but personally pro-life. So, I’ve been holding off on sex until I meet someone who would be a really fantastic father and/or when I can provide some stability to my hypothetical child. I’m now 28, have a graduate degree, run a non-profit, and am in a financially healthy place. I’m attractive, pretty confident, well-traveled and well-read. Lately, I have been going out on an insane number of dates and really enjoying myself.
In the past, I never articulated my reasons for holding off to any guy I’ve dated. However, I fear that what I consider to be a practical decision gets misinterpreted when I say, “I’ve never done this before.” I’ve been given advice from other women that my reasoning is too intense for guys to hear. Do you think that is true? How do you suggest maneuvering this topic now that I feel ready to have sex? A simple google search on this topic does not yield any results that fit my situation. — 28-Year-Old Virgin
HIM: Do you want to… you know?
YOU: (laughs nervously): Ah, yeah, sure… I just want you to know something beforehand. I’m a little inexperienced at this.
HIM: (laughs nervously to show he is also nervous and that it’s acceptable for you to be nervous): Okay. What’s “a little inexperienced?”
YOU: I’ve kinda been putting this off because I’ve dated guys and not really liked any of them, or trusted any of them enough [fill in your own explanation here] and I just need to know that you’re up for any consequences that might emerge.
HIM: Ah, I see. Yeah… I’m well-aware of the small percentage of risk involved. You’re on the pill? Then I’m willing to if you are.
Before this conversation, you will probably already know if the specific cherry-popper is a trustworthy dude because, if there’s any question in your mind, your Single Mother Warning System will bleat like a dying sheep again and you’ll stop yourself. Which is a good thing — stopping yourself from sleeping with a jerk. Instead, find a dude who is reliable and a good listener, and you’ll have nothing to lose. Well, except, you know, for that one thing.
P.S. One more pointer: You say “I feel ready,” which is different from a more determined “I am ready.” Keep telling yourself: “I am ready. I am worthy. I am going to be fine.” And you will be.
Jarek:I won’t sugar coat it, unless you are meeting guys on ChristianMingle, you are going to get some disconcerting eyebrow raises when you share the news that you are a proud card-carrying member of the V-Club at the age of 28. But, you are at a good place in life, actively dating, and are now okay with the idea of meeting a decent man and possibly having a baby. When you finally meet that guy and you both know there is a future, trust me he will not see this as an issue and “the talk” will not be as difficult as you are anticipating. If it is “too intense” for him to hear, he’s the wrong guy to be losing it to in the first place.
Now, on the other hand, if you are looking to just get it done and don’t really care if it’s with “the one,” then you don’t even need to bring it up with the guy. Your sexual past is really none of his business in this situation. If you do feel compelled to discuss your experience and feelings on your first time, go to your girlfriends.
Diablo: You seem to want your life absolutely sorted out before you act, never risking an unwanted outcome. But to find love (or sex), you have to make yourself vulnerable and take a chance, because the other person will be taking a chance on you. And people have sex ALL THE TIME without getting pregnant. Fear of pregnancy is really not a convincing reason not to have sex. Seriously, I’ve been sexually active for 30 years and no one ever got pregnant. Birth control works pretty well. Use two kinds if you like. If, OMG, you did get pregnant, well, people like your mom occasionally survive this and raise some awesome kids.
But if you want to nail down your entire future life plan as a pre-condition of getting some, even the most honorable guy might not make that deal. Especially in that moment. Wilt! Get some condoms and go for it already. Say only, “I’m not too experienced.” Hope only that he cares about your pleasure. Then order some Chinese food.
Dennis Hong: I can tell that sex is something you’ve put a mountain of thought into. And that’s awesome. I used to teach at a high school for at-risk kids, and I only wish my students put half as much thought into sex (well, the consequences of sex — I’m sure they put plenty of thought into the act itself) as you.
At the same time, I think it’s also possible to swing too far the other way. This statement, in particular, raised a tiny little red flag in my mind:
“I’ve been holding off on sex until I meet someone who would be a really fantastic father, and/or when I can provide some stability to my hypothetical child.”
While this is an admirable goal, the problem is that his being a fantastic father, or you being able to provide for your child, is not something you can ever know with 100% certainty before you even have sex with the guy. He might be a douchebag putting on his best facade to seduce you (because that’s what douchebags do)… you might get crushed by a meteor and orphan your child (because that’s what meteors do)… there’s just no way to come up with a contingency plan for every single possible outcome of sex.
That’s why I agree that your reasoning, while perfectly rational, may be a bit too “intense,” and I see no need to share it with every guy you’re thinking of having sex with. If you’re on a date, and you’re feeling this guy has the potential, may I suggest a simple, “I guess I’ve just been waiting for the right guy, and I still haven’t found him. Who knows, maybe he’s sitting in this room right now….”
Say that with a wink and a smile, and I promise it will be explanation enough for the guy. If it isn’t, then he’s probably not the one, anyway.
If you’d like to ask the guys a question, email me at email@example.com with “His Take” in the subject line and I’ll pass your question along to them.