Here’s my problem: I really, really want to have sex now. I’m twenty, and I’m still a virgin. And I’m not a virgin because of moral or ethical reasons, or that I’m ashamed of my body; it’s simply because I’m afraid I’ll end up marrying an old-fashioned guy who, upon discovering I am not a virgin, will not be interested in me anymore. My fears stem from what I was told about an aunt who was not a virgin when she got married; when her husband discovered that she did not bleed, he kicked her out onto the street, on their wedding night!
I know that it’s most likely not this severe anymore; that incident was many years ago. I’m certain I could find a Muslim man who wouldn’t really care whether or not I was sexually active before I’d met him. But in the back of my mind, there will always be that “What If?” I can’t simply ask, “So, I’m not a virgin. Is that okay?” or, “Hey, hypothetically speaking, if I’ve been sexually active, you’d be cool with it, right?” He might tell his family that I’m not a virgin, and they could easily spread this information to other families, and, consequently, any marriage prospects I might have. (Our religious community is very small, and we’re a minority within Islam itself; it will be difficult as it is to find a husband with so few of us. I’ve never run into another Muslim of our specific sect in the street, for example, which is how I get away with never wearing a headscarf.)
I almost think that getting married right now would solve my problem; I could have all the sex I want without any social repercussions, but life just doesn’t work that way; I don’t know any single Muslim men (or single men in general) who are near my age and ready to get married. Also, being horny is a very stupid reason to marry someone.
I don’t know how much you know about Pakistani religious culture, but I need your advice. Should I stick it out, ignore my body’s desires, and refrain from sexual activity until I’m married? Or should I do what will make me happy, but risk ruining my romantic future, as well as risk my family never speaking to me again? Even my own mother told me she’d pretty much disown me if she discovered I’d been sexually active. — Bodacious and Burqa-less
Admittedly, I know next-to-nothing about the Muslim faith, so I can’t advise you in that regard. But I do know a little something about relationships, and I know that unless you’re planning on entering an arranged marriage, you’re probably going to be looking for a potential life-partner who, in addition to sharing your culture and religion, will be trustworthy and like-minded. To that end, if you were dating a man you truly feared would turn on you if he discovered you weren’t a virgin, I would think you wouldn’t want to marry him anyway. I mean, wouldn’t that be a pretty big red flag that the guy wasn’t progressive or trustworthy enough to make a life-long commitment to? Wouldn’t you be far happier finding someone who, while respecting the tenets of Islam and the importance of family and marrying within your culture, shares some of your more liberal/modern values and viewpoints? Sure, it may be hard to find him, especially if you have a small circle to choose from, but hopefully not impossible.
It’s also important to keep in mind that there’s no physical way for a man to tell if you’re a virgin or not. The idea that all virgins bleed the first time they have sex is a total myth. If you’re counting on that to seal the deal on your wedding night and protect you from your aunt’s fate, you’re in for trouble whether you have sex before marriage or not.
That said, if this is a moral dilemma for you that’s left you worrying about being disowned by your mother, you might want to wait until you have a bit more emotional maturity to deal with the repercussions of your actions. The fact that you are basing a pretty big decision — in least in part — on a somewhat far-fetched family fable indicates that you probably aren’t quite there yet. Besides, is there even anyone in your life you want to have sex with right now? While being horny is a pretty stupid reason to get married, it’s also not the best reason to have sex willy-nilly either when the decision to do so is fraught with such emotional tension. A better reason would be that you’ve found someone you love and trust and want to share that part of yourself with. Until that’s the case, I’d hold off if I were you, and find other ways to relieve some of that sexual tension.
*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.