(Catholic Girls Start Much Too Late)
by Kelly Thomas
When men hear that I won’t have sex until marriage, they have one of two reactions: A) they run screaming in the opposite direction or B) they nod soberly, muttering assurances about respect, all the while nursing an unspoken “challenge accepted.”
The “A”s are by far the biggest category. In fact, when the word spread that I didn't sleep around, most guys learned to not even approach me. I became a non-option, a dating pariah. When he found out we were dating, my high school boyfriend’s younger brother's reaction voiced the fears of men the world over, “But wait. Kelly Thomas? You know you’re not going to get any, right?”
The “B”s are the more interesting group; they enjoy a challenge. Billy Joel’s song Only the Good Die Young expresses their sentiments precisely. To this cadre of men, I was the girl from the song, tragically unaware of the price that I was paying. By choosing to hide behind my Catholic statues and permitting the Roman- collared patriarchy to keep me safely tucked away, I was being sexually repressed.
Fortunately, they were there to show me the light, unfiltered by any stained glass.
As you might guess, these gentlemen were the confident ones. Not accustomed to female rejection, they were very sure that just the right combination of words, the perfect dose of charm and a few well-placed mischievous boyish smiles would do the trick; I’d throw up my hands in a eureka! moment.
Unlocking the Rubik's Cube of Chastity
Truth be told, I also am over-confident, so I gravitated towards these guys, hoping each time that I could change them. Naturally, my efforts worked about as well as my mother had predicted, though for my trouble, I was on the receiving end of a vast array of attempts — generally from repeat offenders — trying valiantly to unlock the Rubik's Cube of chastity.
One guy went with shameless flattery, playing to my vanity and texting me about how he would be “honored” and if I would ever change my mind, he’d “be all over that.” Of course, that last bit lost me, being as it was a far cry from the Jane Austen approach I had been hoping for.
Some guys are honest. One said “You realize no guy is going to go for that, right?” He got kudos for not even trying to disguise his endgame, but that was all he got.
Other guys have odd notions about what will impress a girl, like the guy who, on a date, assured me that he “never does anything a girl doesn’t want” — apparently with the idea that I would be seduced by his reluctance to commit sexual assault. Um, no.
My vote for the most creative proposition, however, came from the guy who coyly suggested that, “It would do you a world of good to have sex” — hastily adding, “I’m not saying with me…but it would be a good thing for you.” When that line of reasoning didn’t work, Dr Jekyll turned into Mr Hyde, frostily informing me that I was “narrow-minded” and that he felt it “a shame” that I had “boxed myself in.”
“I Want You”
So, these were the knights in shining armor striving to liberate me from my incense-laden prison. Needless to say, while none of their verbal ploys worked, the simple statement “I want you,” which, while brutally transparent, was surprisingly beguiling.
Why? I think because those words speak to our intrinsic yearning to be recognized as a unique being, and then to be desired for that our uniqueness. I saw this same yearning in the eyes of many of my friends.
During our freshman year at Georgetown University a friend met, fell for, and slept with a guy, within the span of a few short weeks. Less than a month later he told her he was getting back together with his ex-girlfriend. My friend’s devastation was heartbreaking to witness, and even more so because she had given so much to this man who proved so woefully unworthy. But, he had told her how beautiful she was, how special she was, and that was what she wanted to hear.
A year later, she was in the same situation with a different man. Once again, I heard her crying through our shared wall because he had said he wanted her, and then cast her aside when he’d changed his mind. Even worse, she couldn’t admit the level of pain she was in, because that would mean confessing that having sex with every man who came calling was not the 'empowering' Garden of Eden that the last generation’s feminists had promised. And so, the cycle continued.
Refusing ‘Nice' Guys
Why did I refuse these guys? First and foremost because of my Catholic faith, which states that sex should be within the Sacrament of Marriage. However, I also refused them because I was more than aware that I was better than being a notch on their belt. I saw the hook ups and broken relationships chip away at little pieces of my friends’ souls, and while my heart broke for them, I was not about to let the same thing happen to me.
Furthermore, I knew that these men, even with their morally depraved notions of a “good time,” were far better than they themselves realized. Too many men, especially on college campuses, count their value as being directly proportional to how many women they can take to bed.
The men I knew who tried to sleep with me were not, generally speaking, bad guys. Some of them did have gaping holes in their integrity, but most of them were genuinely nice guys who simply didn’t realize they were worth so much more than what they were offering. They may not cry as much as the girls they leave in their wake, but their plight is just as tragic. They are the lost boys.
The attempts men have made to persuade me to dismiss my faith and sleep with them are indeed entertaining, and they’ve inspired laughs and eye rolls. Though, of course, I always felt a hint of regret that none of these guys wanted just me, without the sex. That, on my own, they didn’t think I was good enough.
Fortunately for me, I was backed up by an unwavering Faith and a two-thousand year tradition that informed me that not only was I “good enough” but that I deserved far better than what these poor, lost guys could give me.
This is why I felt more than a twinge of sadness from my wounded vanity when my would-be Lotharios evaporated into thin air. I felt an overwhelming sorrow for them, and for their inability to know that they were created for so much more than the sexual conquests they pursued.
I rolled my eyes at them, but I prayed for them even more. For them, and for the girls who would not say no, and who with every heartbreak would be broken a little bit more from their own ‘choices'.
Kelly Thomas is a 2015 graduate of Georgetown University, currently pursuing graduate work in War Studies at King’s College London. She is 23 years old.