Savannah is 22, engaged, and not having sex until her wedding day. In a series on SDTC, she explains why she decided to abstain, what it’s meant at each stage of her life, and why, even when her hormones told her to give in, she’s happy she stuck to her guns.

I’m 22 years old, I’m still a virgin, and I’m planning to stay that way until my wedding night. I’m not a religious freak, I don’t own an excessive number of cats (not that there’s anything wrong with cat ownership) and I’m definitely not a prude. In fact, when people who know me inevitably find out that I’m still a virgin, and plan to stay that way until my wedding day, they’re usually shocked. Some don’t believe me, and one co-worker just stared at me with an open mouth. But usually, my confession is followed by one word: why?

Though I have often wondered the same thing, I initially decided to abstain because Sara, one of my older sisters, got pregnant at 17. She didn’t get her own reality show, and, even though I was only eight, I recognized that she had instantly made her life more complicated. My other sister, Adrianna, realized the same thing and paved the way for me, abstaining from sex until she married Sully when I was sixteen.

It was easy to abstain before I entered high school, because honestly, I thought the entire topic of sex was embarrassing. But when I turned fourteen, some of my friends started having sex. Nothing bad was happening to them and their stories made sex sound, well, sexy. I envied how mature they seemed, but deep down, I knew I still wasn’t ready for that kind of responsibility. After all, I still giggled when the teacher said testes in health class (admit it, it’s a funny word).

Even so, I couldn’t help my curiosity, and I started asking Adrianna questions.  She told me that abstaining was difficult, but worth it. She told me that she had found a man who was willing to sacrifice a hell of a lot just to be with her. She also told me they have an awesome sex life, one worth waiting for. And I don’t think she minds me telling you that after six years, they still do.

Ultimately, I decided that I wanted to abstain, too. But Adrianna didn’t tell me that most teenage boys would rather date each other than a girl they had no chance of having sex with. While my friends made bets about how long I’d last, some boys saw my virginity as a challenge. At parties, in cars and on class trips, I was constantly faced with the same decision: compromise my values or go back to being single. There were a lot of times when my vagina told me to give in, but my gut always told me to stick to my guns.

My mother constantly reminded me that there were candidates who would be more understanding. She was referring, of course, to the boys that attended the same Christian church as our family did, but to be honest, I wasn’t really interested. I felt at odds with other Christians my age because, despite the fact that my virginity was still intact, I considered (and still consider) myself to be left wing in almost all of my other beliefs. I began to resent my ideals, both conservative and liberal, because I felt like they had alienated me from my peers.

But by the time I turned 18, I had matured and become more thankful for my unique values. I affectionately nicknamed abstinence my ‘jerk repellent’ because it warded off guys who weren’t interested in me for the right reasons. Though I didn’t have many boyfriends, I still made a lot of great memories, mostly because I didn’t have to worry about anyone but myself.

I have never been so naïve to believe that abstinence is the right choice for everyone, but by the time I moved away for University, I knew it was the right choice for me. Considering the guys I was interested in, I knew I had saved myself a lot of unnecessary heartbreak (I once thought I was being generous by agreeing to date a guy with one testicle. He told me that at 5”5, I was too tall for him). Deep down, however, I was also very lonely. My virginity and I had made it through high school, and by day I was a confident, self-assured young woman with strong values. But by night, I was an anxious spinster-in-training, desperate for at least one normal relationship.

~ Savannah Demeter