What Does Abstinence Mean To You?

If you’ve heard about sex ed, you’ve likely heard about abstinence. What is abstinence, anyway? Basically, it’s just a fancy word for not having sex. Believe it or not though, abstinence may not be as black and white as you think. Abstinence means different things to different people. What does abstinence mean to you?

We can all generally accept the idea that sexual abstinence means waiting for marriage to have sex… But here’s where it gets tricky – What does “Sex” mean to you? Is it sexual intercourse? Is it any sexually arousing experience? Is it oral sex? Anal Sex? Masturbation?

The Definition Of Abstinence

Abstinence, in it’s most basic form, is to abstain, or keep from, doing something. Most people refer to it as refraining from having sex, but you can also abstain from alcohol, cigarettes, or anything really. In it’s most popular form, however, the definition of abstinence means to keep from having sex. In most cultures, the term abstinence refers to waiting until marriage to have sex, however, any couple can practice abstinence even if they’re married. Some married couples practice abstinence at a certain time during a woman’s monthly cycle as a form of birth control. In this article though, we’re going to explore how abstinence can mean different things to different people.

Defining Sex

To define not having sex, first you have to define the term sex itself. What does having “sex” mean to you? Does having sex mean only penetration, therefore abstinence from sex means oral sex doesn’t fall into that category? Or does having sex mean every type of sex, including oral sex, anal sex, masturbation and vaginal intercourse? Does your definition of abstinence relate to being a virgin? Is virginity still intact only if you abstain from vaginal intercourse, or is virginity intact if one abstains from the use of sex toys, or even tampons as well?

It Remains Undefined

The definition of sex, much like the definition of abstinence, remains essentially undefined. It means something different for everyone, and only you can decide what counts as sex and what counts as abstinence – no one else can or should decide for you. Abstinence, just like having sex, is a personal choice. Examine your own beliefs and morals, and do what feels right for you. Don’t let parents, a culture, society or your friends or family members pressure you into deciding to have sex or deciding to be abstinent – or even deciding what actions constitute sex and abstinence unless you’re sure that it’s what you want. It’s also not a one way street – just because you choose to be abstinent now doesn’t mean you can’t choose to have sex later if that’s what you decide. Similarly, if you decide to have sex now, that doesn’t mean you can’t decide to become abstinent later. While you may have lost your virginity in doing so, don’t assume that means you have to continue having sex if you’re not comfortable with it. Do what feels right to you!

Know Your Boundaries First

Before making your decision, know your boundaries. Think of the possible situations you might be in, and what you might decide if confronted with that situation. Really think about it – if you’re abstinent, does oral sex count? Does giving a handjob count? Do you want to be totally abstinent from every type of sex? Don’t be caught off guard – know what you want and what doesn’t coincide with your decision before you put yourself in a situation that might possibly make you uncomfortable if you aren’t prepared. Don’t forget sex education – learn about STD’s, pregnancy and birth control even if you’re being abstinent. You’ll be able to make smarter choices when you do decide to have sex. Ultimately, you’re responsible for your own sex education. You’re responsible for your body, right?


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