Dear Prudence

Like a Virgin

Should I save sex for marriage?

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Dear Prudence,

I’m a college student and recently met a wonderful guy three years older than I am. We both fell hard and fast for each other. It’s too soon to call it anything but infatuation, but I could definitely see us being together for a long time. We get along extremely well and can talk with each other for hours on end. We’re both amazed by how well we connect. However, one major problem has come up: I’m set on saving my virginity for my future husband (technically, that is … I’m willing to “compromise” a bit). He, on the other hand, is used to sex being part of a relationship. This will probably end up being a deal-breaker for us, and of course, I’m pretty disappointed. My question is: In this day and age, is it worth it to save sex for marriage? I’m starting to believe that to get a guy to date me, sex is going to be a part of the package, whether I want it to be or not. If guys won’t date women who won’t sleep with them, then I have no hope of ever meeting someone I’d marry.

—Skeptical Virgin

Dear Skep,

Prudie’s gonna go out on a ledge here. She definitely agrees that sex or virginity should not be something to barter with in exchange for a date. It is also not a casual pastime one engages in with new friends. However … because you’ve been busy, uh, “compromising,” and because you could see spending your life with this person, having a complete sexual relationship does not seem out of bounds for a woman your age. What you must consider is why you wish to remain a virgin until you marry, and, if the reason has merit, you should stick to that choice.

—Prudie, honestly

Dear Prudence,

Having reached that age when more of my friends appear in the death notices than the engagement announcements, I find myself scanning strangers’ obituaries on occasion. It’s heartening to see that, through their tears, so many of the loved ones have the foresight to decline memorial flowers in favor of contributions to various nonprofits. Today, though, I came across an obituary request that left me astonished. A family asked that, in lieu of any gifts like flowers or donations, checks be made out to the widow, or that they’re given in stock. If this were a destitute family, I would understand the awkward but necessary request. But just a few sentences above, the deceased was described as a “successful businessman,” a community leader, and member of several societies and organizations. Did the fellow simply neglect to buy life insurance? Am I being unnecessarily disapproving, or is such a public plea for money really as vulgar as it seems?

—Shocked and Appalled

Dear Shock,

You’re kidding, right? “Vulgar” doesn’t do this maneuver justice. Whether or not the fellow neglected to buy life insurance isn’t even germane. The real question is what the widow has in her head instead of brains? Prudie suspects that this crass and tasteless “suggestion” will yield a very low return.

—Prudie, inexcusably

Dear Prudie,

How do I politely tell people to stop bugging my girlfriend and me about getting married? We live in a small suburban city where all of the ladies are preoccupied by the size of their rings and the achievements of their kids. We are both amazed at the mad rush by everyone between 18 and 35 to get married and have kids. The idea of getting to that point repulses us. We are both college-educated immigrants from humble backgrounds working as professionals in our respective fields. We don’t care to raise a child in this environment, and my girlfriend does not wish to work after giving birth, which would reduce our income by half. If it happens, so be it, but we have no plans to have kids. People keep bugging us, “When are you getting married?” “Aren’t you planning to have kids?”… etc. A simple “We’re not ready yet” or “When the time is right” does not seem to suffice. They typically try to dig deeper and have even suggested that we are not committed to each other. The way I see it, a wedding is a public announcement of a private commitment. Therefore, I don’t see the necessity for the big party (especially since we’d end up paying the bill for this gala) just so everyone could see that we are committed to each other. Prudie, please advise me how to politely tell people “MIND YOUR OWN DAMN BUSINESS,” because that is how I truly feel!

—Frustrated by Nosiness

Dear Frus,

A terse non-answer, with a smile, should do the trick. Something like, “C’mon, I don’t ask you personal questions.” It is hard to imagine someone with any social graces continuing after that. And you might work on not being so offended by what sounds like the local preoccupation. For a couple who regard a wedding as a means of shutting everyone up and a baby as taking away half their income, it is absolutely for the best that you forgo both.

—Prudie, self-interestedly

Dear Prudence,

OK, I’ll admit that I am a bit of a germophobe, but here’s my question: Is it really necessary for people to lick their fingers when paging through a stack of documents? Every time I have to sit there while co-workers do this to a stack of documents that I know will be handed to me, I cringe. The other day, a co-worker came into my office and regaled me with the tale of her weekend bout with the stomach flu. Then, she licked her way through a huge stack of documents that were my projects for the week. I was appalled! I sat there after she left this giant biohazard on my desk wishing I had some of that hand sanitizer stuff. Is there a polite way to ask people not to lick their fingers when touching things that they are going to give to me? Shouldn’t finger licking to turn pages go by the wayside now that there are things you can buy at office supply stores designed for that purpose?

—Loyal Reader

Dear Loy,

Of course it’s not necessary to lick their fingers while turning pages. It is a habit. Like you, Prudie has always found it unattractive but never before thought of the germ component. You make a good point. Regarding the “hand sanitizer stuff” (which is always in Prudie’s pocket, FYI), that would not solve this particular problem—unless you rubbed it on the pages. You really can’t ask someone to stop doing it because it’s a largely unconscious act. You could, however, go this far: Buy those little rubber things for the finger, which is what I think you’re talking about, and offer some to the evildoers with an explanation of the health aspect, but then let it go. And then put on thin latex gloves, if need be.

—Prudie, sanitarily