Welcome to Sex Qs, a weekly column where The Globe's Amberly McAteer seeks answers to your sex questions, talking to sexperts and regular Canadians alike. Have a question? Fire away: email@example.com (All questions will be published anonymously.)
The question: I'm a 26-year-old woman, about to marry the only man I've ever dated. We've been together four years – he is my soul mate – but I've never had sex with him (or anyone). It's not a solely religious decision – I've just wanted my first time to be very special.
It's two months to the wedding, and my friends keep telling me to try it out before walking down the aisle – "take it for a test drive," they say. I'm actually tempted, since we're going to be married soon enough. What do you think?
First, be warned: You're asking the world's most impatient human being about patience. Ever the eager beaver, I was the kid who peeked at every Christmas present stash weeks before the Big Day (don't tell my parents, who I like to pretend do not read this sex column).
Anticipation is my nemesis: I take the stairs, I always order expedited shipping and, if I'm in love, I don't see any reason to wait for sex.
Second, I'm wildly impressed. You are a master of your own domain – persevering years of pressure, if not from men, then from your sassy friends – you are an exceedingly rare breed who holds out for "the one." So, no, for the love of God or whomever has helped you do this, keep your pants on.
You're an unwitting guru of The Rules, a useful (if mildly chauvinistic) handbook written decades ago, essentially preaching "hard to get" philosophies.
I mention your spectacular feat – yes, I'm bragging vicariously through you – to the most wonderfully domestic man I know, Paul, who has been with the same woman for a decade, as he makes me dinner.
"Oh please, just let her do it – sex so doesn't matter at this point," he says, apron adorned, stuffing ricotta into homemade pasta shells. "When you think about how little time it takes up, compared to the practical parts of a relationship, I don't see why you're telling her to wait." If your relationship is otherwise smooth, the sex factor isn't crucial one way or another, he explains.
"Let her see what all the fuss is about," he urges. "Sex is actually not that important to a relationship, and she already knows that." He thinks you already know your patient fiancé is the one, and you've already signed up for marriage, so there's no reason to wait.
While dinner was delicious, I find Paul's advice unsavoury. I'd argue that, by waiting this long, you've underscored just how important sex is. (As the author of a column based on the subject, I'd argue it's very important to happiness. A relationship without heat is a platonic friendship; it's nice, but you haven't waited this long for nice.) I'd wager that even with all of the wedding planning, it's what you think about most.
So here's the good news: A study from Brigham Young University in the Journal of Family Psychology shows 22 per cent of people waiting to have sex until marriage had longer-lasting relationships. (Caveat: This school is owned by Mormons, who are all about waiting.)
The bad news: Your first time may be the most awkward, er, Christmas morning a decade in the making.
And I want you to wait for exactly this reason: If you "test drive it," as your friends insist, you'll be wondering just how bad or good that was, as you have no frame of reference. Do you really want that pesky little voice on your shoulder as you walk down the aisle, asking, "Was that what it's supposed to be like?" You are already buying this car. Test driving it now, or peeking the presents (or whatever mixed metaphor we want to use) won't matter – the sex will be what it will be.
With the love you clearly have for him and he for you – I don't know a single warm-blooded male who would wait years for his bride – I'm not worried about your sexual future. Even if your honeymoon isn't Hollywood-style climax, remember to tell Mr. Patience what you like and, above all else, remember to have fun. It's supposed to be fun.
But if you give in now, it's like quitting five feet before the finish line in the world's longest PG-13 marathon.
You have perfected a long lost art of waiting for a good thing. Do not peek now.
Have a question? Fire away: firstname.lastname@example.org (All questions will be published anonymously.)