Auntie SparkNotes: Am I Being Judgey About The HND?
I enjoy your advice column very much. And to be honest, it's totally opened my eyes to the world. Where I grew up, not everybody goes around engaging in sexual activity with everyone they meet. Some people do it, but it's usually a boyfriend and girlfriend that have known each other for a long time and love each other. I'd never really heard of two people who have been dating for a week doing the HND outside of rape.
Then I moved, and started going on Sparknotes, and I realized the world was a very different place.
I personally believe that the HND should not be done with anyone but your spouse. That way you can be completely clean and pure and tell them, "Hey, this is something special for you, not every boyfriend I've ever had." That doesn't mean I'm right, but it's the way I think.
This is when we get to my problem. I think I'm judging people deep inside. When people talk about doing the HND with many people all willy nilly, I think the emotion I'm feeling is pity. Pity for them and their future spouse. Which I don't think is right. I don't have the right to look down on them or feel pity, which I'm afraid I'm doing. People at school talk about it too, and I kind of wince and pretend I wasn't really listening.
The world can change all it wants and I'm sticking by my beliefs. But am I a bad person for judging others, and for not wanting to accept this part of the world? I tell myself that I can still accept these people as good people that are doing what they think is right, but am I really believing it? And related to this, what about when I grow up? How do I explain to people that I don't want to do the HND with them? How do I find someone else like me, among thousands? I feel alone in my standards, which I refuse to bend. Is it my imagination or is the world suddenly HND crazy?
Suddenly? Er... no. This is nothing new, darling; the world has been obsessed with the HND ever since the first horny homo sapien drew wangs and va-jays on his cave walls way back in the Paleolithic. Sex is, and has always been, a pretty big deal to human beings.
What has changed, however, is the notion that having sex makes you a bad or inferior person—and whatever your feelings about premarital relations, that's a good change. Let's be clear on this: the whole idea of purity as a valuable commodity stems directly from a time when women were chattel, and virgins fetched a higher price. A world in which that no longer happens, and in which all people are empowered to make their own choices in sex and in life, is a better one.
And of course, that includes your choice to wait. Sex is something you only want to experience within the confines of a marriage, and that's great. You're entitled to live a life of your choosing, just like everyone else. But you're right: pitying those who choose differently, and seeing their lives as less-than, is condescending and judgmental. So if you want to be more open-minded—which is always a good thing, no matter what your beliefs—here are a few things to try.
Watch your language. Look back at your letter, and at the way you say "you" and "your" instead of "I" and "my." Those pronouns make the difference between describing how you choose to live your own life, and telling other people how to live theirs. So when you express your personal opinions—be they about sex, or religion, or the superiority of cookie dough ice cream—remember that you're speaking only for yourself. (Also, you might want to think about what you're implying when you use the word "clean" to describe a person who hasn't had sex. Are you sure that's the word you want to use?)
Accept the existence of tastes, values, and ethics that are different from yours. You already know how to do this, of course; you see people make decisions every day that you wouldn't make for yourself. And while you may not enjoy skydiving, for instance, or horror movies, or anchovy pizza, presumably you don't sit around feeling sorry for people who do. Why? Because their personal choices are none of your beeswax—just as your choices, pizza-related or otherwise, are none of theirs.
Save your pity, and seek understanding instead. Ask for information, rather than making assumptions, and you might be surprised by what you learn—including the fact that people who've had multiple pre-marital partners don't feel soiled by the experience, and that they don't feel that sex with their spouse is any less special for it, either. (Believe it or not, love has a funny way of making things new and exciting, no matter how many times or with how many other people you've done those things before. When you're newly married, even doing laundry or cleaning the toilet can be downright thrilling.)
As for telling people you don't intend to do the HND until you're married, that's easy: you just... y'know, tell people you don't intend to do the HND until you're married. And since 95% of people don't share your beliefs, this is something you should share early on. Sex is an important part of a relationship, and most people feel that it's too important to risk a lifetime commitment with someone they're not sure they're compatible with.
Your challenge will be respecting that point of view, and accepting that it's as valid as yours.
Which, if you're striving for open-mindedness, is the most important thing to remember: that people who choose to live differently than you are not wrong or inferior. They've made their choices thoughtfully, just like you. And when you're truly secure in your views and values, you'll understand that other people's may differ, and that that's okay. Because in a place as big and diverse as the world, there is no one right way to be, to live, or to love.
Do you ever catch yourself being a judgeypants? How do you handle it? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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