When she is out on dates, senior Ogechi Ajaegbu is bubbly and enthusiastic, admired for her eager personality and kind attitude. Some of her favorite activities with prospective boyfriends, she says, include chatting, going to dinner, walking around, and looking at the stars.
But when the evening comes to an end, she and her date say goodnight and part ways – without a kiss and without spending the night.
Ajaegbu is one of a group of students at GW who have committed to abstaining from sex. Having never been kissed, she hopes to reserve such romance for the person she will spend the rest of her life with. In the meantime, waiting to have sex presents her with the opportunity to better connect with a date on an emotional level.
“I feel like most people jump into the physical connection and lose the time to get to know each other emotionally. They don’t take the time to know the contents rather than the container,” Ajaegbu says.
While abstinent students are not always the norm on college campuses across the United States, they remain a notable minority. According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, out of the 39 percent of women who entered their freshman year as virgins, 31 percent abstained from sex through their senior year.
Senior Matt Shoemaker, who has also chosen to abstain, said he believes that deferring sex until marriage is intimately related to the concept of love itself.
“If you commit to this sort of lifestyle, you can achieve it,” says Shoemaker, who cited the conflict between his former girlfriend’s desire to have sex and his Catholic faith as an insurmountable problem for their relationship. “I think it comes down to understanding what the actual purpose of love is.”
Junior Andrew Buonopane said he abstains because, in his mind, sex is too often connected with exploitation and ill treatment.
“Sex has a procreative function, it’s the greatest form of love that two people can experience,” Buonopane says. “In our society, sex has been used to express either lesser love, temporary affectionate feelings or a means to an end, a way to just feel good.”
For him, having sex solely because it is pleasurable constitutes a childish approach to life. Instead, there must be a commitment to go along with the physical relationship.
There are also other practical reasons to abstain, says junior Leticia Tientcheu. Tientcheu said she chose not to have sex at a younger age when her peers were getting pregnant or contracting sexually transmitted diseases – even when they attempted to protect themselves. She said she is happy not to be in the positions some of her friends have found themselves in.
“It’s not the case for everyone, but I am glad I am not in their shoes and happy I did not let myself be pressured into having sex,” she said.
Some may argue it is important to test the sexual waters before getting married, but Ajaegbu believes that where true love exists, both partners will work toward a healthy sexual relationship once they are married. Even so, she said it is important to discuss these kinds of issues as soon as a relationship starts.
“The key is talking about ways that [two people] will conquer temptation together rather than just going with the flow, because it might seem like everybody’s doing it and you don’t stop to think,” she said.
As for the waiting, Ajaegbu says the anticipation can only result in a more positive experience once that special moment arrives. “It’s a lot of work but it’s worth it, because then you appreciate it more.”