Five years after they started dating in their senior year of high school, SF State graduate student Alyssa Palfreyman had sex with her husband Sam for the first time.
Waiting to have sex until they were married was a decision the two of them had made individually previous to their relationship. It was seven months after he proposed to her on one knee at Treasure Island Beach that they made an eternal commitment to each other and shared a level of intimacy which neither of them had ever experienced before.
“I’m definitely happy that we waited,” Palfreyman said. “I feel like it has a lot more meaning for us now that we are married. We know that it’s something special. It goes hand in hand with marriage, commitment and family.”
Choosing to have sex with someone for the first time is a personal decision that many students face when entering relationships in college, so when is the timing right?
SF State health educator and counselor Albert Angelo said that there is no specific time frame that two people should wait to have sex, but that both people involved should feel safe and comfortable with the situation.
“I think it’s okay is to just have a conversation about what is it you want or hope to have happen from the first time. What is it I’m thinking that this will mean? What kind of experience am I hoping to get from it?” Angelo said.
For Palfreyman, waiting until marriage was a challenge but also an important part of her relationship with her husband.
“We’d get in situations and realize, you know, we have to stop, slow down,” Palfreyman said. “It would have been easy to kind of let go of the decisions that we had previously made. But the fact that we had made them together, we had talked about it together, that made it easier to wait.
But the long wait for marriage isn’t for everyone.
“I personally could never do it, I could understand why other people would want to do it, but it’s definitely not for me,” said psychology student May Mohajer. “I wasn’t raised that way. I wasn’t raised to wait until marriage, I was raised to be in love.”
Mohajer has been with her boyfriend for a little more than a year. They met at a bar one night when she was out with her friends and she was immediately attracted to his laid-back vibe and energy, but she wasn’t ready to have sex with him right away.
“I have friends that can sleep with guys and not feel vulnerable. I can’t,” Mohajer said. “I feel vulnerable, so in order to keep myself from getting screwed over, I really wanted a chance to get to know him without (sex) being on the table.”
It was a little more than three months before Mohajer began sleeping with her boyfriend.
“When I started thinking that I could love him, that’s when I decided that I would be willing to risk it,” Mohajer said. “I just think that to make it special both people have to be secure and comfortable. I needed a little more time, I guess, to make sure I was doing something I was happy with.”
Angelo’s opinion is that there is no need to jump into a sexual relationship when dating but instead to do what you think feels right.
“What’s the rush? If they’re going to be your partner, spouse, life partner, I mean what’s the rush right?” Angelo said. “I think it’s really healthy though to trust your instinct and your intuition.”
Relationships can also develop from those who choose not to wait at all. Jeff Yu and his boyfriend have been together for three years. After meeting at a local Walgreens, they went to a party together the next night, where they had sex for the first time. This casual sex continued for another month or two before they officially became boyfriends.
“I’m not really big on actually dating people. It’s just my own personality. It has nothing against anyone else; I’ve always been more physical,” Yu said. “Actually, I don’t think we would have been boyfriends if we had started dating first, we both share similar values in our perspective on sex. [It] is just really physical as opposed to something emotional.”
Sex for Palfreyman is different and very special, which is why she waited until after she exchanged vows with her husband in the Newport Beach Latter-day Saints temple in May 2010.
“For me, (sex) has a lot of religious meaning, but aside from that our first time was awkward and very emotional, and I don’t think I could have handled that without my marriage, with that commitment that we made with one another, without knowing that this is going to last forever.”