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Issue #9: Angles Of Failure

May 27th, 2012 by

I don’t actually know of many people in my daily, personal life who are waiting to have sex. In my circles, I know a married couple who waited, and I have a sister who waited. There is only one single and waiting friend that I have left, and last night he called to tell me that, by his own fault, I now have none.

He told me he fell hard for a recently-divorced woman, had sex, and subsequently broke up — and he told me himself. I didn’t ask; he admitted. And, to be honest, that was the first thing that stuck with me. He called me up, he told me his life had taken a downward turn with alcohol, women and relationships, and he chose to reveal all that had happened openly and truthfully.

He owned it. He didn’t try to blame his love interest, or hormones, or circumstances. In a world of excuses and outward blame, it was really quite amazing. I had to ask myself whether or not I would be able to do the same. Responsibility and consequence go hand in hand… my friend shirked neither, and that made it a really beautiful confession.

Yes, he had made a goal for himself and failed it, but instead of hiding from it or pretending otherwise, he did the absolute healthiest thing a person can do: he remained honest. He was honest with me, but more importantly he was honest with himself. I think that is really the only way to come to terms with anything in life. Once a deed is done, you can’t change it. You can either accept or deny it; you can either march onward toward the next challenge or shy aside from it.

How do you deal with colleagues’ failing? Does it weaken or strengthen your own resolve? Do you take it as a valuable lesson or an excuse to give in? Do you require outside support, or are you self-sufficiently your own motivator when it comes to challenges? I think these are important questions to ask oneself, whether in or outside the context of sex. People fail all the time, every day, and in every different facet of life. I think it’s important to be comfortable and steadfast enough in your own decisions so that their stories don’t drag you down, but instead drive you forward.

I have always been afraid to fail. If I break down every great fear from all the years of my life, I find failure at every root, in one form or another. While no one wants to fail, I think fearing to fail is a double-edged sword. Positively, it can be a passionate motivator, but negatively it can be an inhibitor. Fear of failure can keep a person from achieving a great deal of success. You can’t succeed if you’re too afraid to try. I’ve known a few people in my life who admired the idea of waiting until marriage, but ultimately decided that it was too unlikely and they were too afraid of never experiencing sex, should they never find someone to marry.

If you’re afraid of failure, the best thing you can do for yourself is learn how to use that fear as a positive instrument.

If you’re afraid of failure, the best thing you can do for yourself is learn how to use that fear as a positive instrument. You don’t want to let it hold you back from attempting anything you might want to attempt, but you don’t want to override it completely by spiraling out of control. If you’re afraid to fail, I think it is of the utmost importance that you take the time to learn yourself. Take some time to realize that some things are worth attempting even if you must ultimately meet them with failure.

There was a time when I was afraid to sign up for certain classes because I was afraid I might fail them, and a time when I declined tasks and projects because I was afraid that my results would be ridiculed. Some things are worth trying, even if you fail, and then there are some that aren’t. These things vary for everyone.

When it comes to waiting on sex, what exactly constitutes failure?

When it comes to waiting on sex, what exactly constitutes failure? Is it the failure to hold out on the act until marriage? Or is it rather failing to ever find the one you want to marry? Is it ‘sex too soon’, or ‘sex not at all’? If waiting is important to you, then both are undesirable outcomes. Both could be considered failing.

Are these potential outcomes worth the wait? As someone who doesn’t believe that waiting until marriage is the right choice for everyone, or even most people, I don’t feel comfortable answering that question for anyone but myself.

This is what I think:

If I take a class and fail, or attempt a project and fail, I am failing a material, lifeless object. My project doesn’t look at me and say, ìHey, you failed me. We failed. I gave you a piece of me and now you’re leaving. That would just be silly. It’s discouraging to fail at anything, but when you decide to scratch a task, goal, or project to the wayside, it’s also completely one-sided. It’s between you and no one else. There’s no reciprocation. You can look at it objectively; you can study it and find a way to make it succeed next time.

However, sex is the highest romantic form of connection between two individuals. It’s between two living, breathing souls of equal status. It has the potential to separate two people from everyone else by sharing a unique bond they’ve never shared before — a bond that happens to be of the deepest intimacy. There is emotional attachment and reciprocation.

Most people claim that they can view this as pure entertainment, or little more than a recreational activity, but I can’t. I can’t, and even if I could, I wouldn’t want to.

Most people claim that they can view this as pure entertainment, or little more than a recreational activity, but I can’t. I can’t, and even if I could, I wouldn’t want to. If I viewed the greatest bond of human intimacy as nothing more than light-hearted entertainment, then where is my value for others? If the deepest physical and mental connection I can make with a person is simply ‘just for fun’, then just how seriously should I take them? Are personal connections simply for my own entertainment? Are we all so disposable? Shouldn’t other lives be valued and celebrated? I get tired of sheer entertainment without substance and hard work. It’s not enough to keep me going, day after day. I need a little bit of idealism. I need a little bit of purpose and splendor in the world, even if I have to make it myself.

I need a little bit of idealism. I need a little bit of purpose and splendor in the world, even if I have to make it myself.

Work builds a project, but sex doesn’t build a relationship. Sex is an intensifier. If a relationship fails, there are typically far greater problems than sex, or the lack there of… and if sex is the issue, there is almost always a deeper, underlying problem where communication is concerned.

I don’t want to forge that intimate bond and then fail it. I can understand why others would think differently, but to me, it’s just not worth it. I might enjoy the act in the moment, but once the relationship ends, tearing the bond with it, I’d never find any enjoyment in thinking about that moment again. I’d want to pretend like it didn’t happen; I would regret. It’s not worth failing, because I already know how I would react, and my reaction would do me no good. My lesson learned would simply be, ‘That was a painful, injuring experience. Don’t do that again’. I might as well smash my hand with a hammer.

Failure, whether it belongs to you or to another, is never encouraging, especially if you can identify with the failed cause. But it doesn’t have to drag you down.

My friend has already devised a great plan to pick himself up out of the slump he’s fallen into. He didn’t fall into the spiraling pattern that is so common, but rather caught himself at the first dip.

My friend has already devised a great plan to pick himself up out of the slump he’s fallen into. He didn’t fall into the spiraling pattern that is so common, but rather caught himself at the first dip. He’s reacted stronger and more proactively than I believe I would have in such a situation, and that isn’t discouraging. It’s inspiring.

Author: Claire

Claire writes Sexless And The City, WTM.org's bi-weekly column detailing the thoughts and experiences of a woman who's twenty five and waiting. Currently, Claire's starving artist soul lives inside the body of a corporate woman, but she's okay with that for now; it just means she gets to stay up late working on her own projects with a bowl of shrimp curry instead of Top Ramen. Aside from creative endeavors, Claire loves trail running, learning, history, and traveling.

4 Responses to “Issue #9: Angles Of Failure”

  1. Anna says:

    This is a great column! I recently had a similar experience with a friend. She lost her virginity to her boyfriend of 1 month and doesn’t regret it, never planned on waiting till marriage anyway but always thought it should be a special experience with someone she trusted. I can’t help but feel a little upset that I’m now the only virgin within my flat. Like I’m missing out on something everyone else has experienced. A lot of the questions you asked have been spiralling round my head over the past few days actually. The past week has rocked my thoughts on waiting till marriage. I fear I won’t find someone accepting of my values and that everyone around me will be enjoying sex, boasting about it, going from one partner to the next but I definitely agree with what you’re saying about not letting fear stop you. Sometimes I question why I hold it so highly when so many others around me don’t have that opinion, like am I being silly or naive with my thoughts on sex?
    Then I had a dream that confirmed to me that although waiting seems almost impossible sometimes and like waiting till marriage won’t be what it’s cracked up to be, I couldn’t ever forgive myself or feel good about not sticking to my values. like you said
    “might enjoy the act in the moment, but once the relationship ends, tearing the bond with it, I’d never find any enjoyment in thinking about that moment again. I’d want to pretend like it didn’t happen; I would regret. It’s not worth failing, because I already know how I would react, and my reaction would do me no good. My lesson learned would simply be, ‘That was a painful, injuring experience. Don’t do that again’.”
    Thank you for this article, definitely spoke to me! I think we can’t help but feel disappointed as we get older and more people we know are having sex but when we become confident in ourselves and our own beliefs I think it will work out good for us in the end.

  2. Miilliee says:

    Thanks for such a great article! I think a lot of people on the forum are going through self doubt at the moment, and i think this has answered a few peoples worries and anxieties.

    When you were saying what constitutes as failure: Not waiting until marriage as was intended, or never getting married; personally i would see the first as a failure on my part. If i never get married, well, at least i stayed true to my values to wtm. I just think of it this way: Having pre-marital you-know-what wont make me more likely to get married, so whats the stress to have it all about? but thats just me personally.

    I think people just need to way up and consider what is the most important to them, what would make them happiest in themselves.

  3. Jasmine says:

    This article addresses a lot of questions and concerns I’ve had. The extremes. Complete compromise or complete loneliness. Both you’ll have to live with for the rest of your life, right? I suppose waiters like us are full of faith and hope. But we can also be full of fear and doubt. On the bright side, If we decide to be productive while I wait, and learn to love ourselves as a single person, we can bring more to the future marriage than even thought. And if it turns out we don’t need a spouse to be happy, and we like our independence so much, then there you go. There’s nothing to worry about. But if you’re single and you want to be married and you’re still a virgin, welp, like Miilliee said, at least you held true to your values and that is very honorable.

  4. Phoenix says:

    “I need a little bit of purpose and splendor in the world, even if I have to make it myself.”

    I absolutely love this line; this sums up much of my philosophy toward life.

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