Dear Rabbi Boteach,

I have lived in New York City for the last seven years. I am 32 years old and I am still a virgin. I am Catholic. However, my decision to remain a virgin until marriage was not for religious reasons but based more on moral common sense.

I am a very attractive woman who is never assumed to be a virgin. My age and virginity have become a great source of stress in my life. I am always wondering when I will tell men, and what will happen afterwards. It has become such a huge issue for me that it causes me mental anguish. I have recently decided to tell them immediately rather than wait until after a few dates. Men here are used to the opposite and have no interest or concept of a relationship without sex. My point of view is foreign to them. I have become angry with my generation for taking sex and marriage so casually. The women of my generation have spoiled men in every way and in turn make it extremely difficult for me. I do not know how to resolve this mental angst that is causing me great unhappiness. What do you suggest?

Thank you,

Hi Nadia,

First, let me reinforce and praise your decision to make sex a sacred act shared only between husband and wife. Random sexual encounters take what can be the most spiritual human instinct that two people can share, and degrade it to nothing more than the most basic physical exertion, devoid of any deeper connective or transformative capacity.

Instead of falling for the manipulative ideas behind "The Rules," or viewing intimacy as merely a physical pleasure, you are embracing the fact that sex is a prized closeness that fuses people together. More young women should be taught to value sex the way you do, as a shared personal experience that should only be offered to a man who has earned it. When I use the verb "earn," I do not mean it in a calculating or controlling sense, or using sex as a weapon or a bargaining chip. I mean that a man must earn his access to a woman by committing himself to her, by elevating himself to her level. The widespread acceptance of casual sex has only led to the debasement of women. If a man can get a woman without having to earn her, then what incentive does he have to try and become a gentleman, worthy of her intimate embrace? Men want sex more than anything else; a man will take the easiest path to get it if that's offered to him.

The key to elevating our essential selves is to acknowledge our physical components and seek to refine them. Therefore, if we want men to raise themselves up, as they used to, back in the medieval days when courtly love prevailed, and men had to better their character in order to be worthy of women, the formula is straightforward and simple: Women should not have sex with men who have not married them. Period. And you're right again, Nadia. If women collectively implemented this policy, it would change men overnight. Not only would men begin courting women again, and looking forward to marrying them, but they would also return to the idea of sex as a spiritual act that sews and fuses together two individuals into one flesh. If women as a whole made it clear that men aren't getting into their underwear unless they've become gentlemen and married them, then women like you wouldn't be penalized for behaving like ladies.

Of course, men should not seek to get women into bed. They should practice restraint and appreciate getting to know a woman intellectually and emotionally before carnally. But this only has a chance of succeeding if women give men the appropriate message.

Since this change isn't going to happen overnight, here is what I suggest for you in the meantime. First, you don't have to tell men immediately that you don't have sex. Early on in a relationship, especially on the first date, it simply isn't their business. And when you bring up sex too early, you're the one making it into an issue, not them. Rather, agree to never put yourself into a situation where you have to deny them sex in the first place. Agree only to meet in public places. Don't go back to his place, and don't invite him back to yours. Simply be a lady, dignified and self-confident. He'll get the hint soon enough. And if he wants you in a sexual way, he'll come to learn that you're that truly rare breed of incredibly sexy ladies for whom physical intimacy is so volcanic and special that you have to be married in order to share it.

Now, if you're dating a man for, say, two months, and it becomes obvious to you that he is expecting sex and wondering why you're not offering, bring up the subject and make it clear, without sounding defensive or aggressive, that you love sex. You love it so much, and you think it's so special, that you've decided to share it only with the man who will be your husband.

You can tell him confidently and forthrightly that you're a virgin and you're proud. And while you make no judgments of anyone who has chosen not to follow that path, you are firmly committed to it yourself, and no force on earth could alter your course. Only a wedding ring will cause you to take off your clothes for a man.

The men that respect you for saying that are real gentlemen--they're the ones you want to be dating. The ones that look at you like you're weird or too religious are players and cheap womanizers, who will never get serious about you anyway.

As far as other women undermining you, don't worry about it for now. Yes, men are spoiled, but you only need one. Date good men. Find them in good places, like church and charity events, especially where people volunteer for the charity instead of just giving money to it. And keep me informed of your progress.

G-d bless,

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