When I was 19 years old (and still a virgin), I joined a church that forbid pre-marital sex. During the next 14 years, I only dated men from within the church, and since they followed the same rule, I am still a virgin at age 33. Although I loved the spirituality of the church, last fall I left the church when it become clear to me that I couldn’t support their view of women.

My question is: How do I explain to the men I date now that I’m still a virgin? I am not naive, and I know that I will be expected to sleep with most men within a few weeks or months. I am very liberal socially and with my past boyfriends have even practiced Tantric sex (you have to do something to survive that long!). At my core, I wish I could still wait till marriage, and yet I feel like if I do, I’ll remain single forever.

This is the nineties – when we should all be able to discuss sexual preferences openly. And “sexual preferences” in your case, by the way, includes the desire not to engage in intercourse until you’re married.

I personally think that if this is an important goal that you’ve set for yourself, you should honor that goal. Do not allow yourself to be pressured into performing according to other people’s expectations here.

While technically a virgin, your letter makes it clear that you have had lovers and have had sex – just not intercourse. There are many variations on the old genital in-and-out that should keep you and any gentlemen you date aroused and satisfied until a guy comes along with a gold ring as well as a libido.