There’s nothing like finding out someone you have been in a committed relationship with has cheated on you with multiple partners. I promise you it is the type of moment that will make you never want to date again. In that moment, my mind spiraled out of control with a million thoughts, but I remember specifically thinking “I should have never had sex with him in the first place. Why did I ever think that was a good idea?”
As I was running the other day, one of my favorite Sam Smith songs, Latch, came on and Sam painted the picture for why many of us decide to take that next step with our partners.
I feel we’re close enough
I wanna lock in your love
I think we’re close enough
Could I lock in your love, baby?
When we love and trust our significant other, we want to get as close to them as possible. We think “we are close enough” and we want “to lock in” their love (aka get a commitment from them). We often decide the most logical way to do that is through sex. Well, fortunately (and unfortunately), we are right. Sex was designed by God to make us “Latch” to someone else in a way that we haven’t with any other human.
Almost a year ago, a friend of mine recommended the book The Naked Truth About Sexuality by Havilah Cunnington. This book would forever change the way I saw sex and my choice to engage in it going forward. If we all really understood the impact sex has on our bodies, we wouldn’t treat sex as casually as we do today. Growing up I always heard not to have sex outside of marriage because “it is bad for you”. If you asked about it, a response was usually given to instill fear or shame. After reading this book, I realized how much more effective conversations about abstinence would be if we shared the truth about God’s intention for sex. Spoiler alert: his suggestion to abstain has nothing to do with him not wanting you to enjoy sex and everything to do with him wanting you to experience it in the way he intended it so you can enjoy it on an entirely different and divine level. Through Havilah’s book, I discovered that in God’s infinite wisdom, he designed our bodies in such a way that we can intimately bond both physically and spiritually with our spouse so our relationship would be the most valuable one we had aside from our relationship with Him.
God wants us to feel rewarded when we experience physical intimacy with our spouse so he designed our bodies to release dopamine (the very same endorphin that motivates an addict to get their next “fix”) when we have sex, so that we would want to keep coming back to the same person for the rest of our lives. God knew that relationships would be challenging. He designed (as Havilah likes to call it) “an override system” of endorphins and hormones that would cause us to stay bonded with our significant other even when we go through challenging seasons because his intention was for us to only have one partner for life.
Speaking of hormones, Oxytocin and Vasopressin are pair bonding hormones that are released in men and women during sexual encounters. Oxytocin is found in both males and females, but is the main pair-bonding hormone found in females. It is often referred to as the “love hormone” because it is linked to sexual arousal, bonding and trust. According to Havilah, this hormone “protects the covenant, the family and the connection,” between a woman and her family. God knew we would need some help staying committed to someone every day for the rest of our lives. He designed our biological systems to produce a hormone that makes us “devoted, loyal, possessive, and willing to endure trials to keep what belongs to us.1” It is brilliant as long as we are having sex the way God designed us to, in the covenant of marriage.
However, when we have sex outside of marriage, it causes us to experience an unbelievably painful heartbreak when that person leaves us. How many of us watch our friends go back to some no good ex-boyfriend time and time again and wonder why you can’t convince them to stay away? It’s because they have bonded to this person through sexual intimacy, and now it’s literally an inherent instinct to repeatedly return to and stay devoted to that person.
By the way, Sam Smith actually touches on this idea of “bonding” in the next verse to the song:
Now I got you in my space
I won’t let go of you
Got you shackled in my embrace
I’m latching on to you
This is the part of sex that we often lose sight of. This “latch” happens with every single person we have a sexual encounter with, whether it was a committed relationship or not. The latch causes us to leave part of ourselves with each person and never forget them, even if we want or try to.
Men have a similar pair bonding hormone called Vasopressin. Again, women have this hormone too, but it is more prominent in men. It “generates a desire for commitment and rouses loyalty. Vasopressin also drives a man to protect his territory and offspring, heightening his sense of responsibility1.”
Now you might be thinking, “most of the guys I have dated are severely lacking this hormone” because of their lack of commitment or loyalty to you. This brings me to my point. As we get in the habit of breaking that bond it gets easier and easier to do so. We end up hindering our chances of ever experiencing an intimate bond long term, the way God designed us to, because we have desensitized our bodies from the desire to bond. It makes sex less important, and it severely hinders your chances of having a long-lasting indescribably beautiful and perfect bond with your future husband because you constantly feel like you’re lacking something… and you are, because you gave it to previous partners.
I don’t know about you, but when I understood the way God designed sex for us I wanted to experience it in that way only. I want to experience a perfect and special bond with my husband so my override system is operating at full capacity, and I never get comfortable breaking the bond with him. So, I made the decision to abstain from sex until marriage. It wasn’t very hard to want to refrain from sex after being cheated on with multiple partners anyway. However, I knew I eventually wanted to spend my life with my future husband, and that meant I was going to have to date eventually. I remember breaking down to God, fearful that I wouldn’t find a single man who would understand my desire to not have sex until marriage, let alone make the decision with me to abstain. The very next day, God crossed my path with a guy that randomly shared with me and a group of others his decision to abstain. It blew my mind in all honesty, but it was just the confirmation I needed to know that finding a man that would choose to abstain until marriage was a walk in the park for God.
A few months later, I met my current boyfriend. The best thing I did was to boldly tell him about my decision from the beginning. When I later shared that with one of my girlfriends, floored she said “you have to be so confident in yourself to lead with that.” I immediately told her, “I’m not confident in myself, I am confident in my God.” When you truly understand His power, authority and love for you, you will have no problem being upfront with your expectations and non-negotiables. It gives you so much freedom because of your trust in his plans for you. I knew that even if I told this seemingly perfect guy that I didn’t want to have sex until marriage and he threw in the towel as a result, it only meant that he isn’t “The One” for me… that God had someone even better and this guy would be doing me a favor by not wasting my time.
To my surprise, however, he was on the same page, which is key. He wanted to abstain from sex until marriage for his own reasons and not just because I wanted to. I have seen so many of my friends break that commitment to abstain in the heat of the moment. Trust me, we have those intense moments too, but we have overcome them without breaking our commitment because both of us are abstaining for our own reasons. You see if my boyfriend was just doing it out of respect for me, he would easily give in as soon as I was ready in the heat of the moment. Since we both have made that commitment for ourselves and not each other, we stand firm even in our weak moments.
Our relationship has taken me to another level of intimacy. We have fallen in love with each other without the physical part. Relationships are so much easier when you remove the physical part. Can I tell you how much better it feels to know he loves me and it has nothing to do with our sexual life? You know all of those moments where you feel like you’re being used because your significant other doesn’t have time to have dinner with you, but he can always make time for sex. Maybe sometime he bounces right after intercourse or doesn’t call you for a few days? I NEVER have those moments. I never feel degraded or taken advantage of. I know every time I see him that he is there with no ulterior motive. Not to mention, my “override” system hasn’t kicked in because we haven’t had sex. So, if God prompted us to part ways, it would be a whole lot easier to let him go.
My friend Christy and her fiancé have been together for four years without having sex. That is something to brag about! One of the most powerful things she said to a group of us was “if you could take back every person you have given yourself to in the past, wouldn’t you do it in a heartbeat?” I think everyone in the room wanted to scream “YES!” Think about that the next time you find yourself in the heat of the moment or contemplating ways to get closer to your new partner. Don’t “latch” with someone who doesn’t deserve to take a piece of you with him for the rest of your life.
1Cunnington, Havilah. “The Naked Truth About Sexuality.”
Cortney only recently began embracing her creative side. After years in the Corporate world as a CPA, she took a leap of faith and left her career to pursue public speaking. By sharing her story, Cortney’s mission is to help others understand that their current or past circumstances won’t limit their future, unless they let it. Her passion for story telling and inspiring others prompted her to create a platform for people to courageously share their personal stories of overcoming adversity via her site www.ThursdayThrive.com . You can connect with Cortney on her social media platforms. Instagram: @thursday_thrive & @edmon_co, FB: @edmonco.com, Twitter: @edmon_co