The 58th GRAMMY Awards - Arrivals

From the outside looking in, the sex-free relationship that Ciara and Russell Wilson have built seems to be one of true maturity, respect, and inspiration. While we can never know what is happening behind closed doors, their public persona is a breath of fresh air in an otherwise hyper-sexualized society.

In less than a year, Ciara has changed the narrative of her life from being #PoorCiara, who was cheated on, dumped and dragged through ghetto messiness by former fiancé Future, to #GoCiara, with a handsome, respectful, patient and loving Russell Wilson. A change in narrative is great, but I have truly come to identify with Ciara’s situation because I too am abstaining from sex until marriage.

I made my decision to abstain 5 years ago after a painful and confusing “situationship.” My decision was made long before Meagan Good and Ciara helped to make it a “thing.” But the recent attention these stars have given to those like me has been quite refreshing. As I watch Meagan and Devon Franklin do interviews promoting their book, The Wait, which details their decision to be abstinent before marriage, I smile with pride and even relief. For a long time, I couldn’t really fathom that a man would be patient and walk with me in this journey. But, I see couples like Ciara and Russell genuinely enjoying each other and it warms my heart.

Earlier this week, a #TeamBeautiful editor wrote an entertaining and provocative post about Russell and Ciara’s decision. While I am in complete disagreement with the author, she made some interesting points that really resonated with me, especially because a number of her observations were the exact same reasons that I was terrified at the beginning of my abstinence journey.

I told myself:

What guy is willing to wait? What guy is going to spend years getting to know me and allowing me to get to know him? How will we really feel connected and close if we never actually “connect?” What “normal” person chooses to be celibate, Erica?

I choose to believe that the answers to those questions are as follows: The right guy. The guy with life goals that align with your life goals. We will be connected through our experiences with one another. You are normal, Erica.

My reasons for abstaining have shifted over the years, but the resolve is just as strong as ever. Initially, I was hurt after getting out of a toxic situationship (won’t call it a relationship because it’s levels to the real thing) and after some real soul-searching, I realized that the only thing that kept me attracted to the dude was the amazing sex we had.

When I think back to that time now, I laugh because everything else about him was mediocre at best, but I fell hard shortly after we started having sex. Looking back, I realize that a huge motivator for me to have sex with him was simply because I was conditioned to believe things like “we’ve been together for this long” or “I really like him and want to connect with him, so we absolutely must have sex.”

I’ve learned, however, that connecting with someone sexually is a lot more than a pleasurable act between two people. Not to go all “the universe” and spiritual on you, but when you share yourself with a person in a sexual way, you give a bit of yourself to that person that you can never get back. I truly learned the meaning of this after my breakup. Why should I give a piece of myself to a person I am simply dating, who has made no commitments to sticking around? Think about it, when you are in a relationship, you verbally acknowledge one another, but there is no real commitment to a timeframe together. More often than not, you are simply “hanging out,” “enjoying each others’ company,” “getting to know each other,” or worse “just satisfying needs.”

But truth be told, all of those things can be done without ever having sex.

In my opinion, too many of us are taking a “go with the flow” or “this is what I have to do to get and keep him” mentality with our bodies. More often than not, when things don’t work out with a lover, we wind up stressed and despondent, wondering how we got there. We realize way too late in the relationship that we might not have really even liked the person we were sleeping with. We want so badly not to be alone that we settle and “go with the flow” instead of figuring out what it is we want in love and making it a point not to settle for anything less.

Now, I fully realize that this is a personal decision and that abstinence is not for every couple. Nor do I believe that my choice gives me a “holier than thou” position; I am certainly still a huge work in progress.

It should also be noted that abstinence is not a punishment for me or my partner. It is simply a choice to help us walk the path to become our best selves. It is a personal decision that I believe will force us to slow down in a world that is constantly encouraging us to hurry up.

I salute Ciara and Russell for sharing the dynamics of their love. With their honesty, an entire generation of people will see that you don’t have to have sex to build strong, loving, and beautiful relationships.

Follow Erica Vain on Twitter @EricaVain.

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty