Religion isn’t the only factor

If your partner is holding out on you, don’t assume their decision stems from religion. There are numerous reasons some students choose to be celibate.

College students don’t have a reputation for celibacy. Most students might assume that everyone around them is having sex, but this isn’t true.

Health Education Administrator Marsha Turnbull said a report in 2014 found that 29.2 percent of students did not have sex in the past 12 months.

Physician Jenell Decker said sexual abuse, fear of getting pregnant or catching an STI or STD are all reasons students might avoid sexual contact.

Health and Wellness Program Coordinator Shane McFarland said he remembers just wanting to find a partner throughout his college years. He said he was not just driven toward sex. Some students might have similar goals.

Junior Psychology major Sierra Harden said she is abstinent because she believes in the mental and emotional connections between partners.

“Having a great connection with the person you are with will make taking it to the next level the best it can be because there is substance built around it,” Harden said. “Sex is more than just sex to me, it’s giving yourself up completely when you know it’s right.”

Harden said her decision to sport a purity ring was not influenced by religion. People tend to make assumptions about her decision, but they aren’t true, she said.

“People have assumed I’m a virgin because I haven’t had the opportunity to lose my virginity,” Harden said. “I’m not here running around looking for that opportunity, and even if I was in a relationship, that wouldn’t happen for a while.”

Harden said holding out for the right person just feels right, because of her personal beliefs and the way she was raised. Staying true to herself is easy for Harden, even while living on a college campus.

“I haven’t encountered a situation where I’ve told a guy I was a virgin and he ran away,” Harden said. “But even if that were to happen, I wouldn’t call it a challenge, I would thank him for letting me know he isn’t worth my time.”

In addition, external factors not related to upbringing or religious beliefs can influence sexual behavior preferences. Pornography can cause performance anxiety, inhibiting students from sexual engagement.

“Both men and women may feel pressure to perform sexual acts commonly depicted in pornography,” Ph.D. candidate Amber Morczek said. “This is particularly troubling because much of mainstream heterosexual porn suggests violence toward women is sexy, inherently pleasurable and a normal part of the sexual experience, despite how degrading, exploitative and abusive the behaviors may actually be.”

Morczek said she is not shaming those with varying sexual interests and desires, but rather hopes to highlight how potentially harmful sexual behaviors that are normalized in the industry can be and how they impact sexuality despite the claims that porn is just a harmless fantasy.

“Research indicates that pornography consumption can lead to anxieties about one’s body and decreased sexual satisfaction within intimate relationships, as porn, much like the beauty industry, relentlessly reproduces unattainable bodily standards,” Morczek said.

Everyone has their own reasons behind what they choose to do (or not do) in the bedroom. Health and Wellness offers individual and partner counseling, as well as accessible medical physicians on a regular basis.