"if i can be sure/inside out that you know exactly the man that comes to see you/i'll go deep as i can/giving you the rest of my love..."--Usher
When I was in college, I made some very questionable decisions about sex. I wanted to be what I thought a woman of the new millennium looked like: a sexually liberated girl who made hedonistic, Sex and the City-inspired decisions about her body and who she let in it. I wanted to be someone who was okay with casual sex. It became obvious rather quickly that I was actually not okay with casual sex at all, and not long after my declaration of independence, I found myself monogamously devoted to a very polygamous young man who was my bliss about 27% of the time, my hell 66% of the time and some sick purgatory for the rest of it. Now, let's be honest. Before going out on my own, I'd had plenty of education on the importance of being prudent with passing out 'the love'. I was raised in the church and constantly admonished by my family to "be good". Plus, I knew instinctively that men don't want anything that comes too easily. But honestly, no one prepared me for those moments alone when he's kissing on your neck and slowly lowering your bra strap in that soft, tender way that grazes your skin, tickling your shoulder. No one prepared me for soft music and dim lighting and candles. No one ever mentioned that he might kiss me in a way that would literally make my spine buckle so that falling on my back was the only way I could feel like I wasn't having a seizure. No one told me how natural it feels to spread your legs and wrap them around him when his weight on top of you feels so good...and how quickly it can all turn into something you might regret. No one told me that it was so easy to be easy. Figures. When I emerged , scathed but delivered (Hallelujah!), from the aforementioned case of ill-placed adoration and naive self-negligence, I felt free for the first time in years and more in control of my womanhood and my choices. I floated for awhile, feeling like I'd managed to rip a metal leash from around my neck. I spent almost a year just catching my breath--no sex was allowed (or even desired, most of the time), and certainly no love. But when the dust settled and I was feeling normal again, I decided to make August 2006 the start of my "Year of Yes", a twelve-month period in which I would literally say "yes" to dating [nearly] everyone who asked me in an effort to be open and available. Now, I hate dating with a passion. I hate the pleasantries and the minutiae and pretending like you care about things you don't. I so rarely like anyone that dating is especially excruciating for me. So the "Year of Yes" (YOY) was a big deal; it was about learning not to sneer at men who asked for my phone number or ignore guys who tried to approach me in a nice way or brush someone off after the first time we talked on the phone because of some inconsequential perceived flaw. It was about continuing a search for something real, something to hold on to, which was my deepest--though most thoroughly ignored--desire. This effort opened the door to Creepy Obsessed Guy, Mean Rich Guy, Too Metrosexual Guy, Extra Pressed To Hit It Guy, Super Boring Guy, So "Deep" Even He Can't Understand What The Hell He's Saying Guy, and finally, Allergic To Chivalry Guy. (Funny backstory: On our one and only date, Allergic To Chivalry Guy had two drinks without me when I was fifteen minutes late, watched me pump my own gas when I insisted on following him to another venue rather than riding with him, and then tried to kiss me after dropping something and asking me to pick it up for him…and yet a week later announced that he was befuddled by the fact that I wasn't interested in dating him further). YOY opened the door for a lot of "oh hell no's", but it also opened the door to someone new I really liked for the first time in years--let's call him Damn This Feels Good Guy--which opened the door to me being…for lack of a better word, open. Which opened the door for slowly becoming overly…available. Aside from a mid-YOY transgression on a particularly weak night in May when I almost broke my no-sex rule with said gentleman (and let's be honest, kind of did), almost exactly a year to that August 2006 declaration of the start of YOY, I said "yes" for real--screamed it, actually. Many times. My fault. I broke my rule not because he had earned it, not because we had reached that point in our relationship when it was right, but because I physically needed to get laid and wanted it to be him. I did it because it felt right viscerally, not pragmatically, which, in the largest scheme of things is the worst reason to have sex. It was great; he was great. But as a stubborn woman that sticks to her guns on everything else, folding like a retail t-shirt over "the d" snowballed into feelings that were a little too strong for where our relationship really stood. But we look forward, not ahead. And it is at this point in my life that I'm completely dedicated to my new resolve: The Make His 'A' Wait Initiative. And I want you all to join me. It's true that we as women suffer the most from fatal sexually-transmitted diseases, but we also suffer the most from emotional scars. Men are constantly testing our waters. They test to see how far they can get and if we let them go all the way too early, there's nothing left for them to learn, no reason to stick around. Then they're gone and we're a wreck. Now, I'm not saying that one-night stands can't result in fifty-year marriages. Of course there are exceptions to every rule. But being honest with ourselves and not dealing in myths and legends, most of the women who drop it too early find themselves alone and feeling used and guilty with low self-esteem and a persistent feeling of bewilderment. Is that really what we want for ourselves? Don't you deserve better? Of course you do. So Make His 'A' Wait. I know it sounds like the biggest cliché in the world, but after years of scoffing at the advice of "old folks" I have learned that it is actually true: if he doesn't hang around when you tell his ass to wait, then he's not worth your time. No real man who is truly interested in you and is the right kind of person is going to forego getting to know you if you tell him sex is not an upfront option. Period. One of my best male friends told me something very interesting the other day. When a man meets you and sees you, he looks at you hard. He sizes you up. And he's already had sex with you in his mind. He's already stripped you down and imagined what it would be like and he's already mentally climaxed. Why ruin his fantasy with reality and take away his opportunity to see who you really are, what you're interested in, what really makes you sexy, how you fit into his life and how he might fit into yours? Why ruin the potential by doing an immediate comparison of what he's already envisioned? Once you get to the real thing, his senses should be so overwhelmed with you as a person that the sex is 1000% better than he ever imagined. They want us to make them wait. If you give it up too fast, it's just exactly what he imagined it to be, and the mystery is over. A couple years ago, a good friend of mine went on a date with a gorgeous man who was really into her. She's been practicing celibacy since Jesus was an embryo, so she's confident in her decision not to let guys infiltrate her system, which affords her an opportunity to really get to know them before she's all in their grill. Now, this man she went on the date with was so fine I'd personally go into the witness protection program with him, the kind of fine for which you already know women are breaking it off like French bread left and right. But not my friend. And it's a good thing, because even though she, too, was mesmerized by his beauty, she pried long and hard enough on a date with him that he got loose with the talk and revealed his real character. This fool actually said that he wasn't ever going to cater to a woman in any way, not even his wife, because "he's not that type of dude". Women, instead, needed to cater to him. My friend was horrified that this gorgeous, southern, seemingly courteous gentleman was speaking these words. "Well, what about when she's pregnant?" she asked. "You wouldn't get up to get her ginger ale and crackers in the middle of the night if she got sick?" "I mean…" he shrugged, "she knew she was pregnant when she laid down." Ladies, this is the kind of man that won't wait for you to feel right about giving it up. And this is precisely the kind of person you will find yourself with if you don't give these men a chance to show their real selves and see the real you. It's time for us to take responsibility for our part in the way these men act and reclaim our role as the tone-setters and timekeepers in romantic relationships. So join me and make a pact to yourself today. Choose 3, 6, 9, 12, 18 months--it's up to you. But make it a little bit of a stretch for you and make it a promise to yourself. He doesn't need to know the length of time you've chosen to wait, he just needs to know that sex is not an option with you, and he knows not the day nor the hour when it will be. All he needs to know is that he needs to act right and enjoy your time, your energy, your passion. You are the Olympics and he is the star athlete. If he's not prepared, he'll go home without a damn thing. But if he knows how to apply himself and train the right way, then maybe, just maybe, he has a shot at winning the gold.