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The Thrill of the Chaste

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We all know the saying "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?" But sometimes life and trashy reality shows indicate the opposite when the fun, flirty and sexually adventurous female wins out over Sweet Stacey (Actually, on MTV's The Hills, Stacey was anything but sweet, and a girl named Mikhaila fit the sweet description, but anyway...).

I decided to hit the streets and ask single men what they REALLY thought of sweet young women and more specifically, chaste young women.

Of course, since this occurred over summer vacation, hitting the streets was no easy task with a full double stroller and 2 older kids tagging behind, but we made the best of a difficult situation.

Mike D from Englewood: "If a chick doesn't put out by date 3, finito."

Me: Shh -- I mean, please just speak carefully around the kids if you don't mind...Kids we're talking about baby chicks, you know the cute little animal... How old are you, Mike?

Mike D: 22

Me: Got it. Thanks for your time.

I decided that next, I was best off approaching an affable business man who looked about my age, mid to upper 30s (draw your own conclusions about my age), no wedding band.

Me: I'm writing an article for my blog on "The Thrill of the Chaste." What are your thoughts on chaste women?

Affable Business Man: I like a very outgoing woman. I think it's imperative not to put everything forth at the beginning and to wait a while. In fact, my recent relationships can't really be categorized as 'relationships' because things moved too fast. I would be more excited and more inclined to stick around if there were more layers to peel rather than just clothes to peel off."(He whispers the last part and sort of mumbles it. I thank him.)

Naturally, I wasn't surprised by these two totally different reactions to the same question. Men who are looking for relationships and are ready to "settle down" are more interested in getting to know the women before getting into the... rhymes with "black" (hey, I have religious readers! Then again, maybe this post should come with an NR - Not Religious - rating). Boys who are just looking to have a good time are just looking for a good time. Yada yada, nothing new here. But is peeling back a woman's layers for one man like peeling the layers off an onion to another?

What I am surprised about are the women, friends of mine who tell me they feel pressured to move quite fast early on when dating someone. When I asked Affable Business Man to address their collective complaint, he said he couldn't really understand it, but that if a woman is "dragging her feet" and going too slow, he'll think she either has something to hide or isn't interested.

When I speak to my 30 year old friend Jess, she cringes describing "the waaaay too-uninhibited girl." I immediately think of Natalie from The Bachelor (Jake's season) who was also a contender on The Bachelor Pad, the sexed-up Big Brother-esque competition where guys from past seasons of the Bachelorette evict girls from past seasons of The Bachelor, and vice versa. One of the vapid female contenders on the show, Natalie, used her feminine wiles and -- well, definitely not her brain -- to play the game. Although her first "love" interest seemed completely smitten, he very quickly decided she wasn't the girl to bring home to mamma. "Oh, the way too uninhibited girl," laments Jess. Jess is single.

"I can't be like that," she says, "but then I've become that girl; When I really fall for someone, I fall hard. From the outside looking in, it's easy to say 'Don't do it! Don't show too much, don't give too much. Keep that momentum going by being mysterious.' There's a thrill..."

"The 'Thrill of the Chaste,'" I say. And maybe haste makes waste. Maybe. Or maybe Jess is still single because she's overthinking it.

On an episode of Dating in the Dark, the reality dating show where contestants "date" without actually laying eyes on one another until the very end, Brian reveals to Lisa that he is a very religious Christian... (wait for it) virgin! Lisa laughs out of nervousness, but ultimately decides she wants to continue dating him for his personality and values, even if she doesn't agree with the whole celibacy deal. Brian, deciding that Lisa is a "very sexual person" decides not to meet up with her, concluding that they have different values and ultimately, that they wouldn't be a match.

What I found interesting was that Lisa had done a complete 180 and was eager to meet Brian, deciding that his reasons for remaining a virgin until marriage were admirable. As the rules of the show dictate, Lisa waited on the porch for Brian because she was interested in meeting him. Brian didn't show because you only show if you are in fact interested -- and that would be, interested in continuing the relationship "in the light." Lisa was enticed by the thrill of the chaste. Brian seemed more eligible because he was not like other guys. But what Brian withheld he also beheld (chastity), and alas, Lisa was stood up.

As I was writing this blog post, I thought my title was most original and then I did a Google search for "Thrill of the chaste." What I found surprised me. There is actually a book out there by the very same title -- a title which I thought I'd brilliantly come up with on my own (well, I did come up with it on my own, but someone else did too)! Dawn Eden, a New York Daily News columnist and blogger who underwent a dramatic conversion ceremony from Judaism to Christianity at age 31, published a book called The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On. Rather than a preachy "I always was a virgin" tale, the book, according to reviews, is a "Been there, done that, learned and transformed myself" tome.

In short, Eden urges single 20- and 30-somethings to take a second look at their Sex in the City approach, and she does so by relating her own experiences and mishaps and the insight she gained by going about it all wrong. She stresses that mystery is essential -- by remaining chaste, a man and woman become intrigued by one another and the intrigue is the springboard for love. Whether you believe in this or think it's hogwash, we all know that it is best not to give too much too soon. We know about The Rules and He's Just Not That Into You and we know from our own dating experiences exactly why "He never called," or why she is "The One Who Got Away."

It boils down to common sense, emotional IQ, social cues and the fact that all I've written above is not entirely original.

But really, does it matter whether it's original or not?!

Folks are still making the same mistakes every day in relationships, giving away free milk, forgetting there's a tantalizing cow to sell that will reel in quite a profit -- and I do admit to referencing an annoyingly antiquated cliche. But many of these folks, friends and people I've spoken with, are left with that empty, bottomless pit feeling (and look, I'm not addressing those who are having fun and are happy to have casual sex/casual almost-sex, or those who are generally happy in any sort of casual relationship. I am specifically addressing those who really feel that they are "giving too much" of themselves only to meet with disappointment... time and again. I'm addressing those who feel "something's gotta give" and who've expressed "I can't take it anymore!"). For those who want a lasting, meaningful, lifelong relationship, things have to change.

You may abhor my title (and Eden's) and be of the mindset of Alex Comfort, MD, that famed Joy of Sex author and sexpert. He said "We may eventually come to realize that chastity is no more a virtue than malnutrition." I personally believe that there's a middle ground between frigid and foolhardy behavior.

Like the American Romantic and diplomat James Russell Lowell said over a century ago:

"Such power there is in clear-eyed self-restraint."