She wants to wait until marriage … for everything

We chat today.

Dear Meredith,

"Sarah" and I have been together for a year and a half. It has been wonderful from the get-go; we both have the same interests and she is one of the kindest, smartest people I've ever met. We're also 12 years apart in age (I'm 36, she's 24), but we're both grounded. She still lives at home with her parents but says that will change once she gets a full-time job in her field. (That's taking some getting used to; I’ve been on my own for 14 years).

However, one thing has been nagging at me recently: she's waiting for marriage to have sex. She told me this very early on in our relationship -- it's a religious thing, as well as her own personal preference -- and I was fine with that at the time because I thought, well, there's other things you can do. It's also her preference; who am I to pressure her? I learned soon after that no sex before marriage meant no real physical relationship before marriage. It really never bothered me until the last few months when it's been on my mind constantly. I also realized that I'm nowhere near to getting engaged -- I'm still trying to figure out if it's because I will be making a career change soon, or if I'm still unsure if she's the one. This is the longest relationship for both of us (and her first "real" relationship).

Recently, she and I had a long conversation about this waiting. I told her that this no-contact thing is very frustrating to me, but quickly added that I wasn't looking for the obvious solution because I'm not forcing her into doing something if she's not ready. I've never experienced anything like this before -- nor have the few, close friends with whom I've discussed this, and they're all as perplexed as I am about what to do. What I'm worried about is losing interest in her physically, which apparently already is showing itself; I don't ask her to stay over anymore because what's the point? Can physical attraction ever leave and come back? What happens if we get married and on the wedding night, I have no interest in seeing her naked? It's like we're an old married couple and it's only just begun. I said this to her, concerning the wedding night, during our talk and all she said was, "You better not," which kind of says to me she doesn't fully understand where I'm coming from.

Look, I'm not some kind of sex-crazed person, but it is one of the fun parts of being in a relationship (like I need to tell you that). I really don't know what to do. Sarah is such a sweetheart and we do have a lot of fun together, but I'm kind of worried that the lack of physicality will doom this relationship and there won't be anything to get it back.

– Stop! In the name of celibacy, NH

You're either the kind of person who can accept the no sex before marriage rule or you're not. And you're not. You never were. You want to be in a physical relationship with the person you're dating. Seems fair to me.
I have to wonder why this relationship appealed to you so much and why you've let it go on for so long. It makes me think that somewhere deep down in that brain of yours, you're so afraid of rejection that you felt good about being with someone who talked about lifetime commitment on the first date.
Maybe you needed that kind of security to get going in a relationship, but you're obviously ready for more risks – and some reality. I'm sure that Sarah is fantastic, but she should be with someone who shares her philosophies about sex and marriage. And you need a peer.
You already want less of her. You're moving on. Let her move on, too. End this.
Readers? Any reason to stick around? Why did a relationship with Sarah appeal to him so much? Is it lack of confidence? What should he do? What's the lesson here? Discuss.

– Meredith