Ask A Mom (Who Is Not Your Mom): Breaking My Vow of Purity
Have an issue that could use a mom’s-eye-view? Our new advice column features a real live mother of three who is ready to discuss any of your burning questions judgment—and baggage—free. Email [email protected] with the subject line “Dear Mom.” Please include your first name or nickname and where you are from. Questions may be edited for clarity and length.
My mom and I have always had a very close relationship. When I was 13, I made a purity vow and promised not to have sex until I was married. Part of the reason I did it was because I knew it would make her happy—and she was beyond thrilled. When she was in high school and college, she was very casual about sex and she’s often told my sister and me how much she regrets that. I’ve always felt comfortable talking to her about sex and relationships, but now I’m 20 and thinking that abstaining isn’t for me anymore.
In the past, I asked my mom how she would feel if I decided to break that promise and she said she would support me no matter what—but it was hypothetical because I had never even kissed a boy. Now I have a boyfriend who I’ve known as a friend for a few years. He knew going into the relationship that sex would never be a casual thing for me. We’ve fooled around, and it has always been consensual. I feel that sex is just the next step for us.
I want to broach the subject with my mom so I can get her opinion and help with birth control and gynecological appointments. I know that she will always love and support me, but I don’t want to have to face her disappointment or have her think that I’m just doing this because this is my first real relationship. How can I bring up the subject gently?
—J.J. from Minnesota
Each of us makes decisions about our lives drawing on our personal experiences. Your mom’s attitudes about pre-marital sex were shaped by what sounds like a rough time when she was not emotionally ready to be sexually active. She may have also fooled around with guys she didn’t have genuine feelings for. It’s not surprising that she has wanted to protect you from doing over what she sees as her painful mistakes. However, you are now in a very different place than she was. You are a thoughtful young adult who feels ready to make informed decisions about your own sexual life. You have a supportive, caring boyfriend.
Luckily, you know your mom will love you no matter what. Perhaps because you are so close, it’s especially difficult to do or say something you think will upset her. Some kids—and adults—are “people pleasers” and spend their lives trying to make others happy. Speaking to your mom about breaking your purity vow may not be warm and fuzzy. But part of growing up is asserting yourself to your parents, even when you know your attitudes differ. There may be conflict, but it’s a hugely important lesson when you discover that, although you won’t always agree on everything with your family and friends, the foundation of love remains strong. You’ll gain confidence to speak your mind and take risks in many different areas of your life as you grow up and become an independent woman.
Take a deep breath and explain to your mom that her guidance is incredibly valuable to you. Respectfully let her know what your plans are with your boyfriend and why you are ready to take that step. If she’s not comfortable with helping you visit a gynecologist and obtaining contraceptives, you can do that with your boyfriend or a girl friend. If you are old enough to have sex, you are old enough to research birth control and get your self to a doctor’s office.
Oh—and let her know how much you love her. Moms like that.