Dawn Eden Stopped Trying To ‘Have Sex Like A Man’


Nicole Hardy was a 35-year-old virgin.

A Mormon, she had stuck to teachings of her faith for three-and-a-half decades, choosing not to have sex even when her (non-Mormon) boyfriends wanted her to and patiently waiting for the future husband she expected God to bring along.

But at 35, Nicole got tired of waiting. And, as she wrote in her January Modern Love feature for The New York Times, she decided that she didn’t need a man.

What Nicole meant was that she didn’t think she needed a husband. Surprisingly, this revelation accompanied her decision to let go of her virginity.

She didn’t need a husband, but she was tired of being alone. Or at least, a virgin. She opens and closes her story with the scene of herself in a Planned Parenthood, getting an IUD implanted.

She describes herself wrestling with her faith, her family and God:

“Regardless of my tragic dating history, the fact that I had no reason to feel hopeful, I tried for 15 years not to lose hope. The gospel was the answer. It had saved my parents, each of whom had converted, separately, when they were young. Thanks to the Mormon church, they escaped childhoods rife with abuse, alcoholism and neglect. They found God, found each other, and were rescued by a community committed to family, forgiveness and joy.

Out of chaos they created a tiny space where our family of four lived happily and prospered. I was surrounded by love, taught that I am a child of God, that I have a divine purpose — my whole life I’d felt secure, fulfilled, purposeful and connected. And further, I’d made a commitment. Why would I abandon God and his church now when in all ways but one I had asked and had received?

Perhaps the failure was mine — I’m sure many church members see it that way. I was too weak to endure. They’ll say I should have waited another decade, or spent my whole life alone if that’s what God required.

I’m just unwilling to believe that’s what God wants for anyone, and was unwilling to continue spiraling further into a disconnected life, feeling abandoned, being discounted.”

The tragedy here is that she wasn’t abandoned, or disconnected, or discounted. And the irony is that casual sex certainly isn’t going to alleviate her pain or frustration.

Juxtapose her story to another 30-something woman who champions chastity as freedom, rather than bondage. Catholic writer Dawn Eden authored “The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On,” which was published in 2006.

In 2008, she described to The Today Show her life before she recognized the beauty of chastity. She had pleasure, she said, but she didn’t have joy. It was within chastity that she found an answer to the emptiness:

“That emptiness was in fact a God-shaped vacuum, as I discovered at 31 when I had a born-again experience that converted me to Christianity — beginning a journey that would eventually bring me to Catholic faith. But when the initial rush of my newfound faith faded, I had to face some hard facts — namely that, where my sex life was concerned, I had to get with the program.

For the first time, I saw clearly that all the sex I ever experienced had failed to bring me closer to marriage or even being able to sustain a committed relationship. Even when I had been in a relationship, the sex that was supposed to bring me and my lover closer effectively caused me to put up emotional barriers.

Before I discovered chastity, I believed I was supposed to make the most of my freedom to ‘have sex like a man.’ That meant divorcing my emotions from my sexual activity, so that I would feel a bond with my partner only if and when I wished. If I wasn’t enjoying this game, then, according to feminist wisdom, I was doing it wrong.

Today I see that I was doing it right, and that’s precisely why I was unhappy. Can a woman really have sex like a man? I’m not so sure men can ‘have sex like a man’ — at least, not without lasting emotional dysfunction. Sex is the most giving, self-sacrificing act that a woman can do with her body; she literally lets a man under her skin. I could not handle making myself so vulnerable for a man when I knew he had an ‘out.’ And I don’t care what anyone says about the high divorce rate: The fact remains that when a man hasn’t signed that piece of paper, it is much easier for him to simply pack up his clothes and leave.

So I had become hardened, to protect myself. And when the smoke cleared after the bolt from the blue that gave me my faith, I found myself having to learn not only chastity, but vulnerability.”

It’s tempting for singles in their twenties, thirties, forties — heck, nineties! — to abandon long-held values as unobtainable ideals and settle for what the rest of the world dishes out. But, as Eden explains, that’s not going to lead to happiness. It’s not going to lead to joy. (And Nicole even lists joy as among her parents’ possessions as they adhered to Mormon values.)

And it’s joy — not fleeting pleasure — that’s worth the sacrifice.



  1. Charles-683007 February 10, 2011 Reply

    Not all men can have sex like a man, that is having sex without an emotional attachment.

  2. Stephanie-561901 February 6, 2011 Reply

    Ok Timothy, I quess I spoke to soon. Sorry! Regarding the article It is a source of strenth in knowing that there are still Catholics out there who value their virginity and/or celibacy. It’s not easy. We are humans with sexual needs. We hold back because of our belief in God’s will and our faith in His existence and do not wish to offend Him. St. Augustin put it so well, “our hearts are restless, until they rest in thee O Lord”

  3. Stephanie-561901 February 6, 2011 Reply

    Timothy, why are you so angry? Maybe you should take yourself off CM!

  4. Gail-678227 February 1, 2011 Reply

    “have sex like a man.”
    To me equates to… divorced emotions from sexual activity, just to feel a bond with any partner if and when he wishes.
    She/Woman does not even enter the picture if you are single…..she is just another conquest, another notch on his headboard of the virgins he has taken advantage of durring that virgins most vunerable time in her life….
    Virgins UNITE & support others to stay virginal.

    I have NEVER watched “Sex in the City”, “Men of a Certain Age” or any other sexualy orientated tv/movie. I DETEST them & find them to be tasteless, degrading and down right pure filth.
    No wonder yung people act & do the things they do not only do they see it on tv/movies they see it from their parents and even some grandparents. But then again that is what is in these days….
    I do not watch the news, those shows what do I watch? fashion & cooking shows, old family movies on AMC, tcm & EWTN, ….
    NOTE: I am a bit older tham most people here on CM so I guess that makes me “OLD FASHIONED”.
    PS: I am divorced after 36 years, because of his mid-life identity crices, unfaithfulness, and other sexual orientated propoganda (pornography), yet I still have TWO beautiful & sucessful married adult children.

  5. Nancy-591885 January 31, 2011 Reply

    Is this woman a convert? Because otherwise why would CM post something written from a Mormon?
    Just wondering.

  6. Marielle-663167 January 28, 2011 Reply

    I just quickly read Nicole Hardy’s article (referred to at the top), and… The part that got to me the most is when she says “I would, for the love of God, feel a man’s hand on me before I die.” I have thought those words too often, and so intensely sometimes that I physically hurt from wanting to feel a man’s touch. But the truth is I have. With both of the boyfriends that I have had, I have gone too far, physically (though, by the grace of God, never far enough to lose my virginity). I know that feeling a man’s touch is… just that: feeling a man’s touch. It doesn’t fullfil the void… I feel for Nicole. And I get why she gave up and could not bear it anymore. Even after experiencing the emptiness, and the joy that simply is ripped from your heart and soul, I am still tempted to give up. It’s the hardest fight. I pray that God never leaves me to fight it alone, because I want to win!

    • Dionne-675109 January 31, 2011 Reply

      Yes it is a hard fight especially when society makes you feel like nothing. Some people who should know better 55 years old tells you stop living in the 1920’s. Stop acting like a child. I feel and I believe I am more of a woman if I can refuse to give myself casually too a man. Yes we all long for that touch but the emptiness is worst. You lose your sense of self that is hard to get back. Chastity allows you be keep yourself (being) intact thus ensuring you are a WHOLE PERSON and not a SHATTERED PERSON.

  7. Efren-676900 January 28, 2011 Reply

    Yea, this is a very important issue that can sometimes be overlooked, and the divorce rate is high, however we must push against the current and believe that our God will provide us with Joy. now wether its a man or women that is being promiscuous it is still wrong. So if your reading this stay strong in Faith and uphold Gods commandments to the best of your abilities. We are a strong current if we are united in our Goals…though this world is filled with overwhelming suggestiveness and indiscrete prejudice against those that take a stand against the alarming status Quo we can rest assured that the Good will prevail, and the mistakes we make like in the above stories are only reminders of how we must always seek God.. may Gods Grace be all you need to fill your lifes Desires. and may everything else Fall into place by his divine Mercy!!!!

    • Dionne-675109 January 31, 2011 Reply

      The divorce rate is high because people have sex then decided after towards to tie the knot. They carry baggage with them from all their past experiences into marriage. They are accustom to sex without responsibility and it hard to have sex and responsibility in marriage.

  8. Candace-587406 January 28, 2011 Reply

    Great post! I relate so much to Nicole and Dawn. It is worth it to wait! I also recommend Dawn Eden’s book. I have my own copy. 🙂

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