The Psychology of Abstinence


Abstinence is about more than just saving yourself for marriage or protecting yourself from a STD, or unplanned pregnancy.  It’s not some old-fashioned religious idea either.  Abstinence is a way of life.  It’s a choice that teaches self-control and self worth.  It’s a way to establish within yourself your own importance. In our media and culture today, the word “virgin” is a dirty word.  There are movies about it, jokes on television, articles on the Internet and celebrities admired for promiscuity. With the world around us telling us that abstinence is a thing of the past and unpopular, it becomes hard to see how abstaining has its benefits.

However, the benefits are there. Beyond unplanned pregnancies and STD’s, abstinence is psychologically good for you!  Saving yourself for marriage affects your psyche in many different ways.  Studies have shown that teenagers who have abstained from sex and learned self-control have become more emotionally healthy after their adolescent years.  Those who have said no to sex until marriage are more satisfied later in life with their partners, and have shown to have longer sustaining relationships that are built on trust.

Psychology has also shown that people who have had sex before they have entered into marriage can possibly have emotional side effects; teenagers that have not completely established their own identity and have had sex are left feeling guilt, shame and incomplete.  Sex may have fulfilled a desire for a moment, but it leaves behind regret.  In some cases, people have felt used and discarded, establishing an unhealthy thought pattern for years to come.

People who have chosen abstinence have been found to have a stronger sense of self worth and idea of who they are.  Teenagers who did not give into peer pressure are more emotionally intelligent and have shown stronger willpower than their peers.  Without regret, shame and rejection, their self-esteem is stronger. They are not left with emotional baggage and the feeling of inadequacy.  They feel more fulfilled and empowered to be who God has created them to be.

I don’t believe that God designed sex for marriage for one reason.  I believe he did it for millions.  Psychologically God knew that sex is safer in marriage, surrounded by trust and intimacy.  He knew we were created as emotional beings and because of that, He set up a structure to protect that part of us.  He created this structure to empower us and to shape us into who He sees us to be.

- Johanna Wilson, M. Psy, Volunteer



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Abstinence: A Second Look. Retrieved April 7, 2015.

Facts and Stats. (2014, June 5). Retrieved April 7, 2015, from