Many may perceive the average college student as someone who lives on Tinder and sleeps with anything that walks. However, reality paints a different picture.
According to the Spring 2019 National College Health Assessment, 33.1 percent of college students said they had no sexual partners in the last 12 months. Some may wonder why students are declining a life of sexual activity when potential partners are abundant with a walk across campus.
For biomedical engineering junior Kiara Perez-Ponce, her Catholic faith taught her the importance of remaining celibate before marriage.
“We do get those talks of the idea of marriage within the church, what it sounds [like] and what it means, which also leads to the church inviting us to remain celibate,” Perez-Ponce said. “That’s my decision … but personally, I did see the [church’s] reason [and] the logic behind that.”
The Catholic church teaches the purpose of sex is for men and women to bear offspring, and Perez-Ponce said she believes that’s why sex should be treated as an experience for exclusive couples.
“The whole purpose of a family is that’s your vocation,” Perez-Ponce said. “[Sex] is an intimate act that should be shared between two people. But since it does bring pleasure … it’s [God’s way] of giving that gift for [a] married couple.”
Even though she has made the decision to remain abstinent until marriage, Perez-Ponce said she still feels the occasional desire to be intimate with her partner.
“Right now, I have a boyfriend, and I will say, even if I know the reasons, it can be a little hard in the moment,” Perez-Ponce said. “I just remind [myself of my religious beliefs] before making a more spontaneous decision.”
While many students choose to remain celibate until marriage, others have previously engaged in sexual activites before deciding to stop. Biomedical sciences junior Angelica Havard said her religion also played a significant role in her decision to become sexually inactive.
“There was definitely a point where I was like, ‘I don’t get why [abstinence] is a teaching,’” Havard said. “When I was really getting back into my faith … I would go to mass when [my boyfriend] and I were still having sex, [and] I would always feel guilty.”
Although God was an important element in her thought process, Havard said there was also an interpersonal component to being celibate with her then-partner.
“In hindsight, whenever I said that I didn’t want to have sex anymore was about the same time I was starting to have doubts about the relationship,” Havard said. “I was realizing that … this is not the man I’m going to spend the rest of my life with. And I wasn’t okay with that.”
Because of her family situation, Havard said she does not want to make any assumptions about her future with any other partners.
“I come from a divorced household,” Havard said. “I know that nothing is ever really set in stone. So, I don’t want to give that part of myself to someone else.”
Though it isn’t a guarantee, Havard said she believes marriage is still the best way to know when it’s okay to be vulnerable with a partner.
“I only want to share [sex] with whoever I’m going to be [with] for the rest of my life,” Havard said. “Being married would be the best insurance policy that, ‘This part of me is for you and you only.’”
While she still finds others physically appealing, Harvard said she doesn’t feel the desire to be intimate.
“I still have urges — I don’t think anyone is immune,” Harvard said. “Everyone sees people on a daily basis that they find sexually attractive, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to do anything about it.”
Not all Aggies feel those sexual feelings, however. According to the Asexual Awareness and Education Network’s website, it is widely accepted that asexual people make up about one percent of the population. That would mean at Texas A&M, a university with 67,133 students as of fall 2021, almost 700 students would identify as asexual.
“Asexuality are folks who feel little-to-no sexual attraction to others,” A&M LGBTQ+ Pride Center coordinator Frances Jackson said. “They may experience romantic attraction and may engage in some physical aspects of relationships, but [sex] is not the primary thing that’s going on.”
However, the identity itself is fluid, creating a grayscale for sexual identity, Jackson said. According to the Asexual Awareness and Education Network, there is a split attraction model within asexuality which leads some people to experience separate romantic and sexual feelings. A common misconception is that asexual people are sexually inactive altogether. However, those who identify as asexual may still have sex, Jackson said, and still may feel sexually attracted to another person.
“It’s person to person,” Jackson said.
Faith may be a factor for asexual people who are sexually inactive, but Jackson said their sexual orientation is not what makes them abstinent.
“Someone who is religious may also be asexual,” Jackson said. “They can intersect. But for folks who are celibate … it’s a decision, not an orientation.”