Sonali Chandra says she is proud to be a virgin at 35.
She refuses to submit to societal pressure to have sex before marriage.
This is the story of Sonali, told to Jane Ridley.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Sonali Chandra. It has been edited for length and clarity.
My colleagues will often talk about their different connections. I never participate in the conversation.
I’m 35 and I hold my V-card with pride. I need a ring on my finger before I lose it for my one and only. I would be devastated if I betrayed my principles and had a one night stand.
It’s not because I’m scared, even though I know that the first sexual intercourse can be painful. But “friends with benefits” and non-committal relationships aren’t for me. I am looking for my soul mate.
As a first generation modern American Indian, I am happy to uphold the traditional values of the country where my parents were raised. Sex before marriage is taboo in India.
My mom and dad never talked about sex when I was growing up. My sister and I loved watching Bollywood movies in the 1990s and early 2000s. The movies wouldn’t show a couple kissing, but the actors were allowed to hold hands.
There were no tank tops, no cleavage, no makeup, and no socializing with boys when I was in middle school. I was home for junior and senior prom. The only time I dressed up was for dance recitals. I had been doing Indian dancing for years and competed in talent shows in high school. People would be shocked because I was the geek in the class who wore glasses and braces.
I lived with my family during my years at Rutgers University, where I majored in finance. My dad said, “What happens on college campuses? Children sleep everywhere.
He told me about his plans for my arranged marriage on my way home from graduation in 2009. I was 23 and I thought, “You never even let me have a boyfriend. He said, “I’ll find you someone. There are all kinds of Indian matrimonial sites online.
I said no, thank you.
My Dad Wanted Me To Put My Dating Profile On Indian Singles Sites
Dad decided to find someone in America who had strong Indian values. He was trying to introduce me to doctors and lawyers in our state of New Jersey. But I never met them. I didn’t trust my father to choose a husband for me. He would want someone like him. My parents’ marriage, which was arranged in India, was difficult.
I didn’t want to post my profile on sites like Bengalimatrimony.com. I knew that would only increase the pressure to make things work, even if I didn’t feel anything for the person.
I hated the idea of instant gratification. It was a culture shock to date in Manhattan, where I worked on Wall Street in my mid to late twenties. Guys would develop an attraction to me, but I would realize that all they wanted was to take me to bed. If they were going to use me for sex and disappear the next morning, I would have been mortified.
I had my first kiss when I was 26 and it was amazing. Things went no further. I think the romance came to nothing because of my beliefs.
Four years ago I met another guy that I really liked. One evening we were having a drink in a hotel bar and he wanted to rent a room. I told him it would be my first time. He said, “You deserve someone who will always be there for you, but I can’t be there for you.” He did not return my phone calls or texts after that. This reinforced my theory that I couldn’t have sex with a guy who could ghost me.
The 9 Men I’ve Dated In My Life Turned Out To Be Jerks
In 2017, I moved to Los Angeles, where I work as a front desk manager at an Equinox gym. I said to myself: “I’ve had enough of these games, I’m going to marry my career.”
I’ve dated nine guys in my life. Everyone turned out to be a jerk. They asked me out because of my appearance, but after I told them about my high standards and morals, they disappeared. Three of them proposed to me because they needed visas to work in America. I found it quite funny, and it gave me material for the stand-up comedy I’ve been doing since January. I don’t care that I’m a millennial and still a virgin. I’ll joke that in India they say, “How you dance indicates how you make love.” I’m a great dancer, so I know I’m going to do very well.
Nevertheless, I need company. I cried tears of loneliness. I’ve spent every birthday and every holiday for the past decade all alone. I wonder if the wedding will ever happen because men are so afraid of my values. I don’t really understand why. When I was growing up, virginity was a virtue.
As for my father, he’s ashamed that I still don’t have a husband. We had a family reunion in March at my grandmother’s funeral in New Delhi. Dad lied to everyone and said I got married in the United States.
People like me are teased and ostracized, but I would like to inspire and motivate not only young women, but also men. They shouldn’t have to submit to an arranged marriage – or social pressure to have sex.
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