Traditionally, premarital relationships were viewed with contempt and disapproval, especially in Indian society. People were expected to save themselves for marriage, and precocious premarital relationships were considered to have adverse effects on the individuals involved. However, over time that perception has changed to a large extent. As more and more people get involved with longterm romantic relationships and marriage becomes a choice more than a life goal to be met, the need to be physically intimate with one’s partner has gained more acceptance. Even though intimacy between two people in a relationship can be hard to resist, it does come with its share of baggage and pitfalls.
Being aware of the dangers of premarital sexual relationships helps you make a more informed choice on the matter. In case things don’t go as you’d expected, counselling can help you process the ramification a lot more efficiently.
Related Reading: Sex, Then And Now
What Do Statistics Say About Premarital Sex?
Despite premarital relationships being considered taboo, the Indian youth engages in premarital sex which is often characterised by absence of contraception, presence of coercion and multiple partnerships 1. The HT-MaRS Youth Survey 2 revealed that 61% of Indian population dismisses the taboo involved with premarital sex and only 63% of the population wants life partners who are sexually untouched.
Here some other facts and figures that shed a light on how premarital sex is viewed in our society3:
- 33% of Indian population engages in premarital sex, whereas 50% deny having such relationships.
- Among all the metropolitan cities like Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai, etc., it is Chennai which tops the list of the cities in terms of the prevalence of premarital sex (60% of the population engaging in such activities). Bangalore, on the other hand, ranks the lowest on the list.
- Premarital sexual encounters usually take place in the age group of 20-30 years.
- The partners with whom the premarital encounters take place are usually the neighbours, relatives and boyfriends or girlfriends.
- 10% of young girls and 15-30% of young boys reported having premarital sex in a survey conducted by the Population Council. 4
These statistics clearly point to two major trends – virginity is no longer a pre-requisite for a happy married life, and people do not mind getting sexually intimate with their partners even if there is no guarantee of marriage in the future.
That said, is indulging in premarital sex safe? And what can be done to ensure that in case a relationship does not work out, the sexual intimacy between partners does not have damaging physical, emotional or mental consequences. The dangers of premarital relationship cannot be ruled out, especially in case of teenagers who often throw caution to the wind and may be more susceptible to overlooking safe sex practices in the heat of the moment.
Related Reading: How Single Men And Women Approach Sex Differently
15 Dangers of Premarital Relationships
Even though the acceptance around premarital relationships in India may be steadily growing, the dangers and complications associated with such liaisons cannot be overlooked completely. This account of a teenage girl who was raped by her boyfriend because she wasn’t ready for sex makes a strong case for an honest discussion about the many risks and longterm consequences of premarital sexual relationships.
Let us look at the 15 dangers of premarital relationships to help you make an informed decision on the matter:
1. One tends to lose interest in the partner
Premarital sex means becoming physically intimate with a partner you’re not married to. This intimacy gives you both a chance to explore your sexual desires in every way possible. There is a good chance that what your experience in these sexual encounters with your partner may be very different from your expectations and vice-versa. This increases the chances of either one or both of you losing interest in the other partner, and can damage the long-term prospects of even the most secure and stable relationship in the long run.
2. High possibility of a breakup
If one tends to lose interest in the partner or feels sexually dissatisfied in the relationship, the chances of a breakup naturally go up. A lack of sexual compatibility may make the entire relationship lose value, and the disgruntled partner may decide to call it quits for good.
Rohan (name changed), a 31-year-old IT professional, recalls being head over heels in love with his high school sweetheart. As they moved out of their hometown to attend college, they decided to take things to the next level. After a few sexual encounters, his girlfriend started becoming more and more withdrawn. One day she abruptly ended the relationship. “I was just looking for experience,” she said. Rohan says the words haunted him for years, and he found himself incapable of loving someone the same way again until he met his wife at 28.
3. Premarital sex affects other relationships in a negative way
If you’re sexually active before marriage, chances are that you’re getting your action on the sly. This means having to lie to your family about your whereabouts. All this secrecy and tendency to lie can start affecting your relationship with your family and friends; and may even alienate you from the people who have been your strongest support system.
4. You may become the object of gossip
In the event that you’re unable to keep your sexual encounters under wraps, you may find yourself in the thick of demeaning insults, unsettling gossip and speculations. Irrespective of how accepting people claim to be about it, years of conditioning prevents them from being completely comfortable with the idea of sexual encounters between unmarried partners. All this gossip and ‘bad reputation’ can be disconcerting to your family, which will, in turn, impact your peace of mind too.
Related reading: 7 tips for women who are trying sex for the first time
5. Premarital relationships can disrupt your mental health
Premarital relationships do weigh on your mind and can be a trigger for stress. The guilt of keeping secrets from your family and friends, the nagging fear of unwanted pregnancies, risk of STIs can all contribute to stress buildup. Research suggests emotional stress caused due to a breakup where partners were sexually intimate can be a cause for depression. On the whole, premarital sex can disrupt your mental health.
6. Trauma in case of unwanted pregnancy
I once had a colleague who was consistently hooking up with a friend. Even though she had intense feelings for the guy, he remained noncommittal about the relationship. Yet, every now and again, they’d end up in bed together. After about six months of this back and forth, she got pregnant, and the guy just up and vanished.
He switched off his phone after hearing the news and was unreachable for days. She had to go through the abortion alone and didn’t confide in anyone about the traumatic event for months afterwards. Needless to say, the experience scarred her for life. To make matter worse, the abortion led to infertility.
Unwanted pregnancies can have devastating consequences. If the partner does not support you during this trying time, you’re left to fend for yourself at a time when you may not have the emotional and financial prowess to deal with the situation. Even if abortion is an option, it can come with lifelong physical and psychological ramifications. Similarly, engaging in unprotected premarital sex and popping emergency contraceptive pill afterwards can also have serious side effects.
7. High risk of STDs
The hormones are raging, there are sparks flying and intense emotions at play. All of these factors can trigger an insatiable lust. In the heat of the moment, the thought of using protection may not even cross your mind or may seem inconsequential. However, if you’ve multiple partners or are engaging in sex with someone whose sexual history you have no clue about, you expose yourself to the risk of sexually transmitted diseases(STDs).
Whether it is itching, burning, rashes on your genitals or something serious as herpes or HIV, your sexual and reproductive health may be seriously compromised in the bargain. Besides, at that stage in your life, you may not have the resources or knowledge to deal with such medical complications independently.
8. Having sex changes your body
When you lose your virginity, your body undergoes physical as well as psychological changes. It’s almost as if you become a new person who looks different and has a changed perspective on everything. Your breasts swell up, your hips may feel wider, you may experience sudden sexual urges – all of this can be hard to process, especially if you become sexually active at a young age.
9. You step into your marriage with an emotional baggage
Sex is not just an act between two bodies, it is an engagement of the mind and subconscious too. That relationship may not work out in the long term, you move on and marry someone else but it becomes difficult to shake off the emotional baggage from your past completely. The feelings of anger, betrayal or even residual love can interfere with your ability to start a new relationship with a clean slate.
10. One tends to take the partner for granted
A lot of times physical intimacy is seen as a de facto longterm commitment to the relationship. Once you’ve been intimate with your partner, it is possible that they become too secure about the future and stop putting as much effort into the relationship as before. Living with the realisation of being taken for granted can become a root cause for discord, leading to constant bickering and fights.
11. The premarital relationship may lead to infidelity
Having shared close physical intimacy with a person may increase the likelihood of infidelity after the relationship has run its course. Say you and your partner part ways, and you move on with another person. However, somewhere down the line, this old flame comes back into your life. In such cases, the likelihood of cheating on one’s present partner increases because you already share a comfort level with this other person from your past, so being with them feels familiar and comforting rather than unnatural or wrong.
12. Premarital sex can change your outlook toward love
This happens when you get physical intimacy is followed by heartbreak. You were physically and emotionally invested in the relationship. Perhaps, you were young and this was one of those fairytale romances where you automatically imagine a happily ever after. Then, your partner falls out of love and move on, and the cruel reality of life hits home. This can change your outlook toward love and you might start viewing everyone with suspicion. As a result, you may push away even a genuine person and struggle to establish a meaningful relationship again.
13. One might have to face abandonment
A teenager I know of gave into her boyfriend’s continued insistence for sex. She was madly in love, and they had been together for 2 years. She had no reason to suspect her boyfriend’s feelings for her. After the act, he rolled over the side, and snidely commented, ‘Oh, so you were a virgin after all.’ After that encounter, he started avoiding her more and more, and eventually broke off the relationship over a phone call without so much as an explanation.
It is, therefore, important to know what you’re signing up for before agreeing to intimacy in a premarital relationship. Are you comfortable with getting sexually involved with your partner? Is he in it just for the sex? If yes, are you comfortable with that equation? Are you emotionally equipped to deal with the relationship not working out in the future?
Ask yourself these questions, and if the answer isn’t a resounding ‘yes’, know that you have to the right to say no to sex at any point in time. Even if you’re in bed with your partner, you’re obligated to have sex with them. This is especially crucial for teenagers, who often give in to the pressures from their boyfriend/girlfriend as well as peers and say yes to sex before they’re ready for it.
14. Self-esteem takes a hit
You might become so guilt-ridden about the premarital relationship, especially if things don’t work out between you and your partner, that it may send your self-esteem plummeting. Besides, if the word about your sexual escapades gets out and you are not strong enough to handle the backlash, the consequences can be extremely damaging.
Related Reading: How Important Is Lust In A Relationship?
15. You risk spiritual damage
Religious conditioning and beliefs are a major influence on a person’s value system and thought process. Most religions advice against sexual intimacy in premarital relationships. If you’ve grown up in a deeply religious or spiritual environment, the physical intimacy between you and your partner may affect you spiritually. You may find it hard to connect with ‘your God’ as you did before, and that can have serious implications on the future course of your life since religion plays an important role in most people’s life.
We hope you’ll factor in these potential risks and consequences when making a decision about whether or not to take the plunge of sexual intimacy in premarital relationships. In the end, the right decision boils down to what works for you both individually and as a couple. But if you’re doing it under pressure or out of fear of losing your significant other, we strongly recommend you don’t do it unless you want to.