- Sonali Chandra says she is proud to be a virgin at the age of 35.
- She refuses to accept societal pressures to have sex before marriage.
- This is Sonali’s story, as told to Jane Ridley.
This essay told is based on a conversation with Sonali Chandra. It has been edited for length and clarity.
My coworkers would often talk about their various hookups. I never join In conversation.
I am 35 years old and my v card with pride. I want a ring on my finger before I lose a ring on my finger. If I betrayed my principles and took a one-night stand I would be devastated.
It’s not because I’m scared – although I know having sex for the first time can be painful. But “friends with benefits” and no-strings relationships are not for me. I am looking for my life partner.
As a modern, first-generation Indian American, I am pleased to maintain the traditional values of the country where my parents were born. Sex before marriage is prohibited in India.
My mom and dad never talked about sex when I was growing up. loved watching me and my sister Bollywood films in the 1990s and early 2000s. The films would not show the couple kissing, but the actors were allowed to hold hands.
When I attended middle school there was no tank top, no cleavage, no makeup, and no social interactions with boys. I was home to junior and senior prom. The only time I wore clothes was for a dance performance. I had been doing Indian dance for years and used to perform in talent shows in high school. People would be shocked because I was the class geek who used to wear 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? The kids sleep.”
He told me about his plans for my arranged marriage on the drive home from my graduation in 2009. I was 23 and thought, “You never even let me have a boyfriend.” He said, “I’ll find someone for you. There are all kinds of Indian matrimonial sites online.”
I said no thanks.
My dad wanted me to put my dating profile on sites for single people of Indian origin
Dad decided to find someone in America who had strong Indian values. He used to try to introduce me to doctors and lawyers in our home state of New Jersey. But I never met him. I didn’t trust my father to choose a husband for me. He wants someone like himself. My parents’ marriage – which was arranged in India – was challenging.
I didn’t want to post my profile on places like bengalimatrimony.com. I knew this would increase the pressure to keep working, even if I didn’t feel anything for that person.
I hated the idea of instant gratification. It was a cultural shock to this day in Manhattan, where I worked on Wall Street in my mid-20s. Guys would develop an attraction to me, but I would realize that they only wanted to take me to bed. If they were going to use me for sex and disappear the next morning, I would have been dead.
I had my first kiss when I was 26, and it felt amazing. The matter did not progress. I guess the romance went nowhere because of my beliefs.
Four years ago, I met another guy whom I really liked. One night, we were drinking 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.” After that he did not return my phone calls or messages. It reinforced my theory that I can’t have sex with a guy who can ghost me.
All 9 men I’ve dated in my life have all turned out to be jerks
In 2017, I moved to Los Angeles, where I work as a front-desk manager at Equinox Gym. I said to myself, “I’ve had enough of these games — I’m going to marry my career.”
I have dated nine people in my life. Each has been a blow. He asked me based on my appearance, but when I told him about my high standards and morals, he disappeared. Three of them proposed to me because they needed a visa to work in the US. I found it quite funny, and it provided me with the material for stand up comedy I’ve been doing it since January. I poke fun at the fact that I’m a millennial and still a virgin. I’ll joke that in India they say, “How you dance reflects how you love.” I am a great dancer, so I know I will do very well.
Still, I crave companionship. I have cried tears of loneliness. I’ve spent every birthday and holiday in the past decade on my own. I wonder if marriage will ever happen because men are so afraid of my values. I really can’t understand why. When I was growing up, virginity was a virtue.
As far as my father is concerned, he is ashamed that I still don’t have a husband. We had a family reunion at my grandmother’s funeral in New Delhi in March. Papa lied to everyone and said that I got married in the US.
People like me are teased and ostracized, but I want to inspire and motivate not only young women but men as well. They should not be subjected to societal pressure to have an arranged marriage – or to have sex.
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