My girlfriend of a year and I are both 24. We've only lived in the same place for the last four months. (She's home for good now.) We have a really strong relationship with very few problems, and I've never been so happy or in love. But she told me this morning that she is strongly considering not having sex again until marriage. She is religious, but this is still a pretty big shock to me since we've been having a ton of great sex all the time we've been physically together.

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The fact that she is even suggesting this worries me. Sex is very important to me and I'm afraid this shows she doesn't want to have as much sex even after marriage, or doesn't value sex as much. I don't feel we've really had long enough to figure out if our sex drives are compatible nor do I know exactly how adventurous she's willing to be. I'm willing to give up threesomes & other hookups to be with her, but for that I'd really hope my needs were at least kinda of fulfilled with her and I just don't know that yet.

What do I do? I really don't want to leave her and the sex has been good. Do I stay with her and give up years of sex in the hopes that if we do get married it will live up to the potential of the first couple months? Do I try to negotiate? (She said she didn't know what she meant by "sex," and straight couples often do all the stuff we do and decide it's not.) Hope she changes her mind since she's already done it? Or do I break myself into pieces and leave?

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A couple of things...

First, you say your girlfriend is religious—and, hey, I don't regard that as a problem in and of itself. In Wednesday's SLLOTD I sided with the religious boyfriend of a LW with "strongly held anti-religious views." But what religious tradition are we talking about here? Because if your girlfriend is one of those queers tying themselves in knots in an effort to "reconcile" the anti-gay/anti-trans faith tradition in which they were raised with the blessedly liberating fact of their queerness... well, let's just say her sudden desire to save it until marriage—or stop it until marriage—could be a worrisome sign. It can be difficult to have the kind of good-to-great sex life you wanna have when you're partnered with someone who regularly (or permanently) shuts down sexually due to a bad case of religious icks.

And second, CHASTE, I was so relieved when I saw this in your letter: "Do I stay with her and give up years of sex in the hopes that if we do get married it will live up to the potential of the first couple months?" It's a very good sign that you aren't contemplating marrying your girlfriend on an accelerated timetable in order to get back to having sex with her.

But IF your girlfriend is cutting you off in an effort to hurry you into making a lifelong commitment to her—and I want to emphasize the big IF that came near the start of this sentence—that's another worrisome sign. Manipulating someone into making a premature commitment is often an abuser's first big tell.

I wanna be clear here: I am not saying that's what your girlfriend is doing here and I am not calling your girlfriend an abuser. Sometimes a red flag is a false flag. But you're basically just a few months into this relationship, CHASTE, and as much as you love infatuate your girlfriend at this stage, you gotta keep one eye peeled for those red flags—or those run-of-the-mill signs that you aren't compatible.

So what do you do? You talk it out. Seeing as you were already having sex with each other, CHASTE, you two should be able to have a conversation about what she considers sex. You should also be able to talk about what you would want in a sexually-exclusive relationship and what you would need between now and any hypothetical future wedding. Maybe there's some J.V. sex acts that would allow you to feel sexually fulfilled while allowing her to feel as if she's "not having sex again until marriage."

But if she can't tell you what she means by sex, well, then you probably shouldn't be having sex with her at all. Because having sex with someone who is so conflicted or so inhibited that can't tell you what sex is or what sex means to them—and then that same someone wondering aloud if they should stop doing whatever it is that might be sex until you commit to them for life—means opting in for a lotta drama. Maybe your girlfriend is worth it, CHASTE, but I've always regarded a lotta drama during what should be the honeymoon phase as, yep, another bad sign.

All that said, CHASTE, it doesn't sound like you've risked discussing your girlfriend's statement about stopping sex until marriage in any detail. That's really the first thing you need to do. Go use your words.

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