What is “dry humping?”

I’m a pretty naive Mormon girl, raised in a super conservative environment. I have a boyfriend and I’m just discovering kissing, but since I know next to nothing about sex and physicality, I don’t really know if I’ve done anything wrong. For instance, I just found out what dry humping is and I’m worried I’ve done it, but I still don’t know what it is and what it means. Can you help me?

Navigating sexuality prior to marriage and in your youth can be a challenging and often confusing process – especially within the realm of a religious community offering you traditional expectations juxtaposed within a larger culture with much looser ideas of what your sexual exploration should be about. I’m glad you are comfortable enough to reach out in this type of venue to ask questions and get information that I hope will be useful.

First of all, I posted your question on Mormon Matters to see what other members had to say:
Sexual naivete- pros and cons?
Check it out. You will notice that there are many different ideas of how premarital sexuality should or could be handled. In fact, this is one of my concerns for you: that you will trust others opinions and “shoulds” rather than trusting your own inner instinct. In fact, be prepared to get comments on this post that you may need to be wary of. Just because I allow comments to be posted does not mean I always agree with them. Due to anxiety regarding sexual sin, people can sometimes come across as over-judgmental or overly shaming, even if their intentions are meant to be for your benefit.

Here are some things I’d like for you to consider:

  • What are the reasons that resonate for you regarding the law of chastity and how it is presented within your religious construct? For example, staying chaste before marriage may protect you in the realms of sexually transmitted disease (STD), unwanted pregnancy, and emotional immaturity for sharing yourself at this level.
  • What are the reasons that do not resonate for you regarding things related to the law of chastity? For example, issues related to shame, rigidity, seeing sex as bad or dirty, etc.
  • Understand that the fact that you are a sexual being and experience sexual arousal is normal and healthy. This is how you were created by your Heavenly Father and it has purpose. Three purposes in particular: procreation, bonding with the one you choose to share your life with and the ability to experience pure pleasure.
  • How you want to manage sexual arousal in your years before marriage is something you want to look at from the lens of self-protection and long-term goals. Make the law of chastity work for you: not the other way around. It is there FOR you – not AGAINST you.
  • Having appropriate education regarding sexuality, anatomy, and female issues at large will be an important part of your “growing up.” Make sure you search for and get accurate information.

Here are some of my interpretations about appropriate sexual exploration before marriage in relation to the guidance and expectations the church gives: please take note that these are mine – not yours. Take them or leave them. Develop your own!

  • Kissing is great!
  • Stroking or touching of any areas that do not include the female breasts and/or genital areas is great!
  • Oral sex (where you kiss each others genitalia – vulva or penis) is not considered appropriate outside of marriage. Many unmarrieds justify this behavior because oral sex does not take away your virginity. However oral sex is as, or even more, of an intimate act than traditional intercourse and I consider it sexual activity. You also need to know that there are some STD’s that you can get from oral sex.
  • “Dry humping” is where you rub up against someone or something else, stimulating your clitoris to the point that you can achieve orgasm (if you don’t know what or where your clitoris is, write me back). In a sense, it is a form of masturbation, but without the manual stimulation. Men can do this as well. If anything, this is the safest type of “sex” you can have, since usually people are completely clothed and no fluids are shared (therefore, no STDs and no pregnancy). But again, it is not something the church standards are going to approve of.
  • Although masturbation is discouraged by the church, it is a normal developmental act that most children and teens have participated in at some point. This is not something worth spending a lot of guilt or shame on (unless it has become compulsive in some way – meaning several times a day, it’s connected to pornography use, etc.). If you want to curb masturbatory practices because of your religious beliefs – then that is a personal decision/goal and can be done in a healthy approach.  You should have good reasons as to why you want to do this other than just “the church says I shouldn’t”. What is not healthy is inappropriate guilt or shame.

I hope this information is useful to you and can at least get you headed in the right direction. I hope you can embrace your sexuality as an integral part of your identity as a woman. I hope you can enjoy your dating years by feeling comfortable with yourself, by being able to create boundaries you want and believe in, and by getting to know a variety of young men with their varying sets of qualities. With that in mind, I also hope that you can take the teachings of the church regarding sexuality and use them to bring meaning and purpose to this amazing power that lies within you. And please, please, please remember that the underlying teaching that takes precedence (or at least should) over all others is that of the atonement. Therefore, if you feel like you’ve made a mistake or have ventured farther than comfortable – you have this incredible gift at your disposal. This gift is not meant to make you feel bad about yourself – it is meant to liberate you and allow you to move forward in the ongoing progression called life. Good luck and have fun!

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