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"There's something I want to tell you
—Janet Jackson, "Let's Wait Awhile"
A Sister Trope to Celibate Hero, where the character (more often male than female) declares that they have no intention to just have sex for the sake of having sex. Either they're waiting for "The One", or they think they've found them, but the timing isn't right (that they want Their First Time to be special).
A common thing in many religions, which declare that sex is a very special thing to save for after wedding. In fact, pre-marital sex used to be pretty much a taboo topic, but nowadays it seems to be an unquestionable standard.
If the character who wants to wait is male, it's usually to show him as a romantic or old-fashioned (often both), probably due to the belief that usually A Man Is Not a Virgin. If female, there's about the same chance it'll be because All Women Are Prudes.
A frequent variant is an engaged couple deciding not to have sex again until after the wedding to make their wedding night "special". (Even though, y'know, they could have made it even more special by not having sex at all until the wedding...)
Occasionally paired with Insatiable Newlyweds to show that the couple weren't waiting out of prudishness.
- The Trope Namer is Janet Jackson's song "Let's Wait A While". In the the song's video, Janet's boyfriend is played by Taimak, the star of Berry Gordy's The Last Dragon.
- Jermaine Stewart's "We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off." The lyrics can be summed up as thus: "Don't move so fast and try to get to the sex right away, it's insulting and unclassy - let's just have fun and enjoy ourselves before we go any further." Interestingly, the POV character who wants to wait is male.
- Batman's Timothy Drake, the third Robin, is the definition of this trope. He's one of the few persons in the entire Bat-Family (Heck, the entire DCU superhero community) who hasn't done it. The dude's had at least 5 girlfriends, and has been propositioned for sex thrice. Gotta love that guy.
- In New Warriors: Firestar, Nova and Namorita break Justice out of the convoy taking him to prison. After Vance convinces them to let him face the music, Nova, Namorita and the guards look the other way while he and Firestar "have a private goodbye." Angelica wants to, but Vance convinces her that their first time should be more special than a quick rut in the woods.
- Scott Pilgrim and Ramona Flowers do this in volume 1. After their first "date", Scott ends up at Ramona's apartment with the (literal) girl of his dreams half-naked, on top of him, in bed. He gets nervous, and when Ramona hears the hesitation in his voice, she abruptly changes her mind about sex, which is fine with him. They still sleep in the same bed. Interestingly, it's clear that neither of them are still virgins.
- The 40-Year-Old Virgin: The protagonist and his love interest decide to wait until they've had a certain number of dates before they...do it.
- Brought up in the film adaptation of Like Water for Chocolate by Pedro to his new bride Rosaura. However, the marriage is not of love but simply to delay an uncomfortable marriage obligation (Pedro married Rosaura to be close to her sister Tita, his true love). Pedro throws in one successful excuse to why they should wait but eventually the deed is done (to produce a son).
- Anita Blake didn't put out until the sixth book in the series, due to a bastard ex-fiancee.
- The "engaged" version also happens in Odd Thomas. Tragically, before they can actually consummate their love, the girl dies.
Live Action TV
- There never seems to be any question that Cory and Topanga in Boy Meets World are going to wait until they are married, although Cory has a harder time waiting than Topanga does. At one point during the engagement, she shows him her butt as a compromise to placate him.
- The "engaged couple agreeing to wait until their wedding day before they do it again" happened on both Scrubs and Friends, with Turk and Carla, and Monica and Chandler, respectively.
- In the case of Scrubs, it lasted less than an entire episode, by the time Turk comes around to the idea as being romantic, Carla has had such a rough day that she needs some loving affection and changes her mind. Turk is happy to oblige.
- Appears no less than three times in Gossip Girls first season. An ongoing plot in the first seven episodes is Blair wanting to lose her virginity to Nate, who keeps putting it off. Dan also takes this stance with Serena for a few episodes. And Chuck Bass, of all people, tells Blair in the season finale that they should wait a while and "do it right this time".
- Arrested Development:
Ann: And then that first time, after waiting and waiting, it’s gonna be so awesome! Because it’s not just going to be my love and George Michael’s, but God’s love, as well. God, it’s gonna be incredible!
- On Friday Night Lights, the first time Julie and Matt attempt sex, they realize they're doing it just because they each think the other is "The One." They're correct about that, but decide there's no rush to have sex and that they'll wait until it feels right.
- Subverted in How I Met Your Mother, where in a flashback, Marshall and Lily decide to wait to have sex... and then do it ten minutes later.
- In Grey's Anatomy Erica and Callie agree to wait before having sex because they both think they aren't ready to have sex with another woman. A few dates later, they consummate their relationship.
- Provides lots of humor in Girl Friends when Good Bad Girl Lynn starts dating a celibate man. He initially refuses to date her due to her...reputation, but she convinces him that she can wait. She's...not very good at it.
Manga and Anime
- In Girl Friends, due to both sides mistakenly assuming that their still virgin partner already had sex with somebody else, Mari and Akko had a very awkward first attempt that ended with this.
- Nick and Ki from General Protection Fault: Nick wants to wait until he and Ki are married because he's an old-fashioned romantic. Ki thinks his explanation is the sweetest thing ever.
- Dominic and Luna. Dominic learns that Luna's first time was an (intentionally engineered) utter disaster, so she has some serious hang-ups about intimacy on top her own self-esteem issues. It works out in the end, though (Three words: "Worth. The. Wait.)
- Tipper and Charles from Namir Deiter, much to the annoyance of their roommate Gabby, who wished they'd stop crawling the walls and start crawling each other.
- Joyce and Walky, due to Joyce's near-psychotic aversion to "pre-marital hanky-panky."
- In Penny and Aggie, Marshall repeatedly says this to Karen, because "we're kids." (The real reason, as the comic later reveals, is that he thinks having sex too soon will make him like his hedonistic mother, whom he resents.) However, Karen's self-esteem is so tied up in Marshall "wanting" her that she deliberately walks in on him in the shower and, when he still refuses to make love, gives him a hand-job without asking. After several months, Marshall decides he's ready and they consummate their relationship...but break up soon after for unrelated reasons.
- A Fan Art strip parodies this Marshall/Karen trope by portraying them in the future as newlyweds. As Marshall carries her over the threshold, the blushing Karen raises the question again, but he says, "Don't be silly. We're still just kids."
- The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob obliquely addresses this here.
- In Baldur's Gate II: Shadow Of Amn, this is the proper choice when romancing Aerie, near the end of the quest. If you accept her invitation and do the deed, in the morning after she will break up with you because she wasn't really as ready as she thought, and you took advantage of her emotions. If you tell her to wait, she'll later be happy you did the right thing. Besides, you have other opportunities in the expansion.
- Viconia's romance takes a different approach. You can bed her fairly early on (and will break off the relationship if you don't accept), but later on considers it just a tedious duty ("Let's just get it over with"). You can respond by just having sex as usual... or offer to just cuddle, since she's clearly not in the mood for anything else. Viconia is very suprised at this un-drow-like option, but says afterwards that it wasn't bad.
- In Dragon Age: Origins, the romance option with Alistair plays out like this. You can convince him to go to bed instead of waiting for him to feel ready and approach you, but the love scene doesn't play and he seems unhappy about it.
- Kate, the true love interest of Grand Theft Auto IV, no matter how many times Niko dates her, she will not sleep with him.
- He'd been convicted of manslaughter in the death of his father