Bringing chastity into a relationship


I’m looking for encouragement and/or advice with regards to “starting over” with chastity within the context of an existing dating relationship. I’ll try to keep the background short.

My girlfriend and I are 22 years old and have been dating for nearly three years. We’ve both prayed and worked to discern our vocations and believe we are called to marry each other. However, these last few years have been anything but particularly chaste. Thus far, we’ve been far too intimate physically and not nearly intimate enough emotionally or spiritually. Recently, God has blessed us by leading us to consider this carefully and to agree that we need to change things right away. We have a particularly good opportunity for a fresh start right now because we’re about to start living in the same city again after 10 months of separation.

We would both like, with God’s help, to turn away from our sexual sins and build the kind of foundation we’ll need for a happy and holy marriage. We also know that God can heal us and mend our hearts and souls if we stay close to Him. Even so, I find myself very discouraged about our chances, even though we’re just at the outset. I’m worried that by getting too close physically we’ve prevented ourselves from ever getting close intellectually, emotionally, or spiritually; I’m having a hard time envisioning what our “new” relationship should look like, let alone what we should do to try to build it. I’m also finding it difficult to honestly desire a better relationship (as opposed to simply doing it because I know it’s the right thing to do); it’s tough for me to view this as an opportunity gained (to draw closer to each other in a way that pleases God) instead of an opportunity lost (to be physically intimate after a long time away from each other).

Can anyone offer any perspective on introducing chastity into a relationship that’s sorely lacked it for a long time? I’ve found some helpful advice online about starting over after an unchaste past, but it often feels geared toward singles who want to improve future relationships, rather than couples who want to rebalance existing ones.

Any tips or encouragement would be much appreciated. If nothing else, please pray for us and other couples in our situation. Thanks! :slight_smile:


I think it is a great idea to kind of “start over”…Nothing wrong with that…Go out a alot and try not to be alone in private so it would be hard to do anything anyway…Good luck,God bless you both…:slight_smile:


Go to Confession and ask for advice. God will speak to you through His priest.


I think it’s about developing new habits. Over the course of three years, you and your girlfriend have formed habits (some good, some not so good). It’s little stuff that you might not even notice, like how you greet each other (a hug? a french kiss? a high five?), what your default Friday date night is, and how often you hang out with other couples or spend time alone.

I think a good way to start bringing chastity to a relationship is to slowly introduce better habits. For example, my husband and I recently started doing “Wednesday walks” Every Wednesday night after dinner, instead of turning on the TV or lounging around the apartment, we get outside for some undetermined time (usually 20 minutes to an hour) to talk about our lives, our relationship, any major decisions coming up, what we like and dislike about our jobs, etc. It’s really benefited our marriage. This might be a way for you to grow emotionally and spiritually together while taking the emphasis off of the physical relationship (it’s hard to screw up when you’re walking around your neighborhood).

Another good practice to get in the habit of is daily Mass. But if daily Mass seems overwhelming, you could make a Mass date night, where you meet each other after work every Friday at church to kick off your weekend.

Figure out what your occasions of sin have been in the past and then decide (together) on new habits to replace them. Did she often stay too late at your place and end up falling asleep on your couch? Make a habit of setting a timer to go off at 10pm and when it goes off, stand up, walk her to the door, and laugh about the day when you won’t have to set the timer. Do certain movies cause you to lust after each other? Make the decision not to rent R rated movies together, ever. Joke about how you’re practicing your parenting skills. Do you often find yourselves drinking alcohol alone together at one of your apartments? Spend a Saturday afternoon creating your very own (virgin) signature drinks, (maybe some kind of juice, fruit, yogurt, ice combo) and make that the default beverage of choice when you’re alone. I think once you get in the habit of doing or not doing certain things, it becomes a lot easier to be chaste and much more noticeable when you’re approaching a ‘danger zone.’


I think the last post was good advice…I think your priest can help out with that one…
as well…if you truly want to please God- GOd will help you…
I have introduced chastity into my relationship after I felt on a very deep level how it offended God…it took a long time to get to that point. I have been with my partner for 9 years (not married) and we havent been sexual with each other for months…it was easy for my partner as he happens to have a low sex drive…mine has always been higher…
I have found though that we have become much closer and I am doing lots of little things for him I never used to…like give him a massage…clothes on of course.

Have faith that GOd can help you…

All the Best


It is NEVER too late to start over! Confession is a GREAT starting point. You can even go in together in a “family” setting I think.
To avoid temptation… maybe you could both wear a scapular or medal or crucifix around your necks as a visual reminder of your newfound pledges of chastity with one another.

Christopher West’s Theology of the Body is a great book for you to read at this stage. You guys need to redefine what a physical relationship is and you need to see it in the context of marriage and God’s loyalty to us. Also, if you guys were using contraception that’s a whole other can of worms. Commit your future marriage to being artificial contraception free and use this time to learn WHY that is so important.


If you’ve both “prayed and worked to discern our vocations and believe we are called to marry each other,” why don’t you just get married?



:thumbsup: This is all great advice. I’ll just add to it that my husband and I were in the same situation 22+ years ago. We were able to ‘start over’…although I will admit that we were married four months later. We started praying the rosary together (his suggestion).



I can’t really give you personal advice as I have not had your experience, but I highly recommend this book:

Not Ready for Marriage, Not Ready for Sex: One Couple’s Return to Chastity by Chris and Linda Padgett

This couple succeeded in doing what you and your girlfriend are admirably setting out to do. Perhaps the book can help you figure out how to proceed.


Knowing “why not” in order to stop is a good start. However, I would instead start approaching it from the opposite way.

Knowing the actual beautiful dignity you both are as human beings…knowing the gentle reverence you can behold each other…being immersed in these ideas, this “knowing”, and convicting the heart of these things, then the temptation to abuse and use each other becomes severely reduced, not only reduced, but the idea becomes disgusting and unfathomable. Remember, we only need the laws which we want to break. Instead, lets be so convinced and immersed in the LOVE of each other and willing heaven for them, that anything that is not upholding the person’s dignity would never be in your mind.

yes, this is ideal, and easier said than done.

I highly highly recommend both attending the TOB institute head and heart immersion course together. The whole experience is beyond words


I can definitely relate to your current decision to love each other in a “new” way and to love God more by following his rules. I was in the same situation with my husband prior to our marriage and we had a very difficult time as well. Once you go down that path, it’s hard to stop it and change it, but you can do it with a lot of prayer…serious prayer. Pray the rosary every day and ask for our Blessed Mother to intercede and help heal you of this cross you carry. The suggestions listed above are all good and I would seriously employ them. One more thing to consider is to ask your girlfriend/fiancee to consider dressing very modestly if she doesn’t already. By modest, I mean to the point of not being able to see her figure at all in the clothes she wears. I can tell you this has helped me a great deal between my husband and myself because we MUST be chaste during much of my cycle each month in order to avoid another pregnancy (life threatening for me if I get pregnant again). It is much easier for him to maintain “good behavior” during those times because I do not dress in a way that creates impure thoughts for him. When he does have those moments, he prays and asks for help from God and he tells me that Jesus helps him to ward off those thoughts and feelings. God bless you and your fiancee.


Great choice man! We’re with you.

Try to remember that you can kiss, hug, and still be affectionate. It doesn’t mean that you have to strap your hands down everytime you see each other.

Go to things with friends and in public. Try to keep the alone time to a bit, and if you feel like you can’t control yourself (and trust me, your not alone in that. Alot of people feel that way) don’t let yourself go in that situation.


First off, I think it’s great that you have decided to do this. Second, I can say from experience that it is hard but definitely doable. My boyfriend and I were not Catholic when we met and our relationship started off lustfully. Without delving into too much history, I will tell you that we broke up for a while and during that time he came to Catholicism. When we got back together, I was a little weirded out by the whole thing especially when he told me we couldn’t have a physical relationship anymore. After seeing such a great change in him as a person, I started to consider it.

Transitioning from a very physical relationship to a chaste one was difficult. A few things that helped were books that he gave me to read. The first one was True Love by Mary Beth something (I forgot her last name) which got me into the whole idea about being pure in a relationship. From there I started looking online for more books about this and I discovered that there are many. I would recommend for you and your girlfriend to read these because they helped me. After learning about it, I saw how special sex is and I decided that I wanted to save it for my future husband.

One thing I will say is that bringing chastity into a relationship is totally worth it. Sex really blinds you to what the other person is truly like. You have this special tie now that makes it so much more difficult to end a relationship if you know things are going badly. By being chaste you can allow yourself to see if you really love that person or if sex has been blinding you.

Since we have brought chastity into our relationship, it has improved tenfold. The time we used to spend doing sinful things we now devote to learning about each other and talking. It is nice to know that someone genuinely loves you and your company, not just the feeling you can bring them from being “intimate”.

If you want to make sure this is the person for you to spend the rest of your life with, be serious about chastity. It will bring clarity to your discernment (after you get past the initial difficulty). Also, don’t give up just because you didn’t develop a strong spiritual or intimate bond to begin with. By removing lust, you will be able to do it now! I am living proof :smiley: Sorry for the lengthy post. I wish you luck! :thumbsup:

Oh and by the way, it really gets easier with time. The longer you go without doing impure things, the easier it is to go without it. The more you can say no and move away when things get really tempting, the less those situations will arise. Just remember self control!


WOW!, I’m really with you on this one. My girlfriend is a prototypical cradle Catholic and I’m an on fire, new Catholic as of Easter Vigil 2008. We’ve been off and on for a few years now. We’re both divorced. I’m annuled, she isn’t yet. Despite KNOWING it was wrong we gave into sex before marriage. I was able to find all kinds of reasons to convince myself…and sadly her… that it was OK. STUPID!!! After lots of prayer and “walking in the desert” I now know what it means to be a leader that God wants men to be. I love her dearly. She and I still talk and see each other but due to my poor leadership we’re kind of “off” again. I’m hurting. I’m amazed what poison sex outside of marriage really is. I’ll pray for you. I know that NOTHING is impossible for our God. I’ve been praying for him to give us just one more chance to have a wonderful, Christ centered courtship and sacrimental marriage. “Father, please give us one more chance and restore our purity…I want to be the leader that you want me to be for YOUR glory…not mine…”

I’ll pray for you GJ. I’d love to hear some advice.

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