My fiancee and I have/are having a similar struggle.
When we met (he picked me up in a bar by talking to me about Faulkner novels) I was just starting the journey that would eventually lead me to Christ, having been Wiccan mainly before that, and he’d been away from the Sacraments for over two years. Our relationship at the beginning was pretty much purely sexual. Well, that’s not true, we’d talk a lot about religion and Christianity and Catholic Dogma, plus he’d give me Catholic books to read and we’d discuss those as well. Looking back, it was a rather odd dynamic.
Very quickly I felt like he was the man I was meant to marry, but I didn’t see how that would ever happen given the way our relationship began. About six months into it (as I began to pray regularly and was attending a few different churches, including the Catholic Church six blocks from my house) I told him that I couldn’t continue seeing him as I desperately needed to get my spirituality sorted out and to do that I felt that I needed to try and live a chaste life.
I went into this conversation expecting that this would be the end of our relationship. To my utter surprise, his response was that he would never want to endanger my journey towards Christ, and he completely supported my decision, but didn’t think we needed to stop seeing each other.
That was about a year ago, we are engaged now and I have no doubt that we would not be if our relationships had continued on the path it was. I am in RCIA now and he has returned to the sacrements.
But it’s been a hard road going from a sexually active relationship to a chaste one (not to mention the previous decade of sexual activity I had before that!) . I’ll admit we have fallen down a few times:blush: but we just pick ourselves up, pray for forgiveness, and start over.
One of the things that was hardest was breaking habits we’d established: sleeping together, changing in front of each other, spending the night at each others houses, etc. Oh, and drinking together, that was a big one. In the beginning, we used to go out all the time and have a few drinks, but now, not so much. More than a beer or two is a bad idea for us.
And it is hard and it’s also a learning process too. Just make sure that when your girlfriend says, “It’s not going to be easy,” that what she really means isn’t,“I don’t really like this idea and I don’t really support it,” because you cannot be successful in this unless you’re both 100% committed. And even then it will be difficult, at times it will be an everyday struggle.
Plus, if she’s not willing to do this with you, maybe she’s not the one and you should start this journey on your own?
BTW, I am 30 and the fh is 34. So, I understand about not people to talk to about this sort of thing (especially being a convert and having a lot of non-Christian friends). So, I got involved with a 20-30’s group at my fiancee’s parish (mine doesn’t have one) and we’ve made friends with other chaste singles and couples.
Sorry this was so long!