Maintaining Relationships with Those of "Looser" Values

Hi all,

I’m new to these forums – hopefully I’m not opening up an overdone topic here! I’m looking for advice/discussion on how people deal with being in a relationship with someone of different values.

I’ve been dating my boyfriend for close to two years. We are both Catholic, but he is more loose on his Catholic values.

I guess the big value-difference is that I don’t believe in pre-marital sex. He sees nothing wrong with it, and has been with four of his past girlfriends. I can’t be mad at him… But it kind of hurts to think of him sharing this special bond with another girl. I am saving myself for marriage and I’ve always considered it to be something special… and he has not. We have discussed the issue, and he says it’s a way to get to know someone better, and it gave him a connection with his girlfriends at the time. So being a Virgin, it’s hard for me to really understand this perspective. I find myself thinking about it, and it bothers me.

I probably sound very nit-picky, but I’d love someone’s input on how to stop worrying about it… or in other words, a way to look at the situation in way that won’t hurt.

If you think this is the only topic about which you and this young man will have a deep difference of opinion, think again. A person who has lost their virginity but who has repented because they value sexual purity is very different than one to whom the whole concept of sexual purity is foreign. IOW, you are not being nit-picky, because you are really not obsessing about his past. You are concerned, too, about the way he thinks right now. You are being true to your own grip on reality. Do not be deceived by silly arguments to the contrary–to lack a grip on moral law is one way to lack a grip on reality. The laws of God are not arbitrary cultural constraints, but are given to us so that we may know how to act according to our best natures. You are dating a blind man who will not admit to any blindness. Think about that. Do you want a life of being forced to walk over rough and uncharted territory when you can see a straight and level path that you are not allowed to walk on?

What other moral values do you two not share? It is one thing to have social contact with people without a Catholic sense of morality–we can’t leave the world, after all, and it is not our business to judge those who won’t hear the Gospel–but take the time to truly count the cost before you decide to keep this fellow under consideration for marriage. I would seriously advise against it.

A lot of good it did him to get to know them [his past girlfriends] better!

If he cannot know you well enough without sex, then better he never gets to know you, because the sexual dimension is not “you,” it is only something that you participate in and hopefully only with the one partner you will have for a lifetime. Your boyfriend has the unfortunate knowledge of intimacy with four other girlfriends, which means he will be hard pressed not to compare those sexual relationships with whoever else he has a sexual relationship in the future. Better that a person only knows the one sexual relationship of his lifetime. In that way, the person will not be making stupid and meaningless comparisons. He is damaged goods. If he can come to appreciate you without having sex, then he will have come a long ways toward repairing the damage he has done to himself. He may be “more experienced” in the world’s view, but he is willfully less experienced in the ways of God. You should set the bar, not him. If he can measure up to your standard, then you will be making progress, but if he remains unhappy because you insist on obeying God’s will, you have the makings of an unhappy marriage, if in fact it ever gets that far (it didn’t with the others he got to know better). God has someone for you, but it is certainly not someone who refuses to obey what he knows (especially, as a Catholic) is God’s will. This is just common sense. This is how I see it, anyway.

You have to pray a lot to be able to discern God’s will. Our minds are such that if we don’t put aside special prayer time, we are so inundated with worldly thinking that our minds cannot see clearly enough to make the right decisions. If you look at the gospels, Jesus was always going off to secluded places to pray. If he had to do it, how much more do we need to do it? If you do pray enough, you will come to know God’s will for you, and you will be able to live your life with sure footing. Doing God’s will must be stronger than your love for a prospective mate, or you will simply deceive yourself into believing that it will all work out.

I agree with Easter Joy. You are not being nit-picky. What happens when you are both parents and are sitting down to discuss these things with your children? Is he going to tell them that having sex is no big deal?

This is not an area where agreeing to disagree can be easily done.

:thumbsup: Very good advice!

Follow God’s will. In my younger college days I strayed and stayed away for many, many years. I now regret this decision and my slippery slope slide into the worldly secular ideas really just sent me in the complete wrong direction. The world is a trap so don’t buy into it. Pray to discern God’s will for you. It would be hard to walk away from a relationship you have invested feelings in but it is better to walk away from something that will ultimately be bad for you rather than give in and tell God “no I want to do this.” The later will make you feel worse in the end.

I will pray for you :slight_smile:

Maybe your boyfriend just hasn’t been educated about the damage of pre marital sex. Can you attend a Theology of the Body class together? Go to a chastity talk or watch one on DVD? There are a lot of materials available on www.chastity.com.

It is not you who needs to think differently about him and his ex girlfriends, it is he who needs to.

This is what upsets any true believers if you are speaking in truth that someone whom call themselves brothers and sisters and maintain an idle as semblance. They are presenting to the unbelievers darkness rather than “light” on a lampstand for the blind. Like the blind leading the blind or deceivers leading others astray.

If in your repentant heart/spirit it is telling you it is wrong than listen to wisdom by the grace of GOD through his son JESUS and rebuke him. Then if he will not listen proceed with others of the church of JESUS CHRIST. whom ight convince him, then…

I would advise praying for him first in the name of JESUS that he may see the truth.

Praise be to GOD the heavenly father and his son lord JESUS CHRIST forever>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

I am generally not in favor of re-training prospects for marriage, but if she elects to stay with this fellow she certainly ought to stick to her guns with regards to the truth about chastity. Yes, perhaps with some education, he might come around.

What he may not realize is that their positions are not merely different, as they might be if he wanted to live in one area of the country and she wanted to live somewhere else. No, on the topic of chastity, he is in error and she is correct. He has done wrongly, and she has done rightly. If he can’t come around to seeing that truth and if he cannot support her in her fidelity to the virtues of chastity, prudence, and courage that she has so far upheld in such a praiseworthy manner, she would be wise to look elsewhere for a husband. She is a rare prize, and she should stay the course she has been on. Even if she never finds a man who is pleased by it, it pleases the Lord, and that is enough. The truth is, however, that the men who are looking for such a prize of fidelity as she has kept safe for her husband come here almost in despair of ever finding it. They come here in despair of finding even a woman who will even prize the fidelity they have saved for a wife, let alone one who has the same to offer back in order to make a single offering together to God. Heaven forbid that a blind man, however well-meaning he might be in doing it, ever lead her away from the virtue she has chosen! If nothing else, she will be able to teach virtue to her children having had the grace to stay the course herself. That is no small thing!

If, OTOH, he does come to see the value of chastity and proves that he possesses the self-mastery to choose fidelity to virtue, then she would not displease God by being willing to look past the failures in his past. She does not do wrong by wanting someone who can offer her a lifetime of sexual purity to offer to God with her own, but we also win ourselves forgiveness when we are willing to forgive. I doubt that this young man will come to see this, but there is nothing I would love more than to hear that I was too faint in my willingness to believe in the power of the truth to change lives!

All good responses here. Read again Easter Joy and James Caruso. I can tell you from experience that this issue is what will tear apart the relationship or marriage…unless HE changes. Don’t YOU change a thing. I am glad you are paying attention.

Thank you all so much for your advice and prayers.:slight_smile:

I will say, my boyfriend has respected my choice, and really doesn’t put any pressure on me. He attends mass with me, and we have very similar opinions about religion, except for this pre-marital sex factor.

A lot of you have mentioned that he should “repent.” I think that’s the thing that bothers me about his past. I don’t want to judge him, but I don’t get the sense he feels it was a mistake. He is a loving and amazing person, it just seems like he made these mistakes, and doesn’t want to admit they are mistakes. I try to look it as, he respects my choice, so he realizes there is some goodness behind being pure. I feel like at this point, I should have a discussion with him about why it’s so important, and how if I was in his shoes, I would feel repentant…ahh.

I will keep praying about this.

I think the fact that you have been together for two years and attend Mass together speaks VOLUMES. Is he ready as a young man to announce that he regrets losing his virginity? Not quite, but it seems he is slowly going down that road doesn’t it? Two years in a relationship with you and he has embraced a life of chastity that is saying a lot. Also going to Mass regularly with you how wonderful he has made many changes!

The pressure on young men by today’s society to look at porn and get women into bed is immense. He probably felt this pressure for years even if he was raised in a faithful household. Asking a man to declare that he regrets losing his virginity requires him to adopt an entirely different mindset. I think your boyfriend seems like the kind of man that will do that eventually. Clearly you are very special to him, be patient, you can’t force him to examine his conscience and admit regret over past sins, that is the Holy Spirit’s job but it appears He is working on your boyfriend. God bless you, hope this helps a little.

I’ve had Catholic boyfriends who “really” didn’t put any pressure on me. What each did in the end was “really” drop me for someone else.

I am glad that he respects that you are a person who has the courage of your convictions–it is far better than concluding that you must be foolish, repressed, emotionally cold, uneducated and backward, or some nonsense like that!–but that is not the only point. That does not mean he thinks purity is valuable. He may just think that sticking up for your own choices and being careful about who you jump in bed with is valuable–that maybe you are too careful, but at least you walk your talk, and bravo to that.

Here is the other point: Does he think that moral law is true, does he think it reflects the reality of the human person God intends each of us to be, or does he think it is a cultural construct that can be chosen or not chosen? IOW, does he think that he gets to have an opinion about which parts of Church teaching he feels like accepting or not, or does he believe that the Church has binding teaching authority? I don’t mean to make this about the Church, but about whether or not the law of God is bigger than he is or whether can be no bigger than what he is willing to see it is because he gives himself a line-item veto, so to speak.

Excellent advice from all so far. My only suggestion would be to build up friendships with other like (you) - minded young people. Are you at university still? Try joining up with the campus ministry or diocesean young adult events. When he sees and hears other youngmen speak about purity and repentance, he may be moved to repentance himself. The example of others like himself (rather than a priest or older person) may give him pause.

But since you’ve been dating for two years already, and he still doesn’t understand this issue, I’d make a mental deadline. Do what you can (including prayer!) to pursuade him, but don’t continue in this relationship forever hoping that he will change.

This is a serious matter. And after all this time he still dosen’t recognize his wrong.
I wonder what he will think about this matter after marriage. He may have more rationalizations.

Its very important that he understand the importance of purity before and after marriage. This may lead to porn later. Where does one draw the line.

In for a penny, in for a pound.

May God our Father give you grace and peace.

I think a better question to ask oneself than how to be in/handle a relationship with someone with incompatible values is why would one want to be in such a relationship?

How does this bode for marriage?

What is the point in such a relationship?

How will you raise children?

What other “loose” values or areas of non-practice does he have that he will bring into a marriage?

When you get married, what sort of faith life do you want/expect to have with your spouse? How will this be achieved with someone who does not share your vision for family, faith, and practice?

What exactly is it that draws you to your boyfriend? You seem to live in very different worlds, what is the common bond? Is it truly the basis for a lasting relationship, or will your differences eventually tear you apart?

I would strongly suggest talking to a priest about this. I was young once, a long, long time ago, and I know that a young girl who thinks she is in love wants to please the guy she loves, and this can lead to very dangerous situations. Trust me, I speak from experience.

Gemma, I agree 100% that your uneasiness is an important sign to attend to. I’m not sure if you meant to word the above bolded that way, but they stood out to me as really significant. I’ve got great sadness in my faithful life as a result of someone who ‘isn’t able to admit mistakes’. It’s a whole different kettle of fish to someone who is genuninely ignorant or badly conditioned in faith. It points to a type of pride that will never ever let you into their heart ‘truly’. They might even go through the rote of saying they are sorry to shut you down, but one can sense genuine sorrow as a breaking down of a barrier between you. When someone holds the type of position your b/f is holding and you are experiencing it as a barrier to your spiritual intimacy (ie. your sense of shared core values)… it’s going to be there eroding the relationship from the inside out as a matter of course.

This is great advice! A mental deadline and to not continue hoping that he’ll change. Thant seems to be our problem today is that we keep hoping when we should let go. If anyone has suggestions on HOW TO LET GO that would be great!

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