Relationship and sin, what to do?


I am new here and have a question. My girlfriend and I are both faithful Catholics who are striving to live lives holy and pleasing to God. We’ve been in a relationship for about 8 months now and do love each other. However, we’ve fallen into a habit of mortal sin, of habitual sexual sin. It hasn’t been intercourse but other acts. The spiritual director we’ve been seeing has told us that he does not think we are in love at all and that we need to end our relationship. We’re both struggling to understand and to know God’s will. We’re taking time off from each other and praying to know what God wants. But I wanted to get some people’s thoughts too.

The priest we’re seeing, who is very orthodox and faithful to the Church, thinks there is no way we can overcome it, that we just don’t help each other. I guess I don’t see why we can’t overcome it if we make radical changes to ourselves and the way we live our relationship. I feel like he is not leaving room for the possibility of grace, of mercy, and of God to change us if we’re willing to do whatever it takes for it. Our spiritual directors thinks it would be highly imprudent to do so.

Any thoughts? Can a relationship with habitual sin not be overcome and is doomed? We both want purity and holiness, and we both want God’s will.

Thanks. I just need to see what people think about it.

Christ’s peace to you all,

Struggling Along

I’ve known of people who have had to completely give up kissing and also only hug very briefly. Also never being alone, always being in public or around other people. Even with engaged couples, it was just the only way to maintain chastity.

Also, if you haven’t already check out these great Catholic resources:

(Not that I’m telling you to ignore your priest, I’m just telling you about some ways that people can maintain chaste relationships.)

Thank you. I know you’re not telling me to ignore our priest. :slight_smile: I appreciate your thoughts and the references you gave.

I’m just trying to figure out if having “messed up” means a relationship must end…

Thanks again!

Christ’s peace to you!

No one else has any thoughts? :frowning:

Christ’s peace to you all.


Plenty of posters will have plenty of thoughts, give it time.

I will say that when my wife and I took the FOCCUS test the priest told us and her mother that he did not think that we should be getting married :eek:

So now 5 years and (almost) 4 kids later we could not be happier. Let me offer my :twocents: to you. While we all are sinner and we all fall, sexual sins can be the hardest to break away from whether it be with yourself or someone else. Now if the priest is judging your relationship based upon your fallilng into sexual sin and that alone, I feel that his judgement may be off and a little premature. We all sin. We are not perfect, but by God’s grace and mercy there is forgiveness and repentance.

Are the two of you meant to be? No one here will be able to answer that. A priest can give inisight to it, but ultimately, he cannot answer that. Only the two of you and God know that for sure. Pray to St. Joseph. Ask for his guidance, ask for him to intercede for you to our Holy Father.

If you feel that there is something there in the relationship worth persuing, that God is calling you both into a relationship then persue that without sexual activity. The temptation is going to be tough, but avoid the near occasion of sin. How you do that will be up to the two of you.

Hope this helps out a little bit.

Hi Mirror,

Thank you for your words. I know people have stuff to say and I’m sorry for being impatient. It is difficult being in the midst of a difficulty and looking for feedback from people on it.

Yes, basically, it is really on the basis of habitual sexual sin that he thinks we should break up. He thinks that neither of us is helping the other to heaven but, on the contrary, are leading the other to hell. Both of us want to change. We love each other and don’t want to give up. We’re willing to do anything necessary to have a pure, holy love and to continue discerning.

I know that no one here can tell us if it is God’s will for us to be together. We are praying and discerning. My main question is whether people agree that because of sexual sin a relationship ought to be ended, that there is no hope of overcoming it.

I know it’ll be hard, if we decide to continue, but I know I am committed to fleeing all sin, including lust and sexual sin. I’m willing to do anything so that we can be pure and chaste. I just tend to think, with the grace of God and our co-operation with His work, we can be holy even though we’ve had some falls.

Christ’s peace to you.

Your welcome

Living a chaste life is not easy, believe me I know, but it can be done. If you want something bad enought and you are willing to work at it, then I think that you can make it work. Now that you have clarified what the priest said it makes a little bit more sense. Let me explain. One of the main goals that you have to have for your girlfriend/finance/wife is to get that person to heaven. That is your goal. You have to do what you can to get her to heaven and (as your priest stated) if you are not, if you are a part of the “problem” of the sexual sin, you are both not heading down the right path. That much I do agree with him. Now I think that he is saying that if you cannot avoid this temptation then better for you to walk away now than continue.

However, if you talk with your girlfriend and you both know that you are going to do everything that you can to make this relationship work and not fall into that temptation then I say go for it. Make a good confession and repent. Promise each other and the Lord that you are going to go forward and persue a CHASTE relationship. Then I would agree that there is hope. Talk with the priest about this. Voice your concerns and let him know what you feel. He sounds like a great man of God.

Go out tomorrow and get a copy of Christopher West’s book “The Good News About Sex and Marriage.” That will help a lot. Both of you read it. Be sure to check out also

Hi Struggling,
I can relate to what you are saying to a point. My dh and I were married and were both virgins when we married, but struggled with purity issues as well. We too, were in the confessional a lot. I wanted to break up because of it for he was to help me to heaven and his actions were bring me down with him. I too had a priest tell me to break it off. It was not easy, but we struggled with the purity issues and I resented my dh for leading me down the path of sin for I was completely pure when he met me. I know I am at fault also and boy it bothered me for years, even after we married.

We did marry and have been married for 8 years now. It has not been easy and the same problem of being patient and respecting me are still issues in the marriage, but we had other issues as well that had nothing to do with purity. We made it and continue to work on our marriage daily. We still have problems, but what marriage is perfect?

I can understand what the priest is saying. If you are confessing the same sin over and over again, he is just trying to help you see that it is habitual, as you acknowledge, and a problem. If you and your girlfriend can’t seem to be pure and chaste, then yes I agree with the priest and you should probably break it off. You know that part of the Bible where it says if something causes you to sin, better to cut it off than suffer the fires of Gehenna or hell. I use to think of this verse so much while dating my dh and did break it off three times. He finally knew that I wanted to be chaste and pure and he tried all the harder. It worked out. Now, I am sure that I am and was much older than you are now. I was 32 years old when I met my dh and started to date. I wanted to be a nun and he was studying to be a priest, but never made it, obviously.

Please, if you decide that you and your girlfriend can continue to have a relationship and be chaste, just don’t put yourself in situations that can lead to the sin. Don’t be alone in any place except in a public area. If kissing leads to the sin, than only have short kisses. Basically, do anything to help each other out and see if it can be done. We are all human and we do sin and thank God that He is a loving and forgiving God. Don’t give up hope and most of all avail yourself to all the Sacraments that our great Church has to offer. I know with us, receiving Jesus in the Eucharist daily helped us stay pure of heart. We didn’t want a day to go by where we could not receive because of mortal sin. I am happy to hear that you have a spiritual director and that is so great and a blessing. I wish I could get one, but they are not very orthodox here and they would hinder my spiritual growth. Listen to your priest and just discern everything he tells you to see what the Lord is calling you to and your girlfriend.

I hope this helped you. I will keep you in prayer. One more bit of advice if I could, please read and reflect on the Bible if you are not already doing so. I know this was an area that my husband still struggles with. We need to meditate on the Bible and see what the Lord is telling us through his word and what is happening in our life.

You are off to a good beginning and that is the DESIRE to be holy, chaste and pure. God bless you for that. Be patient with yourself too.:wink:

When you two acquired the spiritual director, I’ll bet you expected God to speak through him to you. You have received advice that breaks your heart, but I think you should be open to the possibility that it’s directly from God. Taking time off from each other and praying are an excellent start. I would strongly advise you to be ready - absolutely ready - to break up.

Then go read the story of Abraham and Isaac, when God told Abraham to sacrifice his son. Whatever God has in store for you will be for your true happiness. But you must be willing to go along with it with your whole heart.

Anything could happen, but I guarantee you that God loves you and wants the very best for both of you, whether it be together or not.

God bless you!


The priest can counsel you to break off the relationship but he cannot require you to do so. Catholics, actually all human beings, have according to Catholic theology and philosophy a “natural right” to choose whom to marry – this natural right applies to the process of dating or courtship.

I think you can still remain in the relationship and avoid the near occasions of sin as other posters have mentioned. A near occasion of mortal sin is a situation that always or almost always leads you to mortal sin. A remote occasion of mortal sin is a situation that rarely or only sometimes leads you to mortal sin. It is not obligatory to avoid the remote occasions of mortal sin (but if you can it’s ideal as much as you can), but it is obligatory to avoid the near occasions of mortal sin unless it is impractical in some way in which case you are obliged to pray for strength.

If you believe the things you have been doing are sins then remember that by doing them you are not only committing some kind of offense but are hurting not only your soul but also the soul of your significant other.

Dear Strugglling,
Plenty of people have freed themselves from lust and live chaste and holy lives. It can be done, but you have to really want to do it.

If you find that you both don’t choose to do it, breaking up might be better for you. My reason is that if you marry, not only will you have guilt and possibly bitterness to contend with, you will have no real basis for a relationship once the physical attraction cools down.

You have to have more than physical attraction to create a marriage that works. Why don’t you try to create that now, rather than falling into sin by doing something that you know is sinful and that will fade away anyway? Explore each other’s thoughts, minds and hearts. You will find that more satisfying in the long run.

I could give advice either that your priest is right on or maybe a little zealous, but not knowing your age and situation vis-a-vis being able to be married soon I would hesitate to go counter to his advice which is probably best for your souls. At least a temporary break to let things cool down a little. I have had friends in the past who have broken up temporarily for just the reason that things were progressing too fast and getting out of hand. Back in the 40’s we were taught that going steady unless marriage was a possibility in six months to a year was tempting fate and endangering our souls. .

Struggling Along,

Forgive me if I missed it, but how old are you? This may be a deciding factor.

If you are still in high school, then I can see the merits of breaking it off.

However, if both of you are adults, then there is another possible course of action that is based on 1 Cor. 7: get married to put out the fire. Granted, that should not be the only reason to marry her, but if the two of you both feel each other is “marriage material” and compatible in other areas, you should seriously look into whether it is time to “take the plunge”.

Thank you. Great point! I am 29 and she is 25. So we’re not high school age. And I’ve been reading Augustine and others on marriage/sexuality and there is this idea that marriage is a sort of safeguard and help for those who struggle with habitual incontinence. I think somewhere St. Alphonsus speaks of those who were habitually incontinent and found their way to the safe shores of marriage. I know St. Augustine says how marriage is a help for concupiscence and that the incontinent should avail themselves of it. So I think you have a valid point.

I don’t know, however, that we are ready for that step yet. We want to be sure we are purified before marriage and that we can live chastely because chastity is required even of the married. My desire is for us to be together, to be chaste and pure, to have a certain and safe distance physically and perhaps to a degree emotionally, so to discern before God what His will is for us and if we can help each other get to heaven.

Thank you so much for your thoughts!

Christ’s peace to you.

I will just say that it is always good to listen to your spiritual director, no matter what. He knows you well by now, I presume, and is looking at your situation objectively. His thinking is not clouded by emotions and, I presume, he definitely wants the best for you. Perhaps you need to overcome these sins apart from this woman, for the love of this woman. If this special lady of yours is really special, you would want your intimacies reserved for her in marriage. I know you may be struggling ( :slight_smile: no pun intended), but you would do well to listen to your spiritual director; he knows you better than any of us on this forum I imagine.


I know how hard it is to be in a relationship and be chaste. It can be done.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I do think our priest is a bit over zealous and a bit on the rigorous side, which is good. He is very zealous to save and protect souls which shows his great love of God and of us. Yet I cannot accept his conclusion, viz. that we cannot overcome, by the grace of God.

As for my age, I am 29. She is 25.

We have decided to take a few weeks apart, to pray and to listen to God. It’ll be good for us either way.

I know if we stayed together it means radical changes in our relationship: not spending time alone in private areas, not showing much physical affection, our prayer lives need to be really strong and vibrant, sacramental life, etc. I’m willing to do anything to be holy and pleasing to God out of love for Him.

Christ’s peace to you.

Hi Betsy,

Sure, we expect God to speak through our spiritual director yet he is fallible. Not everything he says or counsels is the definitive decision and words of God to us. Thus many saints have said a bad spiritual director is dangerous. St. Teresa of Jesus had a few spiritual directors until she had a good one. One of them told her the supernatural occurrences in her life were not even of God but they were of God, as it turns out. Yes, we do expect God to speak to us. We’re not wanting to rebel against our spiritual director. We thank and praise God for all he has said to us, his stark words about our sin and its seriousness. It is truly God at work, caring for our souls, that led us to him so that he could speak such words to wake us up so we can change! Yet I cannot accept his conclusion, that we must break up because there is no way to overcome. I do think it is possible but only with alot of changes made, alot of sacrifice, and both my girlfriend and I changing alot in the process.

God’s will be done. It is all that I want, truly.

Thank you for your words!

Christ’s peace to you.

I would agree accept…he has only spoke with me once, for one hour and has only spoken with my girlfriend twice, for a total of maybe 3 hours. How well can one know someone in 1-4 hours? He hasn’t been our spiritual director for long. In fact, when he spoke of our sexual sins he didn’t even know the extent of them. He said something to her about getting pregnant and she had to tell him that was not possible because we weren’t having intercourse. This aspect, in fact, is another concern of mine with his counsel that we must end it. I don’t think he truly knows us all that well. How can he, only having spoken to us a few hours?

If he had been directing us for months now I would give it a bit more force.

Christ’s peace to you.

Rom 6:1-14. Read it, pray it, meditate on it. Read commentaries on it. The key to overcoming habitual sin is realizing who you are.


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