Wanting to be more chaste in a relationship with a non-believer: Advice


#1

First of all I think I have a fairly solid understanding of what chastity entitles. I’ve read a couple good books on it.
However, I can not say that I follow it as I would like to. For the initial post I’ll keep this as simple as possible.
I have been in a relationship with a young man for almost 2 and a half years. We are each other’s first and we really love each other and plan to get married in the near future, once we are sure we can afford it, and at least one of us is out of school.
My judgement there is not clouded by anything sexual, as I knew I loved him 3 months in before I had even kissed him. I guess you could say I’ve been guilty of some fornication for a year and a half, although it has not been continuous.
Firstly nothing was rushed and it was not lustful but an expression of love-albeit a form of expression that I should not have used.
Whenever I said ‘lets just not do it anymore’ it ended up hurting both of us, he hated it because he isn’t religious and doesn’t have a problem with it. A relationship-a healthy one- is about compromise, and any time I’ve tried to stop the behaviour he feels there is nothing in it for him. I could say a lot more but I think I’ll wait and hear your initial reactions and if you have any questions I can try better to explain. Basically I still honor my vow to save intercourse for marriage but I feel like I should be able to do better. I’m not sure what I can do though, that won’t hurt the relationship I’m rather new to the faith and still exploring it on a personal level. Any advice is welcome.


#2

:thumbsup: You’ve got the idea.

I’m very happy for you, that your conscience appears to be in good, working order! That’s awesome and shows that you really desire to follow Christ.

Now for the downer…

I recommend visiting pureloveclub.com/ and taking The Love Test. :frowning:

You seem to have a good idea of what chastity entails, but I think you’d find it very helpful to read up on love! :slight_smile: Perhaps someone could recommend a good book that explains the basic Catholic idea of romantic love? I like Love and Responsibility, but it’s a bit of a heavy read. I’d also recommend The ABC’s of Choosing a Good Husband by Steve Wood.

Praying for you!


#3

I’ve highlighted what sends up a red flag to me – the fact that he sees “nothing” in the relationship “for him” if there is no sex. *That *isn’t love (read 1 Corinthians 13 for the Christian definition of love). I attended a Theology of the Body conference by Christopher West earlier this year (he beautifully explains the Church’s teaching on sexuality in *Theology of the Body for Beginners *and Good News About Sex and Marriage) and he said that one thing you know about a partner you’ve been sexually involved with is that he/she is willing to sleep with someone who isn’t his/her spouse. This is seen in studies of people who have sex before they’re married – much higher rates of adultery and divorce.

As a Christian, God should be the center of your life, and ask yourself how a marital relationship would work with someone who doesn’t hold God in the same place in his heart as you do?


#4

To your red flag: Poor choice of words
That’s not entirely what I meant. But relationships etc are about compromise. He doesn’t see ‘nothing in it at all’, or he wouldn’t still be with me. But times when I’ve proposed stopping-and it has been tried and such, he has-I’d say fairly-asked for something in return. Whether it be a lesser of that nature or something unrelated.

It is a harder road choosing someone not of the same beliefs but not impossible. My mom did it, she never pressured my dad but let him come back to his faith (from his early years). It wasn’t until the very end, about 1 week before he had a stroke and died. He went up and took communion at a service which he hadn’t done in years. My mom said it was one of the greatest blessings she ever recieved.

Sadly I can’t say I hold God as strongly as a catholci should, but I’m still very new to this and just as an aside, I believe that it was the first mistakes etc, before I found faith, that actually brought me to it. I felt I was missing something, partly from leaving behind my catholic high school, but it seems it was those relations that made me realize it, though I’d wished for the gift of beleif for some time…


#5

I took the test before, or at least looked it over but a refresher is always good.

I’ll say I have a solid 9-So Far- Some are hard to answer-If my y is correct let me know:

8__y___ Does he/she always follow through on promises and commitments?
-this is a tricky one but there have only really been two instances where he didn’t and I forgave them.

12__y___ Do you both agree that marriage is forever?
-Not entirely the same way but he knows I can’t divorce, or have another relationship IF we had to seperate-He is not religious-a strike sadly-but he is not of the popular mindset that you just leave when it gets hard or something better comes along.
-bascially, he is devoted to me and I don’t see him running off with anyone…though he says he hopes it will never happen etc-but I think he’s just being a bit realistic, I’m not worried-this was like a one time thing in a specific conversation.

13__y___ Do you refrain from using manipulation or blackmail to get your own way? Manipulation is hard to define-can anyone offer a simple explanation? Certainly in the typical sent and my instinct says yes…

14__y___ Do you like spending time together doing different activities? (Not just watching TV, mall shopping or talking on the phone together. I recommend volunteering for church, charity and civic projects – or joining school clubs, bands, debate teams or sports programs.) We don’t volunteer together, that’s a bit much at the moment-but we go biking when the weather is good etc…Hm just had a thought, there are various calls for donations as chrismtas is coming, I hope to help with a few maybe I could involve him…And go shopping for things…

15__y___ When you have a disagreement or the going gets tough, do both of you respond respectfully with patience and understanding? -It sounds like this means during the disagreement but I can think of very few disagreements that are respectful debates with anyone so I’ll assume they mean handling it, more after the fact. And that I can say yes to.

16__y___ Have your family and friends told you they approve of your relationship – that they feel it’s making you a better person? -well basically we have approval -tho seems his mom thinks I’m too demanding but I’m working on it anyway, and we talk about it. That’s new and essentially up until then I would have said yes easily. There is no real serious disapproval.

18__y___ Have you seen each other during good times and bad? (Virtues shine during adversity. Never rush to marriage. You’ll miss critical signs of good or bad character traits.) -I’d say so I’ve had bad emotional days and he had an uncle die recently

19__y___ Do you both stay away from pornographic magazines, videos, internet, etc.? -I do for sure, he does try his best but it’s a hard-ish habit to break, he is working on it for me tho.

21_____ Do each of you dress, speak and act modestly? -Not at the moment but it is not a great stretch and would come with the rest

23__y___ Are you both generous in making sacrifices for others? -like all others? or eachother. We both can be but we could also be more so

24__y___ Does your sweetheart already have the qualities needed to be a super spouse and a wonderful parent for your children?
I’d say yes. He’s not perfect but neither am I, no do I feel ready to be apparent just yet anyway. We’ll both learn from each other. He is supportive and really when I asked him that we stop the first time he didn’t fight it, or try to get away or anything. He wanted some explanation and all and he wasn’t happy, but he didn’t leave me. That’s huge.

Wow, that’s long.

I could have answered this and gotten much higher back when we were three months into our relationship -the first time I kissed him at all- but we are both happy in the relationship overall, so I don’t think the love could have gone away.

How do I do the last one, how do I meet his needs and abstain from activity? It’s tough. I hate to see him frustrated. I can work on situations, but even it still happens out of the blue. He doesn’t think it’s wrong so I can understand why he feels he’s losing out on something.


#6

He really needs to watch out for pornography – it is highly addictive and has destroyed many marriages. Pornography incites lust and sexual self-gratification. This isn’t training him for fidelity in your relationship or in any possible future marriage.

Sex isn’t a “need” that must be met like food, clothing or shelter. His desire for sex is perfectly normal, but acting on that desire outside the proper bounds is wrong --both of you are hurt when that happens. This is a very good example of how two people with different values and beliefs can reach an impasse. If he were a Christian who shared your beliefs but was struggling with sexual temptation, at least you would have shared beliefs to build on to work towards overcoming temptation and being sexually pure. With an unbelieving boyfriend, you don’t.


#7

I know Pornography is detrimental. He knows I don’t like it for these sorts of reasons. He is cutting it down greatly as in he promised not to a month or two ago and has only done it twice. He really is trying.
And best of all he tries to be honest with me about it now.

I’ve been mulling things over lately, sort of again. I’ve gone through the I want to stop this phase before, a couple times, but it hasn’t lasted and I wish it had. Maybe that’s why I’m seeking outside advice, because on my own I have failed. Right now I need to do some work too and I know that. It’s back on my mind, not in the painful serious way, but in a real self-evalutation. It’s sort of on the back burner but I’m dredging it out from the depths again, I just have also been a bit discouraged by past attempts-but I know just keep trying:)


#8

I apologize for misunderstanding what you said, but one thing I think you’re misunderstanding is what chastity is – it isn’t just abstaining from sex. Chastity is a postive mindset and view of oneself and the opposite sex formed by the truth of God’s plan for sex and marriage. You can be a physical virgin and unchaste, and you can be someone who is no longer a virgin but chaste. It’s even possible to be unchaste in marriage --husbands and wives can treat their spouses as objects of lust instead of love. Because of our fallen nature, chastity is possible only by the grace of God, in a relationship with God, which is something your boyfriend doesn’t have yet. The fact that he looks at pornography indicates he isn’t chaste, even when he isn’t sexually involved with you. You’re right that a marriage between a Christian and an unbeliever can work out, but it can also fail, and I would say much more likely to fail because at least one of the partners isn’t willing to avail himself of God’s grace to be able to love the way he’s supposed to love his spouse. Please read Ephesians 5, especially the last part of the chapter that discusses marriage – this is God’s ideal, and see what a difficult ideal that is to live up to even for a Christian, and how impossible it is to live up to for an unbeliever. Do you want to strive for God’s ideal, or settle for less? God loves you and wants what is best for you – seek His guidance and listen to Him

God does bring good from our mistakes, but as I know from my own experience, it is much better and less painful to be obedient and trust in God instead.

God bless,


#9

Yes, a relationship is about a compromise–that is why it is SO important to find someone who shares in common with you those things which should never be compromised.


#10

No I do understand that chastity is more than just abstainnig from sex, and the books I read were very good for this. Yes God should be the center of my life but that takes time, which makes things difficult as I don’t have all of that strength that I could have. I sometimes wish I knew better how to listen to Him, how to hear Him.
I know that my bf isn’t chaste, he doesn’t feel called to it and its hard to blame him. But the sacrafices he has made and tries to make show that he is open to trying.

Here’s something perhaps I wish to emphasize:
It wasn’t always this way, I first failed in chastity before I ever found faith, and over a year into the relationship. Had I had my faith then I don’t think it would have happened, but undoing the damage is very difficult.
It’s hard to accept that a change like that should force us to part ways, but that it is better to work through it. I had read the book once before and at that time thought I was bring chaste in abstaining from sex itself which was my goal (to follow the book), just for personal morals and not out of faith as I didn’t have it then.


#11

But relationships etc are about compromise. He doesn’t see ‘nothing in it at all’, or he wouldn’t still be with me. But times when I’ve proposed stopping-and it has been tried and such, he has-I’d say fairly-asked for something in return. Whether it be a lesser of that nature or something unrelated.

Though compromise can be an important part of relationships, the willingness to make sacrifices for each other is far more important. You should not be made to compromise any part of your moral code to be with your boyfriend—so allowing small breaches of your morality in turn for saving your virgininity is not going to cut it.

As for giving him something else in return, I don’t think this should be necessary either. It sounds like you are/were paying for your need to remain chaste by being made to feel guilty for requesting it. If you personally try to do whatever you can to show your love in other ways, this is wonderful, but if your boyfriend is continually demanding return payments you will never be sure that what you have to give is enough. The strain that this places on your relationship will be very trying and might ultimately end it.

It sounds like your boyfriend needs to learn the value of a sacrifice for your relationship. It also might help if you could bring him better on board with the idea of saving sexual intimacy for marriage. Does your boyfriend understand any of the reasons you have for doing so besides just that God forbids it? There are many ways to discuss this without bringing religion into the picture. The pureloveclub link has some good explanations if you need help, as do other places on the web. Focus on the respect and love you should have for each other, as opposed to desires that lead you to want each other sexually when it could be detrimental to the other persons health and emotions.


#12

He does understand my reasons, and I have explained and shared information that attacks it from a non-religious point of view. I read parts of the book with him as soon as I realized the error of my ways, although he doesn’t entirely understand why one book should suddenly dicate my morals-and essentially cause my beliefs to change overnight. I was ok with the relations at the time because I didn’t realize they were wrong. Then when I relaized, I was no longer ok with it. It’s the aftermath that proves difficult.

He doesn’t demand that I compromise my morals, rather I have ended up choosing to at times, out of love for him. But I will work on that.

And no he does not make me feel guilty in asking for something in return. Its more of a self improvment thing. I ask him to improve in this way, and he has suggested other things that do actually make me a better girlfriend and person, for example giving up buying cosmo, with it’s sex columns that can infiltrate my thoughts when they shouldn’t. It is not as bad as it seems.

I would like to add that I really have no intention of leaving my bf and rather am looking for help in making it work. Just thought I’d clarify.


#13

Ok. Since I’ve given him the survey:
12 y
Basically I wasn’t sure before how he would answer. Now
I know it’s a yes:)

He got 20.:slight_smile:
Can you look over my commentary on the survey questions above?
They’re all pretty much more yes than no so I’d say I have around
17 and could get that higher fairly easily.


#14

From the clarification you’ve given since your first few posts, it sounds better than I first thought. Giving up Cosmo is certain to help you become more chaste, so it sounds like your boyfriend is at least helping you even though he is not commited to remaining chaste as you are. It is good for you to be challenging each other to become better people. Basically, it sounds like you are just going to have to remain very vigilant with regards to this issue. It would be easier if you were both commited so that you could help each other stick to the goal.

The best way to do so in this situation, or even one where both partners are commited, is probably to stop before you sense there is a real threat to you remaining chaste. This boundary is probably different for everyone, but I would suggest that lengthy passionate kisses definitely need to be out of bounds. I know its easy to let that slide… but from experience I can say that once you let it get that far its easy for your judgement to be clouded by desires. Also, it would probably be easy in that moment to think well, he’s alright with it… so why not?

I guess I’d have to ask you… have you drawn a line like this? What are you doing to keep from compromising your morals in the future?


#15

Yes, just thinking over my newest plan to attack the issue I’ve come to that conclusion about the kisses as well, htough I wasn’t of that mindset before.

In the past I have drawn such a line when I was trying before. It wasn’t quite there though, as I had no problemwith the kisses just anything further.


#16

Yes, just thinking over my newest plan to attack the issue I’ve come to that conclusion about the kisses as well, htough I wasn’t of that mindset before.

In the past I have drawn such a line when I was trying before. It wasn’t quite there though, as I had no problemwith the kisses just anything further.

I really think that it is a good idea. It seems very extreme at first glance, especially considering the state of our culture these days, but really that is the point where it first becomes hard to stop.

I am in a relationship that is somewhat related, though I am actually the non-believer-- though as you might guess from my presence in this forum, I am doing a lot of thinking about religion. Anyways, another thing that we have found helpful is to just do something to keep the kisses light and fun. If you stray toward passionate when showing affection for each other, change it up. Instead of just pulling away right there, which is hard to do, and could hurt your partner’s feelings, do something silly. Kiss his nose, or anything else that seems funny at the time. This can relieve the tension and allow you to put a stop to kissing that goes to far.

Another tip is just to find other ways, beyond the physical, to show love for each other. Verbalizing it more often or going out on special dates in public could help. Limiting the time you spend alone and unsupervised is probably necessary.


#17

I don’t know. I just don’t have peace with the way your B/f is in this relationship. You need to ask yourself: do I see this man being the father of my children? If my face was burned and my body broken, would he still love me? Does he “love” me, therefore, in the sense that he wants the best for me, and his soul? And finally, Can I see this man being in heaven with me, does he love me so much that he wants to see me in heaven?
Just some unrest I’m feeling in my heart. Love,

-unworthy


#18

If you’re at the line that shouldn’t be crossed (ready to passionately kiss) are you willing to literally walk away (leave the room, car, wherever you are)? If this bothers him, you really need to reevaluate this relationship. Better lesser pain now than a painful marriage and divorce later


#19

as other posters have said, you need to figure out where your line is, and stick to it. I think “no passionate kissing” is a great place to start.

My DH and I dated all through college, and struggled with chastity very much, as he was not a Christian, and I had sort of fallen away from the Church. As I slowly started to ask about making changes in our physical relationship, he stuck with me (and actually converted…:slight_smile: he was baptised this past Easter, and we were married in May. Praise God) However, it was HARD to change.

Think about situations that are conducive to pushing your limit, and don’t go there. For us, this changed and modified as our wedding grew closer (and excitement levels heightened). Some of our rules were
-NO french kissing/passionate kissing
-no kissing while laying down on the couch…which eventually became no laying and snuggling on couch in general
-modest dress on my part (does WONDERS…I’m asking the poor guy not to get all excited and I’m running around in a mini skirt or wearing a bikini to go swimming? not fair) He sat down with me and I went through my whole closet, and I held up each article of clothing and asked, “Does this pose a problem for you??” If a resounding yes, I tossed it.
-kissing in the car or any other secluded place
-late at night hanging out was banned…if you’re getting tired, it’s time to go home.
-limiting acohol consumption around eachother. my temperance limit is about a glass and a half, but with that, him and the right privacy my guard went down
-obviously not sleeping in the same bed, ever. or living together. WAYYY too much temptation

Anyways, I’m not saying that all these should be YOUR rules, but to think about the situations where you are most likely to be vulnerable, and PREVENT them as much as possible. Good luck, and remember PRAY PRAY PRAY for the virtue of chastity, for you and your boyfriend. If you succeed in this, you will truly be an example to him, and your wedding day will be full of great joy and anticipation. It is worth all of the effort!


#20

The dressing modestly one is REALLY good. Thankfully, most of my “immodest” clothes were gone by the time I started dating my husband, but if there was ever anything, he’d let me know and I’d change if I could at the time or never wear it again. It helped our chastity a LOT! :slight_smile:


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