Why I STILL don’t date men who are “willing” to save sex

In his quiet apartment, I stirred a pot of mac ‘n’ cheese while I watched him watch TV. He sighed. So did I, and for the same reason that he did: As of a few minutes earlier, I wasn’t his girlfriend anymore.

His was a sigh of resignation. Mine was a sigh of relief.

When we first met, I was 23. He was 27. I wanted a chaste relationship. He didn’t. We dated anyway. He was “willing” to save sex for marriage: he saw no merit in it, outside of getting to date me, but agreed, under protest, to abstain.

The first time he asked me to do what I couldn’t, he said please. I said no. I always said no. He was frustrated by my objection to helping him satisfy the urges he didn’t want to govern. Eventually, he was mean.

“Your boundaries are killing me,” he said.

“You’re not a 13-year-old.”

“No man will wait that long.”

His “willingness” to save sex—which, as implied by the quotes around the word, wasn’t actually willingness—had waned. He wanted me to break my promise to practice chastity. Instead, I broke up with him.

I picked the pot of mac ‘n’ cheese up off the burner, and was sure I’d never date a guy again who was only “willing” to save sex. Last year, I wrote about it.*

The post, called “Why I don’t date men who are ‘willing’ to save sex for marriage,” is the most-read thing I have ever written. It struck chords. It also struck nerves:

“By automatically avoiding these men, you rule out the possibility that Jesus might be presenting you with an opportunity to aide in someone’s conversion…”

“I would not automatically disqualify someone if they were (“willing” to wait). Not every guy received good formation, often through no fault of his own”

“(His) willingness is a step in the right direction and is worthy of great respect!”

My decision not to date men anymore who are “willing” to save sex didn’t always sit well with others. After all, an unchaste man’s decision to abstain from sex is indicative of his potential to change. Indeed, my decision to date a man who doesn’t believe what I do—about Jesus, about sex, or about anything at all—could be a catalyst for his conversion.

And I want a catalyst to exist. I want him to know we were designed by Love, for love; we are created able to become like God’s son, Jesus Christ, who—out of love—died and rose that we might live.

If an unchaste man knew what I know, he would want to practice chastity.

He could learn if I date him. But I still won’t. Here’s why:

Because chaste people don’t owe unchaste people a chance.

Neither my attraction to an unchaste man nor an unchaste man’s potential to change obligates me to date him, because nothing obligates any person to date another. It is your right to have a stable set of standards, and it is your right to rule out the people who don’t meet them.

Because people who practice chastity do exist. 

Is a chaste person hesitant to rule out an unchaste person because he or she can be the catalyst for his or her conversion, or because he or she is afraid that people who are already chaste don’t exist? But people who practice chastity today—regardless of their pasts—do exist. I don’t meet them while I’m dating a man who doesn’t.

Because a romantic relationship with a chaste person isn’t an unchaste person’s only path to chastity. 

Any unchaste man I meet does need Jesus. He does need virtue. But I do not need to be his girlfriend to introduce them to him. A chaste person’s decision not to date an unchaste person doesn’t deprive an unchaste person of what he or she actually needs: an introduction to chastity, and an encounter with the Holy Spirit. If we treat unchaste people like they can’t become chaste unless or until a chaste person dates them, we underestimate them, and we underestimate God.

*Click here to read “Why I don’t date men who are ‘willing’ to save sex for marriage.”


profile pic fall 2014-3Arleen Spenceley is author of the book Chastity is For Lovers: Single, Happy, and (Still) a Virgin. She works as a staff writer for the Tampa Bay Times, and has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in counseling, both from the University of South Florida. She blogs at arleenspenceley.com. You can connect with her on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.



  1. I really appreciate this. Your points are valid and God will send the right person your way because He’s God and He can do anything He wants.

    By Amanda | 6 years ago Reply
  2. Great article, thanks!

    By Shanna | 6 years ago Reply
    • Where do you get a copy of JPII’s TOB?? Maybe there is a free download somewhere? Thanks a lot for the article! 😀

      By Diana | 6 years ago Reply
  3. I looooove this post! Thank you for this clear, wise and intelligent piece, Arleen. Speaks my mind & heart, exactly – I am glad there are other women with this kind of value/outlook. It also echoes my own experience.

    I have come to the point where I’ve had enough giving chances to a succession of non-celibate men as such relationships have only jeopardized my own relationship with God. Once I made another pact never to engage in a relationship with a non-celibate person, blessed events started taking place. And now, it appears I’ve met one who does practice (and isn’t merely willing to) chastity 🙂 Oh yes, they do exist – we just have to make sure we’re not attached to the wrong persons when we encounter such people 🙂

    God bless you Arleen and keep championing chastity! My prayers are with you.

    By Desiree S. | 6 years ago Reply
  4. Its perfectly possible that a time may come when someone comes into your life that will give you a willingness to lift that standard of dating only men who have already chosen chastity. Its also perfectly possible that this does NOT happen, and that’s okay. Why are people alright with those who say they wouldn’t date another person because of of certain professions they merely aren’t fond of or certain traits they merely consider annoying, but are up in arms because we use an integral belief as a standard? Because sex and sexuality is at the core of the average American’s identity.
    Today, dating is meant for sex. It is my constant lament, and it weighs on me watching the interactions of my peers that they are while they throw themselves at each other they are throwing themselves away.

    By HN | 6 years ago Reply
  5. Arleen, definitely in agreement with you on this. While there is room for the argument that dating an unchaste person is an opportunity to serve as a catalyst for their relationship with Jesus, this is not a mandatory calling. In fact, I think you actually did do this guy a wonderful service by taking your convictions so seriously as to break off the relationship. I have no doubt that he will be blessed by your fidelity. What he does with it is of course up to him, but sometimes we men grow up the most when we are hit right between the eyes. It hurts but it forces us to take a serious look at our life and reevaluate what we think is important. Thanks for the article! God bless!

    By Phil | 6 years ago Reply
  6. I agree wholeheartedly with your observations (and how indicative that they come from personal experience!). An unchaste person can be brought closer to God through a chaste person even when they aren’t dating each other (in fact, that might make true conversion more straight forward). I don’t feel like dating ANYONE with the intent to change a major aspect of them (even immoral apects) is fair to either person or truly loving.

    By Greg | 6 years ago Reply
  7. You have my full support. It’s not your responsibility to convert somebody, and women deserve someone who will indeed protect our virginity. Kudos to you!

    By Eva | 6 years ago Reply
  8. Having dated a couple guys “willing” to save sex for marriage, I can say it doesn’t work very well. Inevitably a kiss moves a bit further than it should then he gets upset because you put on the breaks when you notice it’s going too far. Then starts the guilt-tripping because you got him hot and bother and if you don’t “do something about it” you’re a tease.

    You end up with three scenarios:
    1. date and fail at chastity
    2. date and be considered a tease before breaking up with him – potentially hardening him against chastity
    3. don’t date and be considered “holier than thou” but maybe get him thinking about what the Lord is asking of him as a man.

    The 4th scenario of dating and him becoming chaste, while avoiding a temptation he’s only “willing” to forego as long as the woman says so, is the rarest outcome.

    I’m afraid I’m not strong enough to be chaste for both of us, so I need the man to be committed to chastity as well. I’m more than willing to be single for the rest of my life if it means keeping my commitment to the Lord in this regard.

    By Christina | 6 years ago Reply
    • Exactly! Been there- Done that! I haven’t dated for years because that exact same scenario! I’m definetly not going to date men who are only “willing” – I want to date a chaste guy that will support my commitment to chastity as well. 🙂

      By Diana | 6 years ago Reply
    • I second this.

      Only Christ can save.

      By Ivy | 6 years ago Reply
  9. I think you are absolutely correct. There should be no pressure to change your standards. I also look at it in the broader context. A man who has been practicing chastity prior to dating me will be a more virtuous man all around. He will have been learning to master his passions and this will flow into all parts of his life. He will also be more of a leader because he will have learned to do things that go against the norm and will have done what he deems as true and good despite what he might feel or desire. A man who practices chastity because I do and for no other reason does not present to me a firm foundation of virtue. Yes, this is a good step that he is willing. But his reason has to be more than me. In a situation like this, it would be good for him to grow in this virtue apart from a dating relationship, in order to be worthy of me. This is not just about what “I deserve” but the fact that I am dating for marriage- for permanence, for a gift of myself to someone for life. This encompasses much more than just the dating relationship. I need to be able to trust him – to trust that he will do what is right, even if it is a harder thing to do. This is precisely why I completely agree with you. Thank you for writing this.

    By Julia | 6 years ago Reply
  10. I agree, there are men who do not believe in chastity who are not worth dating. However, I think is extremely important to make the distinction that there are men worth dating and their beliefs in regards to chastity don’t make a difference. I do not think the distinction between these men, those who are worth dating and those who are not, lies in their beliefs towards chasity. The distinction, however, lies on their respect for the woman’s beliefs. My boyfriend understands how important chastity is for me and even though he does not believe in it himself, he helps me to be chaste. He understands how important chastity and my religion is for me and he fully respects that. So yes, don’t settle for less, a man should support your decision to be chaste. However, do not write every man who does not believe in chastity right off the bat, you might miss out.

    By Angie | 6 years ago Reply
    • Personally, I would write off a man who was only ‘willing’ to wait unless he directly explained why that was his answer.

      I am in a relationship with a man that is ‘willing’ to wait. However, he was not very promiscuous to begin with. Before I met him, he’d only slept with a few women – women that he thought he would marry – and these women were actually very pushy in terms of their desires and then broke up with him. His past experiences made it easy for him to honor my decision to wait and he tells me on several occasions that he is proud of me and my decision and that I do not have to be afraid that he would do anything to try to change my mind.

      However, the writer of this article is correct – my boyfriend is an exception – but if we break up, I would not date men who are ‘willing’ to wait.

      By Chaste4life | 6 years ago Reply
  11. If you replace ‘chaste’ with ‘confidence’ and uncharted similarly, and then replace yourself with a wonderful girl I know, this is essentially why she has turned me down and allowed for the creation of a now very awkward/humiliating relationship between us.

    I should have said that I am a big believer in chastity – as in, always have been. So my sentiments are not so much about the topic of chastity but your reasoning and approach. Firstly, I think what you say is correct, namely that you would be doing something for the wrong reasons and there is an element of selfishness on the part of the uncharted person.

    When I change the scenario to mine, I cannot consider myself as selfish for wanting to just get to know someone purely because, as she says, ‘I have a weak character with very little confidence.”

    Be wary of your reasoning is essentially what I am saying. After all, we are taught that all can enter the kingdom of heaven and redemption is not exclusive to a few of us. It’s easy to see how being passive by looking at this in terms of obligations, or the lack thereof, can actually serve ultimately to cut our noses off in spite of ones face.

    By Ronan | 6 years ago Reply
  12. Dating someone with the hope of changing them is asking for trouble. Either he will end up pressuring you into committing a mortal sin or he’ll resent you for not giving in. The purpose of dating is to discern marriage. You are his girlfriend, not his counselor, and not his spiritual director. He needs to get on his own feet morally and spiritually first. The purpose of the vocation to marriage is to lead one another and any children you might have into heaven. How can he do this if he does not have something as important as self-mastery? He can’t lead himself to heaven, let alone anyone else. It’s not fair to you or your future children to date someone like that. You deserve better. I think it’s good to be friends with non-Christians/non-chaste people to keep a line of communication open (be sure to know your faith well enough to be able to answer any questions they might have, and know where to go for more information if they bring up something you haven’t heard of before) but dating should be reserved for someone you could see yourself marrying. A non-chaste person isn’t living out the faith and something as important as faith needs to have both spouses on the same page. Otherwise, the non-Christian will resent the Christian, the Christian will weaken in faith, and the children will grow up seeing religion as a source of conflict and are likely to drift when they reach their teen years.

    Some people might complain that they’ll be alone if they have standards, but it’s much better to be alone than in a bad relationship. As a single person, you can work to improve yourself (learn a new skill, learn a foreign language, advance your career) and be a gift to others through volunteer work until it’s time to marry. Spend some time working through the insecurities that cause so many girls to rush into bad relationships (afraid to be alone, always have to be in a relationship). Maybe even see a Christian/Catholic counselor. The confidence will help you attract a good spouse and become a better wife and mother. It will be difficult, but most things that are good for us are. They require hard work and a period of struggle, but the end goal is worth it and you’ll be happy you did it in the end.

    By Stephanie | 6 years ago Reply
  13. Have to say I completely agree with you on this one. I’ve experienced both sides of it, and found that when it’s all said and done… if you want to date someone who is chaste (whether or not they’ve had sex in the past) you will in fact find them. After years of dating, I finally put my foot down and expected to find someone who wasn’t just “willing”, but actually talked the talk and walked the walk. He had experienced a reversion the couple of years before I met him and was well practiced in the virtue of chastity by then. Not ever having to worry about him pressuring me, and having the freedom to discuss clear boundaries and stick to them was everything. We are now very happily married (married in 2012) and the graces we gained from that time period are still bearing fruit. I really feel that we’re able to fly in so many areas, because we “paid our dues” so to speak in the beginning of our relationship. It gave us the chance to build a spectacular foundation and helped identify the areas we needed to work on more easily. I can’t imagine what would’ve happened if I had given up on finding a person in Hollywood who could still have uber strong values and be dedicated to living a life for Christ in the midst of the craziness. If I could find it, so can you!!! Don’t give up and think you have to “missionary date”, so to speak. If somebody wants to do that, that’s up to them. But don’t feel that you “HAVE TO”, because “you can’t find anyone willing to live chastely WITH you while you’re dating”. It’s just a trick designed to get you to settle. God will honor your commitments. =) God bless everybody!!!

    By Monique | 6 years ago Reply
  14. I’m reading some of the other comments and inspired me to say a bit more. Now that I’m on the other side of the “theory” and actually living the married life, I can assure you that the decision to not date men who are “willing” to save sex is a solid one both spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically and practically. Spiritually because you keep your character and integrity. Mentally- because you’re not worrying and using up your brain cells needlessly and thus put your intelligence towards the things that matter most. Emotionally- because anxiety is causing problems that don’t need to be there. Then you can focus on all the ways you need to mature as a human being. Physically because when you mess around your hormones get out of whack. Your cycle starts becoming abnormal and you become excessively clingy and needy over someone who isn’t very clear. Practically, because you can actually focus on going to school, going to work, focusing on all your tasks and not going nuts because you’re juggling too many things internally. True falling in love is about the heart, mind, body and soul being in sync. If you’re with somebody pressuring you to give your body… NOTHING will be in sync and you won’t know yourself well enough to make a really good decision. Just something to think about…. from someone who’s been there, done that and found that when you do it the right way… EVERYBODY WINS and life truly becomes the grand adventure it’s meant to be.

    By Monique | 6 years ago Reply
  15. I wish I had the type of mindset you do 2 and a half years ago!!! However, I’m so very thankful that I have this mindset now and that there are other people who feel the same.
    What a wonderful article! I pray that God continues to bless you!

    By Mary Katherine | 6 years ago Reply
  16. Anyone who pressures someone else into having sex is only thinking about their own needs. When they stop being blighted by their own sexual needs, and that succumbing to them (and enticing someone else to do the same) doesn’t give them what they THOUGHT they wanted, and open their eyes, they might find that making conscious decisions about certain things can be quite liberating. I mean they might want sex, our bodies are designed for pro-creation and with that comes pleasure (after all, if making babies was uncomfortable, nobody would do it!!!), so its a given, but I have seen so many people who are driven by sexual desire and it doesn’t make them happy people. In my opinion, it makes them boring. All they think about is sex, and don’t seem to have any other interests, and if they do they do a darn good job of hiding it. I am waffling now. I’m sure you get the point.

    By Clare | 6 years ago Reply
  17. You hit the nail on the head. Well said. I am going to share this with others!!

    By Britt | 6 years ago Reply
  18. This is a great article. And i think that ultimately the decision is decided by the fact that Jesus calls us not to be unequally yoked. If he isn’t practicing chastity then he probably doesn’t love Jesus and you probably aren’t equally yoked. Being a 19 year old male i know that it’s not always easy to deny someone you’re attractive to that isn’t a Christian, and i’m by no means perfect, i’ve made my fair share of mistakes in relationships with women, but people who practice chastity do exist, because that’s what Christ calls us to

    By Josh | 6 years ago Reply
  19. Thank you SO much for this article. Many guys have said to me over and over, “well, I don’t have a viewpoint, its up to the girl.” or “I usually wouldn’t wait, but YOU’RE DIFFERENT.” It only lasted so long… and left me feeling hurt and worthless. I now realize my true worth. I wish I could tell all girl’s this.

    By Katy | 6 years ago Reply
  20. Thank Him that I have found this. You’ve summarized what I’ve been feeling these past two months. I just couldn’t find the words. Coming from a virgin guy at UCSB, I can’t thank you enough for writing this.

    I have been and am in a similar situation that you were in. I had been told that me not wanting to date a girl with a bad past somehow made me “evil,” “judgmental,” “merciless.” That I was somehow not doing God’s will or that I was not allowing God to work within her. That I somehow “owe” her a relationship and that I needed to have a different reason for breaking up with her. But Arleen, this post of yours beautifully explains what I’m going through and now I know how to rebut those who look down on me because of my values. Wish I had found this earlier. Again, thank you, and thank you for helping me to see my own true worth better.

    By Randy | 6 years ago Reply
  21. Thank you for this amazing article. Always, always please remember the integrity of your logic and heart.

    For some reason, it is pretty much the ONLY one on the Internet that says so. It always astounds me the number of people who say they practice chastity but (ironically) “judge” our attempts to “judge.” Is not the whole dating process an attempt to judge who will lead us best to the path or righteousness?

    I have to add, and I hope it’s not too much to your dismay, that it seems possible that there just may not be someone out there for everyone. I say this because I’ve statistically analyzed everything, been on all the dating sites, even the Christian/Catholic ones, and exhausted every possible option outside of posting a billboard or radio ad that broadcasts my availability and requirements for Mr. Right. (And I might do that, but need to save some money for such a thing. I feel like something like that mighty also compromise my safety.)

    I say this because, if this is the case (and even if it isn’t), we need to face the possibility to remain strong in it. It just may be our cross to bear. We may have been purposed to unwitting serve as the the coffee grinds that flavor the water.

    And indeed, we don’t need to date a person in order to flavor their water.

    By Marielle | 6 years ago Reply
  22. Thank you so much for posting this blog. I read your earlier article and clicked on the link to this second part. I made a promise when I was 15, and have kept it, and I like you, have dated men who are not chaste. They have said they respected my boundaries, but tried to manipulate them and ultimately really hurt me when they decided to walk away, once they realised I was not going to bend.

    I had the epiphany tonight, that a guy who doesn’t hold to my values, does not deserve me – and I would say the same to you. I have been battling with a decision whether to continue seeing a man who is not chaste, but says he respects my beliefs. I like him; he seems really sweet and genuine, but past experience warns me that it is likely to end similarly – or worse. This article has helped me to keep my resolve, and also be gracious to a man who is chaste, but with a past.

    By Jemima Blackley | 6 years ago Reply
  23. This is something I really find hard compromising. That someone is “willing” to save the sex, then later asks me if “we can just spend the night, we won’t do anything.” What crap!!…. Thanks for affirming my doubts of whether I’ve been doing the right thing by refraining from the relationship.

    By Vins | 6 years ago Reply

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