If you’re going too far with a guy, how do you stop suddenly and say “no”?

Most situations of impurity can be avoided if you think ahead and avoid people and places that are likely to endanger your purity. But if you are already in a situation where you need to cool it off, there are a number of things you can say. Everyone seems to recommend different approaches.

For starters, do not underestimate the direct approach: simply saying, “We need to stop—we’re going too far,” may do the trick, especially if it is already understood that you are committed to chastity. Include yourself as well as him—say, “We need to stop,” instead of, “You need to stop”—to indicate that you are not blaming him, just putting on the brakes. This may be hard, but consider it a learning experience so that you do not let things get to that point again.

On the other hand, some prefer the humorous approach: “Here’s my cell phone. Call my dad, and if he says it’s OK for us to do what you want, then I’ll do it.” Or, “You’ve got protection? Good. You are going to need it if you don’t get your hands off me.” And then there is, “Everyone’s doing it? Then you shouldn’t have trouble finding someone else.”

These may be entertaining, but I do not know how realistic they are. It might be more practical to give him a compliment—guys love that—such as, “I really like you, and I have so much fun when we’re together, but this is the kind of stuff I want to save for marriage.” Also, feel free to blame your parents for your decision: “My mom would kill me if she ever found out we were doing this. We need to stop.”

Another reason to skip the humorous approach is that this is not a time for jokes but for witnessing to the truth of love. Be humble but clear, confident, and firm, and see this as a teachable moment. Use a verbal no and a no with your body language. If you are lying with him on a couch and whispering a halfhearted “no,” he probably will not take you seriously, since you do not take your commitment to purity seriously. Also, when a girl is unable to say no, she is less attractive. Wendy Shalit described a “deadness” in girls’ demeanor “that comes from inauthenticity, from giving away too much,” from not knowing how to set limits and having the character to stand by them.[1] To avoid this deadness, pray to God for the strength to maintain and grow in your purity.

Even if you don’t convince your date to live purely in his own life, that’s OK. It’s more important that you do what is right than it is for you to convince another. You should not have to play the chastity cop. In fact, both people in a relationship should be mutually accountable. The responsibility to blow the whistle should not rest entirely on one person. Also, you do not owe your date a thirty-minute presentation on why chastity is important to you, and you certainly do not owe him sexual favors. If he does not accept a simple no, then he does not love you.

If that’s the case, let him go, and hold out for a man who knows how to properly honor a woman. Most importantly, do not be afraid. One teenage girl wrote to me and said, “I really like him, but I do not know why I have sex, like sometimes I am scared to say no.” There are worse things in the world than not being asked out again by a guy who only loves himself. If he dumps you over this, then he did not deserve your attention to begin with. Could this be embarrassing? Perhaps. But regret lasts much longer than embarrassment.

It also might not be embarrassing at all. One high school girl said to me, “I know a lot of guys who act like they want sex just because they think they have to think that. But really, on the inside they are not like that at all.” Sometimes it is a relief for a guy when a girl is clear about her boundaries and has strong values. It may take the pressure off a guy who assumes that you expect him to act like the rest of the guys. The numerous stories of sexual conquests that guys overhear in the locker room may make a good guy think that he is less of a man if he does not try to go as far with a woman as his classmates have.

Also, some men are afraid that women will consider them unmanly or reject them if the men do not try to have sex with them. Your date may be trying to go too far with you in order to avoid appearing less of a man. Your character will serve to remind him of real manhood. If you think that temptations make it nearly impossible to say no, remember that you have the ability to tell your body what to do. It will obey you. If a married couple were in bed together and their house caught on fire, do you think they would say, “Oh, no! We can’t say no to sex. We’re going to die!” Or do you think they would stop their actions—no matter how intimate and exciting—and save their lives? In the same way, remember that you have the capacity to sacrifice the pleasures of the moment for a greater good—to save your spiritual life.

When things are going too far, value yourself enough to say no. Unfortunately, many young women use physical intimacy as a way of giving themselves value. The embraces feel like an affirmation of their worth, and perhaps because of mistakes they have made in the past, they do not understand the tremendous value of their bodies. Your purity is a treasure, so have the confidence to respect yourself. When the two of you work to preserve purity, it will keep an element of mystery and excitement in your relationship that is lost when couples do not bother to keep anything secret and sacred.

[1]. Wendy Shalit, A Return to Modesty, (New York: Touchstone, 1999), 57.

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