If a man loves you for who you are, then he won’t lose the person he loves by being pure with you. However, if a guy leaves you because you are unwilling to do sexual things with him, then you can know for certain that he never loved you to begin with. If his real interest is in sex rather than in you, your purity will bring his intentions to the surface. This is one of the functions of chastity: Not only does it free you to love; it also frees you to know if you are really being loved.
Take some time to think about what you really want in a guy. Odds are, you want a man who will challenge you to grow spiritually, not take from you sexually everything that you are willing to give him. There’s a widespread myth that guys are the ones who battle sexual temptations, while it’s the woman’s job to be the chastity cop. This isn’t fair. Girls have their own temptations as well, and persevering in purity is challenging enough when both people agree on the importance of chastity. Being pure becomes all the more difficult when the responsibility of keeping the relationship chaste falls on your shoulders alone.
Also, keep things in perspective: Your boyfriend is not doing you an immeasurable favor by not having sex with you. It is his duty as a gentleman, and you owe him nothing for doing what he ought to do. If he is pouting that you have imposed upon him an unjust sentence of abstinence, then he’s trying to emotionally manipulate you. You should not have to deal with a guy who will give you the silent treatment when you make a vow of purity, or question your decision to live by God’s standards instead of his.
It is better that he be mad than you lower your standards. Some women are so timid and afraid to hurt a guy’s feelings that they often end up causing themselves immeasurable harm. Listen to you heart and follow your conscience.
If he can quickly get over his disappointment and grow in his understanding of the value of the gift of sexuality, the relationship might be salvaged. But don’t get wrapped up in months and years of missionary dating. Instead, guard your heart and trust the guidance of your family and close friends.
If he persists in his pouting, then don’t be afraid that love will pass you by if you leave this relationship. It just may open up the door for the kind of love you’ve wanted all long. Here are some tips on how to know when it’s time to let go.
God’s will is your happiness, and if the Lord wants the two of you together, then waiting until you’re married to act like a husband and wife will not ruin this. As I mentioned above, if purity kills a relationship, then you can be sure that it was never built on love in the first place. Just as a strong wind will fuel an enormous fire and extinguish a weak flame, so too will purity intensify authentic love and extinguish it’s counterfeit.
Lastly, make sure to ask God the same question you asked me. Sometimes we’re so busy listening to music, scrolling around on the screen on our phones, watching TV, talking to friends, and messing around online that we never take time to sit still and pray. If we do not make time for that silence in our souls, we’ll have a very difficult time hearing God speak to us. For starters, set a regular prayer time and stick to it. We can’t expect to grow spiritually if we think that prayer times will just happen. My favorite place to pray is before the Blessed Sacrament at church. Wherever we choose to pray, we must be disciplined, and we will reap what we sow. When you begin to pray, invite the Holy Spirit to bless your prayer time. Spend some time reading the Bible, because the Lord often uses that to talk to our hearts. Also, ask our Lady to help you pray. If you persevere in doing this, you will see what you should do with this relationship.
I know how you feel, because I was a virgin on my wedding day, but my wife was not. Like the woman you mentioned, my wife had become a new creation. But it was still a painful challenge to deal with the knowledge of her past. For one, there was the pit that I would feel in my gut at the thought of her being that intimate with some stranger I’ll never meet. I also felt resentment towards the other guys, and never wanted to resent her. Then, there was the let-down of having waited that long to give myself entirely to someone, and wanting her to share the experience of the wedding night as totally unique. Sound familiar? I receive countless emails from men and women like you who are struggling with their partner’s past. Here’s a strategy to overcome the difficulty:
One reason why these thoughts keep coming to mind for you is probably because you are trying to push them out of your mind without dealing with them. Sweeping them under the rug will allow them to continue bothering you. As I see it, the solution is not to repress these thoughts but to deal with them by accepting them and lifting them up. Whenever you have these troubling thoughts, take the following steps:
1. Thank God. Act against feelings of bitterness and hurt by thanking God for bringing her out of that lifestyle. This will help to keep resentment from infecting your relationship. Remember: She wasn’t unfaithful to you. She just made some poor choices, and most likely regrets them. If you’re like me, you’ve made some mistakes in your past, too, whether it be looking at porn, or doing stuff with other girls. Remember that resentment is a choice, not just an emotion. You need to actively reject and uproot it.
2. Offer it up. Instead of dwelling on her past and moping over it, lift those thoughts to God when they come to mind. Here’s how: When you begin to think of her previous actions and relationships, take that as a reminder to pray for the healing of her memories and for the conversion of the men she dated. Because of Christ’s sufferings, our trials in life have redemptive value when we accept them with faith and offer them up to him. You need to realize the good that the Lord can do through it. Use your suffering to bring grace to others. This step is very important. Every time a memory comes to mind, I want you to pray for her healing and for their conversions. In other words, let the pain become a prayer.
3. Live Pure. Resolve to lead a pure life with her. You may not be the one to marry her one day, and if that is the case, you certainly don’t want to add more regrets for her to bring into her future marriage. In order to live a pure life, you also need to make sure that you’re not looking at pornography. This will infect the wound in your relationship and intensify your insecurities because it will make the thoughts of her past become more visual in your imagination.
4. Talk to her. If the relationship is heading toward marriage, do not be afraid to talk to her about the struggle you are having. It is better that these issues come to the surface before marriage than within marriage. If you do not feel ready for this, perhaps you can speak with a priest or some other counselor you respect (without betraying her trust). In other words, it’s best to talk to someone who either knows her past, or who does not know her at all.
However, remember that good relationships require open and honest communication. When you bring up your concerns, make sure not to blame her for the past, but rather express the fact that you want to work through this issue together. Never, ever, hold this over her or use it against her. Instead, share your insecurities, fears, or hurts, and allow her to love you. This will require some vulnerability on your part and some patience and empathy from her. If your love is strong and forgiving, the two of you will be able to overcome this difficulty.
When you do this, do not get very specific with regards to things she did with the guy(s). Such information will do more harm than good. Previous intimacies of one partner often cause feelings of pain, inferiority, or resentment in the other partner. Talking through your struggle will help you to guard your heart from the poison of unforgiveness. But take it easy on her, and don’t drag it on forever. This will cause her to resent you. I had once heard that a young man approached St. Padre Pio in tears because his girlfriend broke up with him. The saint smacked him in the face and said, “Be a man.” As harsh as that sounds, it’s just what the guy needed.
It is entirely reasonable for you to feel hurt by her past. This is natural. It’s not a sign that you haven’t forgiven her. It’s just a sign that you have a human heart. Forgiving someone is not about numbness. It’s about no longer holding something against that person. It’s a decision. In time, the wounds will heal, but it’s not within your power not to feel a certain way. Hopefully she’ll be patient with you as you work through this. As a note of encouragement, I have found that over time it gets better, and that in our case, marriage has been very healing. For example, even though the woman you’re with has experienced sexual activity in the past, marital intimacy will be unique for her, because she has never experienced the gift of pure intimacy as God intended—as a sacrament.
If you find that the issue is not improving, but is driving a wedge of resentment between you, find a marital counselor, priest, or parent to talk with. Marriage is one of the most important decisions you will ever make, and you need to surround yourself with wise counselors. The woman you are with should not have to live with the cloud of her past forever hovering above her. Your task is to help blow it away.
5. Reflect the love of God to her: A guy in your situation once emailed me, saying how he felt somewhat “gipped” because of his fiancée’s past. I can understand why he would feel that. However, we need to remember that we have not saved ourselves for the sake of getting, but for giving. So much of authentic love is simply about giving and not seeking something in return. If you become her husband, you will not receive the gift of her virginity. But you will receive something greater: the gift of herself. It would be sad to lose the gift of a person in pursuit of the gift of virginity. In fact, I know of one such couple who was nearing engagement, but ended up breaking off the relationship because the guy could not accept the girl’s past. It was tragic, because he could not see that in failing to accept her past, he was forfeiting a beautiful future.
Just look at how unconditionally God loves us, and how stingy we are in return. In fact, the Bible often speaks about Israel as having played the harlot, and having forgotten her first love, which was God. Yet God forgave her iniquities and loved Israel despite the past. I’m not comparing your girlfriend to a harlot (or you to God), but am simply saying that you’ll be loving her in a godly way if you choose to accept her past. She’ll need to love you unconditionally as well, if you hope to have a lasting marriage. We all have our own imperfections. God does not hold a grudge over her, and neither should you.
Remember that your unconditional acceptance of your potential future bride makes you more of a man in her eyes than anything else you can do. She may wonder, “Am I worthy of love? Am I damaged goods? Am I unlovable?” You play an important role in her healing, through dying to yourself for love of her. Believe it or not, this wound you feel is actually given to you by God in order to heal your own soul. It will conform you to Christ, purify your love, and even strengthen your marriage if you continue to respond to God’s grace to carry this cross. Both of you play a role in each other’s healing, and you can’t lose sight of that.
Mother Teresa told us that in order for love to be real, it must hurt. It must empty us of self. So, I encourage you to look at the crucifix, which is the ultimate sign of love. Only through it did Christ reach the joy of the resurrection. In the same way, Pope John Paul II tells us that when it comes to relationships:
“We love the person complete with all his or her virtues and faults, and up to a point, independently of those virtues and in spite of those faults. The strength of such a love emerges most clearly when the beloved person stumbles, when his or her weaknesses or even sins come into the open. One who truly loves does not then withdraw his love, but loves all the more, loves in full consciousness of the other’s shortcomings and faults, and without in the least approving of them.”
For me, peace came with acceptance. It is then that we realize that forgiveness is not a feeling, but a decision. Sure, the pain will not go away overnight. For me, the thoughts and pains have come and gone. But each time they arise, I stop and pray for her healing, and for the conversion of the guys she was with. I know that when we unleash the power of redemptive suffering that God can use it for great good.
In summary, the main thing you need to do is to have a grateful heart for the woman she has become, and be patient with yourself and with her when these emotions rise up within you. Use them as a reminder to pray for her healing, resolve to keep your relationship pure, and show her the love of God. Do these things, and in His time, God will heal the wounds in her and even in you. In the meantime, do not fear that these haunting thoughts of the past will never diminish. Over the course of time, you should feel greater peace as your love deepens.
. Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II), Love and Responsibility (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1993), 135.
Do not feel that you should tell a guy all about your past just because you are in a relationship with him. If the relationship is serious and possibly heading toward marriage, then it is good to be honest with him regarding these issues. However, pray about the timing of this, and do not feel pressured to pour everything out. Be general, and admit that you made some mistakes in past relationships and that you really want this relationship to be pure and focused on God. As time progresses and you feel comfortable and the timing seems right, you may want to disclose more.
If and when this happens, keep the following in mind: Do not be overly explicit in explaining everything that happened. These details could harm the guy you are seeing. Without being in any way dishonest, be prudent about how much you disclose. You might not end up marrying this man, and if you have shared every single memory and hurt, then the emotional bond you have created could make it difficult to break things off.
Also, it would be troubling to know that this man who is not your husband knows things about you that only your husband should know. If you do end up marrying him, reassure him of how much he means to you. A study of 130 couples with strong marriages found that most of the husbands reported that their wives knew how to make them feel good about themselves. Do not talk a lot about how intimate you have been with other men. Simply reaffirm in his heart that he is your man. Frequently the previous intimacies of one spouse will cause feelings of pain, inferiority, or resentment in the other partner. So love him all the more to quell any discomfort he may have about feeling compared to others.
Finally, since you may not have the gift of your virginity left to give him, here is a suggestion. A young woman I know lost her virginity during high school and experienced more than one broken sexual relationship. Instead of giving in to despair that she would have nothing left to give her future husband, she came up with a beautiful idea. She went to confession, made a commitment to reclaim her purity, and wrote a letter of encouragement to herself to stay firm in this resolve. She listed all the reasons she would no longer lead a promiscuous life. She included in this letter all the things she hoped for in a future husband and promised to wait for God to bring them together.
Whenever she felt tempted to return to her former life, she pulled this letter out and reminded herself that true love was possible and that she should save herself for her future husband. Each time she read the letter, she added to it, and she wrote to her future husband. This letter was a constant support for her, and each time she added to it she became stronger in her convictions. By the time of her wedding, she had a large envelope filled with many pages that she waited to give to her husband on their honeymoon.
I know all these details about her, because I am the husband who received those letters. What a comfort and a blessing it was for me to see that, although she made mistakes, she turned her life around and saved herself for me. She could have said, “It’s too late for me. Once your virginity is gone, it’s gone. I might as well forget about ever being pure again.” Instead she trusted in the Lord and had faith that he had a plan for her life. Therefore it is never too late. Have courage and trust in God for a godly husband. You are worth it.
At her website, WomenMadeNew.com, she shares advice for how women can heal and start over.
. M. Lasswell and T. Lasswell, Marriage and the Family (Lexington, Mass.: Health, 1982), as reported by Parrott, Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Publishing House, 1995), 156.
Many people make the mistake of thinking that they should pursue a relationship with someone because they feel such strong feelings of attraction. We are all attracted to what is beautiful, but that does not mean that we should pursue each beautiful person we see. For example, even in marriage there may be times when you experience feelings of attraction toward people other than your spouse. Needless to say, such attractions are not a sign that you should leave your husband or wife.
Being attracted to another person is wonderful, and I would not recommend that a couple get married if they are not attracted to each other. This is the natural way that God has made us. However, if a woman marries a man only because of an intense physical attraction, or a man refuses to get married because he cannot find a Christian Barbie doll, then there is a problem. We are not to expect flawless perfection in the other. If we do, then the flaw is not in the others but in us. We may need to readjust our priorities so that love does not pass us by. As one man said, ‘‘God help the man who will not marry until he finds a perfect woman, and God help him still more if he finds her.’’
The book of Proverbs says: ‘‘Like a golden ring in a swine’s snout is a beautiful woman with a rebellious disposition. . . . Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the Lord is to be praised’’ (Prov. 11:22, 31:30, NAB). These verses do not mean that physical attraction is bad but that other factors, such as the person’s personality and spirituality, are more important. When the beauty fades—and the external beauty will fade—then who are you left with? Ask yourself this question now instead of later. Look at a same-sex grandparent of the person you would like to marry. Now add all the internal qualities that your potential spouse has. Can you say that you would still want to spend your life with him or her? You should. An easier way to test your attraction is to pretend you are blind. Now ask yourself how attractive the other becomes.
A relationship stands on whatever foundation you choose. If a couple build their relationship on the foundation of pleasure, the relationship will last as long as the pleasure is sufficient. If it is based only upon looks, then when the looks fade, so will the relationship. Since judgment is easily clouded by physical beauty and the infatuation it inspires, make sure you have role models who can provide you with guidance.
As you realize, your friend needs to take a break. Because she comes from a broken family, she may have a void in her life that should have been filled by the love of her father. It is common for a young woman who did not receive her father’s love to jump into relationships with older guys in an effort to receive the missing affection, attention, and acceptance.
One woman said, “I thought about the girl who this very night will lose her virginity because she is searching for her daddy’s love. And I want to be able to stop her somehow and tell her that she will never find it in another man.” Your friend might fear abandonment and may confuse the physical affection of boys with love. If she had a loving father who protected her and sacrificed for her good, then she would be more likely to wait for such a man to come into her life. Since she never received this gift, she does not know how a man should properly treat a woman.
There may also be a deep connection between the absence of her father in her life and her willingness to live with disrespect. Sometimes when a child had a distant or critical parent, the child may grow up wanting to please people who hurt her in order to receive their love. In trying to mend those original wounds, the girl may put up with just about any form of disrespect. These are deep problems, and living with a boyfriend will not solve them.
In fact, living with this guy is one of the worst things she could do. Click here for information that shows the consequences of cohabitation. Perhaps you can show your friend some of the facts in order to discourage her from moving in with him. If she wants a lasting relationship, then she needs to work toward it by making smart decisions for herself and her future.
She does not know what to expect from a man, so she will take what she is given. This is why she needs space to figure out who she is and what she really wants. In the meantime, pray for her and give her all the love you can. She deserves it.
. Josh McDowell, Why Wait? (Nashville, Tenn.: Nelson Book Publishers, 1987), 63.
No offense, but scientists recently discovered that feelings of romantic love tend to deactivate certain parts of the brain. For example, brain scans of people experiencing romantic emotions showed deactivations in the parts of the brain that make moral judgments (mesial prefrontal cortex, the parietotemporal junction, and the temporal poles). Other areas of the brain that were deactivated are responsible for judgment of negative emotions.
The scientists said that romantic love leads to “the suppression of activity in the neural machineries associated with the critical social assessment of other people and with negative emotions. . . . These findings therefore bring us closer to explaining in neurological terms why ‘love makes [us] blind.”’ In other words, when you’re in love with a guy, your brain is handicapped when it comes to judging the value (and morality) of a relationship. That’s one reason why it’s important to date only guys who have strong values.
The purpose of dating is to find a worthy spouse, not to rehabilitate a troubled guy. So it sounds as if you need to step back from this relationship. Many young women with good hearts want to play the role of therapist for a guy who has a rough life, but they end up wounded, and the guy is not much better off. A girl might stay in the relationship because she does not want to hurt the guy by leaving. But it will harm the guy (and her) more if she does not take a step back. Until he can deal with his problems in a way that is not destructive to him or to others, he is not ready to be in an intimate relationship.
According to God’s word, “The man of violent temper pays the penalty; even if you rescue him, you will have it to do again” (Prov. 19:19, NAB). It is not your job to save this guy from all of his problems. Let him know that you are praying for him but that you need space for yourself and stability in your life. This is not selfishness. It shows a healthy respect for yourself, and that is the foundation for any good future relationship.
If he tries to lay a guilt trip on you or intimidate you, it is all the more evidence that you need to back away. If he hurts you, then the sooner this ends the better. In the meantime do not use physical pleasure to cover up the pain of the relationship. Instead listen to your friends. They are there to look out for you, and I do not think you will regret following their advice. Because they aren’t emotionally invested in the relationship, they can look at the situation with greater clarity. Therefore, do not dismiss their advice.
A recent study showed that when it comes to predicting the success or failure of a relationship, few people know better than the friends of the girl. Not the couple themselves, not the guy’s friends, but the girl’s friends are often the most reliable judges of how strong a relationship is and how long it will last. As Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” This means that although their advice may be painful to receive, it will be best in the long run to follow it.
As difficult as it may seem to walk away, it will only be more difficult later to patch up the hurt that has been caused by staying in the relationship too long. Two factors should influence this decision: You are worth more, and he needs this time to mature. If you do not understand your value in God’s eyes, then it is easy to seek your worth in relationships, even unhealthy ones. Even an unhealthy relationship makes you feel desired, and so you settle for it.
Right now, while he is still single, the most loving thing you can do is to show him that he cannot deal with his hurt by hurting others. He needs to know that his behavior is unacceptable. Using a little child psychology may be helpful here. According to Drs. Cloud and Townsend in their book Boundaries with Kids, “Setting boundaries without setting consequences is a form of nagging. The disrespecter learns that his greatest problem is not the hurtfulness of his behavior, but only the annoyance of your complaining.” As long as you stay in the relationship and take the abuse, it sends him the message that his behavior is fine.
Therefore, don’t spend your time trying to change your boyfriend. Instead, imagine what it would be like to be cherished by a man who would protect your purity and make you feel safe. Such men do exist, but they’re only found by the women who refuse to settle for less.
. Andreas Bartels and Semir Zeki, “The Neural Correlates of Maternal and Romantic Love,” NeuroImage 21 (2004), 1164.
. “Break-up Predictors,” Reader’s Digest, April 2002, 185.
. Henry Cloud and John Townsend, Boundaries in Dating (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2000), 228.
I understand your fear of confronting your boyfriend, but the bottom line is that you must risk losing him. Every human being was created to be loved and never to be used. But if you are even slightly afraid that he will lose interest in you when you end physical intimacies, ask yourself: Is he interested in you or in pleasure? Deep in your heart I think you are afraid that he may be in this for the physical relationship. You have been used before, and your greatest fear is that you have been used again.
There are two options open to you. One is to give in to whatever he wants (which is no guarantee that he will stay). The other is to follow your intuition. Look into your heart to discover why you do not feel comfortable doing these things with him. It’s probably because the acts degrade you. You deserve better.
But suppose that you were willing to give your boyfriend whatever he wanted, out of fear of losing him. Would his respect for you go up or down? Down. If you stand firm and show that you will not compromise your values, then he will respect you more—even if he leaves you because he is in search of a girl who does not know what she is worth. You must take this risk if you want love.
Sometimes, women abandon their morals because they like the fact that a boy desires them so much. Such a girl may be starving for love and willing to settle for lust. But what usually happens is that the guy loses respect for the girl, becomes bored, and leaves.
Other times he sticks around as long as she is willing to satisfy his desires. I have heard of many young women who say they did certain things with their boyfriends because they thought that the guys would like them more. One girl wrote, “He had convinced me that what we were doing was OK, and so that is what we did. The whole time I felt I was doing something wrong, but I silenced myself for the good of him. Little did I know the effect this would have on me. It was as though someone had slowly scooped away at my soul and let it deteriorate.”
You know in your heart that this kind of relationship is not what you are looking for.
Another young woman shared: “I had been told all my life that sex before marriage was wrong, but no one ever told me why. In the twelfth grade I found myself dating one boy for a long period of time. We spent a lot of time alone, and as a result our relationship became more physical. I felt guilty, bitter, frustrated, and dirty. Because of those feelings I would say to him, ‘We need to stop having sex, or at least slow down.’ Well, we tried to slow down, but that didn’t work. Instead of getting closer, we grew farther apart. After two years of dating, I finally said, ‘No more sex,’ and he said, ‘Good-bye.’ Since then, whenever I dated another person for a length of time, sex became a part of the relationship. Tears always came because I knew I had blown it again.”
If your boyfriend loves you, he will not pressure you to do things that make you uncomfortable. Suppose you say, “I don’t feel comfortable doing that with you.” If he responds, “Why not? You used to do it,” or “What’s your problem? Come on, I love you, this will make us so much closer,” then he is not respecting you. Often a guy will insinuate that he really loves you but he may need to leave if his desires go unsatisfied. This is definitely not love. “Love waits to give, but lust can’t wait to get.”
Ask yourself this question: When it comes to my body, will my boyfriend take everything I’m willing to give him? If this is the case, then he is not concerned about your soul. His goal is pleasure. While it may temporarily feel like love, you know in your heart it is not. For example, consider what a guy named Jordan said in an article in Complete Woman magazine: “Sex is extremely important to me. In fact, once I felt compelled to break up with a woman I really loved because we didn’t have enough sex. . . . The lack of sex nearly killed me.” (Apparently he was rushed to the hospital for lack of sex.) If this is how Jordan treats the ladies he “really loves,” it is hard to imagine how he treats other women.
Pray for courage and wisdom, and let your boyfriend know that you want to be pure from now on. Good relationships require good communication. You need to be open with your boyfriend about what is in your heart. You deserve a guy who will not only allow you to become pure, but will take the initiative to keep the relationship pure.
Sometimes a guy will reply to his girlfriend’s request to be pure by saying, “No more sexual stuff? That’s OK—I just love being with you.” The girl melts, but his behavior gradually returns to the way it was before. In these cases a girl needs to persevere in purity and see what happens. If he sticks with you as you grow in holiness, and he brings you closer to God by his actions, then the sacrifices you have made together will be good training for marriage.
As for now, the best thing you can do for your boyfriend is to grow in holiness yourself. It will inspire him to become worthy of you. When women are pure, they become “possessors of a deep and wondrous secret that is revealed only to the one who proves himself deserving of her.” This sense of independence in a girl appeals to guys. If women easily give themselves away, they should not be surprised to find themselves in a culture of men who feel no need to commit to them.
But is this guy the one for you? To be honest, I do not think so. I think you may know that and be afraid of starting over. Or perhaps you want to make this work out, so that you do not have to address the hurt. But it will be much better in the long run if you take a hard look at your situation now. One reason I doubt the strength of this relationship is because you said that “sometimes he will respect my wishes.” This is a big warning sign, suggesting that the rest of the time he is placing his hormones on a more important level than you as a person. That says a great deal about his character. Any guy can say yes to sex. But how many can say no? If he cannot say no to temptations now, how will he say no when temptations come in marriage?
. Josh McDowell, Why Wait? (Nashville, Tenn.: Nelson Book Publishers, 1987), 17–18.
. Henry Cloud and John Townsend, Boundaries in Dating (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2000), 251.
. Laura Morgan, Marie Claire, 2000. As re-published in “How Strong is Your Sex Drive?” Complete Woman, February–March 2001, 17.
. Wendy Shalit, A Return to Modesty (New York: Touchstone, 1999), 97.
Shut the door. Here is why: This guy’s actions are ruled by his emotions, not by principles. Therefore, even if he does commit to you, you can rest assured that the relationship will only be as stable as his feelings. Once they change, so will he.
Furthermore, if he kissed another girl while expressing an interest in you, what message would it send him if you stuck around? It would tell him that such behavior is tolerable. To a guy, it looks as if you’re desperate for him to pick you. This will make him lose respect for you and will make you lose respect for yourself. So instead of waiting around, hoping that he will want you, shut the door and let him wish he deserved a girl like you.
When a woman does not demand the respect and commitment she deserves, she becomes her own worst enemy. Men treat her badly because she lets them. Therefore, don’t be afraid to say to a guy, “I will not sit here while you flounder around in indecision. If you can’t decide, I’ll take that as a good-bye.” When it comes to relationships, it is either 100 percent commitment or nothing. If he wanted to see other people, he should have had the guts to come to you and say so rather than sneak around.
On the other hand, if he had not committed to seeing you exclusively, then he was not being dishonest or breaking a commitment by seeing someone else. You may not like what he did, but that is one of the things that happens when you “sort of” see someone.
As you discovered, dragging on a vague relationship sets people up for problems. I’m sure you often hear of couples who say, “We’re not boyfriend and girlfriend, but we are seeing each other,” or, “We aren’t dating, but he told my friend that we are a thing.” Do not settle for a relationship that is just a “thing.” You deserve clarity when it comes to commitment. Girls who never learn to expect it often end up with a cohabiting boyfriend who, instead of proposing to her, gives her a “promise ring” because he is too scared to commit. She is flattered and pacified because any sign of commitment from him is exciting for her.
Now is the time to realize that great relationships do not “happen.” They are the result of a conscious decision to respect yourself. You need to learn this respect for yourself so that you do not constantly end up with guys who refuse to respect you. In the situation you are in now, this guy only deserves to see you on a “more than friends basis” if he has clearly ended the relationship with this other girl and intends to be with you exclusively.
Even if he does, I would not jump back into a relationship with him. He needs to see that you are not waiting on him hand and foot, instantly available should he become tired of dating someone else. Take your time and do not exhaust yourself by clinging to him. Also, do not expect an overnight character change in him, no matter how eloquently he speaks about a change in his heart.
Trust takes a long time to build, and if he expects you to trust him with your heart, there is a great deal of rebuilding that needs to happen. Since he has already broken some degree of a commitment to you once, there is no guarantee that this will not happen again.
Sometimes a girl will like a guy so much and will be so insecure that she accepts his deception and unfaithfulness as minor glitches in the relationship. He will say that he is sorry and he loves her, and she lets him right back to hurt her again. Do not make this mistake. Honesty is one of the most important elements in a good relationship. In the words of one marriage counselor, “To the extent that you are being deceived, there is no relationship.”
Also, if he has just ended a relationship, you do not want to get him on the rebound. Take a good look at why he is breaking up with this other girl. This says volumes about a person. As I said elsewhere, some people jump from one relationship to the other according to how strong the feelings are. When the feelings are weak, they jump ship; when the feelings are strong, they jump aboard. They think that once the feelings are gone, love is gone. It turns out that they love the feelings of being “in love” more than they love the actual person.
. Henry Cloud and John Townsend, Boundaries in Dating (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2000), 46.
This kind of guy is not interested in guarding a girl’s heart. His goal was sex, and her goal was intimacy. He got what he wanted. The thrill of the chase is over, and his respect for her is gone. She was only desirable as long as she was unattainable.
He might also feel uneasy around her because he used her. When he did that, he missed the point of what it means to be a man. As a result, he probably feels shame when he sees her; her face might remind him of his emptiness. He might even feel sorry for her, so it is easier to ignore her. If a guy is exchanging sexual intimacies with a woman before he marries her, he has made the mistake of asking for her heart before he is willing to hold and guard it with his life.
Here is a glimpse inside the heart of an honest guy who did just this:
“I finally got a girl into bed—actually it was in a car—when I was seventeen. I thought it was the hottest thing there was, but then she started saying that she loved me and was getting clingy. I figured out that there had probably been a dozen other guys before me who thought that they had “conquered” her but who were really just objects of her need for security. That realization took all the wind out of my sails. I could not respect someone who gave in as easily as she did. I was amazed to find that after four weeks of having sex as often as I wanted, I was tired of her. I didn’t see any point in continuing the relationship. I finally dumped her, which made me feel even worse, because I could see that she was hurting. I felt pretty low.”.
During premarital sex two bodies are speaking a language of permanence that does not exist in reality. If either person’s heart is invested in the union, that person will be disappointed, hurt, and angry when the breakup comes. One girl wrote, “I thought Mike really loved me, but last night we had sex for the first time, and this morning he told my girlfriend that he didn’t want to see me anymore. I thought that giving Mike what he wanted would make him happy and he’d love me more.” To avoid this disappointment, a girl needs to realize that sexual intimacy is the culmination and reward of total commitment, not a way to keep a guy interested.
Unfortunately, many young women think that a physical relationship will draw a guy closer. I have seen plenty of relationships that started out fine, but as the couple became more physical, the emotional, social, and spiritual aspects of the relationship atrophied. (Atrophy is what happens to your muscles when you’re paralyzed. Because they’re not used, they wither away.)
That is what happens to the other dimensions of a relationship when physical intimacy dominates. The solution is restraint. A young woman will find the intimacy for which she yearns only by respecting herself.
. Thomas Lickona, “The Neglected Heart,” American Educator (Summer 1994), 7.
. Josh McDowell, Why Wait? (Nashville, Tenn.: Nelson Book Publishers, 1987), 16.
Ask yourself these questions: If you are having a secret relationship with a man who is willing to keep it hidden, what does this say of his character? It says that he is willing to be dishonest to get what he wants. If he is hiding a relationship with you, what makes you think he is not capable of hiding a relationship from you? Do you hope to marry a guy who is willing to hide a relationship? Beyond that, is there a reason he is not courting women his own age?
Also, examine how this relationship is forming you. To keep the relationship alive, you have probably lied to your family. But good relationships are founded on honesty with yourself, the other, your family, and God. To the extent that there is deception, there is an absence of love. The Lord has placed you within your family, under your parents’ authority, for a reason. Do not let a guy come between you and them.
Imagine if you had a fourteen or fifteen-year-old daughter who met a charming college guy. I’d imagine you would like to offer her some advice, to say the least. You asked why the relationship shouldn’t just be about “me and him.” But any relationship divorced from your family’s influence and direction is an unhealthy relationship. For example, the other night I spoke with a mom whose son was sexually active, and her eyes were filled with pain and were swollen with tears. Her son does not live in an isolated universe apart from his family, as much as he may wish that was the case. His mom’s heart was broken, but he didn’t care. He wanted sex. It was all about him and the girlfriend he was shacking up with.
Now, I do not know how physical you two have been. But I do know that if it is God’s will for you two to be together, His plan for you will not be ruined by you honoring your parents. If you want to win the respect and trust of your parents, you should begin by respecting and trusting them. Whether we like it or not, parents have a lot of wisdom in this area—just as you will have a lot of wisdom when you become a mother. It takes maturity to realize that your parents may have valuable experience when it comes to relationships and that they want what is best for you. Older people realize that the younger you are, the more an age gap matters in relationships. While no one would see anything wrong with a thirty-seven-year-old man dating a thirty-two-year-old woman, it is more than a bit sketchy for someone your age to be dating a fourth-grader. In the high school to college range, age is still a factor.
In fact, while this can be hard for young people to accept, research shows that the place in the brain where reasoning and judgment take place is not fully developed until a person reaches his or her early-mid twenties. So there is a great deal of wisdom in deferring to the guidance of people who are a bit older.
Though this may be tough to see right now, the situation is dangerous. Why? Consider these statistics: 74 percent of girls who lose their virginity as teens lose it to an older guy.  In fact, the majority of teen pregnancies are caused by older guys. Older guys are also more likely to transmit sexually transmitted diseases because they are more likely to have had multiple sexual partners. Lastly, girls who date guys two or more years older are six times as likely to get drunk and smoke pot. Even if the two of you are not sexually active, you can understand why your parents have some legitimate concerns.
You may say, “We’re not into sex, drugs, or drinking. He’s a good guy.” But if you and he plan on making this relationship last, then the truth will be revealed. How many months and years of deception do you want to unveil eventually to your parents? If this guy hopes to be a son-in-law to your mom and dad, he’s not going to make a good impression by lying to them for years. He will only create resentment.
Have the courage and wisdom to step back and be honest with your family. If they want you two to stop seeing each other, honor their wishes. In the meantime, do not worry that you will never find another guy who likes you. Think about whomever you had a crush on four years ago and look at how your tastes have changed since then. The same refining and clarifying of your interests will continue over the next several years.
Have confidence in love. If you sneak around, it shows a lack of confidence in your love for each other, as if the success of your love requires dishonesty. Have confidence in God as well. He can take care of things. All he asks in the meantime is that you honor your parents and wait to have the relationship until you are able to be honest with them about it. You will not regret it. Meanwhile, remember: “Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends” (1 Cor. 13:4–8).
. Jay N. Giedd, “Structural Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Adolescent Brain,” Adolescent Brain Development: Vulnerabilities and Opportunities 1021 (June 2004), 77–85; Medical Institute for Sexual Health, “Maturation of the Teen Brain,” Integrated Sexual Health Today (Spring 2005), 2–9.
. Suzanne Ryan, et al., “The First Time: Characteristics of Teens’ First Sexual Relationships,” Research Brief (Washington, D.C.: Child Trends, August 2003), 2.
. Hsu G., “Statutory Rape: The Dirty Secret Behind Teen Sex Numbers,” Family Policy (1996), 1–16.
. Trudee Tarkowski, et al., “Epidemiology of Human Papillomavirus Infection and Abnormal Cytologic Test Results in an Urban Adolescent Population,” Journal of Infectious Diseases 189 (January 1, 2004), 49.
. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, “National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse IX: Teen Dating Practices and Sexual Activity,” Columbia University (August 2004), 6.