Updated: May 5
I recently wrote two separate articles- one about dating and one about sex. In both of them, I pointed out that ideally, romantic couples should wait until they get married to have sex. Today I wanted to talk about how to maintain a healthy, intimate loving relationship when you can't go "all the way" in expressing your love. Here are 10 tips for being boyfriend and girlfriend without having sex:
1. Group Dates- Do you have friends who are also dating? Do you know of friends who are interested in getting to know each other better? What a great opportunity for all of you to have fun! Get a group of people together and go out for mini-golf, bowling, a movie night, or dinner. Being in a group setting doesn't mean you can't have a one-on-one conversation, but it does mean it will be more challenging to find "alone" moments.
2. Accountability Partner- Find a friend you can confide in. I know it might seem drastic, but one of the best ways to not have sex with your significant other is to know that you will have to report back to someone about how intimate you were. I'm not saying tell a friend all your personal business, instead just come up with a system to let someone know, "hey here is what we did". Does it make you uncomfortable thinking about having to tell someone how physical you were with your girlfriend or boyfriend? That's the point! I read a book once that said, "don't do anything with someone that you wouldn't want your grandma to see." I still think about that sometimes even though I'm married!
3. Curfews- Okay, I realize this is giving you middle school flashbacks to your parent's house rules... but stick with me. Even adults need curfews sometimes! If you are dating someone and you notice that your conversation or your thoughts start heading south in the evening hours... it's time to say goodnight a little early. Setting a curfew doesn't just mean not seeing someone past 10 PM it also means turning off the cell phone and shutting down the computer. If you don't like the word "curfew", think of it as "alone time". Tell your partner you want time to spend with yourself in the evenings.
4. Dresscode- When it comes to dating, you have to think longer and harder about previously simple decisions. Your outfit choice is one of those simple decisions that will now take more thought. Of course, you should be dressing modestly regardless of if you are dating or not, but I think it is even more risky to be "scantily clad" (I just wanted to use that phrase so bad haha) when you are in a relationship. What you wear tells your partner what kind of attention you want. If your dress has an open back, he's going to want to slide his hand there. If your shirt is tight, she is going to be thinking about feeling those muscles against her. Don't make your lives harder than they need to be by showing each other physicalities that are still off-limits.
5. Ugly underwear- this one is mainly for the ladies but maybe guys can benefit from it too. When I was dating, I purposely avoided Victoria's Secret like the plague. Instead, I went to Walmart or Target and I bought the ugliest (though very comfy!) granny panties I could possibly get my hands on. I knew I would be mortified if my boyfriend saw what I had on under my jeans! If you are buying sexy, colorful, attractive lingerie, you're obviously going to want to show it off. Save the cute bras and lace panties for when you can fully utilize them.
6. Goodbye porn/romance novels- I am not advocating that at any time in your life it is okay to look at porn or read sexually graphic books. It is never okay to do that even if you are single. It doesn't benefit anyone... and it gives you a very unrealistic picture and expectation for love and marriage. It becomes an addiction that is in some ways worse than drugs. With that being said, I know that many people struggle with these forms of entertainment and pleasure. Because so many people already struggle, I just want to reiterate that this will significantly challenge your plans to remain sexually inactive. If you are watching people have sex or fantasizing about people having sex, you are going to want to have sex! If you are struggling with a porn addiction I urge you to reach out to your pastor, counselor or health professional for help. Any addiction is a harm to you and those you love. Please do not feel too ashamed to get help. God will never stop loving you. He wants the best for you. You can overcome anything with his strength and with the right support system in place.
7. Set relationship goals- It is a lot easier to wait for something if you know it is eventually possible to attain it! When you are seriously dating it is important to discuss what your milestones will be. For example, how long do you want to date before you would be financially able to get married? How long do you want to date before you will be comfortable getting engaged? How long do you want your engagement period to last? It is important to understand each other's general timelines. I'm not saying you need to have an exact count of months or days or a specific date when someone is "required" to propose to you, but a general idea is important. For example, when my husband and I were dating, we knew both wanted to graduate college before getting married. I personally knew I wanted a longer engagement rather than a short one. Because we discussed that, we were better able to plan for our futures.
8. Physical boundaries- This one gets awkward fast but it's important. When you get into a relationship you need to establish how far you are comfortable going before you are married to someone. It is important to be very specific about what you will and will not do. If one person is comfortable going further than the other person, it is best to only go as far as the least comfortable person. Some people don't kiss before marriage while other people do. I'm not here to give you a detailed analysis of what is physically pure and unpure, but I will remind you that if it is making you think about having sex, you probably shouldn't be doing it yet. Once you know what your boundaries are, you can pace yourself. If the furthest you ever want to go while dating someone is kissing, you probably shouldn't start kissing after the second or third date! Take your time. It is not a race to see who can get furthest fastest. Contrary to society's pressures, you do not need to rush into a physical interaction with the opposite sex to be considered attractive, appealing, or mature.
9. Have innocent fun- Believe it or not, there are a ton of things you can do or talk about that have nothing to do with being physical! Although your dating journey should be taken seriously, it isn't meant to be so stressful that you can't enjoy it. While serious conversations and boundaries are necessary, it is important to not only dwell on the challenging aspects of courtship. Instead of focusing on what you can't do together, focus on what you can! Baking, hiking, and puzzle making are just a few activities that come to mind which are enjoyable to do together but have nothing to do with sex (or the lack of having it). Live in the moment and enjoy the simple pleasures of your relationship and your lives.
10. Pray- this might be the last thing I put on the list, but it is by far the most important. The best thing to do when you are tempted to have sex of act on a selfish motive is to confess it to God. I don't mean confess as in "I want to sin", I mean be real. Be honest. Tell God exactly how you feel and why you feel that way. Instead of ignoring your feelings and desires, embrace them and give them to God. God would never ask us to do something we couldn't do. He wouldn't tell us to remain pure until marriage if it was not possible. Sure it might be impossible on our own, but with God ALL things are possible. If he can part the ocean and calm storms he can help you wait to have sex.
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalms 27:17