Setting Boundaries, Being Used and Compromising Moral Standards
Dating can be tricky. If you add sex into the mix, things get even more complicated. Our readers asked some important questions that you might be asking as well. Today I address these questions openly, honestly and directly.
What if the person I’m dating will leave me if I’m waiting to have sex?
When most people enter into a relationship, they lose sight of themselves emotionally. They don’t know where they end, and the other person begins. And then, without even thinking, they become willing to do whatever the other person wants, regardless of the consequences, simply to keep the other person close to them. This is the situation Madison is in, as shown with her question.
Madison asked: I made a promise to God, my mom and my family that I wouldn’t have sex with a guy until I get married. My boyfriend keeps trying to get me to have sex, and he thinks the reason I don’t want to do things with him is that I don’t like him, which is so far from the truth. How do I tell him the real reason I don’t want to have sex, without having him leave me?
It sounds like this would be a great opportunity to be very honest with yourself and your boyfriend. Telling him the truth will give him the opportunity to know more about the level of commitment you have to yourself and to your relationship with God.
If he loves you, he’ll respect you.
Once he understands, he will have the chance to decide whether he will honor your wishes or not. If he says he loves you but is not willing to respect your boundaries and deep-held moral beliefs, I will say he doesn’t really love you. Better to find that out now rather than later. You deserve to find someone who loves you enough to respect your boundaries.
When you tell him why you believe what you do, you will give him a chance to see how beneficial committing to those boundaries could be to your relationship.
Sex can cloud the relationship
Additionally, being physical with a bf/gf has the potential to cloud a relationship, turning it into something that seems to only be driven by sexual desire or what you can get from the other person.
If you don’t add sex into the mix while you are dating, you’re better able to get to know someone, and to clearly know whether you’d want to spend the rest of your life with this person. If you have this standard, you will end up marrying someone you truly know and who you know respects you. Nothing could be more important.
I applaud you, Madison, for desiring to live so radically, and so different compared to how most of the rest of the world lives. Stick by your beliefs and create those boundaries.
Is it really love or am I being used?
It can be challenging to know someone’s true feelings, especially at the beginning of a relationship. And if you’ve been hurt in the past, it can be hard to trust. So how can you tell…love or lust?
Chelsea asked: “How can I tell if a guy is really falling in love with me or if he is just using me? After my last relationship, I’ve had serious trust issues and I can’t seem to tell if my boyfriend of two months is actually falling for me, or if he is just telling me what I want to hear.”
I can imagine many people wonder this same thing: How do I know this other person is actually in love with me or if they’re just playing with my emotions to get what they want?
8 Signs of a loving relationship.
I cannot tell you whether or not your new boyfriend is falling in love with you or not, but I can tell you whether you have a loving relationship. Loving relationships are not destructive, manipulative, or selfish. Rather loving relationships are respectful, patient and build the other person up.
Here are some questions worth asking about your new boyfriend:
- Do you feel like your emotions are being played with?
- Does he say one thing and do another?
- Does he say he loves you, and then doesn’t act like it? (Many people will rush into saying I love you before they even know the other person. People do this because they want to hear that they are loved themselves.)
- Does he want to spend meaningful time with you?
- Does he treat you with respect?
- Does he speak well of you to other people?
- Does he give you freedom or try to control you?
- Does he respect and want to protect your body? (A heavy sexual relationship seldom lasts. It cannot bear the pressure of intimacy without love and commitment.)
One way to find out exactly what he’s thinking is to not only listen to what he says but watch what he does.
Is it O.K. for my boyfriend to make comments about other girls?
When you are dating and your partner makes sexual comments towards other people, you don’t need to just laugh it off. In fact, it’s a red flag worth talking about. This was my advice to Elizabeth.
Elizabeth asked: When we first got together, my boyfriend told me he would never make comments about how attractive other women are, as he felt that was disrespectful. However, over the past year he constantly makes remarks such as, I’d do her’ or She’s hot.’ Why does he do it? And what can I do to get him to stop?
Your boyfriend was right about how disrespectful it is to make comments about other women, especially around you. It’s one thing to innocently comment about how attractive another person is, but it’s completely inappropriate to say things he’d like to do sexually with another person. It’s the height of disrespect. Your boyfriend is immature, at best. And a player, at worst.
It’s a respect issue.
Imagine if you were enjoying a great dinner with your boyfriend and you couldn’t help but stare at another guy eating at the table next to you, and then you said, I sure wish I was eating dinner at that table instead of with you! That’s basically what he’s saying to you.
This is a trust and respect issue. You are not over-reacting. You have every right to be very clear with him about how serious this issue is. Then give him a chance to work on it.
If he shows he’s sorry and wants to do better, then you should be patient with him. If he doesn’t seem interested in changing, he’s demonstrating your relationship isn’t all that important to him, and it is probably time for you to move on.
Jumping In While Questioning Moral Standards
Do you ever wonder if you are making a big deal about something that everyone else seems to think is insignificant? It’s O.K. to take a stand.
Jody asked: “There is a guy who is very interested in dating me at the college I go to. We are both Christians and he talks about great goals for ministry and talks about his beliefs in God, but I am concerned by some of his choices. For example, some of his favorite movies are very, very sexually explicit. Is this one thing enough grounds to not date this guy? I do not want our relationship to move too fast, if he has a skewed view of intimacy based on the movies he watches.”
That is an excellent question. It speaks to your own maturity and spirituality.
There are two things to address here:
1. You don’t want any relationship to move too fast. A relationship that moves too fast usually crashes and burns.
2. I applaud your desire to be concerned about what a potential boyfriend allows to influence him.
Pay attention to the influences in a potential partner's life.
There is no question entertainment, and culture in general, affect a person’s view of women and intimacy. I would take your discovery of sexually explicit movies very seriously. We all are deeply influenced by what we allow ourselves to see and it’s a slippery slope. He could be addicted to porn.
I would confront this guy straight up about his lifestyle. If he refuses to change, I see a huge red flag. Possibly before you know it, your relationship will all be about sex.
Many dating relationships lead to marriage, and I have a simple rule about marriage: Never marry an addict, because he already loves his addiction more than you, and you can’t have three in a relationship.
Having standards is a good thing.
It’s good for you to have standards and guidelines for the person you date. So many people get hurt. Some people are scarred for life because they end up dating just anybody. If you decide to start dating this guy and he’s not able to hold up his end of the deal and respect your wishes, then you’ll have your answer. But you’ll never know unless you first communicate your hopes and concerns with him.
For more information on how to understand why you are making the dating choices you are and how to make better ones, check out TheHopeLine’s eBook: Understanding Dating.