You’re watching a movie with your boyfriend or girlfriend. You’re cuddled up on the couch and pretty quickly you realize that making out is more fun than the movie. It starts innocent. Things heat up–sooner rather than later. Now what? Do you stop or do you keep going? Where is the line? Should there be a line? Does it even matter?
This kind of thing happened when I was dating my now husband, and we decided to draw a line. Some people might call us crazy for doing that, but I’d like to think we were being countercultural. In our sex-crazed society, we were trying to do things differently because we believed it would ultimately deepen our love for each other.
But we quickly figured out that if we were going to succeed in doing things differently, we had to have a clear plan. You have to know what you’re going to do in that moment before it happens, and it really helps if both people are on the same page. Because once the train gets chuggin’, it’s hard to slam on the brakes before flying off the cliff–and it’s essential that you have each other’s backs on this. If one person is too weak to live up to the agreed-upon limits that night, the other has to step up to the plate. It’s one simple, but important, way you can stay strong for each other.
Early on in our dating relationship, my future husband suggested we watch a DVD called The Pure Life. It’s a series of TV episodes that features a panel of high school and college students who chat about the difficulties of waiting to have sex in our current culture. Although we were older than the people on the panel, the information was completely relevant to our life status and experiences. Although some of the topics they discussed were kind of awkward to sit through together (like Pornography: Who does it hurt?), watching them was very beneficial to our relationship. It brought up topics that we wouldn’t otherwise have talked about until later (What is Love?, Virginity, Standards, Are you a date or a soulmate?). And, who knows, maybe they would have come up at an even more awkward time.
At the time, I was living a couple hours away for the summer, so we’d watch one episode each time we saw each other. I actually started to look forward to it because our discussions so clearly strengthened
fortified our relationship. We were building a future marriage on a solid foundation, thinking through and placing the stones carefully.
For us, having a video to bring up the topics helped us to have those conversations before we were in the moment. I’ve heard of other couples reading books together, which does the same thing. (For instance, one good book is Men, Women, and the Mystery of Love.) The point is to have the conversation before you’re in a hormone-driven situation.
Physical limits in relationships are difficult. Do you have any other tips for sticking to your goal of waiting to have sex when you don’t want to?