I sat on the couch next to my newly minted boyfriend of 36 hours. It had been a wonderful 36 hours, filled with long strolls hand-in-hand, hours of conversation, flirting and kissing. Lots and lots of kissing.
As I sat there, the kissing part was what I wanted to talk about. But I felt nervous and fidgeted in my seat. I wasn’t sure if he was on the same page about what I felt comfortable with physically.
Finally, I gathered enough gumption to ask him. I asked him how he felt about spending the night at each other’s house. He asked what I thought about french kissing.
As we continued talking, it turned out that we were in agreement about most things. But to be honest, the conversation felt slightly awkward and uncomfortable—here we were barely dating and talking about super personal and important things! But that conversation was very important to the success of our relationship.
The physical respect we cultivated in our relationship paved the way for our emotional intimacy. It set an expectation for both of us that nothing was too awkward to talk about and that our concerns or wishes would be received in an atmosphere of love.
Because we wanted to respect each other and had decided not to sleep together, we decided that certain things weren’t appropriate for our relationship. It was hard to say no to these things, but we knew we’d be happier in the end for doing so. By respecting my body, my boyfriend also showed me that he respected my heart. I felt valued and honored, and I know he felt the same.
That conversation was one we kept coming back to every couple of months. We would check back in, asking one another how we were doing. We learned that in the heat of the moment while kissing, sometimes one of us needed to say: “We should stop.”
It wasn’t always easy, but it was definitely worth it. My boyfriend’s commitment to loving me well, even through sacrificing his own pleasure, is one of the reasons I knew I wanted to marry him. I knew if he could love and respect me before marriage, he’d love and respect me within marriage as well.