I was at a Christmas party with some of my friends, and one particular friend Teresa wanted me to meet her boyfriend, Tom. She excitedly introduced me to him. It was a pleasant first meeting which led to Teresa, Tom, and I chatting in the kitchen when the conversation turned a little bit deeper than small talk.
Afterwards my friend Christine who was listening in to our conversation made a comment about how she was surprised how comfortable I felt about asking those questions. I was a little bit perplexed by her comment so I asked her to expand.
“What do you mean? I was just asking him about himself.”
Granted, I did ask questions like “What’s your family life like? Are you close with your parents? Do you have a relationship with God, and if so how do you live it out?”
But I had assumed that these were normal questions that Christine and Teresa had asked their boyfriends, and that also likely their parents and other friends and family would have asked too. Frankly, I was a little surprised to hear those words come out Christine’s mouth. Christine and her boyfriend are living together and sleeping together. I guess I assumed that if they shared those intimate moments together, they also shared intimate personal information too. Isn’t that the point of love and relationships?
This encounter has been sitting with me since then. And I can’t help but wonder… Does sex before marriage stunt communication or depth in relationships? What about living together—what kind of effect does that have on communication and our hopes for lifelong marriage?
This curiosity led me to find multiple studies about the ways in which communication is stunted by cohabitation and sex before marriage. One
study stated that, “those who are sexual with many partners have learned to overemphasize the physical aspects of a relationship at the expense of other variables such as communication. The negative association between the number of sexual partners and communication may be indicative of this process.”
In other words, what the study seems to be saying is: in a culture that is obsessed with sex it can seem easier to share your body instead of your heart. But when we are dating with the intention for marriage it is most important to know the qualities of a person’s heart. Further when you know more about a person their thoughts, their hopes, their heart—who they are—the bond of the physical will be much stronger. Wouldn’t it be great if our culture told us that sex is the way we say with our bodies: “I give you, and only you, all that I am for as long as we both shall live.”
That’s why, when sex happens too early in a relationship, the people involved have a feeling of being close to one another without the foundation of a deeply intimate friendship and emotional base. Sex can mask the communication failures in a relationship but… only for so long. At the end of the day, in order to have good relationships, healthy marriages, and great sex the studies show we have to have deep communication first. It is through deeper conversations that we really are seen, known, and loved as we all desire to be. After all if you are dating with the intention for marriage you want to make sure you are marrying the person for who they are–mind, heart, and soul. So, don’t be afraid to actually get to know someone, and allow them to get to know you without the barrier or defense mechanism of sex first. You may just find someone who loves you for who you truly are!