We are dating and want to stay pure, but we keep slipping up. Any advice?

Q: “My girlfriend and I are Christians but we are sexually active. We know we are in the wrong and that God’s teaching tells us to be pure and wait till we are married. However, every time we try to stay pure we end up slipping up. What makes matters worse is that I am currently four hours away at school and every time we see each after being apart a week or two (even when we have had full intentions of not being sexual) we end up falling into our old habits. I have your book but was wondering what would be the best way to get out of this cycle and get right with God?”

A: First of all, I’m thankful that this couple is concerned about it.  In today’s world, many couples are not concerned about it. They are just simply having sex with each other every time they get together, and that’s the central part of their lives. They’re not married, don’t know if they’ll ever get married, and are just enjoying each other’s bodies. Most people who live together before they get married don’t get married and those who do have a higher divorce rate.

I think I would say two things. You’ve already agreed that this is not the biblical pattern and thus is not a healthy pattern. Now you have to find a way to break that pattern. What you’re demonstrating, by the fact that you say, “I want to do this but we always fall back into the same pattern again” is the strong bonding nature of sexual relationships. That’s why I think God reserved them for marriage. Sex was designed to be a deep bonding experience between a husband and wife. What you’re experiencing is that deep bonding between the two of you even though you’re not married. Consequently, you’re drawn back together. However, if you’re going to develop a healthy dating relationship and make a wise decision about getting married or not getting married, you’re going to have to draw away from this obsession with the sexual part of the relationship. Then, you’re going to have to explore other aspects of the relationship.

There are a few things you can do that will be helpful:

  1. Plan your dates to keep you active in doing something. Don’t go home, to the car or to the other person’s apartment and spend hours on the couch.
  2. Go out with another couple of your parents. Have dinner with them. Spend time getting to know each other’s friends and parents.

The key is that you don’t allow yourself to be together in a sitting where you’re alone or private because if that happens, you’re very likely to be back in the same routine. The longer you can go without being involved sexually, the easier it will become for you, because you’ll be finding pleasure in getting to know each other and discussing life with each other.

You mentioned you had my book…I’m assuming you’re talking about Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married. I think to work through that book would make wonderful dating experiences for you. The more you get to know each other apart from sexual activity, the more you’ll be able to make a wise decision to marry or not to marry.


Gary Chapman, PhD, is the author of the bestselling 5 Love Languages® series, which has sold more than 8 million worldwide and has been translated into over 40 languages. Dr. Chapman travels the world presenting seminars on marriage, family, and relationships, and his radio programs air on more than 400 stations. He lives in North Carolina with his wife, Karolyn. For more information visit 5lovelanguages.com.

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