Most relationships start with a date. So what is dating? Dictionary.com describes “to date” as “to go out socially on dates.”1 Many people assume that dating is the physical, intimate portion of the relationship, but from its origins, dating has referred to the social settings where couples go to get to know one another better. This social dating is the best way to start a relationship. When you are interested in someone, you should first get to know that person very well. When you really understand someone, your decision about whether to stay with that person is much easier.
Once sex enters your relationship, it automatically becomes more complicated. Then you have to consider birth control, emotional involvement, pregnancy, STDs, trust, and sexual exclusivity. These things occupy your mind and keep you from really getting to know the other person. Sex does NOT equal love. If your relationship is based on sex, sex is all you have; you have no personal connection, only physical intimacy. When things get tough, you may find you don’t have anything in common, and your relationship will fall apart. If sex is always a part of your dating relationships, it becomes easy to develop a pattern of shaky relationships, easy breakups, STD tests, infidelity, and a lack of stability in your life. If you don’t want this pattern to be a part of your life, choose not to have sex until you are married.
Alternatives? So what is the alternative to sexual dating relationships? A better option is abstinence. Abstinence means saving sex until you are married. Does that sound ridiculous to you? It shouldn’t! If you wait until you are married to have sex, you will know for sure that your partner loves you enough to want to be with you and only you. Pregnancy isn’t as scary when you are married. STDs won’t be a problem if you and your partner save sex for each other. Although you may be heartbroken if you break up before you marry, you will still have the gift of your virginity. Remember, once you give your virginity to someone, you can never get it back. Two out of 3 people who gave up their virginity say that they wish they had waited.2 Abstinence gives you the opportunity to give the precious gift of your sexuality to the person that you vow to spend the rest of your life with. No one practicing abstinence has ever gotten pregnant, had an STD, or regretted losing their virginity. If you doubt the reality or beauty of abstinence, read about some people who chose to remain abstinent until married.
What about “safe sex”? Some people think that it is okay to have sex as long as you are practicing “safe sex.” Did you know that no form of “safe sex” is 100% effective.
- Birth control often fails3, and it provides little protection against STDs.
- Condoms are only meant to protect you from pregnancy, not from STDs.
- An IUD or Implant may actually keep you from getting pregnant, but it can’t protect you from STDs, and may pose a health risk if you get an STD.4
- And oral sex…. Did you know that you can contract several STDs through oral sex, and that oral sex has been linked with an increase in occurrence of throat cancer?5
Don’t let yourself be fooled into thinking that there is such a thing as “safe sex.” There may be “reduced risk sex,” but that is all you can depend on. The only way to ensure that you will not be faced with an unplanned pregnancy or unexpected STD is to wait until you are married to have sex.
How can you develop a committed relationship? Loving & Caring, Inc.6 recommends a 10-step process to finding a spouse. By using this abstinence-based process, if you decide at any point during steps 1-9 that you are not compatible, you can end the relationship without having lost the gift of your virginity.
“1. You meet. There is a flash of interest. Initial communication.
2. Meet again. Chat on the phone. Talk a bit more. Agree to go out.
3. Begin the process of becoming friends. Share activities (sports, shows, etc.).
4. Begin meeting each other’s family and friends.
5. Explore each other’s common and different interests. He likes classic rock; you like country.
She is interested in sports; you are not. But both are willing to learn more about each other’s
6. Become aware of and begin to work through each other’s weaknesses and differences on
important issues. She procrastinates; you are late to everything. He wants to have children;
you may want a career. These are far more serious issues which must be resolved.
7. Explore life goals; take increasing amounts of time together to discuss who each one is and
where each one is going in life.
8. Acknowledge that you are going forward together; work through different areas: finances,
children, in-laws, holidays, etc.
9. Engagement, premarital counseling, finalizing plans, dealing with pressure situations
10. Marriage; sexual intercourse. Sexual intercourse was designed to bind a couple in an
exclusive relationship shared with no one else. Often, premature sexual involvement blocks
the development of true intimacy because it becomes the focus of the relationship, rather than
friendship being central to the relationship. If differences and weaknesses have not be
thoroughly explored but are discovered after sexual involvement occurs, the couple will find
themselves struggling harder to work through problems.”6
1 “Date.” Retrieved August 18, 2010, from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/dating.
2 “Adolescent Sexuality in the United States.” Retrieved August 18, 2010, fromhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolescent_sexuality_in_the_United_States#Initial_sexual_intercourse.
3 “Birth Control Chart.” 4Parents.gov. Retrieved August 19, 2010, fromhttp://www.4parents.gov/sexrisky/birthcontrol/birthcontrol_chart/birthcontrol_chart.html.
4 “IUD Not Recommended for Increased STD Risk.” FHi. Retrieved August 19, 2010, fromhttp://www.fhi.org/en/rh/pubs/network/v20_1/nwvol20-1iudsstds.htm.
5 Boyles, S. (29 July 2009). “Oral Sex Cause of Throat Cancer Rise: Experts Say They Fear Epidemic of Throat Cancer Caused by HPV Infection.” WebMD.com. Retrieved August 19, 2010, from
6 “The One: 10 Steps to Developing a Committed Relationship.” Loving and Caring, Inc. Loving and Caring: Lancaster, PA.