How Do I Stop Having Physical Affection With My Boyfriend?

Hello, all. I have a problem, and I thought the Christians here might have a good perspective and some advice. I’ve been dating my boyfriend (he’s 30, I’m 31) for six months now, and we’ve grown very physically affectionate. We’ve gone as far as you can without actually having penetrative sex. We’ve given each other oral, touched each other intimately, and been naked together, once actually sleeping overnight that way. This situation developed from small actions to bigger ones over time, and now we’re getting comfortable showing each other love that way. The only problem is, of course, that we’re both born-again Christians who believe that sexual actions before marriage are fornication and wrong.

We’ve had an incredibly hard time stopping, and sometimes one of us has to be “the strong one” and say “No, we can’t do this,” when the other one would like to do something sexual. Sometimes we mutually go ahead and do as we want without guilt on either side. In the beginning, both of us (but especially I) felt extreme guilt, but I’ve felt less and less guilt over time.

All of my life, I’ve believed that sexual touching and actions and, of course, sex, are wrong if they take place before marriage. I had made the decision not to kiss anyone before marriage, but I decided that view was unwise and changed my stance shortly before meeting my boyfriend. He’s my first for everything. He was married before; his wife became a non-Christian, and he tried to make the marriage work, but then she had an affair and left him. He wants to marry me, and I can see myself marrying him. He, like me, believes that sexual actions are wrong before marriage.

One thing that has surprised me is that some of the things that were taught to me when I was growing up aren’t true, at least not in my boyfriend’s case. I was told that guys lose respect for you after you give them sex or sexual favors, but he values me even more. Although we feel guilt at times, being sexually active (not actually having sex, everything but) makes us feel very close to one another. It’s not as scary as I had the impression it was; I feel like I was taught some misinformation about sexual behavior. It can bring us closer — although we’ve had some bumps along the road, partially because of my history. Sometimes we comfort each other with sexual affection. He had a rough home life and lost his job recently, and I was sexually abused as a child and am going through therapy. One of his top love languages is physical touch.

I think it bears mentioning that both of us have struggled with pornography and masturbation. My boyfriend believes masturbation is wrong and feels crappy after he does it; I am not positive that masturbation is sinful, but I know that it’s hard for me to keep my mind from lust while I do it and so I believe it’s not healthy for me. In the past, he has stated that sexually sinning together is probably better than sinning with porn or masturbation, though I don’t agree. But lately, he’s been trying harder to follow God and last night ended an intimate session in the middle, leaving me upset. I understand why we should have stopped and why he had us stop.

I wish we could be like non-Christian couples and show physical affection without guilt. But it’s clear to me that God commands believers to save sexual actions for marriage. We’re both worried (when we’re spiritually “sober”) about the effects this might have on our possible later marriage and our relationship with God. Can anyone here relate? Did you have struggles during dating, and how did you overcome them? How did you find the will to stop when it just wasn’t there? Do you have any encouragement for us? Curtailing our activities now sounds very painful and challenging, but it seems like the right thing to do.


tl;dr My boyfriend and I have done everything sexual except having penetrative sex. We’re both Christians and think it’s wrong, but it’s tough to want to stop. How do we stop??

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10 replies
  1. PacMan says:

    It’s becoming increasingly rare for Christian adults to save sex for marriage, so I applaud your desire to wait. At the same time it’s almost impossible to avoid a physical relationship, especially since you are both in your 30s and thinking about marriage more often. And add to that the Physical Touch love language. I think you should feel far more “normal” than “shameful” about your physical relationship. Now, did your physical relationship advance farther than your spiritual commitment? Likely yes if you are only 5-6 months in. To keep this post short here is my advice, quite unorthodox so take it with a grain of salt:
    1. Think about getting married quickly if you are both ready and committed.
    2. Don’t stop a physical relationship entirely – it will mess with you, esp with your love language.
    3. It’s very difficult to put a physical relationship in reverse, but worth a try. Maybe see if you can scale back to making out (even to the point of orgasms) on the outside of clothes. It might keep the sexual energy alive but in a healthier way. Even hands… stay outside of clothes. If you can do that, you will still give/receive physical affection, but it will greatly decrease your risk of having intercourse. For real.

  2. Man With a Plan says:

    Hey Kathleen, thanks for your vulnerability in sharing this struggle with the community. There’s so much I think could be said on this topic, and no doubt, many of the fine people on this site will give excellent practical feedback for you to consider. I’m going to take a slightly different approach. Your struggle was our struggle and I wrote about it here:

    I think you can tell from even the link where we come down on this issue. But I tried, at least in this piece, to highlight the beauty and eroticism of longing AND waiting. And, for us, that was enough to get us to the wedding day. Maybe it will help you too.

  3. MaxLoving says:

    Dear Kathleen,

    My wife and I were in your same situation back when we were dating. A few thoughts on this aspect that I've gained through the years.

    My wife and I did everything save intercourse up until we were married as well. I found out that there wasn't much difference between the intimacy of oral sex and intercourse. Yes, there is a special bond and potential for creating a family bound in having sexual intercourse with one another, that really should be saved until you're both full committed legally and socially and spiritually to creating that new family unit. That is why it is sinful, because to start to create that bond of oneness without the commitment being fully in place is to potentially misuse that bond that intercourse can create.

    Despite oral sex and other forms of sexual expressions being "non-binding" in that oneness, I think you've discovered the opposite to be true. For sure, you won't create a family having oral sex, but you are still creating a unique and intimate bond with him. Believe me, I know all too well what a blow job does to me. It really feels like an expression of true love and a bonding experience.

    Thankfully, we did get married, and she is the only person I've ever had that experience with in our 37 years of marriage. So I fulfilled my commitment to her to make her my one and only. It came at a hard cost in the beginning, possibly due to our activity, she had a bad attitude toward sex in general that it was nasty (also probably spurred on by finding pictures of her step-dad being given oral sex by her mother when she was younger), that took the first few years of our marriage to get over. How much of that could she have avoided if we had been more chaste? Who knows. Maybe we would have had the same problems, maybe it made them far worse than they would have been. But what's done is done, and I know God has forgiven us even as we may have endured the consequences of our actions. But, she avoided oral sex for many years after we were married, seeing marriage as "I don't have to do this anymore, we can have "real" sex now. It wasn't to be until about nine years ago that we started having regular oral sex again.

    I'm not saying the same thing would happen to you two, but you have to consider where this guilt you feel about it will lead you once you are married. Even if at times you no longer feel guilty about it, is it merely a searing of the conscience? I don't know in your case, you'll have to judge that for yourself.

    First, as far as suggestions go, I would revisit both of your attitudes concerning masturbation. I would suggest you visit a recent article on this site that I wrote on the topic:

    You can also click on the subject "masturbation" in that story or go to filter by category at the top of any page to go to the masturbation stories. There, I think you can use the information you'll find there to reconsider your stance that it is inherently sinful practice. In my opinion, it's preferable to get off that way than to sin through creating intimate bonds of marriage, and potentially ending up in sexual intercourse before you are officially committed to creating a family together. You'll especially want to pay attention to how I define lust in that article. Most people use the term way too broadly to mean anything that stirs sexual desire in you, but that isn't how the Bible defines it.

    The other advice I would have for you would be to move your marriage date up as close to the present as possible. You don't want to unnecessarily extend the temptation. And the closer you get, the harder it will be to wait. I know it was a bit "painful" for me to wait. I almost failed at that. Because once you've done something like that, it is hard to stop. Really hard. You go into every "date" with the expectation that it will end in sexual play. (Then once you are married — you discover for many people, not all — that you won't feel like doing it every night, even if you did it that way while you were dating. That was a big disappointment to me. I sort of felt like I had the "bait and switch" done to me at the beginning. Yep, newlywed unrealistic expectations in play.)

    Aside from those two suggestions, the only other things I can offer are the hard things that you won't want to do, but should do if you are serious about trying to stop. That is, don't attempt to put yourselves in tempting situations and hope to avoid them. Use distractions. Use your dates to do things together, and avoid alone time as much as possible. I know that is hard and unlikely to happen, but that's what you have to do. What we should have, done if I had known better at the time.

    Those are my thoughts. I pray you'll both make it to your wedding day and confirm the bonds you've already created, and be able to preserve the family bond of sexual intercourse until you are fully committed to it in all ways possible.

  4. MajorMajor says:

    This is a really difficult question and I don't think anybody can really give you an answer. You will have to do what feels right for you.
    I understand what you are going through. My wife and I were in the same situation after we started going out and although she had the intention of us not making love before we were married (I was less sure but I respected her commitment), in the end the desire we felt for each other proved just too much to bear. We were only human, with all the weakness that comes with it. So, eventually, after about a year, we could not wait any longer and started making love, way before we eventually got married.
    This was almost thirty years ago and we are still married, with children (now grown up). Do we have regrets about not having waited? To be honest with you, we don't really think about it any more. We have a happy marriage and yes, perhaps, we sinned, and perhaps we were too weak but that's the way we were and we ask for forgiveness and that's all we can do.

  5. 1blessedman says:

    Hey Kathleen,
    I dare to say that a high percentage of humans have been where you are. You are not alone. A person’s transgressions should not define them. Our acknowledgment of our condition and subsequent righteous living is what should concern you going forward from here. You must search God’s word with a willing heart and determine His wishes for your life. It seems to me that the overwhelming evidence for unmarried people is to abstain from sexual gratification until joined in a covenant relationship before the Lord. We can play escape-and-evade with our Lord by telling ourselves that it is really not sinful since we have our clothes on or some other silly idea for justification purposes; however, I believe we all know a lie when we see it. What did the serpent in the garden of Eden say to Eve? It seems to me that the serpent twisted and intertwined the truth with a lie, such that Eve and Adam had their justification to transgress (Genesis 3). They truly wanted to be deceived so that they could have exactly that which they were not supposed to have (lusting after that which they were told to leave alone).
    You will do well to repent of all transgressions before the Lord, seek His amazing gracious forgiveness and allow Him to give you the strength to wait until such time you are married. He is an awesome God and father, just waiting and wanting to bless His children with wonder-filled gifts. He does not need our help to make anything about our lives great and wonderful. He is in control. He will see you through if you give it over to Him. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6). One of God’s gifts to us is a wonderful, wonder-filled sexual life with the mate we choose. Sexual enjoyment and gratification with a mate is exclusively a gift to those who have entered into a covenant relationship — marriage. God always gives the best to those who leave the choice to Him. Waiting will in NO WAY nullify, extinguish, adversely alter or quench the passion between you and your loved one! However, what can be quenched in your current process is the spirit who lives in you and longs to empower you as you submit to God’s desires, wishes, and commands (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22). By continual sin, we lie to ourselves until we embrace our own stupidity as a replacement for His greater guidance while we quench His presence to the point that there is no intervening authority to help us stay on the narrow way (Judges 21:25 & Matthew 7:13-14). Taste and see that He is good (Psalm 34 with attention to verses 8-10) Submit yourselves to God, resist the devil and he will flee! (James 4:7) Please read the passages offered as they are God’s guidance as He sets our feet in our chosen life journeys. (Proverbs 16)
    As for practical everyday advice: Keep up the obvious romance, but refrain from the innuendos and bantering that offers an avenue for transgressions. (If I were an alcoholic, it would not be good for me to go to the local Oktoberfest.) Take time to talk and explore each other’s thoughts and life aspects. Pray together. In those times when the flesh desires gratification, maybe take the Lord’s supper together with thanksgiving, praise, and supplication. May all who read your post go before the Lord in prayer on your behalf. May God’s radiance shine upon you as you follow His son!

    • texasman76 says:

      Very well said 1blessedman. Kathleen, I agree you should repent and refrain from sexual contact until you enter marriage. It is such a wonderful gift to be enjoyed without abandon within that holy bond. Pray together. Perhaps you should avoid spending so much alone time and be with friends out in public spaces. That will help you in overcoming the temptation. My wife and I were 25 when we married in 1990 and were both virgins. I remember how tough it was, especially after the engagement, to not keep going further. Seek Him daily and pray for strength. Masturbation helped me stay pure. I would think about how wonderful it would be to have sex with my bride after our marriage. Blessings to you both and your desire to do what is right.

  6. HeSaid-SheSaid says:

    Hello Kathleen, reading your post reminded me so much of my wife and I, we didn't do penetration or oral before marriage, but pretty much everything else was on the table. She was my first in everything. She had a few boyfriends before me in high school that she kissed, there may have been some inappropriate touching with some, and one in particular that she purposely appeared naked to (but nothing came of it). In fact, I know of very few Christian couples who can say they were sexually pure in every way before marriage, most succumbed to some form of temptation. I'm not saying it's ok to be sexual, it's just very common. I only know of one, maybe two couples who actually got to the altar without being sexual, and in one couple's case their first kiss was at the ceremony!!

    I believe I was brought up the same as your boyfriend and yourself. I was taught masturbation "may" be okay, as long as you don't lust. However, I don't believe lust was ever properly defined. Today I have a much different opinion on both topics. In short, Lust is pretty much coveting, wanting something that doesn't belong to you and making plans to go after it and then putting those plans in action. I don't believe simple thinking or fantasy is exactly lust. As for masturbation, except for a reference in Song of Songs, the Bible is silent on the subject. I believe masturbation can be quite beneficial for a woman so that she can learn how her body responds to certain stimuli, as well as teaching herself how to orgasm. Not to mention it's a great way to blow off sexual steam.

    Song of Songs also mentions many times warning about awaking desire before it's time. Starting sexual fires before marriage is dangerous, 'cause those fires only want to grow bigger and it's hard to put them out. The only way I know how for a couple to abstain is to make themselves accountable to people they trust and to never let themselves be alone together. That means dating in the presence of others, no alone time, getting a chaperone. Extreme? Yes. But sometimes these situations call for extreme measures.

    You mention about how someone may lose respect for another when things get sexual. Let me shed some light on this. The way I view it, to become sexual with someone outside of marriage is to already have a lack of respect for them and yourself, and any future spouses you may have. Why do I say this? Because you may not actually marry this guy. You and/or he may decide not to get married, and thus move on. Let me give an example from marriage: Let's say I had eyes for another guy's wife and started having an affair with her. The people that would be disrespected would be: her, her husband and children, my wife and kids, and myself. It would be a very bad situation. So, having sexual contact before marriage is also very complicated for similar reasons.

    One thing that is hardly taught, if ever, is the actual spiritual connections that are made between two people at the moment of orgasm. To experience orgasm with another person, regardless of penetration, is a moment when you are surrendering yourself to each other, opening yourself up. A bond is made at the moment of surrender. It is called a soul tie, and it is more or less permanently in place until it is broken at the spiritual level. From what I understand, it is the spiritual side of becoming "one flesh". The Bible warns against becoming bonded or tied outside of marriage. In marriage, the tie is made between husband, wife, and God. Outside of marriage, the bond is made between two people and an unholy spirit. In other words, you're giving Satan a very strong foothold in your life. I know this first hand and it's ramifications. These ties can be broken with true repentance, prayer, and abstinence.

    Lastly, both your actions may also be strongly influenced by your pasts. For you, the abuse you suffered when young. For him, his unfaithful wife and divorce. The truth is, sexual love is VERY bonding and can actually become a drug for hurting people. I'm glad to read that you are seeing a therapist and hopefully are healing from your past. I hate to say it, but my wife and I married for all the wrong reasons. She was looking for someone to rescue her from her dysfunctional family, and I was looking for someone who would accept me for who I was. I didn't know it at the time but I suffered from low self-esteem, and being physical with her made me feel better. She also saw her parents having sex when she was quite young and it scared her. We thought marriage and sex would be the answer to all our problems. So when we eventually did get married, we found out the opposite was true, marriage and sex only compounded our issues. We were two unhealthy people who married each other. Now, nearly 26 years later we are still suffering to some extent. However, we have sought out help and have learned tons about ourselves and each other and received a measure of healing, but without going into further detail, the road is still currently bumpy, especially for my wife who has yet still to work through some stuff.

    Anyways, thanks for sharing and reaching out. I hope something here may be of help to you. Prayers and blessing to the both of you.

  7. Ocarina27! says:

    Hi Kathleen, my girlfriend and I are going through something similar, so I hope it helps that you know you're, again, not alone. Me and my girlfriend have also done plenty of things we wish we hadn't. It is insanely hard to control my passion, especially when God designed us to enjoy it. However, I applaud your desire to keep close to God's commandments regarding sex before marriage, however successful/unsuccessful you have been. As for the soIution, I see every one of the previous entries as having amazing wisdom that should be seriously considered. Personally, I've recently researched some commentaries on 1 Corinthians 7:9, and parts i & iv on the topic of verses 1-9 of the following link would be my best advice to you: [From MH: Sorry, we don't allow outbound links, but you can search Matthew Henry commentary 1 Cor 7 to find it.] Move the wedding date as close as possible, and do whatever you can to repent and keep to God's commands. Here's some additional wisdom God has given me; in this situation, there are four paths to victory. The first path is to ask God for the gift of continence, the ability to abstain from sex until you are married. The second: get married asap, so that you give yourself less time to fall further into your sexual sin. The third is this: refrain from being around each other so that you are not tempted (some may suggest being together only around others instead. This doesn't work for me personally because I am sexually driven to be alone with my girlfriend and cannot control myself). The fourth path is any combination of said three paths. I have a few things to ask of you; 1) please stay close to God throughout all of this and 2) find people you can talk to about this. I really hope you obtain a Godly victory, and I pray blessings on you and your boyfriend.

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