A Dating Dilemma

A Dating Dilemma

Dear Michele,
I have recently begun dating a man who was not raised Catholic. He is very fun and likes the outdoors as much as I do. I am in my 50’s and have been granted an annulment for my previous marriage. I pray daily and attend mass weekly and I love Jesus…the question and dilemma I face is the man I am dating does not share my belief that pre-marital sex is not the right path. I have expressed my feelings, however he continues to try to get me to change my mind. I feel stressed out by this and feel that all men are like that. Help! Your feedback is most appreciated…

Dating Dilemma

Dear Dating Dilemma,

You do have a dilemma, because your issues have multiple layers. I can hear how important your faith is to you, even though the man you are dating does not share your faith. Clearly this means that if you continue to date him and possibly marry, you will not be able to share your faith life with your husband. There is no condemnation in Christ or from the Church for marrying someone who is not Catholic, so the more important question is how important is your faith to a future marriage? It’s a very personal question, and the answer will be different for each of us.

However, my larger concern is that he does not respect your boundaries. Simply put, it is nearly impossible to date in a chaste manner if only one person in the couple buys into the idea. You are in the role of the “gate keeper,” and your date is searching for the key. Eventually it will lead to conflict, or the gate keeper tends to break down and give in. Dating according to Biblical values is very difficult in today’s modern culture, so without the support of your date it simply doesn’t work well. No matter how much fun you have as a couple, dealing with the pressure to have sex is never any fun. Remember, the fruit of the Spirit is peace, joy, and self-control, not being stressed out because you have to guard your convictions.

It sounds like he has a hard time hearing no, or he doesn’t believe you. Are you saying no with your voice but then acting differently with your body? Could you be in any way leading him on? When I first met my husband, although he was Catholic, he was not dating in a chaste way. He was very interested in why I chose to delay sex, even though neither one of us were virgins. After reading a few books I gave him, he came to me and said, “you know, if we have sex, it won’t change how much I care for and respect you.” And my response was, “ if we have sex, it will damage my relationship with Christ and his Church, and I will not let anyone come between me and my faith.” When he understood it in those terms, he became completely supportive and we were able to remain chaste until our wedding day, a year later. So, maybe your date needs it spelled out very concretely. You aren’t delaying sex because of some shallow law or mandate; you are delaying sex because you are presenting the temple of your body without blemish as worship to our Lord.

If you are being consistent between your words and your behavior, then his actions may be showing a lack of character. The way he is reacting to your boundary about pre-marital sex may be an example of how he will react to other values you hold. This is where he is showing his true colors, and one of those colors might be a flashing red flag. All men are not the same. Some men are just waiting to hear a woman say that she wants to delay sex so HE doesn’t feel the stress and pressure to pursue.

My advice? Don’t put up with boundary-busters. Be clear and specific about your reasons. Explain your faith if he doesn’t understand. Be consistent between your words and actions. And date men of character. The right man will respect and honor you, your values, and your faith.

God Bless,
Michele Fleming, M.A.