In the Catholic faith, we are instructed that sexual activity should be kept within the bonds of matrimony. However, many people within our faith have slipped and made mistakes, or they’re divorced singles with a sexual past. If you’re thinking about dating someone with a sexual past, consider a few aspects that could impact your relationship.
A Question of Honesty and Openness
An important initial consideration is whether or not this person you’d like to date has been honest and upfront about their past.
There’s a pretty big difference between a potential mate who tells you outright that they’ve made sexual mistakes in the past, and one who is trying to hide it — or worse, lie about it.
If you found out about their sexual history from a source other than the person’s own admission, you might have a good reason to feel a little uncomfortable with it. As awkward as it might be, it’s probably best to ask the person outright about their sexual history.
If what you learned about their past is indeed true, a conversation about it is important to make sure the person is in a place to practice chastity now.
And if you get the sense that the person isn’t being totally honest over the issue, it might be a big red flag about their ability to be trustworthy and faithful to you in a relationship.
But, on the other hand, if the person is very honest about their past and expresses a desire to practice chastity from here on out, that’s one good sign that a relationship between the two of you might be a possibility.
The Timeline Could Be Important, Especially for Divorced Singles
If the person is indeed being honest about their past and says they’re ready to do a dating relationship the Catholic way, that’s great! But, there is a but.
Sexual sin is serious for a lot reasons. One reason that’s pretty significant for you here is that the good habit of chastity doesn’t form over night. If you yourself have been successfully practicing this virtue for a good period of time, you probably realize that it doesn’t always come easily. And this is especially true for the man or woman who has had serious issues with unchastity.
If this person has ended a sexual relationship with someone else pretty recently, now is probably not a good time to expect to be able to have a chaste relationship with them yourself.
Worst case scenario is that their lack of practice at sexual restraint will lead you into sin. And of course there’s also the possibility that even if you successfully remain chaste with them, they won’t be able to take it and will cheat on you with someone else, or with porn.
Divorced singles have a different take on the idea of a sexual past because their history may have been restricted to the bonds of matrimony. In these cases, it’s important to understand the divorce timeline and make sure the person is ready to date and potentially enter into another serious relationship.
The bottom line is that building the habit of sexual virtue takes time. If the person you’re considering dating has put in that time and has been successfully living chastity for quite a while, chances of a holy relationship with them are a lot stronger.
There’s Always a Consequence
If the person has both been honest with you and has enough of a track record of chastity to convince you they can handle the kind of holy relationship you’re looking for, there’s one more big issue that could still throw a kink in your plans.
All sin has consequences. And not just in the spiritual sense. During our time here on earth, our sins often have poor consequences for ourselves and other people in our lives.
In the case of sexual sin, those consequences can be pretty significant. The fact of the matter is that this person you’d like to date has formed the most intimate bond possible with another person, or several other people.
When men have been promiscuous in the past, this means the possibility of children they didn’t know about out there somewhere. If you’re in a relationship with him when he discovers this, it can be very difficult to deal with. Or an even more heart-breaking and hard-to-deal-with discovery would be that his unknown child has been aborted.
In the case of both men and women who have been promiscuous, there’s the possibility of sexually transmitted diseases — though if the time issue has been met, hopefully this is no longer a problem.
And there’s always the possibility that a past sexual partner resurfaces and hopes for a reconnection of that past, intimate bond that was created. Do you tend toward insecurity or jealousy yourself? Even if you’ve never had a big problem with these issues up until now, dealing with a resurfacing past lover of your boyfriend or girlfriend (or eventually a spouse) can be very difficult.
The Bottom Line: It’s Always Possible, But…
But it can be very hard.
As Catholics, we know that we shouldn’t judge others, and that God is merciful and forgives when people repent. An extensive sexual past doesn’t have to spell doom for a relationship. And it certainly doesn’t make that person less capable of becoming a saint in the here and now (St. Augustine, anyone?).
But at the same time, it’s important to be realistic. Know that a relationship with someone who has an extensive past is likely to be more difficult. Take an honest look at your own limits, and weigh whether you think you’ll be strong enough to deal with the consequences of their past.
And like in all difficult decisions, ask God for guidance to make the right decision, in the confidence that He has a beautiful plan for both your life and the life of this person you’d like to date.
Divorced singles and those who have never married can look for love on CatholicSingles, an online dating site designed for those of the Catholic faith to meet one another.