QUESTIONS

What About Dating?

How Do I Find the 'Right One' for Me? [CLICK TO EXPAND]

10 Steps to Developing a Committed Relationship

Dealing with Similarities 

(You’re still showing the best side of your personality.)

The first four steps deal with similarities between the man and woman and is the first phase where no imperfections are seen in the other.

  1. Meet; flash of interest; initial communication.
  2. Meet again; telephone calls; talk a bit more; agree to go out.
  3. Begin the process of becoming friends—sharing activities (sports, shows, etc.)
  4. Begin meeting each other’s family and friends.

Dealing with Differences 

(If sex has entered in to the relationship before marriage, it will throw your perception of the relationship off. Your relationship will suffer because you will base it on sex and not long-term compatibility issues.)

This is the time in the relationship where differences arise.  There are differences in interests, perceptions, in styles of communication and in goals.  It is also a time where weaknesses become more apparent.  The person no longer is “perfect” and flaws are noted.  If these weaknesses and flaws are issues that are not negotiable, then this is the time when a decision whether to proceed into the next stage is made.

  1. Explore each other’s common and different interests.  He functions well with large groups; she doesn’t like to be with more than two people.  He likes jazz; she likes classical music.  He is interested in sports; she likes shopping; he hates it.

  2. Becoming aware of and beginning to work through each other’s weaknesses and differences on important issues.  He procrastinates; she is late to everything.  He wants children; she does not.  She spends money easily; he is frugal.

  3. Exploring life goals, taking increasing amounts of time together to discuss who each of you are and where you are going in life.

Dealing with Similarities and Differences

These two steps are the final steps to marriage and give the couple a final opportunity to assess if this relationship should go into a marriage.  It is critical that exploration of all issues takes place prior to marriage rather than after in order to lay a solid foundation.

  1. Acknowledgement that you are going forward together; taking the time to work through different areas—finances, children, in-laws, holidays, etc.

  2. Engagement period—premarital counseling, finalizing plans, dealing with pressures together.  Preparing for a wedding is often a period of learning how to deal with pressures as a couple.

Commitment

Marriage is the commitment.  There is no commitment outside of it because without marriage there is always an easy option out of the relationship.

  1. Marriage/sexual intercourse. Sexual intercourse was designed to bond 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 been thoroughly explored but are discovered after sexual involvement occurs, the couple will find themselves struggling harder to work through the problems.

Written by Lisa Hosler
Used by permission
For more information, visit www.lovingandcaring.org


Who Should I Date? [CLICK TO EXPAND]

SET HIGH STANDARDS

Date someone who:

Your friends should encourage you to:

Stay in control by:

For more information, visit www.whyknow.org

What About Sex?

Should I Have Premarital Sex? [CLICK TO EXPAND]

TEN REASONS I WANT TO HAVE SEX WITH MY BOYFRIEND

1. Everyone’s doing it.

First of all, you’re not "everyone." You are a thinking person who can make your own good choices. Second, everyone’s not doing it. It just seems like it sometimes. It’s true that about half of teens today are sexually active. But that means half are not having sex. Of course, you wouldn’t know that from watching movies or television! Sex sells, so they show it. Even if what is constantly on the screen looks good and makes you curious or anxious to try it yourself, remember that most of what you see is a lie. Models are airbrushed, sex scenes are carefully choreographed, and the relationships shown aren’t real. The media’s purpose is to entertain. It rarely focuses on the inner feelings of individuals with goals and values. Don’t buy the lie that life revolves around people having sex.

2. I enjoy sex.

Do you really? Most teenage girls don’t. They find it rushed, unromantic and awkward. Many feel empty and used, with regrets in the morning. Studies prove the best sex is married sex with its vows of love and security. Sex, like fire, is powerful, wonderful and important. But both are also potentially dangerous. Fire in the fireplace is safe and enjoyable, while flames that get out of control can be horribly destructive. The same is true with sex. Physical intimacy in a fully committed, faithful marriage is awesome. Outside healthy boundaries, though, it is unfulfilling and without true promise. Girls do not enjoy short-term pleasure when it ends with long-term pain.

3. I like that it gives me control.

Sure, you can get a guy to breathe heavy and be lost in the passion of sexual pleasure. You can get a temporary thrill. But let’s be honest. You’re sacrificing some of your own good character. Also, things that seem controlled can spin out of control quickly (And please don’t kid yourself that oral sex isn’t sex - it has all the same risks of unmarried intercourse except pregnancy). Sexual response is natural in guys. Just because your boyfriend is turned on doesn’t prove anything about his feelings or intentions toward you. You’ll be smarter to spend your time on worthwhile things that you totally control and can be proud of in the long run. Do a job especially well, become more disciplined in your studies, eat healthier, change your hair color, etc. And, know that waiting for marriage shows ultimate control of your own body.

4. It makes me feel loved and attractive.

Unfortunately, what you feel is not necessarily real. Oh, a guy might say the right things to make you feel good about yourself. He may compliment you on what you are wearing (or not wearing!). And you might respond to those flattering words, especially if you don’t feel loved unconditionally by your dad. But, here’s the sad truth. Young men in general don’t have to love a girl - or even find her attractive - to have sex with her. Want to feel truly special? Try joining a club or sports team. Volunteer, find a church youth group, write a letter-to-the-editor, work out, deepen a friendship, baby-sit, connect with your parents or become responsible for a pet. A woman is truly beautiful because of the character she develops. Any guy worth dating will affirm that in positive ways. He will appreciate things about his girlfriend other than the possibility she might be "available."

5. I’m in love. He’s the only one I’ll ever be with.

Why don’t you take a poll, asking women if they thought their first boyfriend would be their one true love? Many gave away their virginity with the idea that feelings of love and commitment were mutual. But the truth is that the younger you are when you start having sex, the more partners you will likely have over your lifetime.1 Very few women are now married to those first boyfriends. That means each woman had to explain something to the man she chose in the end: He was not the first to unwrap what should have been her beautiful wedding gift to him. The decision of who will have the honor of being your husband takes time, maturity and life experience. You will have greater difficulty in forming and sustaining a stable marriage and also in finding personal happiness if you begin sexual activity in your teens.2 Waiting is so worth it!

6. It brings us closer together.

It’s natural that you would feel close. Women do feel bonded emotionally to their sexual partners. Men are not wired that way, however. Their primary focus is on physical satisfaction. So, you might get along better on the surface because you are both having your immediate needs met. But, you shouldn’t mistake that for real intimacy. What you really need is to have common interests and beliefs. If you don’t have fun eating out, going to a movie or just talking, you don’t have a solid relationship that will last. In fact, you might stay with a boyfriend longer than you should because of what you have invested physically. The eventual break up will tear you apart as you grieve over what you gave away and can never get back.

7. We’ve dated a long time . . . it’s the next step.

It’s true there is a natural order to things. For sexual intimacy, it’s best to be friends first with a slow progression toward marriage (and an exciting honeymoon!) and then possibly parenthood.

When sex is put first, it can negatively impact everyone involved:

• Children born outside of marriage who often grow up in single parent homes.

• Women who now can’t have kids because of damaging STDs they got from sexual partners along the way.

• Parents who had hoped their teens would not have the worries and dangers that come with teenage sex.

Be smart. Set limits (no touching in bathing suit areas) before each date. Surround yourself with supportive friends and go out with guys who respect your stand. Stick with healthy first and next steps in your dating relationships.

8. My boyfriend will break up with me if I don’t.

Breaking up is a possibility whether you are having sex or not. Nothing outside of a faithful, committed marriage has promise. And think about it. If your boyfriend says you are special enough that he wants to share bodily fluids, shouldn’t he think you’re special no matter what? Is a guy worth having if he threatens to move on because you won’t take physical risks with him? There are a lot of great guys out there who won’t put that kind of pressure on you. There are some very responsible guys who won’t get you drunk so that your defenses are down, giving you an "excuse" to have sex. (FYI - More than a third of sexually active young people report that alcohol or drugs have influenced their decisions about sex.)3 There are guys who will agree with and support your decision to save sex for marriage, guys who will respect you, now and in the morning. Hold out for one of those guys. They do exist!

9. I owe it to him.

So, he treats you well. Maybe he buys you beautiful jewelry and gets you things you need but can’t afford. Or, he takes you exciting places and helps you get through difficult family circumstances. A desire to thank a generous boyfriend is totally appropriate. But, there are lots of ways to express gratitude that don’t involve sex. Be creative: Cook him a delicious dinner, go with him to a ball game, bake brownies, make a scrapbook, frame a picture, write a poem or run an errand for him. A relationship is not a game where you keep score. Your body is not some prize to be awarded to the lucky winner. Don’t ever tell yourself - or let a guy make you feel - that you "owe" your boyfriend. After all, unselfish people give their kidneys to complete strangers and even they don’t expect sex in return!

10. It’s not that big a deal.

There are a lot of young women who would tell you differently. In fact, one survey says that of those who have had sex, 8 in 10 young women ages 13-21 wish they had waited longer (6 in 10 guys say so).4 It becomes a big deal when it catches up with you. Consequences could include any one of 30 sexually transmitted diseases! Bacterial STDs don’t always have symptoms. They are often untreated and unknowingly passed on to others. Viral STDs have no cure. None. And, of course, there is a chance of pregnancy. Condoms and birth control pills are not always effective. They are definitely not the answer. Every year one in four sexually experienced teens acquires an STD and about 1 million teenage women become pregnant.5 Even if these issues do not affect you, emotional, social or spiritual scars may impact you long past the teen years.

The risks of unmarried sex - disease, pregnancy, disappointment, heartache and loss of self-respect - are not worth it. You may already know that if you’re sexually experienced. What you should also know is that each day is new and full of opportunities for different decisions. Don’t think because you’ve made poor choices in the past that you can’t start making better ones today. There is complete pride in being a virgin, but there can also be pride in knowing better and then doing better.

Picture your best future. Remember that what you do now will affect you later. And don’t let anyone keep you from achieving your goals. Still think you want to have sex with your boyfriend? Think again!

References:

1. "Fertility, Family Planning, and Women’s Health: New Data from the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth." Vital and Health Statistics. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 1997:23 (19).

2. "The Harmful Effects of Early Sexual Activity and Multiple Sexual Partners Among Women": A Book of Charts. Rector, Robert E.; Johnson, Kirk A., Ph.D.; Noyes, Lauren R. and Martin, Shannon. The Heritage Foundation, June 23, 2003.

3. Survey Snapshot, "Substance Use and Risky Sexual Behavior: Attitudes and Practices Among Adolescents and Young Adults." Kaiser Family Foundation, Washington, D.C., February 2002.

4. "Teen-agers Under Pressure," Seventeen Magazine, article published in conjunction with EDK Associates and the Ms. Foundation for Women, May 1996, p. 148.

5. The Alan Guttmacher Institute, "Sex and America’s Teenagers," New York, AGI, 1994, p.38.

Written by Laurie Turnow
Used by permission
Visit www.hh76.com for more information


What About STDs? [CLICK TO EXPAND]

Most people don't plan ahead to have sex with multiple partners. But did you know that even if you only have sex with one person, you are exposing yourself to many sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)? Your risk is not limited to any illnesses your one partner knows he or she has. Many people don't realize they're infected with an STD and pass it on without knowing. And if your partner has had sex with other people, who have had sex with other people, and so on, your chance of getting an STD multiplies! If you are or have been sexually active, see your doctor or testing center.

Click here to view information regarding sexually transmitted diseases and their symptoms.


What If I Feel Obligated to Have Sex with My Boyfriend? [CLICK TO EXPAND]

When you choose to save sex for the person who commits to love and cherish you for the rest of your life on your wedding day instead of giving in to pressure and indulging your desires or your boyfriends's now, you set yourself free.

Free:

Sex is not the same thing as love. The two are often confused, but real love is about commitment--a relationship that values you as a total person: heart, mind, dreams and emotions, not just body parts. It may be hard at times, but you are protecting yourself and your future when you take control of your own sexuality by saving sex for marriage. It's never too late to commit to abstinence. You can start right now.

What About Marriage? [CLICK TO EXPAND]

Why Get Married?

“By living together, we can see how we’ll get along when we’re married.”
Heard this one before? It’s not true. Most couples who cohabit (live together outside of marriage) are more like dating partners than they are husband and wife. And living together often changes the way they feel about marriage (less enthusiastic) and about divorce (more accepting). Married couples rely on each other more and are less likely to walk out because they’ve made a permanent commitment to each other.

“But we are committed to each other — that’s why we’re moving in!”
Commitment is more than just sharing living space. It’s a deep and lasting bond that says, “No matter what, I’m sticking with you.” If you truly are committed to each other for the long haul, why wouldn’t you make it official? What’s holding you or your partner back?

Those who are really committed are willing to show it by going for that “piece of paper”: a marriage license.

“We’ll be less likely to end up in divorce court.”
This is accurate only if you consider the fact that 40 percent of live-ins never get married! For those who do get married, they have a 50 percent higher rate of divorce than married couples who don’t live together first. If you really want your relationship to last, why increase your risks that it won’t?

In short, if you want to lessen the chance of divorce, don’t live together until you’re married!

“But we’ll be happier. And we won’t feel tied down.”
While it’s true that some married couples don’t live in bliss, it’s also true that couples who live together are, on average, far less happy than married couples. In fact, an article called “The Link Between Past and Present Intimate Relationships” printed in the Journal of Family Issues shows that married couples have fewer disagreements than couples who live together.

The marriage commitment results in a more complete and unreserved giving of oneself by both partners. Research also shows that marriage offers better sexual and emotional fulfillment because of the security of commitment.

“Our children will be better off.”
The safest place for children is in a home where their parents are married to each other. Abuse rates are highest among children with unmarried parents. Marriage gives you and your future spouse the best chance at a great relationship, and the best chance that you’ll be there for your children.

“But we’re married in our own eyes.”
No, you’re not. There is no such thing as "almost" married.

“We should live together before getting married to see if we’re compatible.”
People who use this argument also use another one you’ve probably heard: “You wouldn’t buy a car without test-driving it first, would you?”

Don't you think that comparison dehumanizes the other person? If you decide not to purchase a car, it doesn’t feel rejected. You don’t pack your personal belongings in the trunk of a car you’re only test-driving. And deciding not to purchase a car doesn’t bring emotional baggage into your next test-driving experience.

It's pretty easy to walk out on a relationship if your mindset coming into it is that you might not be compatible, so you don't want to make too big of a commitment. How about dating longer until you're reasonably sure your marriage would last? Marriage is a give and take relationship that requires effort on the part of the husband and wife, but the benefits are worth the work.

More Facts

The above information contains excerpts from the booklet “Five Reasons You Need the ‘Piece of Paper’” by Focus on the Family (www.family.org).



IF YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE ABOUT THESE ISSUES,
PLEASE CALL 920-261-9207 OR 24/7 Helpline: 800-924-6073