Anonymous: Lauren, I just found out my fiance is addicted to porn. He has already met with a counselor and we are installing software on our computers to protect him. He is starting a recovery program at church next month as well. I'm incredibly shocked by this and didn't see it coming. I'm really not even sure how I feel. I'm not angry, just hurt and confused. The last thing I want to do is to build up bitterness and a lack of trust in our marriage. What do I do now? How do I protect our hearts?
hi anonymous. i’m so sorry to hear this. :( be encouraged though, that you are both taking great strides to handle this together before getting married - and that you aren’t finding out much later.
i highly recommend finding professional licensed counseling (yes! for you!), and/or a woman that you really respect to talk this through with. ideally, both. the worst way to handle it is to try to get through it “alone.” it’s in the silence that we begin to believe lies about ourself, about god, and about our significant other.
also, know that your heart will pull back a little bit from your fiancé while you work through this initially, and that’s COMPLETELY okay. a lot of us can “smother” what our heart feels in the name of forced or obligated grace. it’s very healthy to choose to forgive your fiancé, but also to reign in your heart and take it to god as you wrestle with what this means to you. giving your fiancé grace and learning to take time for yourself are not mutually exclusive things, so allow yourself that.
much love. xoxoxo
Caitlin: My parents said that all boys want is sex. I told them that my boyfriend isn’t like that at all! I haven’t talked to him about it, but how do I know who is right? I don’t want to think that’s all my boyfriend wants.
Lauren: I’m sure that your parents have your best interests at heart, but a more accurate statement would have been, “a lot of guys in high school are more interested in sex than in relationships.” Not all boys are the same, and not all men will be the same. This will continue into the rest of your life. For the record, some girls use guys for sex too. Also, girls (as a whole) enjoy sex just as much as guys do.
What you need to find out is if your guy is dating you for sex, for you, or for both.
Having a conversation with your boyfriend about it is a great idea. But you can also tell a lot from your boyfriend’s actions, behaviors, and what he talks about around you. The easiest way to tell what your boyfriend wants from you, is to look at what he’s asking you for. This may be direct (asking you to have sex/telling you he wants to), implied, subtle hints (you know it when you see it), or just something that you’ve agreed to participate in without disagreeing (him initiating physical relationship and you responding positively).
Take a look at the way he and his close friends talk about their girlfriends, or girls they like. Are they talking about having sex all. the. freaking. time? Are his friends sleeping with girls frequently, but treating them poorly? Guys that your boyfriend respects will tell you a lot about him.
If you aren’t having sex, it’s a good chance that he’s not using you for sex. Unless you’ve been dating a short time and he starts getting aggressive or upset that you aren’t giving him what he ‘needs.’
If you are having sex, it’s not a guarantee that all he wants is sex, but it does make it more difficult to tell. Nothing against him, that’s just the math of it.
Personally, I believe one of the greatest reasons to not have sex when you’re dating is simply to make sure that the guy wants you for you, and not just sex. And then to build the sexual relationship on top of the “real” relationship. If you love this guy, I’m assuming you’re hoping you’ll be together for awhile – and if things go well, forever. Speaking from personal experience, the less time you spend on sex in the beginning means the more time you spend on true, honest friendship. It can be really, really difficult to not have sex, but if it’s a good relationship, the struggle will actually strengthen it. And that’s invaluable to your future with him.
(Translated: Did you know just about every single marriage goes through weeks or months where they don’t or can’t have sex? You wanna make sure that you and your boyfriend can make it without sex before heading towards a marriage! If not having sex for a couple weeks or months seems to result in irreconcilable differences and/or bad fights, you may have just avoided a potential divorce or extremely painful break-up years down the road.)
At the end of the day, I understand what you want to know: That he cares about you, not just your body. Holding out on sex while you’re building a friendship means that you’re choosing to give more value to the foundation of the building, and that’s ALWAYS a good thing. Sex is like a brick. It can be used to lay a foundation of love, care and trust – or it can be used to throw through a windshield. Handle it wisely, and be extremely careful whose hands you entrust the brick to.
So. If you’re sleeping together, the first thing to do is decide if you want sex to be part of the relationship right now. YOU decide this. Not your boyfriend, not your friends – - you decide. Talk to girls and women you respect. Practice making clear-minded choices about yourself. (And if you feel like you aren’t completely sure what you want, I’d recommend that you take a break until you can make a whole-hearted decision. If there’s a part of you that doesn’t want to be having sex or wishes you weren’t, when you look back on this, you’ll feel like you weren’t the one making the choice. And that really sucks.) One thing to keep in mind while deciding: Make sure that your physical and emotional intimacy is always on par with the level of commitment in the relationship. People may have differing opinions on what this ends up looking like, but if something is sitting wrong with you and you don’t think your physical relationship matches up with the level of commitment, that isn’t good.
The second thing to do is have a conversation with him about sex, based on what you decided. See how he responds. Ask him how he feels, and what he’s thinking. Pay close attention to his reactions, and if your relationship seems to change over the next few weeks. Does he agree? Disagree? Get angry? Is he understanding? Does he say that he “respects your feelings” but then asks you to continue something you just expressed you didn’t want to do? Does he make it clear that he is attentive and caring to your feelings and/or concerns?
If he is using for sex, you’ll know soon, and hopefully your heart will be strong enough to make a healthy decision for you and your future.
If he isn’t using you for sex, this is an amazing opportunity to strengthen your relationship, and be much more intentional about how you make decisions individually and together.
Anonymous: Hi Lauren! I recently started started dating this awesome guy from church. He has been separated for a few years but hasn't quite finished his divorce. He's asked me to keep our relationship on the down low for now, while things get resolved. I am afraid things aren't moving fast enough with his divorce and too fast between us. The last couple of day I've been feeling insecure about the relationship and a lot of insecurities that I had from previous relationships have come back like a flood.
Lauren: Anytime a man wants to “keep the relationship on the down low” I advise you to get out immediately. It doesn’t matter how legitimate the reason may seem. If the world can’t know about the relationship, you don’t want it. Trust me. I’ve been there.
If you’ve felt very insecure about the relationship lately, you should definitely take a week (or longer) “off” to get some clarity and emotional/mental distance. Pay attention to the red flags that your heart throws on the field. Don’t ignore them. It’s so important to begin to address insecurities and “heal” from bruises and aches from prior relationships before we move into new ones. If we don’t, we’re acting towards the new guy as if he was the one who harmed us, and it can easily snowball into a very co-dependent, stressful relationship.
Anonymous: Hi Lauren. This isn't really a question about sex and love, but something told me that you might be a good person to ask. Lately I've been gripped with this weird fascination with the paranormal, and while it seems harmless enough, I'm becoming more and more frightened (and yes, possibly, aware) of the demonic activity around us. I try to be peaceful & trust in Christ's power, but I can't seem to shake the fear. Do you have any advice for someone facing this kind of spiritual warfare?
Lauren: Yes. Read “Waking The Dead: The Glory Of A Heart Fully Alive” by John Eldredge.
Anonymous: Over a year ago I dated and fell in love with a guy who isn't a Christian. We only a dated for a short for a couple months but have remained friends since. He recently told me that he still loves me and I still love him too. But after a few days of talking almost constantly, I told him that I couldn't date again. Now I'm heartbroken and I miss him so much. A part of me thinks I made the right decision but I'm also very sad and bitter. I want to obey God, but this hurts so much. What should I do?
Lauren: It sounds like you gave it a chance, and made some hard decisions that you knew you needed to make. You should be very proud of yourself for that.
When we invest emotionally in someone, it hurts to remove ourselves from that person - altogether, or even just “less.”
If you have a relationship with Jesus, pursuing a relationship with a man who does not is very dangerous. Not because it’s “wrong” or you are “disobeying God” per se, but because our significant other has the greatest influence out of anyone else in our life. It is crucial that you partner with someone who is running in the same direction as you, and at relatively the same pace. Otherwise, they will alter the direction that Jesus is taking your life, and that is compromising your LIFE. And your life is all you have.
It’s very normal to feel sad, bitter, and heartbroken. In the past, it’s taken me months and months and months to “get over” guys that I’ve dated and thought I’d fallen in love with. This is the human response to leaving someone we care very much for. So be glad that your heart and body are functioning properly, as they should. And give yourself grace, and much care in ‘healing’ your heart.
Surround yourself with people that speak truth about your value, and spend more time than usual reading truth about who Jesus says you are. Focus on what you’re doing with your life, and make some big changes if you feel like it’s the right time! Struggling with heartache can be some of the absolute best time to be creative and create new things in your life. Don’t waste it. And know that you made the right decision, and that this will be worth it.
(Oh, and stop talking to him altogether until your heart is healed. Speaking to him will be like digging at a cut, and if you dig at a cut every day or every week, it will never heal.)
Anonymous: This isn't actually a question, it's a thank you. A while ago you re-posted my story of masturbation. Since then I have had so many people read and comment on it. I've even found a girl in another country who I email and we encourage each other. So thanks, thanks for giving me the ability to reach these people. Thank you for allowing God to move you and affect change. Sarah L. timestwentysomething
This is so, so amazing to hear. I’m SO GLAD.
If anyone else is looking for this post, it’s here.
Anonymous: A year ago me and this guy were near dating, but after a few weeks he told me that we couldn't be together, but he didn't know why. He went so far as to say he saw me as the girl he wanted to marry. We didn't talk for a year, and recently he asked me out while we were on a trip with our church. We had a great time, and we continued to hangout after we got back. We talked a lot about what spiritual dating looks like. But, this week he told me he wants to just be friends. I'm super confused. Help!
Lauren: Sounds like he just wants to be friends. :( Sorry babe.
This happens a lot. Sometimes what we want in a significant other changes, and sometimes our feelings for people change. Sometimes we make verbal or physical declarations towards people of the opposite sex, hoping that our emotions will follow - and they don’t. And, sometimes, we use people to fill our own insecurities, and then move on.
I don’t know which of these things happened with the guy that you were almost dating, but please know that where you are is okay. You will be okay without him. You need a man who absolutely knows he wants to be with you. You should pursue a relationship with a man who KNOWS he wants to pursue a relationship with you, because of who you are.
Don’t get sucked into pursuing a man who doesn’t show interest back, or tells you he wants to “just be friends.” If he doesn’t want to date you, he doesn’t want to date you. I know it can be devastating to hear, particularly if you wanted to be with him - and ESPECIALLY if you had a level of closeness that you no longer have, and still want. :(
Have you ever said something that you felt in the moment, but then didn’t feel later? Or said something because you hoped you’d feel it, but didn’t? Give him grace in changing who he is, or what he wanted, or going back on what he said. It’s “okay” that he has changed his mind and been confusing. It doesn’t make it right or fair, but it happens. It’s understandable that you emotionally feel confused (as you should), but he’s told you what he wants and doesn’t want, so be careful you don’t try to “make him see” that he should want what he used to. Acknowledge the hurt, but then cut your losses, turn your face forward, and don’t look back. Maintaining a friendship with this guy while you still wish it could be more will continue to be very painful and harmful to you.
boomehryang: Hey! I'm going to be leading a co-ed college Bible study this summer (aaaaaaaaaaahhhh! This'll be my first time ever doing something like this, so I'm a little nervous), and have no idea what topics to cover. A friend of mine sent me one of your articles earlier this semester, I've been following everything you write ever since; and, have really come to respect you and your husband immensely. So, when I was thinking of people to ask for advice and suggestions, you came to mind. Any ideas? Thanks
Oh man. How exciting! Well, I’ve never led a co-ed Bible Study before, so I’m definitely not experienced in this, but I guess I’ve learned a few things from choosing & editing articles for Good Women Project.
A co-ed environment is an AMAZING time to hear female + male thoughts on the same topic, and something that’s needed much more than it’s provided in “pro-Jesus settings.” Feel free to look at the monthly topics that GWP has covered lately and frame questions based on the ones raised there.
Maybe the overall “goal” of the Bible Study could be building same sex and opposite sex relationships (of all kinds) for the benefit of living out the love of Jesus in a real, honest way. Make a little tier of sub-topics that come from that, and tackle them week by week!
Anonymous: I am getting married in a couple of weeks. The church does not require that I wear sleeves or cover my shoulders, but I have always thought I would. My dress is traditional, floor-length but strapless. They made me a shrug to cover my shoulders, but I really don't like it. My mom, friends, and priest tell me I am being antiquated wanting to cover up. I'm not even sure what the Bible even says about this? What do you know or think about this issue of modesty at the alter
It’s your wedding day. Your day to wear what makes you feel most beautiful. Wear what makes you feel beautiful. If you want to show off your shoulders, show them off. If you want to wear a beautiful shrug, wear one that you truly love.
Did you choose your wedding dress? If so, wear it with confidence. If you didn’t, I’m sorry. :( If it’s simply a matter of the shrug, see if you can find one you love.
The Bible says nothing about what is appropriate to wear at the alter. And most likely for good reason. God does not have a hidden list of rules or expectations for you to fulfill to be “the perfect bride” on your wedding day. There is no pre-determined “right” or “wrong” that you are to be following, or that your mother and friends and priest are looking at. You are made perfect in Jesus, and you are made perfectly beautiful in the eyes of your groom on your wedding day.
Go and be free!!
Most Recent Questions