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’ve been wondering how to go about a situation with a guy. I was born and raised Christian but I lost my virginity in my late teens. I am now 20 and I want to honor God and both me and the dude, but how can I overcome my feelings of worthlessness? I can’t help but think that a guy that waited for his wife would want a girl that also waited ‘til marriage for sex.
Lauren: Oh, love. I have felt this. I remember thinking that losing my virginity completely destroyed my chance of marrying the kind of man I dared to hope for. It took me years to truly understand that we are all broken in our own ways, and our worth is held permanently in Jesus even when we act in ways that make us feel we’ve lost it. I promise you that the good man who has your name written on his heart will see you not as you once behaved, but as Jesus says you are. You should read this post that went up on Good Women Project today. You would love it:A Letter To My Future Wife: What I Undeserve. I have also asked my friend Shannon to expand upon this, below, as she is one of many unbelievably beautiful women that I greatly admire and respect who also lost her virginity before marriage.
Shannon: Lady, I commend you for being in a place to want to honor God, yourself, and your man with your body. I cannot tell you how much joy that decision brings! The hard part is, that joy isn’t found until you can forgive yourself and understand your value in Christ with every tiny ounce of your being.
Have you told God how you’re feeling? Have you asked Him for renewal of your body, mind, and spirit? Have you asked Him to show you your immense worth in His eyes?
Because you can. You’re His beloved daughter and you’re absolutely allowed. He’d love nothing more than to hear those things from you and replace the lies you’ve been told with Truth. And once He opens your eyes to how beautifully you were woven together and to the hope that exists despite the past decisions you’ve made, you’ll find a freedom you never could have imagined existed. That’s the freedom in knowing you’ve been forgiven. That’s the freedom in knowing that a man loved you so much that he gave his life for you, all so that you don’t have to live in brokenness.
Please believe this: nothing is beyond redemption with God. He makes all things new. Including the virginity you think has been forever lost.
I know from my own story how delicate the conversation can be when it’s time to discuss your past decisions with your loved one. I know that there can be immense pain both in telling him what you once gave to someone else, and in seeing the way it may wring his heart. But sister, any man who loves you for the woman you are in Christ and who understands the power of forgiveness will still see you as whole. Even more, he’ll encourage you in the decision you’re now making to honor your body and your relationships, and he’ll lead you in setting physical boundaries that you both are comfortable with after you’ve each given it prayer.
It may take some time to walk through this, and I encourage you to discuss the situation with other people you trust. Find older men and women who you and your guy can go to separately to seek out guidance and advice, and be sure to choose wise mentors who have the good of both of your hearts in mind.
Grace is a beautiful gift from God. Don’t forget to give it to yourself as well.
Anonymous: I’m about to get married in a month and I’m a virgin. I am so nervous and really scared about the first time. I am really insecure about my body and I am already awkward and I just get really nervous and have problems NOT having sex. I am terrified that it is going to suck. I just wanted to know if you were nervous too and how you dealt with it. What can I do to stop panicking? Does this mean I don’t love him or trust him enough? Thanks.
Lauren: AW. Okay. First of all, freaking CONGRATULATIONS! I am so excited for you. You found a best friend who is committing to spend the rest of his life with you. He loves you for YOU, and he loves your body. BE excited for this, even if you’re worried about other things.
Secondly, don’t be terrified that your first time is going to suck. Sex is a crazy thing to talk about because we try to “evaluate it” (good sex, bad sex, awesome sex, etc) - and you can’t really do that. Sex is amazing because you get to be with him; being with him isn’t amazing because you get to have sex. Sex is great because you are with someone; being with someone isn’t great simply because you get to have sex. See the order of things? Sex inherently hinges upon the person it’s with, and the relationship you have with that person. Our culture tries really hard to separate it as it’s own finite thing - but you really just can’t.
I was more nervous on my wedding day than I’ve ever been in my entire life, as was my husband. And I hear that from just about everyone. Also? I don’t know a single human being who HASN’T had awkward sex. And I don’t know a single human being who isn’t, to some extent, insecure with some aspect of their body. But that’s the other downside of our culture trying to separate sex from actual relationships between people: we think that an imperfect body affects our sex life negatively, and we think that if we’re not 100% comfortable/sexy/superwoman/lingerie model/sex expert, then the sex is going to suck. But it’s not true.
Sex sucks when your first time is awkward and uncomfortable with someone you don’t love and who doesn’t love you back and who leaves you in the morning and never says another word. That’s when sex sucks. When the relationship sucks. See?
I can’t tell you on a scale of 1-10 how awesome or awkward your first time is going to be, because everyone is SO different! But the amazing thing is that you don’t have to worry about it, half because it’s going to be with someone who truly loves YOU for you, and half because you have the rest of your life to get comfortable and get to know yourself and him. Don’t let yourself be terrified of “bad sex.” Be crazy happy and excited that you get to finally really be intimate, open and spend time alone with your best friend - and that you have friends and family who are happy about it too. :)
As for your last question, about not loving him or not trusting him enough, that is between you and God alone. I can’t tell you what that means for you. Everyone has doubts and panicky moments right before getting married. Spend a lot of time with JUST you and God, and maybe a trusted pastor/counselor (your parents maybe if things are good between you two, but there is SO much value in talking things out with an older, wiser OBJECTIVE person) to find out what specifically you really are panicking about, and what your true fears about love and trust are. If you have specific doubts, this is the time to address them - not a year into a marriage. But if you just have general/freaking out/I’m getting married doubts, then just know you’re exactly like everybody else. :)
Random bits of encouragement: Your fiance is probably just as nervous/freaking out. He is also insecure about his body. He is also worried that sex might suck. You will, at some point in your marriage, have sex “issues” because every single couple has them - so it’s NOTHING to be afraid of. So long as love and your relationship comes first, and sex second, you have nothing to fear. And PRAY. Jesus says that “He Himself is our peace.” If this is good and perfect in the eyes of God, ask him to give you the eyes he has for your marriage. He will.
Anonymous #1: Hi Lauren, It’s so hard having a best friend that is really beautiful. Boys like her, everyone likes her. I’m so jealous and it affects my relationship with her. What can I do about this? It’s been so many years and the jealousy is not at the least fading. I’m 16 years old and not one guy has ever like me/ever got a boyfriend… And I fear very much that no one would ever like me or be able to put up with me. I really don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I’ve always been nice and is that not enough?
Anonymous #2: I’m 18 years old and I’ve never been pursued by a guy. I’ve never had a boyfriend, a kiss, anything. I like to pretend that I don’t care, but who wouldn’t? I feel like something is wrong with me; it’s hard not to. How do I deal with this when all of my friends are dating?
Lauren: Sweet girls! I’ve asked my darling friend Shannon to help me answer your questions. You are so loved. Please read her answer below:
Shannon: First of all, I am so sorry your delicate hearts are hurting over this. As humans made in God’s image, we are meant to have relationships with others. Thanks to the Fall though, we’re born with this ache deep inside that we’re constantly trying to fill, and the ache of a woman’s heart is particularly unique. If I could wave a magic wand and give you perspective ten years from now I would, because I know that right now it’s hard to see the long, beautiful life you have ahead you, and all of the people who will walk in and out of it.
Secondly, I want you to find a mirror and stand in front of it. Take a few minutes to look at the young women you are—every curve, every freckle, every color, every pore—and know that every single inch of you was woven together by a Creator who by no means does anything imperfectly. Did you hear that? He made you perfect.
You are neither too much nor not enough, and the man who will one day love you like no other will cherish all of you. And trust me girls, that man is worth waiting for.
Thirdly, believe that God has you exactly where He wants you.
Because while your friends may be experiencing what it’s like to be in a teen relationship, God is saving your heart for something different, something that’s better for you. And for all we know, He is also sparing those sweet hearts of yours from a special kind of pain that relationships can bring at such a young age. He is lacing together a story for you that will forever be yours to own—a story that no one can ever take away from you, and a story that you will be able to use to help someone else one day.
So don’t believe the lies that are making a home in your heart.
There is nothing wrong with you.
You are not something to be “put up with.”
And breathe in deeply the peace that comes with knowing there is a plan for you, far better than any one you could have imagined for yourself.
(Also, check out this blog post by Annie Downs—“A Letter to a Pretty Girl.” We’re not alone in our struggles, girls)
Anonymous: Thank you for your post on modesty. I’m quite confused, I’ve always been told to never wear bikinis because its ‘wrong’ and will attract lustful eyes and because it is not modest! I’ve also been through the whole spiel on dressing modestly so that our brothers in Christ don’t stumble. I guess my question is mostly what counts as modest/decent and what doesn’t? And while what is in the heart really does matter, how does that translate into dressing?
Lauren: I’m so glad you read the post on Modesty and Lust and that you got something out of it. First of all, bikinis are not inherently wrong. “Wrong” meaning “a sin.” You will never in your life have to fear God because of anything you wear. God will never judge you for what you wear. God does not look at your outward appearance, he looks at your heart. And God does not hold you responsible for other man’s thoughts about you, you are responsible only for your own heart. Each human being has full responsibility over his or heart heart. Nothing that you wear, no matter how modest, will keep every man from looking at you lustfully if that is the inclination of his heart.
Second of all, it is not required of you to keep your brothers from stumbling. Lust is the sin, not the object that “caused” it. Just like envy is the sin, not the object that “caused” it. (If you are miserable because a girlfriend has a pair of $700 heels and you can’t have a pair, is the designer of the shoe responsible for your envious misery? Absolutely not. It is a matter of your heart.)
Modesty is only referenced once in the Bible, and it’s referring to dressing in a way that does not flaunt extravagant wealth - not skin/sexuality. It is not an instruction or requirement that you dress a certain way in your daily life, or to church. That being said, dressing appropriately is always recommended. You wear bikinis to beaches, not to churches. But the primary reason for this is because it’s what you are comfortable in! I’m perfectly comfortable in a bikini on the beach, but I would feel like everyone is staring at me at church. I PERSONALLY don’t wear tiny miniskirts & heels to church because I am only comfortable in that attire when I’m out on a Friday night. I feel like it’s not totally appropriate.
Bottomline? Dress in a way that is comfortable to YOU. If you are comfortable, go in peace. If you aren’t, then don’t wear it.
You should read this letter: A Letter To A 16 Year Old Girl On Modesty & Clothing
And you should also read this: Calling Bullshit On Religious Misogyny
I’m launching a video series on answering the question, “I just found out my boyfriend is watching porn?!” The intro is posted on my primary blog. Please watch it first if you’ll be following the series, and *please* consider purchasing the books I recommend as a resource. If you are committed to the relationship, it is crucial that you are committed to healing your heart as well as understanding what your significant other is going through.
Used books can be found dirt cheap at bestbookbuys.com
Anonymous: My boyfriend is struggling with an addiction to pornography and online gaming, at what point to I forgive when he fails and at what point to I communicate “make or break” boundaries?
Lauren: I have about 12+ of these questions in my inbox so I’ve decided to do a video series over on my primary blog to answer them. You can view the first video I posted today here, along with some information about the series.
Or, you can just watch it right here. :)
Anonymous: My boyfriend has been cheating on me with different women for the last 3 months. It has all been online or texting but still cheating. This is the 3rd time that I have caught him, and every time before he has told me that he still loves me and he wants to prove to me that he will stop, but within the month he is back at it. We are both Christians, and I really do love him, but I can’t decide if it is possible for me to help him as a friend or if we both need space?
Lauren: First off, I am really, really sorry. I know how much that hurts. It’s an excruciating pain. Secondly, you need to break up with him immediately. And you can’t help him as a friend since you were/are romantically involved. He needs to be changed (“helped”) by Jesus and Jesus alone, and as the woman that he is cheating on, you will be more of an inhibition than a help for Jesus to get to his heart. He also needs solid men in his life. Men need to receive relationship counsel from other Godly men, not from a woman he is involved with.
A man who cannot be trusted and is already betraying you, whether it’s emotionally or physically, is not a man you want to pursue a relationship with. Building a relationship without trust is like building a house on sand. There will be no foundation, and you will lose the house. A man that is not willing to commit to you and to you alone does not love you with the love that holds a marriage together. That kind of man is loving you with a selfish love, and one that is putting his desires above yours. He also doesn’t believe that you are enough, or that you are everything he needs.
I know that you are a Christian, and that you love him, but we are to guard our hearts for they are the wellsprings of life. A man who does not honor and protect the heart of the woman he loves does violence to her heart (Malachi 2:16), and I would hate to see you 5 or 10 years down the road, divorced or bitter in a trust-less, broken marriage.
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