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Avatar universal

continuing to have sex with my catholic partner.

Hello, I am a 19 year old male. My girlfriend and I have been together for quite some time now. We are both very in love with each other and have a relationship that I feel incredibly fortunate to be apart. But like all relationships we are having some hiccups.
For starters I deal with anxiety so this will give some more insight into why I am struggling a little more with this than some people might. Also important to know is that I am not religious and my girlfriend is Catholic. Even because of this difference we still share many of the same core values which is why it works out. We are both very committed and love each other deeply which is why I am reaching out for opinions and help on this topic.

Earlier in our relationship we started having sex. We both did and still do really enjoy the connection and closeness we feel from having sex. My girlfriend has always been into it and been positive about it.
Recently we have been discussing how she is really struggling with having sex before marriage. After some time it seems like she is pretty unsure about continuing to have sex with me before marriage because of her beliefs (which I respect). She says it hard for her but she is also torn because she loves being intimate with me.
From my perspective my feelings are hurt and I am feeling a little lost. Intimacy with my girlfriend is (to me) an important part of a relationship when done in moderation and with respect. I am struggling quite a lot with this because I will really miss sexual intimacy in our relationship and we both agree that we will still wait a few years before marriage.
In other words I just don’t know what the best way to respectfully let her know how important it is to me. The truth is I am willing to sacrifice that to wait for marriage for her but know that it will be a significant mental struggle for me in several ways.

I know this question is very broad and could be answered several ways but I am just looking for some help and feedback as I am feeling very sad/anxious/lost and confused a
Thanks you!
7 Responses
Avatar universal
To add to this. We are leaving for a one week long trip tomorrow out of cell range. We both think this will been a nice way to properly connect without all the day to day distractions. I am hoping to have a resolution we are both happy with.
134578 tn?1614729226
It sounds like you don't see her religious objections as being as important as your thwarted desire. Too bad you don't feel intimacy with your girlfriend from connectedness in other ways, not just the sex act. (She's obviously trying to, in order to live up to the rules of her faith.) But if you don't feel impressed by her trying to follow her religion, you don't. Probably best to find a girlfriend without a religion that puts these kinds of rules on its faithful.
9 Comments
After reading the others' thoughtful responses (which are awfully smart), I would also put a very subtle caveat on what I said above. On first read, I got a feeling-sorry-for-self-because-no-more-free-sex vibe that totally dissed your girlfriend's religious convictions. That's a loser's game to play with someone who is devout. But (and it will take some digging in your brain for you to decide if this is the case) if what is hurting your feelings and making you feel sorry for yourself is that you think (deep down) she is using her religious reawakening as a way to end it with you, that would be a legitimate reason to feel sad that has nothing to do with desire or sexual satisfaction. Rejecting premarital sex for religious reasons is not the same as rejecting loving you, please remember that! And if you can't respect her religion you have no right to be in a relationship with her. But if what is really going on is that she wants out, you have the right to ask.  Just be clear it's not your ego and hormones talking. And be absolutely sure you don't implicitly accuse her of false religious feelings if they are genuine. That would be it.  
Oh I didn't even think of that aspect - her using this is a reason to end things. That's a fair question, and a legit reason to be upset. I agree, too, with not accusing her of false religious beliefs - just ask her one time if she wants to end the relationship, then accept her answer, whatever it is.

"Rejecting premarital sex for religious reasons is not the same as rejecting loving you, please remember that!" - that's really important to remember.

I agree that if you can't respect her religious beliefs, you shouldn't be in a relationship with her, or it may just come down to you not being a good match. You can respect her beliefs, but it's not for you.

Either way, you're on a camping trip right now and not even reading these yet. :)
Given the possibilities people have suggested, though, if I had to rate what is going on, I would guess that she is having genuine doubt about premarital sex based on the fear she won't get into heaven, not that she is using this new devotion to her faith just to break it off, and especially not that she had been manipulating the o.p. by offering sex and then pulling back in hopes he would offer marriage. The first possibility seems something like 95% or more likely to be what is happening, compared to the second option maybe 4% likely, and the last suggestion less than 1%.
I totally agree. I think it's far more likely to be a real faith issue than a cheap way to break up.
Well, it seems like it. What she is doing is exactly what a faithful Catholic *would* do after committing a mortal sin to get back into the church's good graces. (I can't guess whether she has confessed to her priest and so forth, but she is obviously trying to sin no more. ) If she was trying to use made-up religious fervor to break up, it seems like she'd just become more and more distant from the guy, and if she was trying to get the guy hooked by sex, she'd probably keep sleeping with him.

I also appreciated very much your first remark, "If your partner says they want to stop having sex, that's it - sex stops. It doesn't matter why." It's not as though if someone marshals enough clever arguments or pathetic explanations of their needs, they will turn on their partner who is now saying no.  He's gotta figure out if this is a deal-breaker for him, and it kind of sounds like he would do a lot better for himself to find a girlfriend who feels like having sex is just fine.
I do think it 'can' happen.  "Breaking up is hard to do", lol.  And if this exact thing hadn't happened to a friend of mine, maybe I wouldn't feel so certain that it is within the realm of possibility.  All of a sudden regretting sex with someone you are still in a good relationship with can happen.  We all can be introspective and question our lifestyle or 'should'.  But I do think it is a tiny bit odd.  What happens to proceed the renewed idea that sex isn't a good idea?  Unless she never thought it was in the first place and was just going along with it and now feels more comfortable to voice her true belief.  

This couple is  young.  But I do know that within my marriage not feeling like having sex isn't fair to my husband if it is more like NEVER feeling like having sex.  Taking into account our partners needs is part of a partnership.  But that wouldn't really apply to a dating situation of young people.  

Anyway, hope their getaway resolved a lot of things for them both.
So do I. At 19, a discussion of the issue could so easily devolve into whines about one's own desires not being addressed. It's like the classic argument where one person in a couple really wants a child and the other really does not -- the couple sometimes just has to agree to part. I hope they came to an adult resolution of this mismatch of deeply held beliefs and needs.
This is not unlike a lot of other issues that arise during dating - does one drink, and the other is against drinking, maybe one is strictly vegan and the other is a meat lover, or one wants kids and the other adamantly doesn't. Maybe one believes in a lot of time alone, and the other wants a lot of togetherness.

Dating is designed to let you get to know someone, and determine if this person is a good life match for you. Some things can be negotiated, some can't. Some may be negotiated if you've been together 20 years - the frequency of sex, for example - but are non-negotiable early on - whether or not you have sex.

I hope your trip was great, and you came home with some resolution, even if it was an end to the relationship. The loss of a relationship is sad, but it means that you aren't spending any more time with the person who isn't right for you.

Oh and as Annie referred to earlier, be grateful that she is being open and honest about this, and not just slowly ghosting you.
207091 tn?1337709493
I am not religious, so my answer isn't coming from a faith-based point of view.

If your partner says they want to stop having sex, that's it - sex stops. It doesn't matter why - it just stops. There is no negotiation.

Yes, you may miss it, and I'm sure she will, too. There is no compromise here, though, no happy medium resolution you can both be happy with. If your partner doesn't want sex, you don't have it.

If she said she didn't want sex because of any other reason than religion, would you stop? Would you try to negotiate this? Probably not.

There are other ways to have intimacy in your relationship. Sexual intimacy is awesome, no doubt, but there are other types of intimacy that are equally as important, and if you don't have those, sexual intimacy doesn't even matter.

If this is someone you plan on spending the rest of your life with, her faith will likely always be a big part of your life. It's important that you figure out if you can respect that. Keep in mind that your response to this is also going to get her thinking if she can spend the rest of her life with you.

I'm sure you didn't mean to sound like that guy who hears a "no" to sex, and thinks, "great, now the negotiation starts", but you do sort of sound that way. I really hope that's not how you meant this. You do sound like you love her, but you have to respect her, too, and that means respecting her boundaries.

That may mean she isn't the one for you, which is okay. That's what dating is for - to figure these things out. If she isn't, though, let her go gently. This is not a flaw. It's just an important area where you don't match.
973741 tn?1342342773
COMMUNITY LEADER
Wow, you are sure a thoughtful person and gave a really clear post on exactly what is going on.  I am not catholic and married a catholic man.  I will tell you that working out religious differences is important if the relationship goes to the next level.  When you are new to it and young, sometimes it's hard to think about that. Religion for someone brought up with it can be a deal breaker.  The Catholic faith is pretty regimented.  My husband hasn't missed but a handful of Sunday masses in the 20 plus years I've been with him. On vacation, he finds a church to attend. Because he was brought up this way. When we talked about getting married, he made it clear that he wanted our kids to be raised Catholic.  I was of a different but not too far off faith so agreed.  Our kids are both baptized and participated in youth catholic school and confirmed.  I wanted to be the same as my family so went through the process to become Catholic myself.  But the thing is, I am religious so this was not a huge stretch and I wanted to be of the same religion as my kids (and husband).  :>))  Now, we go to two churches and one is Catholic and one is not.  We kind of alternate.  Works for us.

And that's the thing.  This will not be the first difference you encounter if she is religious and you are not.  While it CAN work, it often doesn't because that is a compatibility thing.  And it's about the WHOLE family.  Her family is Catholic. This comes into play at holidays, weddings, etc.  There will be expectations and it is so much easier if all get along and agree.  You can certainly just 'go' and they will accept that, I'm sure. But then you have kids.  Will it be a battle over how to raise them?  It really often is if there is not agreement and a common ground sought beforehand.  

Whew, you are 19 and are like "whaaattttt?". But was projecting a few years down the road for you.  I think all you can do if she is saying she has mixed feelings about premarital sex is give her space.  You don't want her to resent you.  And if giving it up isn't worth it, the it's time to separate.  And it's also worth saying, sometimes--  hopefully not, but it could be used as an excuse.  This happened to a friend of mine.  The man wanted to break up with her and by becoming 'very catholic' all of a sudden, he was able to without guilt.  

The best way to work through this will be communication.  You communicate your needs and feelings, she does the same.

Let us know how your trip goes!
Avatar universal
Well there is alot to unpack here and I will try to give it more than just one perspective. She places her faith as the reason not to fornicate before the marriage, however she lost her virginity therefore the chastity value of her faith is already lost to her. Which makes her somewhat a hypocrite. If she wants the asexual relationship she should have said so upfront and not cue you in until you are head over heels for her - and then say "No sex before marriage!". In some ways this feels as if she tries to manipulate you into marrying her. You are NOT a part of her religion and even though you need to show respect for her faith, you don't need to abide by the same rules. That being said YOU yourself have options. I see that everyone here tries to be purist and such, but if sex is important for you in a relationship, as it should be, you have the freedom to end that relationship and find someone who you are more compatible with, who wants the same things as you and whose religious beliefs won't be just an obstacle towards being content. You should also known that catholics are rigid in more areas than this in their life, and they will probably expect you to comply with this lifestyle, raise your children as catholics and possibly even convert in the future. If you are unable or unwilling to bind to this kind of future... End that relationship.
973741 tn?1342342773
COMMUNITY LEADER
Well . . .   I'm dying to know how the vacation went and how things turned out!  Come back and update us!!
973741 tn?1342342773
COMMUNITY LEADER
Trying again for an update.  How did this work out or is it still working out . . .   let us know.  We're on your side.
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