Dating and Boundaries
We've been on this sex and singleness journey for a little over a month now and we've got just three weeks left. I hope that you feel the freedom to ask questions, offer thoughts/dialogue, and begin discussions within your own realms.
And if you find that you leave with more questions than answers, I'm so glad. That's a goal, here. Because I think we've been told what's wrong and right all of our lives and there's a space for that. But this is a space to think, to wrestle, to question, to grow.
Dating and Boundaries
If you've been in a dating relationship or are currently in one or want to be in one, this question may have crossed your mind: How far is too far?
This question haunted me for the good part of high school and college. I wanted a tangible. I wanted to know that I was okay in what I was doing, and as long as I didn't cross a certain line, I could keep doing what I was doing. My "too far" was different than others', and as long as I didn't cross my own personal convictions, I was in the clear.
(On that I'd say, I think there's a common flawed thinking that sex is simply vaginal intercourse and anything outside of that is not sex. But sex is much more than direct penetration. It's the foreplay, it's the emotional connection, it's the pleasure, it's the orgasms, it's the vulnerability, it's the aftermath. And I think drawing the line at intercourse is missing this more encompassing view of sex.)
God began to change my thinking on sex and intimacy, giving me a grander view of what sex is and why it exists, as I've shared in past posts.
Instead of asking 'how far is too far,' what I was left with was this question - What place does intimacy have in our dating relationships?
I started with evaluating why I choose to date in the first place. I encourage you to really wrestle with your beliefs on the purpose of dating. Is it a space to determine if you want to move towards marriage with that person? Is it for fun or connection or getting to know others/yourself? Do you take a more modern approach to dating or identify with a courtship model? Thinking through your goal of dating is a great place to begin.
When we know what our goal of dating is, we can better understand intimacy's role in the matter. Intimacy, in its most basic definition, is closeness. It's a close familiarity with another. And physical intimacy is just one component of it: there's emotional, spiritual, relational, and even mental.
When operating out of that definition, I believe setting boundaries looks like drawing clear lines on how close we choose to get to our dating partner. Instead of just drawing the 'no intercourse' line (which I believe is a Biblical absolute that we, as Christians, must draw before marriage), we can also think through:
- What are the places of my heart that I want to protect before marriage?
- What aspects of our lives are meant to be separate or together?
- What physical boundaries do we want to set to protect and honor each other?
- What spiritual disciplines are appropriate to engage in together in dating, or more appropriate for marriage?
I encourage you to wrestle with these, both on your own and with your significant other. I think setting boundaries takes honest conversations, renewing our minds before God, asking God to align our convictions to him, and really evaluating our motives behind dating and intimacy.