Along with defining what kind of relationship you’re entering into with someone, Today’s quick Love and Learn is that it’s important to be clear about what behaviour you will and won’t engage in in a particular stage of the relationship; I’m talking about intimacy here. You don’t have to have a list of dos and don’ts (or a diagram of your body with “do not touch” signs on off-limit body parts; hehe), but both parties should be clear about what the other person considers permissible at various stages of the relationship. Like you’ve read or heard elsewhere, this discussion should not take place in the middle of an intimate moment: have the conversation when you’re both fully clothed and just hanging out, rather than in the middle of a cuddle session.
(Dear God, please send me a cuddler!)
When I met my ex face-to-face for the first time in 2010, one thing that surprised me was how comfortable I felt with him. When we met, it was to be as friends only, because things had already taken a turn for the worse. I hadn’t had a boyfriend before so I didn’t expect to click so well; I guess talking so regularly for almost a year helped. Because I felt so comfortable with him, when we had moments alone we explored non-verbal communication, ahem! I saw how easy it was for “one thing to lead to another” as they say but I’m thankful that prior to meeting I had already told him about my personal limits and he didn’t try to cross them.
However , when I returned home to Canada and was able to think over my time in Nigeria, I realized that the limits I had set were not specific enough. I didn’t know what to expect going into that situation and thankfully I wasn’t forced to do anything, but as they say, when you know better, you do better. Before things had their unhappy ending, when I returned from Nigeria I was thinking about whether or not I’d regret any of my actions if we did not end up together as husband and wife (I have a tendency to overthink everything) and I wasn’t happy with my answer to that question. A great church sermon on sexual purity was preached shortly after I returned home and a friend also called me out on something that she felt led to comment on after hearing about my trip. Those two things combined with my own thoughts led me to reconsider my boundaries, which now seemed too general, and I was able to communicate my thoughts with him. I told him that we would have a more detailed conversation about limits the next time we were together, but I told him what my new limits were.
So learn from me: right now, even if you don’t have a significant other, determine what you will and won’t do in various stages of your future relationship. When the time is right, communicate this to your partner. Best case scenario, your decisions will be met with complete support. If the person doesn’t agree with you and there’s room for negotiation, then you can discuss it. If you still don’t agree, then hopefully you have someone who will respect your decision, despite not personally agreeing with it. However, if you end up in the worst case scenario where someone is forcing you to do something you don’t want to (or something you want to do but have decided not to do because it violates your decisions regarding purity), that could be a sign that this person will fail you respect you in other areas of the relationship.
Some subscribe to the “If it feels good/makes you happy, do it” philosophy but I don’t. There are plenty of things that fit that category that in the end are bad for us (for example, eating too much junk, ahem, the results of which I’m dealing with today). There’s nothing wrong with a little self-control: instant gratification isn’t always the way to go. If you’ve defined what you will and won’t do, it will be easier to call on that list in the heat of the moment.
One final thing: when things ended with the guy a few months ago, one of the things I was immediately thankful for was that I hadn’t surpassed my original defined limits and done something that I know would have filled me with real regrets and an inability to forgive myself or move on to the level that I’ve been able to now. This situation also allowed me to recommit to decisions I had made long ago about limits, and as mentioned above I’ve now defined better limits.
Do you define and discuss how far you’ll go sexually/intimately with partners? How do you bring it up?
Missed the other entries in the Love and Learn series? Catch them here: