Not Alone Series: Physical Affection


Everyone has different ideas on physical affection and where their personal boundaries lie. What boundaries do you draw or expectations do you have for physical affection in [unmarried] romantic relationships? Have specific experiences led you to draw these lines?

Well, I picked a nice juicy day to get back in the swing of things for NAS, didn’t I? Today is one of the days I am glad that I have a public blog. Anyone can read this. My future husband will probably read it. My mother can read it (although I don’t think she actually does). If my grandma knew how to use a computer, she could read it. Discretion is key!

It is also one of the days I am glad that I believe you shouldn’t generally tell stories about things you took to Confession (or need to take there).

I’ve been honest here that it’s been a while since I was in a romantic relationship. My previous boundaries need revisions to suit my current living situation, age, and marriage-mindedness.

For example, I used to have the rule of “no boys in my bedroom with the door closed.” Initially, I created that rule to keep myself out of the near occasion of sin, as I pray in my Act of Contrition every day. These days, I can imagine needing to have a private conversation with my boyfriend and just stepping into my room to make that happen because one of my roommates is in the common areas of our house. I am in more of a “no unmarried coed sleepovers” kind of phase right now. A night on the couch because the weather is bad or after a party is not going to kill anyone.

Some of my old rules still apply, though. Jason Evert writes and speaks mostly for high school and college students, but I still find his advice relevant to my life. He does a great job of teasing out the deeper questions yet still laying out practical guidelines. Here’s one of my favorite videos of his, on “how far is too far” (pardon the retro huge computer monitors and 50 Cent reference):

Beyond my baseline commitment to abstinence before marriage, my practical rules regarding physical affection in dating relationships are:

  • Regular hugs are okay. Kissing is okay. Making out is probably a bad idea.
  • Foot massages are okay. Any other massages are probably a bad idea.
  • Don’t touch what you don’t got.
  • Don’t take any clothes off.
  • Don’t lie down together.
  • If you’re wondering whether you should be doing something, stop. Stop now. It will probably be awkward. That’s okay.

The last rule is the most important. We have brains and consciences for a reason. When is the last time you regretted not doing something immoral (or potentially immoral)? You don’t confess sins you didn’t commit.

I’m not really inviting comments on this post, but I encourage you to think about and set your own boundaries. Carefully consider any you want to make more lax, but don’t be shy about being stricter.

Thanks to Jen and Morgan for hosting! Check out other responses on their blogs.

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