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The modern Catholic’s guide to waiting for marriage


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Theresa Civantos Barber - published on 07/14/22

What's the best way to share with your date that you're saving sex for marriage? Here's an expert take.

Dating nowadays feels fraught with problems. It’s hard enough to find a caring and respectful partner, much less one who shares your faith and values. 

One especially tricky topic for people of faith is the question of saving sex for marriage.

How can you approach this conversation early in a relationship, or before the relationship even really begins, with a person who may or may not share your morals?

I had the chance to ask Emily Wilson, a Catholic speaker, award winning author, YouTuber, and musician (and wife and mother!). Much of her work centers on helping women navigate seasons of transition, especially those related to dating and relationships. In hundreds of conversations with women, she’s come to understand deeply how to handle this tricky topic.

Emily shared with me her wisdom on having these hard but important conversations in the beginning stages of a relationship. Her advice is aimed at women, but it’s helpful for men waiting for marriage, too!

What are some of the biggest issues women face in the world of dating today?

Some of the biggest issues faced by women in dating today are the breakdown of clear communication and a rampant fear of commitment. 

Our world has conditioned us to CONSTANTLY be grasping for the next biggest or better thing, and that has carried over into relationships in very damaging ways. 

So many women I speak with who are looking for solid communication and willingness to commit are struggling because it seems to be a thing of the past. In the dating world, people have moved toward just “hanging out” or “talking” for extended periods of time, leaving things unclear and without any formal commitment for fear of something better coming along and avoiding the necessity to have mature conversations and ending relationships they began. 

It’s easier to just disappear out of the blue (“ghosting”), rather than have hard conversations, and it’s plaguing the dating culture. It is rough in the dating world today.

How should a woman approach the topic of saving sex for marriage at the start of a new relationship?

I always share with women that there is nothing wrong with sharing about this aspect of her life as soon as she wants to. One of the easiest ways I present to women (and I have a YouTube video on how to have this conversation!) to bring this up is to talk about the things that are important to them really early on in dating. 

If it’s a decision rooted in faith, it’s simple to say something like, “My faith is a really important part of my life, and along with that comes some counter-cultural things, like attending church every Sunday no matter what, saving sex for marriage, paying close attention to the type of media I consume, etc.” 

That way, you don’t have to say out of the blue, “I’M SAVING SEX FOR MARRIAGE!” If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, it is simple to incorporate that into a larger conversation about the ways your life looks different because you live your faith. 

There is truly nothing wrong with saying this on the first date, because a man who will flee no matter if you tell him on the first date or fifth date will flee no matter what! A man who shares in the choice to live out the virtue of chastity will not flee. 

What should she do if the man pushes back against the idea?

I say this with charity and love, if a man pushes back against the values you have chosen for your heart and your life and for the glory of God early on, he is not the man for you. 

Why is it so important to date someone who respects this boundary?

The choice to live chastely is a very difficult choice to make in 2022. It is not easy at all, both as people who live in a culture that says sex is meaningless and because our sexual nature and desires are a very real and good part of who we are. 

It is important to date someone who shares in this (I would take it a step further than respects) because if you are the only one in a relationship wanting to choose to save sex for marriage, it rarely, rarely works.

It is very difficult to be the party in a relationship that is the only one upholding the boundaries or rules. It can make a woman feel extremely guilty for “withholding” something from a man that he would otherwise partake in if she were on the same page as he is. 

Joyfully choosing to live chastely together (both before marriage and within marriage when you are looking at the virtue of chastity in regard to our hearts, minds, and souls) bears incredible fruits in a dating relationship that can have a direct and meaningful impact on a marriage for a lifetime.

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