How do I start a conversation about physical boundaries?

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How do I start a conversation about physical boundaries?

Apr 23, 2007 |John Thomas
Question

I have an odd situation on my hands and would like some advice on how to proceed from here. My boyfriend and I have taken our physical relationship further than I would have preferred and not having set definite boundaries prior to our time together makes it difficult to draw the line once in the moment. We are both still virgins in a literal sense but have ventured into other areas of physical intimacy that I still believe crosses the line of what is appropriate outside of marriage.

I want to back up and create a new line now that we have gone too far but I don't know where to start the conversation. I love this man with all of my heart and will be marrying him within the next two years but am afraid that this kind of conversation will create a chasm in our relationship that will be painful and difficult to cross. I want to do what I know will honor God but am still afraid that I will get some resistance from my boyfriend.

How do I start a conversation about limiting our physical actions together? And how do I stand firm on what I believe to be the right choices without making him feel like I am steering our relationship in a direction he might not agree with? I know that in order to make this work he has to be willing to abide by the new boundaries as well. I am just scared of what he will say and would appreciate some guidance on the best course of action from this point forward.

Answer

So does he tell you he's not attracted to you before or after these "sexual acts" with you? I'm not trying to be cutesy with that question. I'm trying to make a point: Whatever his view of your "femininity," it appears it's positive enough for him to want to discover more of it physically. So we can at least establish that there is some disconnect between what he is saying and what he is doing.

To "care deeply" for someone only when she "acts feminine" is not "caring deeply" at all. Imagine if I told my wife, "Honey, if you would just put on a little lipstick right now, I would really care deeply for you." That's ridiculous. I might like it when she wears lipstick; I might even prefer it; it might be attractive to me; but that has absolutely nothing to do with whether I "care" for her at any level. (For the record, I'm neutral on it.)

I've never read The Art of the Chase, so I can't comment on its content either pro or con, but here is what you need to know: "Mystery" and "romance" aside, in a relationship that is being done right, one does not keep trying to change the other person by issuing a list of things that the other person needs to change; rather, one strives to bring out the best in the other person by loving him or her unconditionally. Being truly loved by someone brings out more of our beauty, whether masculine or feminine. It's biblical: We radiate the love we receive.

It could well be that you have some insecurity about your self-image as a woman, I don't know. But biblical femininity is an issue of the heart (as is biblical masculinity, which it sounds like he might have some issues with as well), and merely addressing it at the level of make-up and clothing is a huge mistake. If he just wants you to look like some airbrushed magazine cover, then he's the one with the problem, not you.

Now, if it's merely an issue of your having difficulty expressing your femininity appropriately, then that's a matter of finding women who you believe express that well and asking them for advice and help. Candice wrote a fantastic piece related to this called "Should I pay more attention to my appearance?" Be sure to read it.

As you seek advice from other women, keep in mind that women have different views on what being feminine is and should look like, and you'll need to proceed with caution. It's much, much deeper than outward appearance, but don't feel bad about asking for advice on hairstyles or clothing or feminine etiquette—if you haven't been around it, it's not your fault, just ask for some help. I remember the first time I had to tie a tie. I almost burst into tears because I had no idea what to do and no male in the house to teach me. I had to go find some help and discovered men were more than willing to offer all kinds of help.

Let me be quick to add, though, that there's a lot of gender confusion in our culture, and that's a very serious problem. God designed male and female uniquely different. It's up to you to determine whether you just have a little "tom-boy" in you, which is harmless, or more seriously, whether you're somehow trying to reject the way God made you.

Every believer at some point needs to make peace with how God made us (either male or female), embrace it, celebrate it and walk in it as best we can. Maybe you need to make peace with God's unique design of you as a woman. I'm probably reading too much into it, but the fact that your mom's comment and the nickname that she gave you so long ago is still fresh in your memory, might be an indication that there is some hurt there that needs to be explored. That's armchair psychology, but it might be worth praying about.

Here's my advice. First of all, take this to God in prayer and begin asking Him to open your eyes to what His desire is for you from a feminine standpoint. A good prayer to begin praying is, "God, I want to be exactly the person you made me to be. As I behold your glory, transform me so that I radiate your glory as you desire a woman to do."

Second, seek the opinions of others on this, especially other females who you know and trust. Just share with them what you've shared with me and ask their honest opinions. And, if need be, ask for their help.

Third, your relationship with this guy needs a major overhaul. It doesn't sound like the two of you are actively putting Christ at the center of your relationship. You're over-the-line physically. You don't mention it but I'm guessing you're not holding yourself accountable to anyone. And I have a hunch that the two of you are not together seeking God's direction for the relationship. If these things are true, your problems are much more foundational than what I've addressed.

From the moment you read this, immediately stop letting him have the kind of access you've been giving him sexually. Find people who will hold you accountable. And bring Christ in as the third Person in this relationship, and together, daily (since you're together every day anyway), ask Him to start leading it. I promise you, if the both of you agree to do this, God will bring light to whatever issues you need to address (be they feminine or masculine) and much, much more.

Blessings,
JOHN THOMAS

Copyright 2007 John Thomas. All rights reserved.

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