When should I tell my boyfriend about my sexual health?

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When should I tell my boyfriend about my sexual health?

Nov 14, 2011 |Diane Foley
Question

I'm a single woman in my mid-20s. I'm not dating anyone, but I feel I’m ready to get married or could be ready within a year. There's just one issue: I have a health problem that will probably make sexual intercourse difficult or unpleasant in the short-term (but maybe long-term, too). I'm not sure how much my sex life could be affected by my condition because I'm a virgin, but I've never had any reason to believe that I couldn't have sex or bear children.

My problem is treatable, and I’m under the care of multiple healthcare providers. Unfortunately, the progress is slow and discouraging, and I may never be completely cured. On the other hand, we may one day soon get my body to function properly; then I'll feel like I've been worrying for nothing!

I've thought about when in the course of a relationship I would like/need to tell a boyfriend/fiancé about the issue, generally drawing a comparison with when someone should tell what needs to be told about one's sexual past. (Not that I'm guilty of anything in this except not being as zealous about following treatment plans as my therapist would like.)

I don't recall Boundless ever addressing a health issue that can make sex or childbearing difficult or impossible as it relates to dating and finding a spouse. I'd like to think that I'm not the only woman in the world who is scared that the man she loves may dump her when he discovers that marriage to her will require superhuman patience in the bedroom.

Your thoughts on my circumstance would be encouraging.

Answer

The decision of when to share personal details with someone you are dating is a difficult one. Because your problem involves sexual health, it is more private than if you had another chronic illness, such as diabetes or even a mental health condition.

In general, the best time to share is when you know the relationship is becoming more than a friendship and you have confirmation that he feels the same way. This usually involves progressing from attraction to many shared experiences leading to building trust and emotional connection. You have taken enough time to know what he values and have seen his character. You have enough shared experiences to trust his responses. The person you want to spend your life with is someone who will love you completely for who you are, regardless of what health problems you might have now or in the future. As a follower of Christ, you can rely on God’s direction to help you know when the right time to share would be. You should also seek counsel of trusted friends and family to direct you.

It would be wise to share details in small pieces. Sometimes too much information at first can be overwhelming, especially when the ultimate result is uncertain. It is likely that you will be able to rely on your doctors or therapists to help explain your health issues to your future husband. Fortunately there are excellent Christian resources and professionals who can help both before and after marriage with issues of sexual intimacy. Several resources I can recommend are The Language of Sex by Dr. Gary Smalley and Sexy Christians by Dr. Ted and Diane Roberts.

Realize that the commitment to marriage does not come with any guarantees. The traditional vows promise to love for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness or in health, ‘til death do us part. This reinforces the fact that love is a choice, not an emotion, and true love is best defined in John 15:13 (NASB): "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends."

Since you mentioned you are not dating anyone now, I would recommend that you spend the time between now and the time God brings someone into your life, praying that God will prepare that person for whatever it is you will need to tell him about your physical condition.

God has made it clear that He is in control of every aspect of our lives, and He will direct our steps. Take time to talk and listen to God. Spend time memorizing Scripture that confirms His faithfulness and what your true worth is. Discover who you are in Christ. Trust Him to develop His plan for your life. "'The LORD is my portion,' says my soul, 'Therefore I have hope in Him.' The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. It is good that he waits silently for the salvation of the LORD" (Lamentations 3:24-26).

Also, while slow progress is discouraging, it would be good to follow the medical recommendations as closely as possible.

I want to close by encouraging you with the reminder that you are a precious daughter of the King of Kings who takes great delight in you and rejoices over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17). Your physical condition is part of God’s plan for your life, and He promises that His strength will be made perfect in your weakness.

Blessings,
DR. DIANE FOLEY

Copyright 2011 Dr. Diane Foley. All rights reserved.

If you have a question you'd like us to consider for this column, please send it to editor@boundless.org. Please note that all questions we select for this column may be edited for clarity and privacy and become the property of Focus on the Family.

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