Dear Wendy: “I’m Afraid To Tell My New Boyfriend I Practice Abstinence”

I’ve been seeing this guy for a bit now. The only thing we’ve done is kissing (no touching) and I’ve never invited him over to my apartment (for fear of him initiating sexual activities). I like him a lot and I see a potential relationship with him. However, I made a decision to abstain from sexual relationships due to my religion, but also I just don’t think I’m ready to be sexually intimate. I’m not sure if I I’d like to remain abstinent until marriage yet, but I definitely couldn’t be intimate with someone after only a couple of months. I’m afraid that when we finally discuss this he will leave, but at the same time I think there is a need to address it. I’m just not sure how to bring it up or when it would be appropriate. I’m 20 years old and he is 26. I was brought up in a very conservative country and he is more liberal. He recently moved to NYC (four hours away) for a job offer, but he comes back every weekend or so since he still has an apartment here. He has asked me to go visit him next weekend, but I’m afraid about sleeping arrangements so I haven’t said yes. — Not Willing to Give It Up

You’re right; your new boyfriend may decide to leave once he finds out you’re not interested in having a sexual relationship with him. But if he’s someone who will only stay with you if you have sex with him, it’s not likely he’s going to hang around much longer anyway. And if you’ve already been dating for two months and all you’ve done is kiss and he hasn’t pressured you for anything more, there’s a good chance he isn’t someone for whom no sex is a dealbreaker. But you’ll only ever know if you broach the subject with him, and luckily, his invitation for you to come spend the weekend with him is the perfect opportunity to bring up the topic. You can tell him you’d love to come see him and spend some time in NYC, but you’re feeling a little anxious about the sleeping arrangements. You can then explain to him your position on sex and see how he reacts. If he’s understanding about it, great! If he isn’t, well, better you know now when you’ve only invested two months in the relationship. It’s also important to note that there’s a big difference between cuddling and sex. In this country, physical intimacy is a very important part of romantic relationships — in and out of wedlock. If, after two months, you can’t even handle the thought of touching your boyfriend, it might be time to explore how you might step out of your comfort zone and give yourself the best chance for a happy and successful romantic partnership.

My boyfriend and I have been together a total of seven months. Three months ago, he moved 1,500 miles away for his dream job offer. I helped him move and stayed with him for a week in his new city, and he’s come to visit me twice since then. When he left, I made it clear that I do not want a long-distance relationship because I’ve tried them before in the past and they didn’t work out. I’ve looked for jobs in his new city and even had several in-person and phone interviews, but no one is willing to hire me since I live so far away, even though I’ve been told my credentials are great.

I can’t move to his city without a job lined up and don’t want to be dependent on him, as I did that in another relationship over five years ago. I feel stuck here and he loves his new job there. I knew I was beginning to fall deeply in love with him when we were together but now with us being apart so much I don’t know how much I’m in love with him anymore. I’m starting to think realistically that it’s only been seven months and he didn’t feel I was important enough to stay here for. So, what should I do? I do love him and care about him and he has treated me the best any guy ever has, but I’m 30! How long do I continue a long-distance relationship with him if I can’t find a job in his city and he’s not willing to move back for me? Should I just cut my losses now? I know he will be heartbroken but not completely surprised if I end things, as I’ve already told him I’m not very happy with the situation. — Sad Long-Distance Dater

Look, I know for sure long-distance relationships can work (my one and only LDR resulted in marriage), so don’t be so quick to discount them just because you’re had two bad experiences. When you’re with the right person and you’re both committed to making it work, it can. That said, one of the fastest ways to doom your LDR is to “make it clear” you don’t want one. Well, then what are you doing? If you don’t want an LDR, why are you in one? I know, I know; you’re looking for a job in your boyfriend’s new city. But, what are you doing with him in the meantime? Are you in or are you out?

If you’re in — if you’re really, truly in — you need to make some compromises in your way of thinking. Accept that maybe you won’t find the perfect job in his city and start casting a wider net on the employment front. While you’re looking for something there that can pay the bills and help you establish residency (making it easier to find a better job), you can take some extra work where you live now and start building up some savings to pay for your move and give you a little financial cushion during the transition. You can talk to your boyfriend about what kind of financial help you might need — and what he’s comfortable giving — when you get there. Would you want to live together? Maybe his way of assisting you is to let you live with him rent-free until you get settled in a stable job.

If you’re seriously thinking about moving to your boyfriend’s city, you should ask yourself these eight questions. And if you aren’t yet ready to tackle the idea of moving or the answers to those eight questions indicate you aren’t ready for that step, you need to have a serious discussion with yourself — and your boyfriend — about where your heart is. And if it’s not committed to making this LDR work, despite your reservations about LDRs, it’s probably time to cut your losses and MOA.

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