“Ask a Priest: What If My Love Interest Expects to Sleep With Me?”

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Q: I recently met a man on online after being single and celibate for seven years. I have a list in my heart of what I am seeking in a spouse, and he checks every box, and I am pretty lovestruck. I am a cradle Catholic, and he is a fallen away Lutheran. He has secular views on sex before marriage. Even though he would consider marriage he expects sex during dating. I told him I can’t do that, and he said he respects my decision but that he isn’t going to change his mind. The problem is I like him so much I am worried that I won’t stand firm around him. I have wounds from my upbringing that drive me to be a people pleaser. If we are committed to each other, will it be sinful to sleep together? We live across state lines, so seeing each other involves staying the night. I want to do what’s right. I don’t want to live in sin. I love him and don’t want to lose him over this. Any advice on how to help him understand why it’s important to wait until marriage too? – E.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: More importantly than being a people pleaser, your first concern should be pleasing Our Lord.

God has a plan for sex, and it’s meant for unitive and procreative reasons within a marriage.

What you describe triggers all kinds of danger signals. Your friend is secular and expects sex while dating “even though he would consider marriage.”

He says he respects your decision about opposing sex outside marriage – but won’t “change his mind.” So, which is it? Is he willing to live chastely or not?

Moreover, you are already thinking of spending the night at each other’s residence. Do you really think you could keep this man at a chaste distance if you are spending the night under the same roof? You already acknowledge that you will have a tough time standing up to him. Listen to yourself.

You say that you are lovestruck. Given that the relationship seems mostly online at this point, the better word to describe your feelings might be infatuation.

Real love takes time. Real love means wanting the best for someone. A man who genuinely loves you will want to help you grow in holiness and reach heaven.

Nothing that you mention indicates that this man is even remotely thinking of your eternal salvation. Rather, he seems fixed on fornicating. Does he really “check every box” for you?

You want to tread carefully. It is not uncommon for men to feign love in order to get sex from a woman. You don’t want to fall for that ploy. The happiest courtships and marriages have God at the center.

If you want to pursue this relationship, a few suggestions might help.

First, tell your friend that you intend to stay chaste. Tell him it’s a gift you can give each other. It will also give you time to get to know each other as friends.

Let him know that you don’t want the both of you leading each other into  grave sin, which is offensive to God and puts your souls at risk.

Tell him that you will perceive his respect if he stays in a hotel when visiting. If you live alone, you might insist on restricting your dates to public places.

If he agrees, fine. But stay vigilant. If he balks at your conditions, that might be a sign he doesn’t really care about you. Men will make sacrifices for the women they love.

In any case, it might be better to start cultivating a network of serious Catholic friends in your own area. Start attending Catholic events — talks, pro-life events, Theology of the Body classes, Bible studies, door-to-door missions, etc.

Being around other Catholics could help you maintain balance with this online relationship. You would also improve your chance of finding someone who will respect you and your religious views.

In the meantime, try to find a solid, regular confessor and/or spiritual director to guide you. You need an objective third party to help you. Isolation can make you vulnerable to opportunists.

I hope some of this helps. Count on my prayers.


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