Four more years with no sex?

I live with my girlfriend and her parents. We can’t get married for another four years, and she doesn’t believe in sex before marriage. Can I hold out that long?

I’m going to be blunt, says our elder. You need to move out.

Dear EWC

My girlfriend and I have been together now for a little over a year and we are thinking about getting married. I have lived with my girlfriend and her family now for around six months and we go to the same college. They are deeply religious and do not believe in sex before marriage. I have never been very religious but have been going to church and studying the Bible with her. The problem is that if we were to get married, our financial aid to the college would change and she wouldn’t be able to receive her benefits. We still have four years left in college and I’m not sure what to do. I do not believe that intercourse should be the driving factor in any marriage but I do not think I could hold out for that long. We are both 20 years old.

Nick replies

I am going to be blunt throughout my response, not to offend you but because I think it’s my only shot at waking you up a bit.
I get it. I truly do. You are seriously attracted to this girl. I think the jury is still out as to whether you are in love with her for two reasons: #1 you are only 20 and in college and #2 because your every decision is directed by her parents, like you are their Pinocchio and they get to pull the strings.
I know, I know, there are plenty of 20-year-olds who are living with their SO and some even who are married. But they are not having their strings jerked around so they dance to whatever tune their girlfriend’s parents demand. This alone is a recipe for future disaster. Here’s why: Let’s say this relationship lasts the next four years and you then marry. You then get your own place away from her parents. It is then that you will begin to get to know each other as adults. And that’s unfair because in that process all the kinks and wrinkles a couple should be ironed out before such a commitment, are not able to be. She is still pleasing Mommy and Daddy and what happens the day that pleasing you conflicts with pleasing them? It could all blow up disastrously. Don’t believe me? If you saw the letters we get from guys who thought they were marrying one woman and found out that they married someone who couldn’t cope, was needy, and insecure.

So my first recommendation is that you move out. Yes. Move out. You don’t say you have to live with her parents for financial reasons. It sounds like it’s a matter of convenience, unless this was another demand she made or worse, her parents made so they could keep an ‘eye’ on your libido. You need distance so you can date and have a normal college bf-gf relationship away from her parents questioning or dictating everything the two of you do. If she is uncomfortable with your moving out and living on your own, then that’s another red flag that she’s kind of insecure and is not really independent of her parents and not quite the young adult she now is.
My second recommendation is that you stop molding yourself into who they demand you be. There’s nothing wrong with her parents being religious. There is something very wrong with them imposing their strictness on you and with you buckling under. It’s one thing if you chose to start attending a religious service and reading the Bible. But ask yourself this: if you were not living with them (hell, if you were living in your own home) would you be embracing any of this on your own? It’s almost as if you are a Ken doll and they get to remake your life into what they want, like someone playing with Barbie and Ken does. You are slowly losing your own personality and it’s being swallowed up by your desire to be with this girl. That is not healthy and I can almost guarantee that someday this will all come crashing down on you. You will be scarred for some time after it does.
You see, in a real relationship, you don’t start molding and making over the other person. You accept the other person as a whole, not only the pieces of the other person you like. If they respected you, then they would not, whether subtly or overtly, ‘expect’ you to go to their church, embrace their beliefs and read their Bible. That’s not respect, that’s control. That’s not love, that’s ‘conditional’ love. In a real relationship, love is unconditional, not conditioned on you doing this or avoiding that.

This brings me to the elephant in the room and that is sex. Probably from their perspective sex is a hush-hush topic and they think it is their duty (and unfortunately their ‘right’) to impose their sexual views from their strict religious beliefs, on you and on their daughter who, again, I remind you, is an adult now. I’m pretty sure they are doing so from a sense of conviction and a strong belief that you will go to hell and take their daughter along for the ride, if you become sexually active. Again, it’s fine and their right to espouse these beliefs, especially if their religious practices are working for them. But it is quite another issue altogether, to welcome you into their daughter’s life conditionally — and that condition is that you live as a monk for the next four years. You are 100 percent correct that intercourse should not be the driving factor in a marriage. If it is, the marriage is on shaky grounds.
But you are 20. You are filled with raging hormones. Sex is natural. Sexual desires are natural. If you and your girlfriend are sexually intimate (touching, caressing, mutual masturbation, oral sex, etc) it is natural what will flow next. For today’s generation sex is not a hush-hush topic and a judgment-free activity. It’s one thing if both partners wish to abstain until marriage. But it is disrespecting you if you aren’t on-board with the whole abstinence thing and it’s being forced upon you as a condition that you be with your girlfriend. You will explode eventually if that’s the case. It’s as if your erection is the enemy in their minds and it is not in reality (or in your mind).

While I think you are underestimating your ability to “hold out” for four more years, and it is something you can do, the question really is whether you choose to do so and if not, then why are you forcing yourself to do so?
For all these reasons I think you and your girlfriend should take a step back from this one-year relationship. If I were you I would move out and continue to date but on your terms, apart from her parents. If they object or ‘prohibit’ her from seeing you for fear that you may lead her astray (in their eyes), then she is the one who has to pull up her big girl pants and decide whether she is going to see you because she really wants to or whether she is going to allow them to control her. It might be the moment when she finally realizes she is an adult and gets to make her own decisions, whether they approve or not. So far you are the one who has had to bend like a willow branch. It’s time for her to put some skin in the game, find her voice, speak up and say that they have to stop setting the terms for how the two of you proceed in your relationship.

While the financial consideration is not one to be ignored, it really is not the main issue in your situation. If you want to move out on your own and be sexually active as each other’s SO, then that’s your choice to do so. Marrying her now simply so you can have intercourse is absurd and as you say, not the reason to marry. You need to experience each other outside of living with her parents in order to determine whether you really want to be together in a marriage. Either move out yourself and date her as most college students do or move out with her and give that a try. But staying there, having your will molded into who they demand you be all-the-while giving you an artificial experience of your girlfriend as a grown up in a relationship, should not be one of your options.
As I said in the beginning, I was going to be blunt. Please take no offense because I am only doing so because you seem like a genuinely good guy in a bizarre situation and you are too close to the situation to see what I, as an outsider, am seeing.
Questions? Shoot me a follow-up. Otherwise, please consider what I’m suggesting for your own good. You deserve someone who doesn’t try to make you into someone you are not and thus disrespect the good guy you already are.

Letter #: 450207
Category: Marriage

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