Is it wrong to think about being physically affectionate . . .

Is it wrong to think about being physically affectionate with each other (in the chaste ways that we actually do in real life) when we're not together?

 

Hi, Gretchen!

I have an awesome boyfriend and I am so thankful for him. We are both seniors in high school and very dedicated Catholics. We both discuss chastity often and try to live it out to the fullest in our relationship. I feel that God may have a plan for us sometime in the future, and we both want to do everything possible to make our relationship as faith-centered, chaste, and blessed as possible.

At the beginning of our relationship (the first few months), we were not physical at all and just focused on getting to know each other better by talking and hanging out. In the past several months, we've been more physical occasionally (holding hands, chaste kissing, and holding each other). I feel that we've done a good job about praying about everything we do and watching to make sure we stay away from lust.

This is my question - is it wrong to think about being physically affectionate with each other (in the chaste ways that we actually do in real life) when we're not together? We've both admitted that we do this sometimes when we're really missing each other and can't be together, or sad/tired and need to relax. Also, is it okay to talk about being chastely physically affectionate when we're apart from each other (i.e. - when I'm stressed about something, and he says something like 'I wish I could hold you and tell you it'll be okay!')? I've tried looking it up on several Catholic sites (including the REAP team site, which I love!), but I can only find stuff about thinking/talking about impure things.

It seems to me that it would be okay to think/talk about chaste affection, but as I said before, we want to be sure we're doing everything possible to ensure a healthy relationship! I think the only problem might be that since we're not actually together, we're 'using' thoughts of each other for physical gratification. The thing is, I don't think that mere physical gratification is either of our goals. First, usually we're just remembering/cherishing a special time we've had together in the past. Second, neither of us feels 'used' knowing that the other thinks that way. In fact, I think it's actually kind of sweet when he tells me he thought about holding my hand or whatever. And lastly, each of us only thinks about doing chaste things that we've done in the past as a way to be affectionate, not lustful.

So, what do you think? Please give me your full and honest opinion! :)

Thank you SO much, I appreciate it!

 


Thanks for your question.  I'm glad you've found some things on the REAP site that are helpful.  It's so awesome that you and your boyfriend are striving to keep your relationship faith-centered, chaste and blessed.  It sounds like you've really done great at building a relationship with a strong foundation.  Spending ample time getting to know each other better before bringing anything physical in to your relationship is really sweet.  It's great that you are aware of and communicate about the possibility of lust creeping in to your relationship.  I definitely think that simple awareness is a big part of avoiding any temptation.

I love your question!  It really shows how much you care for each other and your desire to maintain your purity.  I also appreciate the clear boundaries you both have set; it's wonderful that you are striving to maintain them when you are together and when you aren't.  What you are describing doesn't sound so much like physical gratification as it sounds like emotional reassurance.  I don't think there is anything wrong with wishing you could get a hug from your boyfriend or that he was there to hold your hand, whether this is at a time you might be struggling or just some random moment in the day.  When I travel somewhere without my husband, Carlos, I often find myself wishing he was there because I just like being with him and his physical presence is reassuring and supportive.

I agree that it's sweet that he thinks about when you were holding hands or hugging, and it would be ridiculous to expect either of you to forget such a moment or how it felt.  From my understanding of what you have described, it sounds like what you are doing is respectful and chaste.

My only caution would be to keep in mind that even good things have the potential to turn in to obsessions and become band-aids that cover up hurt rather than deal with it.  I don't think that what you're describing sounds like that in any way, but I just put it out there as something to keep on your radar.  For example, it would be unhealthy to spend so much time thinking about how nice it is to be with your boyfriend that you don't deal appropriately with a particular situation you’re in.  It's one thing to recall a reassuring moment and then take care of business; it is another thing to spend all your time basking in the warmth of a memory.  Again, you haven't given me any indication that this is going on, but since one of the best ways to avoid temptations and unhealthy behaviors is to simply be aware of the possibility, I wanted to mention it.

I encourage you to keep communicating with your boyfriend, be honest about how you feel and continue striving to keep Jesus in the center of it all.  In short, keep doing what you're doing!

I hope this is helpful; if you have any comments or questions, please don't hesitate to send them my way.  You and your boyfriend are in my prayers.

Peace and Blessings,

Gretchen