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No reasonable person would argue that physical temptation does not increase — a lot — the longer two people date who are attracted to each other and who grow to love each other.

Sadly, statistics and anecdotal experience both indicate that even the couples who spend time in dating relationships of any length, sin physically.

They see each other every day, are with each other’s families every holiday (and often know their partner’s family as well as any son or daughter-in-law does), they travel together, spend most of their non-working (or studying) time together, they daily confide in one another (and maybe one another), and are without doubt, closer emotionally with one another than with anyone else on the planet.

This is exactly the level of intimacy that is reserved for marriage only and that dating couples should make every effort to restrain until the appropriate time.

If you’ve forgotten the cardinal rule of engagement, re-read “Tips for Engagement.” Engagement is a great thing, but it’s not marriage. Choice two is to stay in school and put the relationship on hold. Wait until a responsible time to start the relationship back up.

As to emotional intimacy, we live in the age of email, free long distance and unlimited any-time minutes, and cheap flights.In that context, living with the desires I’ve just described, how likely do you think it is that over the course of two or three or four years — some couples date over most of their college years — you will be able to maintain enough emotional discipline and distance to avoid acting emotionally and relationally “married”?I’ve spoken to numerous “long-dating” couples, in college and beyond, who other than living together, could do little to intertwine their lives any more than they already are.To put it simply, “not acting married before you’re married,” gets exponentially more difficult the longer a pre-marital relationship persists.If our goal is to move positively toward God-glorifying lives (rather than simply to “walk the line” by attempting to satisfy our fleshly desires as much as possible without sinning), wisdom and godliness would seem to counsel keeping relationships shorter.

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