12 Tips for Keeping It Clean In Your Dating Relationship

awkward dateSo, I work with college students. Sometimes they like to date each other. Being human, with normal, God-given (but fallen) physical desires they also want to do stuff together while they’re dating. You know–sexy stuff. Of course, most of them who’ve been around long enough have learned that the Bible says the sexy stuff is God’s good, beautiful, and pleasurable idea for knitting a man and a woman together in marriage. In the meantime then, I’ll have couples approach me wondering if there are ways that they can continue to build their relationships in holy, appropriate ways, and avoid temptation.

Now, I remind them that it’s not just about not breaking rules–it’s an issue of the heart. I remind them of the grace of the Gospel for any past or future failure, and that this is not the one, irrevocable sin.  I encourage them to look to Christ, develop their relationship with him, and all the good spiritual, foundational stuff. But then, well, I get “practical” and offer them a few (slightly humorous) tips that helped my wife and I during the (four!) years we were dating.

I can’t emphasize enough that these are not laws, but general guidelines that help you obey God’s laws for your good. These are not hard and fast unbreakable rules. They are wisdom, though. Some of them may seem childish or nit-picky. You might think read them, roll your eyes, and think “Really? Come on, I’m not an animal!” True, but you’re not an angel either, and following these can help you honor God in your dating relationship:

  1. Clothes are not optional. But seriously, stay fashionable–in your clothes.
  2. If no one’s home, you’re not home. This might narrow your hang-out options initially, but it forces you to be creative. I really can’t stress this one enough.
  3. Cars are fun when you’re driving. When stationary, you can get in an accident.
  4. Give someone you trust absolute authority to speak into your life and talk to you about this area whenever. Also, don’t lie to them.
  5. Consider the consequences on a regular basis.
  6. Pray at the beginning of your dates.
  7. “Napping” together is stupid. Falling asleep during a movie is one thing, but otherwise…nah.
  8. And God said, “Let there be light…”
  9. Private porn usage always makes a public appearance. Eventually, porn shapes the way you act with your boyfriend/girlfriend. Avoid it at all costs.
  10. Spas are fun group activities.
  11. God gave you legs for a reason. Run when you have to.
  12. Have this conversation often. Re-affirm and re-commit to biblical guidelines and standards for your relationship.

Above all of these, of course, is to constantly be chasing Christ. Tips and rules can help for a while, but it’s the deeper holiness comes through the Spirit of Holiness changing our affections from within through the grace of the Gospel.

Soli Deo Gloria

35 thoughts on “12 Tips for Keeping It Clean In Your Dating Relationship

  1. Another fine article Dr. Rishmawy. It’s not how close to sin can we get, but as you so wisely put it, “How close to Christ can I walk so we live as righteous sons and daughters of a Heavenly Father who wants to give us His very best.

  2. Thank you for your article. It truly struck home for me. My boyfriend and I have just started dating and have struggled with temptation more then once. We both want to wait even though we are not your conventional young adult couple; I am a single mom and he comes from a fairly fresh divorce. We both know that this is the last relationship for both of us. And we want to make sure we do this completely right and we both know the physical will ruin it.

    • Well, I pray that God blesses your relationship with holiness and the joy that comes from that. I know it has to be a struggle, especially as previously married people. I hope that these help you in the battle.

      In Christ,


      • Thank you sir.
        I am sure they will they are a few that we already use and others that make a valid point. I can’t wait to share this with him.

  3. Thank you so much for these extremely helpful tips. Especially #11. My boyfriend has been getting very… persistent lately and i’ve found throwing a blow dryer at his genitals makes for a great escape distraction.

    • Well, do what you have to, I guess! Ouch! But, more seriously, if your boy loves Jesus (which, hopefully he does), you might also consider directing his attention to Paul’s words here:

      For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. (1 Thess. 4:3-8)

      God doesn’t take it lightly and he’s a bit more threatening than a blow dryer. But, yeah, in a pinch that’ll work.

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  6. Good application. But better the Word of God. Succinct wisdom, no list needed. Let them argue against God not my ‘list’.

    Do not stir up or awaken love until it pleases.
    (treat) older women as mothers and younger women as sisters, in all purity.

    If you follow these you will not go wrong.

    • We should absolutely follow God’s word but let’s be careful to exercise good hermeneutics. The first deal with consummation of a marriage, but that leaves a lot of ground in between that people will argue about. The second is instructions for the church, we may glean wisdom and principles from this passage but it doesn’t really deal with a couple pursing marriage.

  7. I appreciate all your advice, and it is wonderful. As a mother of 5, 4 girls and a boy, ages 24 down to 11, I would really appreciate your advice more if the girl in your pic was dressed…idk….modestly?? Wait….I know that sounds all “legalistic” and stuff, but really, I don’t think a girl with all of her arms and chest, except for the important stuff, uncovered is going to help a young man with his thought life….js. And no, I do not purchase clothes like this for my daughters, and no, I don’t give them the option of wearing it if I did not purchase it. And I live in a beach town. (no bikinis, either.) As James Dobson once said, “Where there is responsibility, there is accountability.” I know this is not a blog about clothing or parenting, but believe me, they ARE connected. Proverbs 22:6, and all that jazz…

  8. These are good guidelines. Not really anything I hadn’t heard before.
    I will say that the whole not being home when no one else is home gets really, really difficult when you’re in your late 20s-30s. You have your own place, your friends have their own lives. You can go broke going out that often. And yet, that’s what my boyfriend and I have been doing because despite our belief that we should have more self control – we really do not.

  9. Fooling around before you are married isn’t a problem that will just be “fixed” once you do get married. This stuff has lasting consequences for a marrige – take it from a guy about half a year into his marriage…the pre-marital sexual experiences still effect us in ways we never knew would. Sexual guilt isn’t erased when the wedding rings comes on, it is erased by daily looking to Christ.

    • And I would add: Guys (in particular), if you do not show respect through self-control while you are dating, then you will not show respect through self-control when you are married.

      Great practical list though!!

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  14. once listened to a speaker give 4 rules for sexual purity…
    1 – no touching, with anything, any area, where undergarments are or are supposed to be
    2 – stay vertical
    3 – a couple alone is asking for trouble
    4 – when married, eliminate rules 1-3

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