Sexual Relationship Can Blur Your Vision

Author: Mary Beth Bonacci


By Mary Beth Bonacci

About 80 billion skillion years ago, or at least a month and a half ago, I wrote a brilliant, insightful column on the emotional bond that sex causes, and how wonderful that bond is for married people. Well, at least I thought it was brilliant and insightful. At the end of that column I promised you that in the next column we'd discuss the impact that bond, and sexual activity in general, has on unmarried relationships. In the mean time, however, we got all carried away talking about Hugh Grant and contraception and what-not. Now we're finally returning to our topic.

I for one am glad we're back to it. This subject, the emotional consequences of sexual activity, is one of the most important and under-discussed topics affecting single, and married, life today. Sex does have emotional consequences. For married people those consequences are great. A bond forms and "blurs" their vision, so that they don't get on each others' nerves so easily. It forms a "superglue of the heart" to help their marriage.

But what does sex do to dating?

Well, let's start with a more fundamental question. What is the purpose of dating? Is it to find the best-looking girlfriend so that you look good out in public? Is it to find a guy with a hot car so that you don't have to take the bus?

No and no. Dating, plain and simple, is about finding out what kind of person you're compatible with, so that you can marry someone. It's about figuring out if you want to get married, and if so, to whom. It's about getting to know another person, very, very well, so that you can figure out if you want to give him or her your life and your children.

In order to do all that, what do you need? You need freedom to come and go. If you find out that this person gets on your nerves; this person is also dating your best friends; this person is a drug dealer; or all of the above, you need to dump this person -- fast.

But what happens if there has been a sexual relationship? What happens if this "superglue of the heart" has formed? Your vision is blurred. You're not seeing clearly. You've given yourself completely and it makes it much more difficult to acknowledge that this relationship may not work out.

So you utter the universal Christian single person cry: "I'll change her!" -- or "him," if you're female. "Yes," you decide. "I'll change him. Sure he's a drug dealer with a felony conviction record as long as my arm, but I'll change him. Under my care he will become a rosary-reciting, Mass-attending pillar of the community. He'll change because he loves me."

Some people go a different route -- the route of denial. "Sure he deals drugs, but he wouldn't do it in front of the children." Or, "I know she's promiscuous, but she wouldn't cheat on me."

This, as you may have guessed, is not good. this kind of premature bonding does not lead to happy, productive lives. It leads to pain and misery.

It leads, among other things, to poor marriage decisions. Once a bond forms, the brain is no longer in charge. Feelings take over, drowning our logic.

Marriage decisions are difficult even without the bond. Ask people how you'll know when you're in love and they will probably answer, "Oh, you'll know in your heart." Hooey. Your heart is only half of the equation. Your head is the other part, and it plays a very important role. Your brain has to ask the tough questions: Who is this person? Will this person make a good partner? Does this person share my faith? Does this person have sexual self-control? Do you want to marry a person with no sexual self-control? I don't, because I watch "The Young and the Restless." I know what's out there.

The heart doesn't always want to hear the answers to these questions, but they have to be asked, and answered, honestly. The rest of your life is at stake.

But consider people who say, "Oooh, cool, a bond. That's exactly what we need, because, even though we're only 16, we know we're getting married. First we have to go to separate colleges in separate cities in separate states in separate countries on separate continents. But if we have sex, the bond will span the Atlantic and keep our love alive. Then when we're 25 and have our BMWs and our MBAs, we'll get married and have a white picket fence and 1.2 children, and the bond will have saved the day." Does it work that way?

We'll talk about it next time. I promise.

Bonacci is a frequent lecturer on chastity.

This article appeared in the August 24, 1995 issue of "The Arlington Catholic Herald."

Courtesy of the "Arlington Catholic Herald" diocesan newspaper of the Arlington (VA) diocese. For subscription information, call 1-800-377-0511 or write 200 North Glebe Road, Suite 607 Arlington, VA 22203.