Is It Okay to Date Someone Who Has a Different Sexual Past Than You Do?
One of the common archetypes in fiction is the “reformed bad boy.” Many of us enjoy reading or watching movies about people who used to fall into a certain category but have had a change of heart.
Real life, however, tends to be a bit more difficult. Some might even call it “messy.” Is it a good idea to date or marry a person who has a very different sexual past than you do?
What if you’re a virgin and the person you’re considering dating has slept around? Or what if you’re the one with the questionable past and your person of interest seems out of your league? What then?
Honestly, like many things in life, the answer to this conundrum comes down to you and your relationship with God. I’m not going to tell you what to do in this article because that’s not my place. It’s a matter of the heart, what God is doing, and His healing and forgiveness.
Here are a few things to consider as you’re seeking God and working through your dating questions.
Freedom from Condemnation
When it comes to the past—yours or someone else’s—what matters is the healing and grace of Jesus Christ.
I know people who have had several sexual partners through the years, and sadly some of them even picked up STDs through these previous relationships. But God forgave them and cleansed them with the blood of Jesus. Even though these people might not have been physically healed, He took those earlier experiences and completely wiped them out. These beloved children of God dated and got married, and their marriages are blessed because they love Jesus with all their hearts. Despite the past, they are free of condemnation, which many people struggle with.
Be Aware of Soul Ties
Sex outside of marriage has unexpected side effects. For one, it produces a soul tie, which is an emotional connection that unites you with the other person. This is an automatic response during sex; your soul is “knit” with the other person’s soul. When you become “one flesh” with someone through sexual intercourse, you invite much of that person to live inside you—that is what we call a soul tie.
Soul ties are unhealthy when you are not married to the person you’re sleeping with. Someone who has had multiple sexual partners can carry those soul ties into their next relationship. People from the past do not belong in your current relationship, but they can exist there, in a manner of speaking, through soul ties that remain unbroken.
Soul ties can be serious things, but they are not so powerful that God’s grace and healing cannot reach them. When we approach our heavenly Father for healing and forgiveness, we will find mercy and grace in abundance (Heb. 4:16).
Signs of Sexual Healing
Unfortunately, sex outside of marriage is a pretty common thing these days. According to the Kaiser Foundation, nearly half of all high school students claim to have had sex. An article in the New York Times declares, “More than half of all marriages will be preceded by cohabitation.”
Perhaps you’re considering dating someone with a past that looks vastly different than yours. Keep in mind that the grace of God is a game changer. If someone is serious about their walk with God, if they’ve sought Him for healing and taken steps toward their healing—then they are not the same person they were before. The old has gone and the new has come (2 Cor. 5:17).
The following questions can help you recognize if someone is pursuing God’s healing in the area of sexuality:
How long has the person gone without sexual intercourse? This can be a good sign of whether or not they are serious about being healed.
Do they have an accountability partner? Do they actually listen to this person?
Do they allow good boundaries to be set in your dating relationship? Or do they pressure you to become sexually involved with them?
What’s the Fruit?
Jesus says we can know people through the “fruit” they produce (Matt. 7:16). In other words, their actions reveal what’s really going on in their hearts. Depending on the situation, it might be a good idea to wait for a while before stepping into a relationship because this will allow you to get a good look at the fruit the person is producing in their life. Unfortunately, I have seen situations where people thought they were healed of a persistent issue (like drug addiction), but they fell into the same problem again and again.
God can heal us of so many things right away—I have seen those situations, too—but if you are willing to wait, you will get a good picture of whether or not the person is truly healed and if they’re walking in self-control.
What Are You Praying For?
When it comes to dating and choosing a lifelong mate, we often have a general idea of what we’re looking for. Some Christians strongly desire to marry a virgin, someone without any sexual past whatsoever. Others don’t really care about the person’s past—as long as it wasn’t too crazy and that person has sought Jesus for any necessary healing.
Whatever God has put on our hearts, we can trust Him with those desires. He knows and He understands. So if you have been praying for someone whose past basically matches your own, I would encourage you to stick to your guns and don’t allow anything to steer you away from what God has laid on your heart.
Similarly, if you’ve been hoping for someone who has kids, who doesn’t have kids, who has never been divorced, whose parents are still together—whatever you have been asking God for in this area of marriage, keep looking to Him to answer that prayer. If there ever comes a time when He needs to adjust something on your “list,” you can trust Him to act with love; the change will be worth it.
What is God’s heart for you as you date? It is possible for two people with two very different sexual pasts to have a great marriage, but in every case, God is the One who needs to bring these two people together. When your marriage is an act of God, nothing is impossible.
For more information on sex, marriage, and finding the person who is right for you, get a copy of Becoming the One by Salomé Roat. Click here to learn more.