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Suzanne Azzi wrote:

Hi, guys—

I am 18 years old and I have been exclusively dating my boyfriend for the past two years. We are in a [boyfriend/girlfriend] relationship. We do not commit any sexual sins but we do intend to get married at around 25 — a while from now. My questions are:

  • Is it a mortal or venial sin to exclusively date someone if you do not plan on marriage within a certain period of time?
  • If so how long?

If not then that is a relief!

A few apologists have said it is a mortal sin, such as Jason Everett and a few youth members
I know, but I think it was more of an opinion than Church teaching. They prefer us to be just friends which I don't think is correct.

My parents were together as a [boyfriend/girlfriend] couple for seven years before they got married and so were a few of my older friends. I think it is better because you get to know the person and build a relationship with them first before you marry — something I think is vital and necessary before marrying someone.

  • That said, would it be a mortal or venial sin to exclusively date someone from
    the age of 16? (like me)
  • Also, would it be a mortal or venial sin to exclusively date someone for a long period
    (say 8-9 years) until you marry them?

I have seen it done before but I need to have a confirmation that it is not a venial or mortal sin.
I do not want to leave my boyfriend and just be friends with him. I would like a more long-term relationship and just need confirmation that what I believe is correct according to the Church.

Thank you,

Suzanne

  { Is it a sin to exclusively date someone if you do not plan on marriage for a period of time? }

Mike replied:

Hi Suzanne,

Thanks for the question.

You said:

  • Is it a mortal or venial sin to exclusively date someone if you do not plan on marriage within a certain period of time?

For a sin to be mortal it requires:

  • it to be a grave matter
  • you must have full knowledge of the sin and
  • have complete consent of the will when it is committed

If you want more on this last issue, check out the Catechism here:

You said:

  • That said, would it be a mortal or venial sin to exclusively date someone from
    the age of 16? (like me)
  • Also, would it be a mortal or venial sin to exclusively date someone for a long period (say 8-9 years) until you marry them?

As we have said in previous postings, someone should never date a person who they would not also consider marrying. That is the purpose of dating: to see if there is a life-time fit between one man and one woman. This posting may help:

Since dating is a trail/testing period of discernment for marriage, though your heart is currently set on a boyfriend, you shouldn't exclude having other male friends. This is where having a prayer life comes in handy for both you and your current boyfriend. I recommend the Rosary. I believe St. Anne, the mother of the Blessed Mother, is the patron saint of relationships.

As long as the person you are dating is someone you would seriously consider marrying, I'm unaware of any period of time that dating has to last but there is a key issue women your age have to keep in mind.

While Catholic dating and courting is appropriate and the sacrament of Marriage should never be rushed into, if you have a strong desire, like many women do, to be a mother of [many] children, the longer you date, the less your married fertility time is, plus there is at least a one year preparation period for any Catholic marriage to take place to ensure the couple understands what Catholic marriage is all about and the obligations each spouse will have.

The Catechism doesn't address the area of dating or courting but Jason Everett is very faithful in this area so I would not question much, if any, of what he says.

You said:
I do not want to leave my boyfriend and just be friends with him. I would like a more long-term relationship.

I don't understand your reasoning here. Marriage consists of having a life-time friendship.
Friendship is the foundation of married life.

If there are still issues on these topics that confuse you, ask your local priest of pastor when he can schedule some time to talk with you about them.

Mike

Bob replied:

Susan,

It is a not a mortal sin, and may not even be a venial sin, however it may not be good judgement. Exclusive dating implies a commitment, but in reality the commitment doesn't exist in a meaningful way until you are engaged and have promised to marry someone.

  • If you believe that it is God's will for you two to marry there is no sin.
  • If not, you should think twice about the exclusivity part.

Becoming emotionally attached to someone who would not be your life partner is a grueling loss should you break-up.

I had dated my wife for over a year, then read a book called Dating with Integrity, which argued that exclusive dating relationships were counterfeit covenants and had no part in the Christian life.

The author reiterated that person's yes should mean yes, and not maybe, until such a time
as you no longer appeal to me so, we ended our dating relationship, and about six month's
later I discerned that we should be married, I asked her, and she said yes.

That was 15 years ago and we have had a great marriage. It wasn't easy to call off the exclusivity thing, but we thought it the right thing to do in the absence of certainty.

During the break up, we dated other people and it helped solidify that we were meant for each other. When I no longer had exclusivity I realized that to claim her I had to step up and make a real commitment, one that would be ratified by God. A big act of trust. I'm happy I did make such an act of trust.

I would say go with whatever the Lord leads you to, but if the relationship is not drawing you closer to God, then jump ship.

Peace,

Bob Kirby

Suzanne replied:

Dear Mike and Bob,

Thank you so much!

I really appreciate your answers.

God bless,

Suzanne Azzi

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