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Passionate Love: Secret #1

  • Neil Clark Warren, Ph.D. for the eHarmony Research Library
  • Published Oct 01, 2002
Passionate Love: Secret #1

Secret Number One: Why Pre-Marital Sex Is So Damaging To a Long-Term Relationship

As I discussed in our previous installment, I believe you have to have the chemistry; you have to be drawn to each other at the same time. I believe that you have to go together for several months before you know whether they’re the right person or not. So, how hard is that? Very hard, I think, to go together with all that passion there and to manage it over that period of time. Manage it you must.

I strongly promote the idea that a couple should not become sexually involved with each other prior to marriage, and there are a lot of reasons not to do it. Let me mention just two or three and then I’ll give you the first of my five suggestions for managing your passion.

The reason I don’t think persons should become sexually involved with each other goes beyond the wisdom of the ages, the Judeo-Christian wisdom, although there is not a single inconsistency in the instruction we receive from the Judeo-Christian scripture. Fornication, which is the sexual involvement of one person who is not married with another person, and adultery, which is the sexual involvement of persons who are married to others, are spoken of consistently in the negative in scripture.

Beyond that, we know from our own studies that sexual involvement prior to a committed relationship of two persons who have vowed to remain faithful to each other for a lifetime always turns out to be problematical.

When you get sexually involved with another person, you become highly dependent on them. You become deeply involved at the most profound levels of your being. It is as though your psyche, your soul, your body, becomes totally interrelated with the other person’s psyche, soul, and body, such that the two of you really are bonded on the most fundamental level possible.

Now I have people come to me who say, "I think, Dr. Warren, that I could have sex with another person and simply not get involved on the soul level. I can have sex with another person and not get involved even on the emotional level."

If you can divide your body from your soul, if you can just get involved with another person’s body without even knowing that they have a set of emotions, then when you get married you will usually discover that you can’t simply put your soul and your body back together again. That’s why so many marriages suffer so deeply in the sexual arena.

I suggest to people all the time that they don’t get involved sexually prior to manage and they usually ask, "How are you supposed to handle all that passion without doing what comes so naturally to two people?" That’s what I want to give you five secrets for. I want you to be able to manage your passion in a highly effective way.

Deep Emotional Bonding

First of all, you need to understand why getting sexually involved is difficult and unwise. I’ve just tried to give you a little bit of theory. I could give you the voices of dozens and dozens of couples with whom I have become involved through the years in psychotherapy. Here’s what people tell me.:

"As soon as we got sexually involved with each other prior to marriage, we found that the decision to get married became a foregone conclusion."

In other words, the sexual bonding caused them to assume that the decision about getting married had already been made. I believe that sexual bonding often takes place far before intercourse. So two persons have to be very careful about the amount of emotional involvement they have in the sexual arena or the bonding will occur.

Why is it unwise to get sexually involved prior to marriage? It has to do with the shorting out of your neurological circuits. When you get sexually involved with another person, I believe that your neurological circuits serve you far less effectively. You begin to believe that you belong with this person for a lifetime. As I said before, if you think this won’t happen for you, it may be because you’re separating your body from your soul, and that indicates an even bigger problem.

So secret number one: understand why getting sexually involved is difficult for your long-term relationship and unwise eventually for your marriage. That knowledge will help you to keep your passion under some control.