Sex and Love before Marriage

Sex and Love before Marriage [1]
The sexual relationship is a key factor in the normal process by which each man or woman grows to maturity. Sexuality presents itself to the vast majority of people as filled with interest and indeed fascination. It holds out the hope of a special happiness; and yet is so often characterized by tension and strife. It can be colored by idealism, and clouded by obsession. Tending to draw people powerfully together, it can also leave them bitterly separated.
If sexuality is so important in personal development and in interpersonal relationships, why should it be such a delicate matter to handle, and so filled with complexities and dangers?
It may help towards unraveling this mystery if we start from the concept of simple friendship, especially as the sexual relationship we wish to consider here implies or should imply a special form of friendship.
The human person does not grow to maturity (or find happiness) in isolation. One needs to relate to others; and not just to others in general but to some others whom one can regard as friends, whom one can trust in a special way, in whom one finds sympathy, respect, understanding... The tendency to seek friends is universal. Friendship is one of the great blessings of life - that not everyone enjoys. The completely friendless person is at a tremendous disadvantage - with no one to trust in, to communicate and share with... The person without a friend in the world is truly alone and unhappy.
Why should human persons need to relate between themselves? Why should friendship be the most normal element drawing people together? We go back to the Book of Genesis and to that first divine comment about the human person: 'it is not good for man to be alone' (Gen 2:18). God made him for communion, not for solitude or isolation; not to have just distant acquaintances but some real companion, some real friend.
Friendship implies love (and love without the essential qualities of friendship is not true love at all). A friend is someone you care for and trust, to whom you wish well and not evil, with whom you can be more at one than with a mere acquaintance, whom you feel appreciates and respects you just as you respect him or her. Friendship usually starts out from a casual acquaintanceship, it grows as one senses oneself understood or complemented by the other, it adds a sense of completeness to one's life, becoming at times a bond that binds to death.
Young children like to have many friends, though their approach to their friends is often quite self-centered. If it remains so, they will lose their friends since no one (except God and a really good mother or father) loves a selfish person [2]. And since we all have a large measure of selfishness, wanting what seems good for us rather than what is good for others, uncombatted selfishness is radically opposed to any enduring genuine friendship.
Friendship in childhood and adolescence
In childhood, while there is a certain tendency for boys to associate more with boys and girls more with girls, boys and girls can naturally be good friends. In any case before they get to their teens, they already have a fairly accurate idea of what is implied in friendship - that being able to rely on someone who is not selfish (at least towards you), who doesn't cheat or take advantage of you, with whom you can share your secrets, your trials, your dreams...
Among pre-teen boys and girls, there is of course a sense of sex difference, but it is not normally an obstacle to genuine friendship between a particular boy and girl - however much each may otherwise join in common peer judgments: all boys are rough and stupid; all girls are soft and silly.
With adolescence things begin to change. Sexual differences take on a new meaning and importance in interpersonal relationships. An established friendship between two boys or two girls can be tested by jealousy if both friends are interested in the same girl or boy. But why can't both have him or her simply as a second friend [3]? No; it is not felt so. They are discovering that particular sense of possessiveness, of looking for exclusive possession, that now shows itself in the new and perplexing world of sexuality.
Friendship and sexual attraction
In adolescence incipient sexual attraction is natural and yet puzzling; it is mysterious, holding the promise of something great. In its first adolescent awakening, human sexuality evokes wonder and respect. It tends initially to be filled with admiration, reverence, a desire to please, to be accepted and to give in return. This does not have to disappear but, especially in boys, it will soon have to contend with a powerful new and disturbing factor - a fascination with the body of the other sex, in which there is little of admiration and much of self-centered desire. The stage is set for a battle, the outcome of which determines the sexual balance or imbalance of the person and the quality of the sexual relationships into which he or she will be capable of entering.
The drama begins when that general boy-girl attraction leads to a more personal interest, to what is felt to be a particular affection. So much depends on what actually follows. In the measure of the nobility of what one feels to be a unique sort of friendship or an incipient love, each will realize that this love is accompanied by a physical attraction in which there is something self-centered and grasping that must be held in check lest selfishness undermine friendship or love.
It is not so difficult, but it is all-important, for young people to realize the difference between sexual desire and sexual love, between corporal attraction and personal affection. A boy can experience a growing fascination (which can easily become an obsession) with the feminine body in general. He may or may not realize how much he needs to control that fascination. The real test, the moment of truth, comes when he senses that he loves a particular girl. She too has a feminine body, but his love, even if it is no more than a passing friendship, can help him think, I like this girl; I like her too much to want to use her. One doesn't use a friend; one respects him or her [4].
With this we have formulated a main rule that holds good for friendship, and all the more so for love, and in particular for love between the sexes. True friendship, true love, respects the other. If it wants to take advantage or to use, it is no longer true; it is being corrupted by selfishness.
Love and sex
Sex is too important a matter in life to be simple. It is one of the most delicate realities we have to handle. It can be broken and, if it gets broken, it can break a life or several lives with it. Few things are more destructive than unregulated sex. This might seem to be a negative or an exaggerated judgment. Is it?
To think it out, let us put side by side two statements: "sex is good" and "there is nothing wrong with sex". These might seem to be two slightly different ways of saying the same thing. They are not.
Sex is good. Christianity not only accepts but defends the goodness of sex. But to say that sex is good is not the same as saying 'there is nothing wrong with sex'. That is a very different proposition. It is a proposition that no thinking person can maintain, any more than one can maintain that there is nothing wrong with human nature. Our human nature is good. But there are plenty of things wrong with it. Is there nothing wrong in our reactions of greed or anger or hatred or revenge?... No; whatever the reason (Christians say it is Original Sin), many of our instincts, good in themselves, so easily go wrong, even crazily and wildly wrong. Sex is one of them.
Sex, in its proper place, has a noble role to play in life, and a noble fulfilment in marriage. Yet sex is not easily kept in its proper place. Its proper place is one subordinated to love, controlled by love. But it takes all the best efforts of love - love for God and human love - to keep sex in its place. The fact is that sex is not easily subordinated to love or to anything. And insubordinate sex tends to be destructive of everything, especially of love.
Some distinctions
It can help to see this clearly if one remembers that, contrary to what some people seem to suggest today, sex and love are not the same thing. Far from it. Subordinated to love, as we have just noted, sex has a noble role. But sex that dominates, sex on its own, sex in isolation - what is properly called lust - is anything but noble and is very different to love. Sexual desire after all can be towards any attractive member of the other sex; sexual love is towards one in particular. Further points of contrast quickly suggest themselves:
- Love is generous; sex is selfish;
- Love seeks to give; sex, to take;
- Love wants to please; sex, to have pleasure;
- Even physically, love is gentle and tender; sex is rough and aggressive.
We could continue with the contrasts:
- Sex can be bought; love cannot;
- Love laughs, is light-hearted; sex is grim and intent;
- Love opens a person to the good of others; sex closes one up in one's own selfishness;
- An act expressive of love makes a person feel happy and uplifted; a sexual satisfaction (I repeat, I am speaking of sex isolated from love) leaves behind a sense of sadness and even of degradation.
So, people can be raised up by sex - by the attraction between the sexes - if they see and live it in the context of God's plan for personal maturity and for human love and marriage. Or people can be pulled down by sex, can become enslaved in selfish desire and so close themselves to the possibility of loving truly or of being truly loved.
Therefore not all sexual activity shows love or fosters love. We all have a general attraction towards the other sex. But when this attraction becomes particularized towards a concrete person, it is elementary - if one wants to know oneself and to know where one is going - to ask: is this an urge to love, to show my love for someone, or is it an urge to self-seeking and to use someone as a means to that end? If we do not ask this question, then we do not know ourselves and perhaps do not want to know ourselves.
Attraction and possession
Sexual attraction can be just bodily; then it is physical desire rather than love for the person. Physical sexual desire needs little or no time for development. It is quickly aroused and seeks immediate satisfaction. It wants possession of the body but involves no real commitment of the heart. It is fickle, it tends to change, it can lead to promiscuity.
But sexual attraction will also enter into what may be a true love. Now love, if it is to be more than mere infatuation, does need time to develop. It is love not just for the body but more importantly for the person, and the person can only be gradually known. The more a person worth loving is known, the more he or she will be loved. This is a process that necessarily takes time, but does not necessarily work out well. As the person is gradually known, he or she may turn out to be less lovable than one thought. Or as oneself is known, one may be discovered by the other as less lovable...
We all have defects. Only a vain person thinks he or she has no defects. And, at marriage, only a very superficial or immature person thinks his or her spouse has no defects. Marriage is always a love match between two defective people. That is precisely why enough love has to be there - has to be developed - before marriage, so that one can say, I love him or her with his or her defects, I think he or she loves me with my defects, and I also think that we can make a go of it nevertheless, and be happy together.
Up to the moment of marrying one is free to make the decision, No, I will not marry this person. This may be because one has discovered too many defects in the other. It may also be because one is too selfish and calculating oneself, and is not prepared to fight one's own defects sufficiently so as to make a go of a marriage with another defective person. Such a decision may be wise, inasmuch as it avoids what would inevitably be an unhappy marriage. Or it may be a huge mistake as missing the only marriage where one's own defective self would be loved by someone else.
Before marriage, then, there is need for a period over which love can be discerned, and can grow. That period is what is called courtship. The real enemy of growth in love during courtship is not so much defects of character as lack of mutual respect. This is the point we are getting at. Mutual respect, especially in physical sexuality, is the only framework within which love can grow. It is the condition for love to remain clear-sighted - clear-sighted enough, that is, to see if there is enough love between the two to last a lifetime. So, courtship is the time not so much for enjoying love, as for discovering love: to discover the extent and depth of love; and the capacity of each one to love. In a word, it is the time for giving love a chance to grow.
Precisely because the physical sexual attraction is easily awakened and easily grows in intensity, it must be recognized for what it is, treated firmly, and kept in its place. If given rein, it grows; a couple can feel strongly drawn to one another as if they were deeply in love; but if they marry based only on that, it may not last; for they never created the conditions in which mutual love and respect could grow.
Sexual intercourse, the natural expression of sexual love?
So we can now propose the main question: if intercourse in marriage is not only an expression of love but a means to make love grow, why should intercourse before marriage not equally be a means of expressing love and helping it to grow?
In the first place, marital intercourse, while licit, is not always an expression of love; it is not so when it is simply a means of self-satisfaction and not of self-giving. And in that case it does not help love to grow either - also because the other spouse will be aware of the dominant self-seeking involved. So it is not altogether true to say that sexual intercourse is the natural expression of human sexual love. It is the natural expression in certain circumstances, but not in others. To understand this is vital; and it is not too difficult to understand - if one really wants to. Let us try to spell the matter out.
There are many bodily ways of showing one's appreciation of another person. A negative appreciation is shown by a scowl or by turning one's back on him or her; a positive appreciation by a smile or a handshake, if it is sincere. Holding hands seems to go farther, just as a hug or a kiss is usually a sign of special affection [5]. An exceptionally warm handshake seems to say, "I am so glad to see you because you are someone very special to me; someone I feel I can count on; and I want you to know that you can count on me". Certain physical gestures of appreciation convey a lot, or else they are false and insincere.
What do two people show when they hold hands? Affection?; it could be. When they kiss? Even more affection?; it could also be. To engage in sexual intimacy surely signifies more than merely holding hands or kissing. What more does it show? And why does it show more? It shows more because it gives more: not just pleasure, but oneself. Hence, if it is mutual, it is the gift of two selves to each other and so is an act of union.
That is why it is a gift I would not give to anyone but only to someone very, very special. In the end I think I would only give myself to someone who is not only prepared to accept that gift of mine but is equally prepared to make me a similar gift of their self. Otherwise, I am giving too much in exchange for too little; and am poorer, much poorer, as a result.
No; genuine love between a man and a woman is never sufficiently expressed in mere sexual intercourse, because what love longs for is a union not just of bodies but of souls [6]. What true love desires is not merely to possess or enjoy this boy or girl, but to be united to him or her; and that means to give myself to him or her, receiving his or her gift of self in return. What a marvelous project this is: I give myself to someone and he or she to me, and we belong to each other...
We will belong to one another! She or he will belong to me, will be mine; and I hers or his. It is important for young people to dwell on the beauty and challenge of this aspiration of love; otherwise they may not be aware of a special modern difficulty standing in the way of the development of their love - which is not just a general disregard for chastity, but a generalized fear of commitment: a point we will enlarge upon in a few moments.
More on the relation between love and respect
Since two people are involved - me and him or her - a test of the experience of intimacy is to check whether it leaves me "closer" to the other, more appreciative of the other, with more regard for him or her, or with less? If there is less respect, then the "intimacy" has left us farther apart and not closer together. No real expression of love should have that consequence.
Firmness and quickness on the part of either one of the couple in cutting short something that they sense has begun to be self-seeking, is a deep sign of respect for the other. Rather than a refusal to express love, it is an expression of love. The opposite can be an expression of simple selfishness.
Respect, as we saw, remains the first test of love and friendship: love calls for respect. Lack of respect denies or undermines love. As we have said, this is a basic principle too of human sexual relations. Will my relationship with girls or boys be marked by respect (appreciation, admiration) or will it be one of use-exploitation [7]? Will it be outward-going, or turned in on myself? It is the alternative between love (learning gradually and with effort to love) and self-seeking (slumping quickly and easily into selfishness).
Here again, we can validate this by the standards of ordinary friendship. The first and most basic quality of friendship is desiring what is good for one's friend and if possible being an agent of that good for him or her. To have a friend whom one enjoys or uses or exploits, but does not respect, is not to have or not to be a friend. In the case of a more particular boy-girl relationship, the test of friendship retains its validity and becomes even more important. Applying this to my girl-friend or boy-friend: how much do I appreciate, admire, respect him or her? If such attitudes are lacking, then he or she is not a friend to me; or I am not a friend to him or her. We are just taking advantage of each other.
Girls need to know that while a woman, or at least some women, can admire a man even if he is graspingly sensual (she may still find in this a sign of masculinity), the opposite is not true. A man may indeed desire a sensual woman, but will never admire her; her sensuality is seen as a feminine defect. It is beside the point for the radical feminist to rail at this, as if it "handicapped" the woman. Behind the sexual psychology involved is the fact that men expect women to be better - to be "purer" - and in their hearts despise the woman who is not.
"Giving" excludes casual lending-borrowing
Intercourse means giving, not just lending. One can lend oneself for a day or a night, or indefinitely - until I take myself back; since a loan is always something one can reclaim. That is not the way with a gift. One gives oneself for keeps. Otherwise there is no real giving. How does one love? Temporarily, tentatively, or for always? What does human nature look for? A provisional, trial friendship or love that I can never really rely on because it may be taken back at any moment - and then I find myself once more friendless or loveless? Is that what one really wants? Are tentative affairs all that I want, all that I trust?
One only gives oneself to someone very special. Do I want to have someone very special in my life, so special that I am ready to give to him or her what I would give to no one else? Or do I just not care about being that special to anyone, or to have someone that special to me? The "I just don't care" approach can be dressed up here in an apparent self-sufficiency - "I prefer independence". But it really means, "I don't mind loneliness", because that is what it leads to and where it ultimately leaves a person. Is that what one wants?
And yet, wanting it or not, is this not the situation in which many young people find themselves today? More isolated as a result of sharing an "intense" experience with someone else. Intense experiences of self-satisfaction do not overcome solitude. Only deep experiences of sharing and giving can do that. The experience of casual sex may be intense but it is not deep; it is passing and superficial. It leaves the individual isolated because he or she has reduced what should be a great human experience to an intoxicating but trivial one. Then one has nothing to look forward to except more of the same, progressively more enslaved to experiences that leave one's life progressively more empty and meaningless.
"Safe sex" has become a catchword today. But what the sexual relationship most needs to be made safe against is selfishness. "Selfish sex" is so easy and so destructive. Self-centered sex tends to violence in man, and to exploitation in woman; brute instinct in man, and calculating vanity in woman. Both are formidable enemies to love. Any yielding to selfishness lessens a person's capacity to love, slows them down in the process of learning to love, and encloses them more and more in isolation.
To give oneself, one must possess oneself
One cannot make a gift unless one has something to give. Every girl who gives herself lightly knows that she has thrown away her virginal self. And in return for what? That virginity, the physical sign and proof that a girl has kept herself whole so as to give herself integrally and definitively, is now no longer hers to offer as the pledge and proof of her definitive gift of self. She has radically devalued herself in her own sight and in the sight of any man who may eventually marry her. It is of course true that a man can similarly devalue himself. But it is nature's way that the woman has to pay her own devaluation at a higher cost.
Can a marriage between two non-virginal persons never work out well? It can; but only if the couple are able to generate marital love of such generous quality as to dispel the sense of second-handedness marking their first marital encounter, the sense of making and accepting an already used gift. That second-hand sense always accompanies a marital union which has been preceded by sex with a third party. But the cheapening consequences are also inevitable if the marriage is non-virginal because the couple have engaged in pre-marital sex between themselves. They can never have the absolutely unique experience of two people who in their courtship have so loved and respected one another as to keep themselves totally, precisely in order to give themselves fully and for the first time - that experience proper to the wedding night, which more than anything else confirms the seal of true, faithful, and exclusive love and hallows each of the spouses before the other. The marriage of a couple who have been 'loose' before their wedding can never have that experience or be so sealed. Will they ever be able to achieve that deep reverence for one another and for the marital act when their approach to marriage had been marked by such little understanding of the mystery of sex and such little respect for one another?
'Trial' commitments. Fear of commitment
As we mentioned above, a mood dominates our modern outlook that must be overcome if one is to find the fullness of happiness which love seems to offer; that mood is the prevalent fear of commitment. It is a major threat to self-giving love. Modern man is afraid of commitment because it seems to imply renouncing one's freedom. Unless he overcomes this prejudice his "freedom" is useless, because he will never be able to make worthwhile choices, or to stick by them. To be afraid of commitment is to be afraid of freedom itself. It shows a mind which finds nothing worth choosing or a will incapable of sticking by a worthwhile choice; or both. In any case such a person remains incapable of true self-giving. He is afraid of love, whereas what he needs to be afraid of is selfishness. Love opens one up to new horizons and challenges of generosity, happiness, communion. Selfishness, the inability to love and to break out of oneself, leaves a person in growing isolation, centering in ever-diminishing circles around themselves [8].
There is a pervading philosophy or attitude in our present-day culture which promotes "independence" against commitment, that is, against "belonging" or mutual dependence, and hence against marriage. Anyone contemplating marriage today needs to understand this and to clarify their own stance on the issue of "freedom vs. commitment". The person who always wants the "freedom to be free", will never be free to love, for no one is truly "in love" unless they want to commit themselves in love. How can one claim "to be in love" if one is resolved "to walk out of love" as soon as loving the other person becomes a bit difficult? Then at the most, one is "in love" with oneself, and in danger of remaining trapped in love for oneself: in the most miserable and isolated form of love which so easily turns into self-contempt and even self-hatred. To be isolated in self-hatred; it sounds like hell, doesn't it? Indeed, unless overcome, it is its anticipation.
It is not good for man to be alone; or to "half-give" himself. Hence derives the radically unsatisfying and frustrating nature of "quasi-marital" ties: namely, where there is no binding commitment. I refer here not to simple promiscuity but to couples who want some sort of semi-conjugal relationship, in which there will be a certain sense of belonging to each other; but not definitively, always with a way out.
Such a relationship is something so much less than marriage that a couple experimenting with it are not likely ever to marry; or if they do, their marriage is not likely to last. Their approach is too flawed. Each one remains fundamentally his or her own project; there is no shared enterprise. "I" rather than "we" remains the reference point and center for each. The other is never regarded as more than a "trial" partner; good for something but not worth really committing oneself to.
Here there is no real giving of self; each one only lends to the other, gives only in part. Their subsequent lives can seldom shake off the feeling that I have never found anyone worth giving myself to; or I have never been capable of giving myself; or perhaps simply: I have never been accepted; nobody ever thought me worth accepting unconditionally [9].
People who do not love cannot find love; people who do not give themselves cannot find themselves. The way of quasi-commitment is a way of self-frustration. There you don't give anything. You "pawn" yourself; and so you can always "redeem yourself". But at what a cost! For what you redeem is a devalued self, and the more often you pawn, the more devalued is the self you reclaim and take back.
"Love between man and woman would be evil, or at least incomplete, if it went no farther than love as desire. For love as desire is not the whole essence of love between persons. It is not enough to long for a person as a good for oneself, one must also, and above all, long for that person's good" [10]. That is why there is so little love in cohabitation: I will live with you (but not for you) as long as you seem to be good for me.
Sexuality and its complications remain an unresolved mystery to the person who does not understand that the man-woman relationship is marred and constantly threatened by lust. Lust is what is most to be feared in sexuality, bearing in mind that lust is not to be equated simply with the sexual appetite and less still with sexual attraction. It is that unregulated and self-centered aspect of sexual desire that of its very nature is an enemy of love [11].
Lust is not to be identified with the simple desire for or the experience of sexual pleasure in conjugal intercourse. Lust is the self-absorbed, dominant, and assertive desire just for that pleasure in itself. Lust is a wholly self-centered force. It is not a desire for true conjugal union and for the pleasure with which God has wished to endow that physical act of giving self and accepting the other; it is an obsessive desire for the pleasure of intercourse as an end in itself. If what is sought is the pleasure of the act, and not also its significance, then the relationship is dominated by lust. Married couples are the first who need to realize this. Then they are in a position to deepen their mutual love, not by abstaining from marital intercourse but by a constant work of purifying their experience of it, so that the joy of mutual self-donation and union is of greater importance than the satisfaction of simple physical appetite [12].
Only the fact of being bonded together in marriage empowers two people to gradually purify whatever self-seeking is present in their intercourse, and so endow their love with the sense of generous self-giving and of mutual respect in the absence of which love simply cannot grow. Two people who are not married but engage in intercourse may love each other - for the time being - but their intercourse shows a surrender to weakness and to lust rather than any expression of true love. Not being committed to one another, the love of each is utilitarian: I use him, I use her - for my own satisfaction. Such an uncommitted love remains fundamentally self-centered. It is destined to die because, without commitment, a person never chooses any love that is worthwhile. All they choose is a feeling, a mood, a simulation of love that does not go deep enough to mature or to last.
I recall a marriage case in which the woman testified to a main reason which attracted her initially to her eventual husband: "he never made you feel he was only after your body; he wanted to be friends. That's important today, too: not to feel you only have a body". It is an important question throughout courtship: Is it only my body he or she is interested in? Is it mainly my body? And what interests me mainly in him or her? If one cannot distinguish between love and lust, one will be hard put to answer those questions.
The "family project"
It is difficult to prepare well for marriage and to look on it in all its greatness if it is regarded simply as the union of two persons who may 'suit' each other. Marriage is meant to be much more than finding a travelling companion who can hopefully secure the journey of life from being too lonely. It is a whole project of building the future; of joy at the prospect of carrying on the work of creation in union with someone else. If a couple's idea of marriage does not expand out into that of a "family project", then they are stuck within small horizons and lack the prospect of being founding fathers of a new world.
What a poor mentality is shown by the one who rejects the family project! "I am not interested in future generations, in people who may come after me, not even in those who could be a continuation of me, of my effort, of my dedication, of my worth as a person, of my love". But then, what am I interested in? In me? - in such a worthless me? Yes, then it is sadly logical that I should not want to perpetuate my valueless life. But, is that life of mine inexorably without values? Could I not change?
It is only natural to want to do something of worth with one's life. Marriage used to be considered the common, and yet individual, worthwhile adventure to which each one is called; and a large part of one's adolescent life was guided by the sense of preparing for such a sacred venture. There was a sense of greatness in this preparation: the greatness of preparing oneself to share life with someone one can trust, to be someone who can oneself be trusted, to found a family, to continue the work of creation... There was and is a good pride here - that the pusillanimous person can indeed turn his or her back on, and then be left with all the sadness of having had no ideals.
Some years ago a night-school teacher who found one of his students very down, referred him to me. I talked with him a couple of times. Indeed he was down. It was hard to find any spark of life or ambition in him. Finally, perhaps in a moment of impatience, I asked him, "But man, don't you have any ideals?" He hesitated - but then answered, "No". A bit taken aback, perhaps by the directness of the answer, I asked him again: "But, doesn't that seem sad to you?" His answer, once more after a pause, was just as direct: "Yes".
How much a No and a Yes can say about a life. Perhaps if more people today asked themselves the question, "what ideals do I have in my life?" and answered sincerely, they would be in a better position to grasp the real value of their lives, and the prospect of real emptiness that may be facing them.
[1] Drawn from a new chapter in the latest edition of the author's "Covenanted Happiness".
[2] It is through a process of discovering that one cannot always have one's own way, however much one wants to, a process of having quarrels, making up, giving and taking, that a child gradually learns to share, and so to be a friend, and to make and keep friends.
[3] The Harry Potter series points up a lot of this. At the start Harry, Ron, and Hermione are particular friends. Two boys who "share" the same girl-friend; and one girl who has two boy-friends. Of course, later in the series the relationship changes.
[4] Persons are not meant to be used but to be loved or at least respected; sexual use is one of the worst modes and quickest ways of degrading personal relations.
[5] It is true today that we have become prodigal in kissing almost everyone, even complete strangers. It is also true that signs of affection, once overdone, become banalized. The indiscriminate giving to everyone of very special signs of affection, is either of saints or of people with a superficial sense of human relations.
[6] The latter is what shows a real union between persons. Whoever reduces the sexual relationship to a union of bodies without a union of souls will never marry - or will fail in marriage - , for marriage can only be properly understood and successfully undertaken precisely as a joining of two separate persons in a unity of mutual self-giving, dependence and common undertaking.
[7] "the desire to use another person is fundamentally incompatible with love": Karol Wojtyla: Love and Responsibility, p. 124; "There is a fundamental contradiction between 'loving' and 'using' a person" ibid. p. 231.
[8] "Love consists of a commitment which limits one's freedom - it is a giving of the self, and to give oneself means just that: to limit one's freedom on behalf of another. Limitation of one's freedom might seem to be something negative and unpleasant, but love makes it a positive, joyful and creative thing. Freedom exists for the sake of love. If freedom is not used, is not taken advantage of by love, it becomes a negative thing and gives human beings a feeling of emptiness and unfulfilment" K. Wojtyla: Love and Responsibility, 135.
[9] Psychiatric studies show that the choice to live together, instead of marrying, easily induces deep-rooted anxiety and insecurity: for example, see Nadelson-Notman: "To Marry or Not to Marry: a Choice": American Journal of Psychiatry, 138 (1981), p. 1354.
[10] Karol Wojtyla: Love and Responsibility, 83.
[11] cf. C. Burke: "A Postscript to the 'Remedium Concupiscentiae'", The Thomist 70 (2006): 481-536 (
[12] cf. "A Postscript...", p. 525-529.