In a dating relationship, how far is too far?

Ahhh, the ever-popular “how far is too far question?” If I had to list the top three questions I get from our website or even at events, this one would definitely make the cut. I personally don’t think there is one hard and fast answer that is true for everyone when it comes to this question.

Depending on whom you ask, some Christians will say kissing is too far, while yet, others say it is anything beyond the kiss. The real question is at what point do you personally, hit the point of no return? For many, it is possible to draw the line at kissing and resist the temptation to want to go beyond that. Some may find it very difficult to stop at just a kiss and will need to draw the line before that. I would highly suggest some basic rules to ensure that you don’t cross the line. Don’t put yourself in situations where you will be alone with your boyfriend for extended periods of time. No lying down next to each other. No snuggling under covers. Also, there’s a big difference between “kissing” and “making out.” A “kiss” is more like the punctuation at the end of a sentence. “Making out” is an open-ended sentence that invites a variety of different endings.

Now, I realize many of you are reading this and thinking, C’mon, lady—do you know how hard it would be to draw the line at a kiss? I do. And I realize that very few of you will have a 100 percent success rate in doing so. Survey results back it up: Christian or not, our bodies are wired to desire physical intimacy and to say no is a difficult challenge for many. However, in spite of what the culture implies, we are not sex-craved animals that must satisfy the urges within. Another challenge in the battle to remain pure (and one that I hear few Christians address) is the fact that the average age of marriage continues to increase over the years for both men and women.

In Bible times, it was not uncommon for teens to marry very young. It is speculated that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was as young as fourteen to sixteen years old when she gave birth. Today, the average age of marriage is nearly twenty-six for women and twenty-eight for men. It makes you wonder if the same God, who gives us raging hormones in our teen years (in order that it would encourage us to marry and bear children), ever intended that we wait almost a decade longer (or more) to enjoy sex. Food for thought. I am certainly not suggesting that this gives teens permission to go for it when it comes to sexual activity. Nor, am I suggesting that you get married in your teen years. I am, however, suggesting that we question our culture’s mentality of delayed marriage into the mid-late twenties and beyond.

If you are asking the question “How far is too far?” let me give you a list of some things you might want to avoid to help you in the battle to stay pure:

  • dating a guy who doesn’t hold your same values and beliefs,

  • dating a guy who doesn’t have the same boundary line and respect your boundary line,

  • being alone with your boyfriend for extended periods of time,

  • watching shows and movies that depict sex and sexual activity as a recreational hobby,

  • reading sexually suggestive books (romance novels and smutty teen fiction like Gossip Girls), and

  • not having a firm game plan for where your boundary line is—figure it out on the front end rather than after the fact!

Here are some things you will need if you are to stand up to the challenge:

  • prayer (on a regular basis); pour your heart out to God and keep the lines of communication open. Tell him you are struggling . . . ask him to help you remain pure.

  • accountability: tell at least one Christian friend or mentor where your boundary line is and ask them to check in with you to see how you’re doing. Also, ask them to pray for you.

  • time spent in God’s Word on a regular basis: this is where your strength will come from—without it, your tank will eventually run dry.

Regardless of when (or if) you marry, God expects you to maintain your sexual purity. It is not impossible to draw a boundary that is pleasing to God and stick with it. No, it will not be easy. Yes, some of you may slip up along the way, but this does not mean you grow callous to sexual sin and continue in that sin. It’s never too late to do the right thing.

Written by: Vicki Courtney

B&H Publishing Group grants permission to use this excerpt as originally printed in the book Teen Virtue Confidential c. 2007.

Comments (19)


Thanks that was very helpful.

Heather :

Thank you for that helpful info. I know where my boundary line is and the tips for me to stay pure. I need to read my bible more often. So thank you. this opened my eyes and made me see where i am with god in my life. Much Love to yah


Thank you so much for this. I wished i would have read this a long time ago. Not that I;m not a virgin or anything but it definitely wouldve helped with other things.
God Bless


this was a little bit helpful but i still have a few questions. i have the magazine on this one. i got it for christmas. but i am still concerned cuz my boyfriend and i are both pure but we both are having issues with staying that way. we have set boundaries and they are good. but we still slip every now and then. idk wat i should do. can neone help me?


I know what you mean. Even though my BF and I have talked openly about our boundries I know we both still feel the pull to break them and it just seems to get harder.We try not to be alone for long periods of time. And if we are alone and start to feel like we might do something we will regret we make the best effort to go do something else like something fun(go for a run, the mall, movies)or something where other people are around.Another thing is that talking about our boundries once was not enough. Either he or I bring it up every once in a while to see how the other one has been feeling about our decisions. This keeeps the lines open.But man its hard.


I was told this litmus test of how far is too far..

Ask yourself:
would I want my future husband to have done this with another girl before I married him?

would I be willing to tell my future husband that I did this with another man?

In other words, save the physical stuff for the one you are going to marry, what a wonderful wedding gift!

Pamela :

I'm out of my teen years, and married now. I will admit that this area is tough for everyone. The man I married is the second guy I dated. I had to tell him some things I had done with the first boyfriend that made me burn with embarrassment and regret because they don't disappear from your memory, both mentally and physically when you get married. Another interesting thing I discovered is that once you do get married, you realize that there was a lot of trust-setting during your dating season. After you're married, you still feel attraction to other guys - I didn't expect that. Knowing that about myself, I realize it's true also for my husband. Was he trustworthy while we dated? It establishes trustworthiness after you choose who you're going to be committed to for your lifetime. If you both toed the line of sexual danger, how can you trust that you both won't repeat that same behavior when marriage hits it's inevitable challenging points?


hi, i learned a lot in this article though i would want to know more about how one can avoid getting in that poistion. Or even more once you are in that poistion how to stop what you think might happen. Thanks for the positive writing!

Confused person:

so is hugging too far?


Hugging is not too far! I hug almost everyone that i know! hugging is a great way to tell someone how much you mean to them.


How far is too far...

To far is what you would not be willing to tell your future partner/husband.
To far is what you would not want to hear from him bout his past relationships..


im a 15 year old girl who grew up in a church and always was told to wait. i started dating an older guy who didnt wait. i lowered my standards and didnt wait and now i feel horrible. then 2 weeks after i gave in he broke up with me. i dont know where to turn next. can you help me?

Samuel :

Let us first put aside all opinios and look to The WORD. ICorinthian 7:1 says;"It is good for a man not to TOUCH a woman. The greek translation of the word touch means to "light fire". So any sensual touch that ignite the fire of passion must and is commanded to be avoided. Mediphysically 'kissing' is the greatest fire lighter known. I'm in a hurry though. I'll have to come back with the rest. GOD bless.


ive only had two boyfriends in my life, my first i dated 6 months and didnt get a single hug from him. he held my hand only thrice the entire time we dated. my second and current boyfriend gave me my first kiss on the very first date. a double date even. we're affetionate with each other, but we've never gone past kissing. we've been together for 2 months now and i dont know what his boundries are especially since im always the one to break the kiss. i have no clue how far he expects me to go with him and ive been too afraid to ask. ive made boundries for myself (no making out) but i have no idea whatsoever how to bring up the boundries chat or if i want to! i know i should but im scared of what hes going to say. hes a good christian boy and i know he really loves me but he doesnt really talk about his past girlfriend. i know hes a good guy. any advice on how to bring up drawing a line without it sounding weird? and am i jumping into this relationship too fast?


Thanks for the advice but I still have some questions. Would if I date a guy that is prefect for me and he is Christ like but he can't handle just one kiss and stuff? Or he has had past relationships that didn't have ANY boundaries but he says he has changed. And he says he has new boundaries. How do I know for sure? Also would if I have a urge to go a little farther then kissing with my boyfriend but I know Its to far. What can I do to stop the temptation in that moment? Walk away, pray with the boyfriend, or talk to him about how I feel and see what he thinks?


To hello.

I have struggled with the same thing as you, setting personal boundaries but breaking them. The best thing for you to do is tell the boy you are with what your limits are before you get out into a compromising situation. Remember God does not put temptation in your life especially in the matter of love and relationships. If your boyfriend says he does not have boundaries or believe in them that is when you need to seriously pray to God seeing if this is the correct man for you.

In all never ever lower your standards for any boy, because you are a precious jewel of God's that should not have to settle for second best.


I'm 18, but the guy I'm dating is my first boyfriend. I'm also his first girlfriend, he'll be 18 in a few months. We both go to church, but we know each other from school. We've been going out for 4 months.

I feel like my parents aren't guiding me very firmly in what my dating relationship means. It's possible that they think we're just having fun together, but it's more than that. I really like him, and he uses the word love but I don't know if he really should...

Anyways, there have been a few times in our relationship already where we've gone a little far with kissing. A day or two later, I bring it up, and we agree that it was too far, and it doesn't happen again for 5-6 weeks... We don't cross any serious lines, but maybe we should set those up now and not later.

I don't know where the absolute line should be... I know that anywhere past "first-base" is wrong, but where on first-base should we stand?

And how do I talk to him about stuff like "love" and where the relationship is going? Unfortunately, we're going to the same college, but it's christian so that might help...


thank you vicki for writing this article. it's an amazing issue! you did help me out to think in a million times.You know i am so deeply inlove with my boyfriend right now! and I really value my self more than sex but I am struggling in maintaining my purity.. but then i am so thankful because my boyfriend and i talked about our boundaries when it comes to enganging ourselves to sex...

Thanks alot..


I'm not going to lie, I seem to be struggling with this issue right now in my life-and I am only Seventeen.

I grew up in a Catholic School and was taught up until eighth grade how to live life the Christian way. When I turned fifteen I switch to a public high school and life has changed dramatically. One of my closest friends whom I met when I was very young now wants a sexual relationship and is unsure that she believes in God anymore. She had always been my consultant on "how far is too far" with EVERYTHING and I am unsure where to turn for advice now.

This site has been udderly helpful. I have set boundries with my current boyfriend who is Lutheran and has a wonderful christian background. He regualarly attends church, a youth group and a bible study. (I'm extremely happy and frankly proud of my choice in a boy.) He has also made it clear with me what his expectations are and said if either of us tries any funny business we need to end it because we're going too far.

I will admit that we do have make out sessions that last sometimes long period of times but neither of us are willing to go any farther.
My question is, is this too far?

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