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Single Living

“Well I blew $326 on a plane ticket to Michigan that I didn’t need this weekend. What’s new with everybody else?”

At least five or six spoons stopped stirring cream into coffee at Greg’s outburst about his weekend financial loss. It was a beautiful spring Saturday morning, and half a dozen or so single Catholics from my hometown had congregated at a locally owned breakfast spot for our weekly dose of caffeine, fellowship, and Jake’s famous pancakes.

“Gee I’m sorry to hear that Greg,” remarked Susan politely. “Could you tell us what happened?”

Greg didn’t need much prompting to unfold his story.

Some weeks prior, Greg had met a girl on Catholic Match who greatly piqued his interest. She was smart, funny, attractive, had answered the interview questions and 7 faith questions in her CM profile all the right way….and the icing on the cake: she and Greg seemed to hit it off famously. They had enjoyed wonderful phone and email conversations over the past several weeks, and had decided they didn’t want to wait a long time to meet each other in person. They checked their calendars and picked a weekend a few weeks away that was wide open for both of them. Greg then purchased a plane ticket and confirmed their first face-to-face visit.

The next few weeks were even better than the past few weeks of getting to know each other. Great conversations, lots of laughs, so much in common…they could hardly wait for their weekend meeting.

Everything seemed perfect until about four days before Greg was supposed to head to the airport.

During an evening phone conversation, Greg mentioned that he needed to look into hotel options close to the woman’s home. “Do you have any suggestions?” he asked. Her reply caught him completely off guard: “You’re going to stay here at my house – why in the world would you want to get a hotel when I’ve got an extra bedroom? They are so expensive!”

What followed was the first and last argument they had together. Greg respectfully told her that he didn’t think it was prudent for them to stay in the same home, especially since they had never met. She came back with a reality check on the economy, the price of gas and plane tickets, and how paying for hotels on top of everything else was absolutely ridiculous and out of the question. He told her that it’s a lot of temptation for a guy to sleep over at the home of a woman he’s interested in…she told him he’s a prude who needs to wake up in the 21st century. No matter how much they discussed it, they couldn’t find common ground or a compromise.

“So I decided that it was better to eat the $300 or so I spent on the ticket and not get any more involved in what I very well knew was a dead end,” Greg finished.

After a few seconds of shocked silence, what followed was one of the most interesting conversations I’ve had with a group of single folks in a long time. Up to that point, I hadn’t realized how many different opinions Catholic singles have about whether or not it’s okay to spend the night in each other’s homes or apartments.

On the “pro” side, I’ve heard reasons such as:

• We’re not teenagers, we’re adults – so it’s different

• The economy is tough – we simply cannot afford hotels

• I don’t have any friends he or she could stay with, so it has to be at my house

• It’s not like we’re cohabiting or anything – it’s just a night or two at a time

• We’re both conservative, orthodox Catholics – we wouldn’t mess around

• I lock my door when I go to bed and she locks hers – and we don’t share the same bathroom

• Sleeping over is okay as long as there’s a third person there to hold you accountable

• We’ve been sleeping over at each other’s houses since we started our long distance relationship over a year ago – and we’ve never had any problems

• The Catechism and the Bible don’t explicitly condemn sleeping over at each other’s houses in separate rooms – why are you trying to make me more Catholic than the pope?

And the “con” arguments I’ve encountered include:

• Sleeping over is putting yourself in the near occasion of sin

• It causes scandal in your neighborhood and in the Christian community

• I’m a guy and I can tell you – it puts an incredible amount of stress on the guy fighting tempting thoughts and actions

• You might be strong the first couple times, but as you fall in love and become more attached and your guard wears down, it gets harder and harder

• Are you trying to explode an atomic bomb or just set off a Boston-style Independence Day display?

• If someone’s willing to compromise on this, what else are they willing to compromise that I don’t know about yet?

• Proverbs 16:17-18 “The highway of the upright turns aside from evil; he who guards his way preserves his life. Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

It’s easy to become indignant, insulted, or become defensive with a topic that hits so close to home for so many single Catholics who are in relationships. It’s a practical topic that can quickly become a point of contention and division between many very good, very well-intentioned, very Christian people.

So what’s the answer to the “is it okay to sleep over” question?

It’s neither my desire nor my place to pontificate “the answer” to this question. Greater, wiser minds than mine should be consulted. All I can offer you is my own experience and my own thoughts on the topic – and give you some food for thought to wrestle with this question yourselves, in your minds and hearts, and perhaps in the CM forums.

Peter and I met on Catholic Match in January 2008. He lived in Pennsylvania, and my home is in South Carolina. I often tease Peter that I really didn’t qualify to be his girlfriend since I lived outside the 60 mile radius he had requested in his CM profile – in fact, I lived almost 10 times that distance away from him. Peter and I have been a plane ride or a very long car trip away from each other ever since we met. I think we both feel like we’ve poured every extra penny into the travel fees that make our long distance relationship possible.

Shortly after we paid our first plane ticket and hotel room bills, Peter shared with me that his goal was for us never to sleep under the same roof until, if it was God’s will, we would be husband and wife. On one level, I was extremely impressed. I’ve met a lot of guys that were willing to live up to (what I thought were) high standards for purity in a relationship, but I had rarely met a guy who had taken my “bar” and raised it much higher. It felt really really good to be cherished and respected by a man who was willing to go to such great lengths to protect and honor me.

I shamefully admit, however, that on another level I was secretly irked. Even when I flew up to Pennsylvania to visit Peter, he would insist on me staying at one of his sisters’ houses while he stayed with his parents, or vice versa. Surely, I thought, it would be okay if we both stayed at his parent’s house, in separate bedrooms and on separate floors, with a bunch of other people in the house! But even under those circumstances, Peter preferred driving me over to a sibling’s home or renting a hotel room.

As our relationship has progressed and our love has matured, I have come to understand how prudent and wise Peter’s behavior has been. As we’ve grown closer over the past year, we have fallen in love and our attraction to each other has escalated, not tempered. Sleeping under the same roof, especially if we were the only ones in the house, would be like dumping a few extra gallons of gasoline on an already raging fire. I am fully and humbly aware that even though I consider myself strong in faith and conviction, I am incredibly “weak” when it comes to my attraction to Peter. I am confident that without having prudent barriers in place, we could easily get burned.

Barriers and high standards have protected and sheltered our relationship in a profound way, but they have also increased our love and respect for each other, and also our freedom to love each other purely. I can honestly share that I’d rather be as poor as a church mouse without spending the night at each other’s houses rather than having a little extra cash for dinner dates and more plane tickets to see each other. It’s a small sacrifice that has reaped enormous benefits in our relationship. Looking back, I believe it’s the #1 decision, besides choosing to put God first, that we’ve made for our relationship.

Over a year ago I began collecting the plastic key cards used to unlock hotel rooms we’ve purchased. Peter scolds me that you’re supposed to turn them in at the front desk the next morning, but I’ve been collecting them anyway. It’s a reminder to me of a sacrifice of love that has opened my eyes to something very beautiful. And one day, sometime in the future, I have this dream of giving Peter a stack of plastic hotel key cards, tied with a ribbon and a little note that just says: “thank you.”


Stephanie Wood is the coordinator of NextWave Faithful, a young adult division of

Family Life Center International

that seeks to motivate, equip, and encourage young adults during
their “transition years” to live faithful lives for Jesus Christ and
His Church. She is the host of “NextWave Live” on the EWTN Global
Catholic Radio Network, and is a frequent speaker and writer on topics
relating to Catholicism and young adult life. Stephanie can be reached
at stephanie@catholicmatch.com

(This post has been read 5,552 times)

33 Comments

  1. Randy-312891 June 2, 2009

    Wonderful article, thanks for sharing and God Bless you and Peter.

  2. Katie-176407 June 2, 2009

    Very interesting points made in that article.
    I have been there myself with my LDR. However we have chosen to take the path of staying in separate rooms. When he flies down here to arizona, he has my room and I bunk with a sibling. When I fly to maryland, he has his own house with 4 bedrooms, so I simply stay in one of the guest bedrooms.
    What's more, with the economy and all, I will be moving in with him in about a year or so. We plan on being engaged at that time and I will be still staying in a separate bedroom.
    I was NOT comfortable with that scenario at all at first! I am a very religious person and too worried about putting myself in a near occasion of sin, etc.
    The convincing factor? Came from my father….no really! Most people would not assume ANY FATHER, especially my father who is a very catholic man, would be okay with his daughter living with another man. But he put it to me this way, "I fear for your safety. You are moving from a small rural town in AZ over 2,000 miles to a big city in MD. You don't know your way around, and since you're a nurse and often work late shifts, I fear for you coming home late at night to a dark apartment building. We have no family out there, but I consider your beau family now. I would much much rather have you stay with him as I know you will be looked out for, loved, and taken care of."
    My mom who is also super catholic agreed. And when I had spoken this over with my beau he had the same sentiments. It's a safety issue as well as an economic issue. Besides even if I happen to find an apartment near him (which there aren't many) I would be spending most of my time with him anyways…after all I am only moving cross country for him!
    Will there be temptations? Oh indeed. They are always there. But we are going to do everything in our power to stay chaste until we get married…we've succeeded 18 months already and although we are more in love than we ever were, we are committed to keeping each other chaste. We will make this work.

  3. Adriana-448920 June 10, 2009

    Great article, it is nice to hear that there a still people out there that cherish chastity! Truly encouraging and amazing in this day and age. Best of luck to you and Peter.

  4. NinaGemma-445501 June 11, 2009

    it is one enlightening article. thank you for sharing it.

  5. Bonnie-305136 June 15, 2009

    I am so happy to know that there are men out there that are really committed to their faith. My experience has been that the men attempt to see me as a prude for not wanting to cross similar lines. I pray to meet someone truly committed as the men who have written in. How fortunate these women are.

  6. Ralph-282099 June 18, 2009

    I think in an era of one side or the other trying to get someone in bed to even have a conversation like this is intersting. Unfortunately, I am not that pure. I know it is wrong but I need the intimacy. My problem is that after our special time I start to think…now what? How unfair I have been to this women who does not need to be hurt. I am over 62 so I think things are different now. My mind walks on egg shells. Each time I see things a little different.

  7. MaryBeth-278310 June 18, 2009

    Stephanie — this is an AWESOME article. Thanks for writing it!!!

  8. Thelma-450181 June 20, 2009

    Awesome Article!!!!

  9. Belinda-123775 June 24, 2009

    Great article. This all comes down to respect and what level of respect for a forum where one never knows what one's going to get!

  10. Ray-455918 June 29, 2009

    :faint:

  11. Charlain-366991 June 29, 2009

    I am happy to see that there are men that think the same way as many women.

  12. Phyllis-459292 July 7, 2009

    Do I dare to dream to find a man with such strong beliefs….? :crossfingers:

  13. Tammy-397262 July 21, 2009

    I wish I could meet someone like your Peter. God bless you and thank you for sharing with us this article. Just what I needed to know..

  14. Robert-3483 September 2, 2009

    Although I like the concept of not staying under the same roof until marriage, the practice of virtues: prudence, temperance, fortitude, justice, faith, hope, and love… can result in flexibility in both directions — as long as you're not fooling yourself.
    Sometimes it can be a matter of pride and self-love to be so duty-minded. If duty is our strictest moral good, then love is not. I do really appreciate the wishes of avoiding all contact and bedding under the same roof. It is my wish also.
    Dealing with a sick and outcasted female during World Youth Day in Sydney, I had to stay nearby and make sure things were ok for the whole night. This violated my tendency to strict avoidance behavior. It also reminds me of my wish to avoid kissing, hugs, or dancing with a woman until I was married. (See jewish laws of modesty and Wendy Shalit's books) I've been in situations where I ended up hurting others out of my pride rather than engaging in a simple and wholesome family event.
    In each and every situation, you have to PRAY… ask God with your HEART. What should do I with your Grace? Be honest with yourself and God, and go from there. If doubt, see confessor or spiritual director. PRAYING and RELATIONSHIP with God is a real thing and constant need. Rules can't always work on their own in the practice of prudence, temperance, fortitude, justice, faith, hope, and love.
    As much as I love the concept of total avoidance of certain things until I was married, I have been in situations where it would be contrary to God's grace and love to be so duty minded.
    So, yes, I would prefer a hotel or other accommodations on my own rather than being under the same roof. But God can provide situations, like World Youth Day, where you have to be like family and treat your neighbor sincerely as your sister or your brother, the child of God that they are.

  15. Michelle-176368 September 3, 2009

    I definitely agree with the belief that saving "same house slumber" is good for after marriage. If one but simply recalls that a married couple is to image the relationship of the trinity, than one can safely assume that an unmarried couple should do the same. A couple should become an image of the church to those around and simply having a significant others car parked in the driveway over night may lead some to assume things about the "christian" couple across the street. This of course would do a terrible injustice to the two and the church who they are a part of. Not to say that reputation is everything, or that people have a right to think such things, but I know as a Catholic Christian it is my goal to be a teacher of my faith to the world, both in speech and action. It has always been a fear of mine to disappoint anyone and especially to allow my actions to turn anyone away from the faith or have misconceptions about the reality of being authentically Catholic Christian. I would also prefer that should I ever marry, my future husband should be of the same mind.

  16. Lourdes-441340 September 3, 2009

    Wow!!! If you really want something best, you should achieve it for the best. God is the best and he deserve the best of us!!! Thank you, this articule is the best experiences to learn to be authentical in Gods way!

  17. Joseph-153375 September 4, 2009

    It doesn't matter what we think, the choice was not ours to make.

  18. Kevin-45953 September 5, 2009

    Relationships have enough difficulties not of your own making to add potential complications of your own making. I take the "no unneeded drama approach" :)

  19. Katherine-80103 September 5, 2009

    "Thou shalt NOT steal!!!!! I don't think a gentleman who's gone to that much trouble to do the right thing, will be pleased when presented with your dishonorable gift.

  20. Katie-398279 September 8, 2009

    Sorry Dell, but holiness is holiness. Regardless of the shifting paradigms one chooses to live in, there is a right way and a wrong way to approach this kind of issue.
    I really appreciate this article, Stephanie. Its truly inspiring. Its difficult to maintain those boundaries that are healthy in a relationship, but definitely worth the sacrifice in the long run. And I don't think those key cards really cost much, or the hotels would charge you. [quote]

  21. Careese-449851 September 12, 2009

    Could some plastic cards be purchased somewhere with the name of the hotel and the date written on them instead of not returning something owned by a hotel? (There are a lot of ways to make it really cute.) I think Peter is going to be distrubed by this, if he's already mentioned his displeasure. It kind of shocked me that this was an article about holiness. This reminds me of a thread that got the ladies really worked up this week, including myself, over submitting to our boyfriends. This situation has put a new twist on my thoughts, as I would think this would have been a good opportunity for it.

  22. Mary-25961 September 13, 2009

    Thank you for you commitment to your faith – which appears not be words or err marks of 7/7. Besides giving them to Peter – After this has been done – I would tuck them away with the same ribbon and one day you may be giving them to your own daughter or Peter to your son – explaining the meaning of the word sacrifice and commitment in a relationship.

  23. Paul-477171 September 16, 2009

    I don't think there is to be any debate at all !
    What part of the Commandment ''Thou Shall Not Commit Adultery'' [including 'pre-marital sex'] is there any doubt about ??

  24. Joann-451185 September 17, 2009

    This article is right on and I Wish Gods blessings on you and Peter But I think you are already Blessed

  25. Lara-311505 September 20, 2009

    Stephanie – this is an awesome well written piece. Congratulations with your relationship with Peter. I also commend Greg. God Bless you and keep you safe

  26. Rhea-460303 September 22, 2009

    Wow! this is such an impressive article.I admire Peter and Greg's conviction.May your tribe increase!

  27. Belinda-123775 October 2, 2009

    I do not understand how the female in the first scenario could have ever been upset and called her guy a prude. If he were my man, or potential man, I would definately feel so very respected and felt that he had high morals not only for himself but toward me as well. I really enjoyed reading the second scenario beause I feel the same way. I'm very happy for you and hope that marriage will be in your future. You go girl!

  28. Andrew-365526 October 5, 2009

    I understand one's reservations, but I'm sorry sleeping in seperate rooms does not equal adultry. It's not like you are sleeping in the same bed, THAT might be too much. But not in seperate rooms.

  29. Tom-178684 October 7, 2009

    Great article for discussion. Probably a common scenario for adults doing Internet dating and long distance.
    Even putting morality issues aside, there are very good practical and common-sense reasons against casually accepting an offer to sleep over in a spare bedroom with someone you have meet via dating or internet dating, and they have nothing to do with sexual morality. You are getting to know someone (a stranger, who may not work out for you) from scratch, and it's just better to keep a respectful distance at the end of the date, and moreover to keep the encounter more closely as a normal date, and not pile too much information and intimacy and pressure and private life early on. The risk is losing the friendship-relationship altogether by ignoring that principal.
    Now, if there is an emergency or special need to "crash" on the sofa rather than drive home, etc, then obviously that's an exception but best to stay with idea of planning to overnight it separately.

    • Marita-847688 June 30, 2014

      Even “crashing” at someone’s house is a bad idea. Come up with a plan beforehand and don’t plan on staying so late. It might be best to not drink or to limit it so that way you are not too drunk to drive home.

  30. Becky-484328 October 8, 2009

    WOW!!!!! what an article to read. Most sincere and inspiring to read. I have met a guy like Peter once and quite true too is the issue that as long as there are sparks, the fire seem closer between two adults and its seem wise for a new relationship that you set boundaries and respect each other wish. it bultd more spiritual amd emotional respect too to keep the tempetation far, hence we pray lead us not into temptation!!! like RHEA said May your tribe increase!

  31. Kelly-356066 October 9, 2009

    I wish this article had been written a year ago! I had a very similar experience to Greg, but I caved on the idea and it put way to much pressure on the relationship. To be honest, men like a mystery, and half the expereince of dating is the slow unfolding of that mystery. Temporary "co-habitation" takes away a lot of the mystery in the begining of the relationship. I would have been thrilled if the man had insisted, and honored my request instead of teasing me and saying we are "adults" and "we can handle it." We did not work out and the main problem over several visits was the temptation we both expereinced. It induced anger, accusations, judgements and lots of confused feelings. A warning to all… get a room!

  32. Scott-158780 October 10, 2009

    Thank you Stephanie. Very good article that I'm sure hits home for many of us. I put myself in the circumstances that Stephanie and Greg wisely avoided, and found out that even with my once strong convictions, I was personally too weak to risk sleeping under the same roof again with someone to whom I'm very attracted. I committed a mortal sin and contributed to someone else doing the same. I believe there are very few who could resist the temptation for long. Regardless, I know for certain that there are very few people who would believe that a couple who are sharing a house are not having sex. My nieces loved and respected me and still do. So I set a terrible example for them to commit the same sin. I set a poor example for all of society and I never want to be part of that again. I was old enough to know better, but I made excuses like I have read in other comments here. I have been forgiven for those sins, and I thank God for that and the strength to avoided such temptations for a long time now. God Bless your future Greg and Stephanie.

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