Unmarried? What to do With Sexual Desires

In Advice and Encouragement, Engagement, For the Guys, For the Ladies, Relationships, Single by Debra Fileta28 Comments

Whether you are a man or woman, dealing with sexual desire is something that you will face at many points in your unmarried life (and then again in different ways through your married life as well). Learning to deal with these desires in a healthy and God-honoring way is a discipline that will last you deep into your married life as well.

There are many people who would say that they understand that their sexuality and sexual desire are a God-given, God-created gift- but how do take the next steps in keeping those gifts from becoming a point of struggle?  How do you handle them when you have no means of expressing them as an unmarried individual?  How do you allow them to point you to Jesus, rather than keep you away?

The first word I think about in light of sexual desire is the word CONNECT.

More than anything else, our desire for sex and sexual intimacy is evidence of our need to connect.  We are relational beings, who even by the nature of our physiological makeup, are created to be in connection with other human beings.

It’s important to understand that our sexual desires are rooted in our need for connection, and then seek to channel that connection in healthy and productive ways.  First, we must allow our desires to bring us in connection with God.  What I mean by this is that so many times we are wired to run from God in guilt, fear, and shame when we are struggling with our sexual desires.  As a mother of two, I know that the LAST thing I want my children to do when they are truly struggling is to go and hide.  I want them to come to me, to talk with me, to share with me and allow me to enter into their struggles.  I want to hold them, to help them, and to heal them in any way that I can when they are hurting, afraid, or in need.

When we are struggling with our sexual desires, our first step should be in allowing those struggles to bring us to Jesus.  We need to thank Him for the longings that we have, and use those longings to draw us even closer to Him.  If you are longing for sexual companionship, God’s Spirit can offer you hope.  If you are caught in sexual sin, God’s Spirit can lead you into healing.  But the first step is always to connect with Him.

Secondly, it’s important to connect with others.  There are times when the gravity of our sexual desire correlates with the state of our emotional needs.  We need to feel loved, accepted, and to belong.  Sex in marriage offers all of those things within the context of a life-long companion.  But for those who are unmarried, those very needs can begin to be met outside of a sexual relationship- in the embrace of a friend or the comforting words of a loving mentor.  God can use all kinds of people to fill our deep emotional needs for connection.  But we have to be aware of the connection, and then take action by engaging in meaningful non-sexual relationships.

Thirdly, we can connect to the world around us.  Have you ever heard of the concept of channeling your anger?  I believe that we can also channel our sexual desires by focusing our time, our energy, and our efforts on things that are meaningful and purposeful.  What is it that excites you?  What are the things that your heart deeply connects with?  What causes do you feel are most important in this world?  Use your energies to make a difference in the world around you. I think Paul was referring to just that when he explained that greater than sexual connection, is the ability to serve God in a focused and undistracted way.  Unlike Paul,  we may not all have the life-calling of a celibacy, but we do have a calling toward meaning, toward purpose, and toward a fulfilling life.  Use this time in your life to focus your energies on things that matter and the pursuit of your passions- and I believe it will bring you one step closer to getting a healthy perspective on your sexual desires.

The next word I think of with regard to managing sexual desires, is the word PROTECT.  

Not only are we called to connect, but we are called to protect this God-given gift that we’ve been given.  You can have the greatest intentions in the world, coupled with the strongest desire to do right- but if you don’t have a plan, you’re not going to be able to get to where you want to be.

There are many factors to planning this kind of protection, as well as a few really practical steps that we can take in order to guard ourselves.  From accountability, to boundaries, to confession – there are a lot ways we can protect ourselves from the prospect of sexual sin, and learn to honor God with our bodies long before we’re even in a dating relationship.  I write about this extensively in Chapter 8 of my book, True Love Dates in a section entitled “Why Sex Matters”.  I encourage anyone striving to protect their sexual desires from becoming strongholds, to read and re-read this chapter and then take the time to make a practical plan that will challenge you to take the necessary steps to both being freed from sexual sin, as well as protecting yourself from sexual struggles.

May God give us the wisdom and the grace to realize that He has got our best interest in mind…and He always has.  May we find the courage and strength to choose to do things His way, because His way will always be our best.

Thank you to those who have shared your your questions and concerns, and I will work on addressing more of the topics that you’ve sent my way.

For much more on this topic as well as how to overcome sexual temptation – download my 40 minute audio lesson: Sex and the Single Life: What To Do With Desires While You Wait

sex-single-life

Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, national speaker, and author of the book True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life,  21 Days to Jump Start Your Love Life, and 21 Days to Pray for Your Love Life, where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love. You may also recognize her voice from her 150+ articles at Relevant Magazine or Crosswalk.com! She’s also the creator of this True Love Dates Blog!  Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter

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28 Comments on "Unmarried? What to do With Sexual Desires"

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Andrew Abiud
Guest

I find your articles to be relevant and practical. this issue of sex has for ages has been shied away from, it is almost taboo to talk about it even with you parents, but I think this topic must be talked about open, in an atmosphere where God is present, and Christians directed. this brings healing and redemption as you put it. thank you

Matt
Guest

Working out and cold showers. That’s how I deal with them. Working out spends my energy, I suppose gives the dopamine my body craves?however, these are temporary fixes as I see it. Replacing the sexual temptation with other passions is the way to go, as I see it.

Elle
Guest

These are good thoughts, but I feel pretty connected. My life is good.
And yet, no matter how good my life is, this is still something I struggle with and it’s not as if I can keep drowning it out forever with more and more activity.

And what do you do when you’re in a relationship? Surely the right answer isn’t to kill any attraction you have for a person you’re hoping to marry.

Steph
Guest
This question is moving around in my mind as well. In a committed and romantic relationship where attractions and God are both present, it is consistently difficult to balance the wants to please both my partner and my Lord. In my situation, the days we spend focusing on each other as we want to live for God – conversations, hopes and dreams – are the days we feel most connected and least tempted. I think It’s valuing intellectual intimacy over physical and recognizing that the connection comes directly from God’s grace. And it certainly is a challenge but I do… Read more »
Alicia
Guest

Debra, thank you for writing this! It really puts things into a practical perspective of handling sexual desires and urges. I agree with you that deep down, sometimes the urges have to do with the longing for non-sexual interactions.

This is a great article! God bless!!

Allison
Guest
Sometimes in this quest for purity as a single woman, it just feels like I’m white-knuckling my way, trying so hard not to sin, trying to trust God with my sexual desires while not suppressing them, trying to believe God loves me and cares for me whether or not He ever fulfills my sexual desires by giving me a husband. It just gets exhausting. And this sounds blasphemous, but when I’m crying alone at night and really, really want to kiss and hug a man, somehow reading the Bible and praying, although it’s encouraging, doesn’t really meet that need. I… Read more »
Monique
Guest
Oh, my gosh, Allison….you spoke my very heart on this. This alone, is somewhat of a help for me on what has been (outside of but not excluding this issue, a very tedious, extremely lonely, confounding, hard way. I know there is some call on my life, which requires I don’t know what….and I have got you by ten years in age. Thank you so much, sister for sharing your heart. I am trying to remain earnest, and I have a great excitement and will to walk only in His perfect plan, but the prevailing thing seems to be weariness… Read more »
Allison
Guest

And I don’t mean I only desire a husband so that he could help fulfill my sexual desires!

Monique
Guest

D.I.T.T.O

Allison
Guest
But as a 26 year old single, virgin woman, what am I supposed to DO with these sexual desires? If masturbating, reading erotica, sexting, etc (obviously sex outside of marriage) are all wrong, what can I do? Yes I know pray and ask God for help and read the Bible. But sometimes, it seems like no matter how hard I try, I keep getting and having sexual thoughts and feelings, and I don’t what to do. Another godly woman told me I should treat these desires like fasting. But in fasting I have the hope I’ll get to eat again.… Read more »
Allison
Guest

Thank you, Debra. It’s like I wish there was a way to turn off these desires until when/if I get married. Thank you for understanding and recognizing the struggle.

Allison
Guest

I hope you write more on this topic soon…would love to read your thoughts. Thanks!

Omolewa
Guest

Thanks for these

Lindsay
Guest

Alisson, Monique… I am as well at a phase in life where it feels like no words can be healing or helpful. It’s like everything has been said and done and there is really no way out of this constant frustration.

Bill
Guest
Currently God is giving me strength to obey, but the replacing sexual desire with exercise, service, relationships with family and friends, prayer, you name it, do nothing to blunt sexual desire. The result has always been I am tired, but the desire rages on unabated. All I can currently do is pray for strength, avoid situations that might lead me to sin, and believe that God will help me find a wife in his time. God must be helping me because simple avoidance would not help with the thought life. The only other thing that seems to help is to… Read more »
Bokgoni
Guest

I am dying with sexual desire..I am widow of 5 years..It is not easy to live without love making.. I prayed for a husband from my religion..bt I am still waiting for God’s response..Hope He is going to provide the one I need ..

Masoud
Guest

That was practical . I’m a single moslem man and lslam is against sex out of wedlock . But it’s still a very big problem for me that how i can deal with my sexual desire when i’m single . But your opinions were nice ..
Thank you.

Gloria
Guest

Thanks for your sound advice. I’m a single girl and I find your articles very practical and insightful.

Katrina
Guest
Thanks for this. I feel like I’ve read every article on the internet on this issue, and I appreciate all the advice I can get. But I agree with what Allison said. When I’m alone and desiring to be with a man, praying or reading the bible just does very little for me. It doesn’t meet the need, and I don’t think it ever will. God can fulfil our spiritual needs, but the desire for a physical intimate relationship with another human being is something that can be fulfilled only by another human being. I also think that while developing… Read more »
Anne Leslie
Guest

Thanks a lot Allison and Katrina. I guess I fall perfectly into Allison’s shoes.I am 22years old and it seems like this is the highest point I desire to have sex or just kiss and hug a guy.I actually tried to fulfill that with someone and now I have a lot of difficulties moving on. I feel sad each time I think about it but it doesn’t stop me from desiring him all the time. We really need help on this issue. Your article is very helpful though. Just need a little more insight on what to do.

Brad
Guest
I’m 24 and I’ve been struggling with sexual desires since I was at least maybe 13. Not only that but I also have struggled with a specific area of my sexuality. Ordinarily I would never be this open about it, but I feel there won’t be any judgement here. It may sound strange, but I have a foot fetish. Sometimes it feels like a curse since I feel that it only makes things more difficult. But at other times I believe it is a blessing that I really hope to be able to share with a godly woman one day… Read more »
Mike
Guest
I’m a 30 year old single virgin guy. I’ve never had a girlfriend before. I struggle with sexual desire. Every day it feels like my sexual desire is like a tiger stuck in a birdcage. It’s a battle that I get tired of fighting everyday. Sometimes I feel like a drop of my blood would end low testosterone and put Viagra out of business for all men(lol). I know that one of the fruits of the spirit is self control and I pray for that all the time. Sometimes I feel like that God might be tired of hearing my… Read more »
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