Love, Sex & Marriage

Q: Can a Buddhist couple who are in love have pre-marital sex if they do not have any plans to commit themselves for marriage in the future?

A: What represents ‘commitment’ differs over time in different cultures. Marriage is supposed to signify commitment, but even so, married couples might fall out too. (E.g. divorce rates in many countries are rising.) As such, I personally can’t say that pre-marital sex is always wrong or always alright. The risk of pre-marital sex is the possibility of feeling used (heartbreak), and the possibility of an unwanted pregnancy. (Yes, accidents can happen even with protection.) As such, it is always generally wiser to have sex after marriage. Commitment of love beforehand is safer. If there is true love, the desire for sex should be able to wait. If not, it would be a case of lust overtaking love? What you need to decide is what best stands for commitment – is it marriage?

Q: What is the Buddhist perspective on boy-girl relationships?

A: This is a huge topic! I used to hold entire talks on the subject. Maybe you can look out for the next one? In short, all kinds of relationships are okay if they do not lead to greater suffering, if they do not become obstacles to enlightenment in the long run.

Q: How to maintain a healthy boy-girl relationship without being too attached as attachment is not good?

A: The truth is, to have a boy-girl relationship already means to have attachment. What we should do is to ensure that the attachment doesn’t grow to be too unhealthily strong, while it reduces in time. The way to do this is to practise the Dharma together (since the Dharma is the path to lessening attachment too). When there is a common spiritual goal, a couple can become life partners supporting each other on the quest for enlightenment. This building up of spiritual friendship will reduce attachment in time.

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