101 WAYS to build up REAL LOVE & show AFFECTION

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By Jen Messing

Let’s be honest.
Media isn’t the best place to get ideas about how to show physical affection or how relationships should start and progress.

If you want real love, you have to build a real friendship. That means not just looking for physical pleasure or emotional comfort.

If you are interested in defending
your relationship against using each other,
“how far is too far?”
may not be the question to ask.

These ideas can be a solid place to start
or deepen a relationship. Get beyond what the culture tells you is normal—take time to actually get to know yourself and each other
for who you are
and see if you enjoy each other’s company!


First things first: Examine what is stirring in you. Are you craving contact with another person? Know that the desire to be in relationships is not bad (since we’re made in God’s image, we’re made to love!) but we should not use others to fill us up. The reality is, only God can do that.

If you are asking “how far is too far?” you may have good intentions—but a better question is “how can I really love this person?” 

God is the Standard for Love (see back panel) and we are made to love like Him—not to settle for less or to use each other.  Know that “rules” are meant to uphold real love and the dignity of every person involved.

If you see people as a means to your own end, you will treat them that way.  Purity in action flows from purity of heart and thought.  Aim to act as God made us to be from the very beginning: good to the core.

The draw toward physical and emotional expressions of love will very quickly get stronger when you really   connect with someone.  It’s good to acknowledge that fact and not just push the feelings down—but it’s also not OK to simply indulge. There is a balance to be found.

Rather than being stuck in the two extremes, you can re-focus: pray, think and be creative

  • Thank God for the other person and for the good gift of your desire to love!
  • Ask God to show you how to take all that energy and direct it toward loving like HE loves.
  • Examine what you have learned about relationships from family, culture, media, etc… you may have some untwist any lies.
  • Contemplate who, why & how you are choosing to love!  Let God guide your heart and don’t brush off internal warnings; pray about them and talk them out!

Commit to speaking the Truth with your body! A sincere embrace or kiss speaks a language: it should bless the other with a message of love and commitment. Real love doesn’t push boundaries that warm you up for sexual intercourse. In Marriage, the body-soul union of spouses is a renewal of their vows.

Definitions to think about

  • Friendship are good and needed. Don’t confuse the healthy close, mutual admiration or friendship with sexual attraction. Don’t let it get flirty, just be you.
  • ‘Dating’ has classically meant a guy asking a variety of ladies out over time because in order to get to know them, while keeping the idea of marriage in mind. This same intent can be accomplished by hanging out in small groups at  school, work, church, etc.  One-on-one time (going out on dates) should be fun and lowkey, but don’t get into the ‘friends with benefits’ or ‘hook up’ mentality!
  • ‘Courtship’ is a foreign word to most. Our culture calls exclusive relationships ‘dating’ but usually gives little thought to marriage.  A good mindset is to not be wooed into this more serious relationship unless you have already been friends for a while and he or she is the type of person you think you could marry.
    Courtship is where conversation and knowledge about the other & yourself  goes deeper and deeper. Spending a lot of time around family and friends will help you gain perspective about the other person as you start to pray and talk about marriage.
  • Engagement declares the intent to marry but it’s not just about planning the reception. Go on a marriage preparation retreat before you set the wedding date! Get specific in conversations about daily life expectations, finances and family. Take a NFP (Natural Family Planning) class so you truly know what’s going on. This time of waiting for sexual union will reveal the variety of ways you can deepen your love for each other.
  • Public vows of Marriage are meant to protect the intimate body-soul bond of love between one man and one woman so that they and their children have a permanent place to grow in love together!  If one of these intentions is missing (to bond permanently or openness to procreating children), the true meaning of marriage is not being upheld. Prior to the vows when a couple declares ‘for better or worse until death do us part’, each says I do’ to the following:
  • Do you come here freely and without reservation?
  • Are you prepared to love and honor each other for as long as you both shall live?
  • Will you accept children lovingly from God?    

LOVE is:

  • A choice to make a gift of yourself to another person.
  • To want & work toward the best for someone else, even when it is difficult. It goes beyond emotion.
  • A participation in God’s lovethe real thing is:
    • FREE: not forced or enslaved to urges.
    • TOTAL/FULL: not conditional. In marriage, it is not partial or holding back any part of a person.
    • FAITHFUL: steadfast; never abandons. In marriage, vows are permanent, only broken by death.
    • FRUITFUL: physically &/or spiritually life-giving.
  • Shown in different ways to different people! Various ways go giving and receiving love are appropriate between spouses, family members, friends, strangers in need, etc. Though many of us are in this habit, it is not an accurate word to use toward food, animals or objects.

LUST is:

  • Not seeing the other as a person but as an object.
  • Sexual desire that distorts God’s love. Sexual desire itself is not the sin; it is a gift from God that points to a good desire for love, but it can easily be twisted!
  • Using (in thought or in action) someone (body or soul) for your own benefit. (FYI, Marriage isn’t an outlet for lust!)
  • Can be a convincing counterfeit of real love.


Laugh together ■talk about your likes & dislikes   listen to each other make a mix of favorite music   share a malt go to a sporting event watch old movies  play cards  visit the zoo read a newspaper & talk about it ■  skip rocks at a pond  watch the sunset  ■ hang out at a coffee shop  play in the snow  ■  drink hot chocolate learn to dance the waltz  go grocery shopping & cook a meal together take a walk  ■ volunteer at a nursing home or children’s shelter wander around a college campus  dream up travel destinations and look at maps tell the other what you like about them      be honest   study together sit up talking at a 24-hour restaurant ■ go fishing ■ swing at a playground  figure out a puzzle  get up early to see the sunrise ■ take an interest in the interests of the other send a funny card learn to surf or sail examine ways you can improve your character  ■  pray  seek answers to your questions about Church teaching help each other do chores people-watch at the mall share an order of hot wings ■ play a board game make popcorn on the stove read a book to each other ■ look each other in the eyes be best friends  ■ hold hands ■ go for a picnic build sandcastles    figure out lyrics to songs on the radio ■  look at the stars ■ watch a river rush over the rocks write letters write poems go for a long bike ride ponder life go bowling help serve meals at a homeless shelter hang out with each others’ friends give a thoughtful gift visit your grandparents say ‘hello’ and smile at everyone you walk by   smile at each other  ■ throw a party together audio or video record highlights from your day and give it to the other blow bubbles ■   run in the rain ■ explore foreign cuisines think and pray about what it means to love a person so you can say it and mean it  ■  be trustworthy  bake cookies (and share them!)  sit on a dock and put your feet in the water  watch waves crash admire the moon ■  create a photo album for the other go swing dancing ■ meet the parents  play games with younger siblings make up a superhero together  make  sacrifices for the other  ■  go horseback riding learn how to ski or snowboard wander through an art museum don’t be afraid to sing   learn a musical  instrument    go to the library paint something together  go out for a play or live music watch airplanes take off at the airport  notice what matters to the other be fully present to each other by turning distractions off   send a care package     go ice skating at an outdoor rink build a fire and roast marshmallows  fly a kite  tour a farm tour the tallest building in the city   walk a trail in the woods wash your cars on a hot day rent canoes or kayaks play Frisbee go to the gym and work out plan a service trip with a group of friends  be there when a friend is needed give and receive hugs give affectionate kisses on the face be respectful  ■ go sightseeing stop to smell the flowers See more ideas here

Jen Messing

s p e a k e r • t e a c h e r • l e a d e r

St. Paul , MN 612-518-5490

101 Ways to Build Up Real Love & Show Affection

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