I so appreciate the honesty of this question, and want you to know you are not alone in wrestling this out. Two people who are attracted to each other–it’s appropriate and good and wonderful and God-built-in that you would desire physical intimacy and life-long connection. Let me offer a couple thoughts on how to rightly affirm you in saying “This is not a good pattern for us to be in.”
First would be: Get help. Don’t try to run this alone. When two people who are physically attracted to each other, and spending lots of time together, and feeling this deep connection are the only two people trying to keep themselves from physical intimacy, you’re kinda set up in a losing stance, right? I mean, that’s not a recipe for success. So, get accountability. Talk to a friend, a mentor, a parent, somebody who knows you well. Confess your sin, talk about the struggle, repent of that and just say, “Hey, I need your help. We want to be wise here. We don’t want to hang out in certain contexts, or after certain times of night or by ourselves, or whatever the case might be. There’s going to be wisdom in drawing those lines that may sound old fashioned, but there’s a wisdom that’s been time tested of trying to put up boundaries, structures, just trying to think how can we protect ourselves from a situation we know we are not strong in, and in one sense we were not designed to be strong in this situation. So, that’s thought number one, is there’s a wise way to build walls that means taking it outside of just the two of you in attempting to do this.
Second thought though, and this really I think is the engine, the motivation that drives that kind of wisdom, would be this… In the question, you said something to the effect of “I know I love my boyfriend…” right? I don’t doubt indeed that your heart is for him and you want his good, but recognizing that while it feels like physical intimacy is love–and indeed, should you get married there will come a day when that will be true–right now, physical intimacy, giving your bodies to each other is not love. That is actually sin against each other. That’s actually harmful to each other, and even to your future relationship. And so to the extent that you can say, you know what, I love this man, and I want his good, that actually should be motivation to abstain in this season from physical intimacy. There’s a right way to say we’re actually going to build a kind of trust by recognizing if the way we handle sex now is this loving way that abstains and chooses not to harm each other and to do that, then in marriage as well we are building this sense of you know even when I really want something, especially when I really want something sexually, it is going to be tempured by what is good for you. I want what’s good for you more than I want what I want right now. When you can make that statement with your very body itself, by restraining from something that you really want in this moment, that is incredibly powerful in setting you up well not just sexually but across the breadth of your marriage for a love and a service and a mutuality.
Let me make one last comment. You mentioned feeling distant from God. That is also in a sense, an appropriate reaction. When we sin we recognize there is another reminder of the distance between us and the Lord without the blood of Christ. But you want to talk about sexual sin–how about King David, right? How about adultery and murder that he was hiding and had to be confrtonted on. What is that like? That’s pretty distancing. And what is the heart of his cry in Psalm 51? It’s Lord, take not your Holy Spirit from me, restore the joy of salvation, come to me. And what will I do with that? I will run to you, with a broken and contrite heart as I am now, and I want to offer sacrifices, I want to worship, I want to be in your presence. And if you can blow it as much as David did and yet still be called a man after God’s own heart, whose words are still in scripture, then there is hope for any of us. So, don’t clean up your act and then go to the Lord. Rush to him with your temptation. Rush to him with your guilt. Rush to him and say, “Lord, cleanse me, thank you that you have promised to leave your Holy Spirit with me forever. And my worst sins cannot change that. God, thank you so much.”