Dear Christian Counselor,
I have decided to break up with my boyfriend. We have been dating online for 4 months and have gotten emotionally close. He loves me and wants to marry me, but I do not want to pursue a romantic relationship any further. I want to be as gentle and loving as possible in this process because I know what it’s like to be on the other side. I need help in what to say, what not to say, and how much I should say. Can you help me? Thank you!
Your desire to be kind and honest in this situation is admirable. I also commend you for being aware of what you want. No doubt, it is difficult to end a relationship with someone. Your best bet is to go with your inclination to communicate with kindness and honesty. Focus on what you want to let him know. You never have to share more than you feel safe sharing, even if it means repeating what you’ve already said.
It might help you to practice with an empty chair or a friend in order to become more confident in communicating your message. Some people like to write down key points or even to script the entire conversation. You could then read that message over the phone to him.
With all of this said, he will most likely still feel hurt regardless of how gently you deliver your message. You cannot rescue him from that feeling. You also do not have to apologize for your decision. It might take him some time and the help of friends to grieve and process the end of your relationship.
Lastly, decide ahead of time what you want your relationship to be like after you break up. Some will disagree with this, but I recommend making a clean break. That means no communicating or staying friends until both parties have the opportunity to heal and move on. Be mindful of family or friends you can talk to afterward about the breakup. God’s love will be there for you, as well as your ex; neither of you need to walk through this alone.
Dear Christian Counselor:
The person that is supposed to be my significant other got an invitation to his cousin’s wedding about a month ago. I have yet to hear from him if he is going to take me as his date or not. The fact that he hasn’t mention anything really bugs me, and I’m not OK with him going by himself because it will be an overnight event. I would like to know how to handle this matter. Thank you in advance.
God is a big believer in communication. So much so that He spoke the world into existence, and called Himself “The Word.” Jesus’s ministry shows us that He also loves a good question. You can inject some God into this situation by communicating with your significant other. I assume you have already asked him about it – if not, that’s step one. Step two is asking some good follow-up questions, like: “I really need to make plans, so could you let me know if we will be going to the wedding together?” “When can you let me know?” “It seems like this is a hard decision for you. Can you explain what’s making it difficult?” If you don’t receive any satisfaction from his answers, I would encourage you to communicate your own feelings. Since anger tends to beget anger, start with any hurt or fear you might have about the situation. For example, “It hurts my feelings that you don’t seem to want me to go to the wedding with you,” or “I’m feeling insecure about our relationship because you are not taking me to this wedding.” If your guy really cares about you, then he will want to hear your heart.
At this point I’m more than a little curious why you have a “significant other” with whom you cannot communicate easily and whom you do not trust alone at an overnight event. There might be some good questions you need to ask yourself.
Dear Christian Counselor:
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I’ve been dating this guy for about 5 years. Our dating has consistently been watching TV and the occasional meal out on special occasions. I always assumed he couldn’t afford to spend much for dates. However, last summer he and his mother went on several vacations together. I told him I was jealous because he would go and do things with her but not me. He will give me nice gifts and money or other provisions when I’m short of cash. I like him and he’s good to me. I often feel that the relationship is on his terms – he will do what he wants, but when I express an expectation, he bucks and tells me to just go by myself. What is going on with him?
–Tired of Watching TV
You say that you like (not love) him, and you don’t say whether there is anything sexual going on. If there isn’t, then decide whether you want to keep this guy for a friend because that sounds like the basis of your relationship right now – a friendship that keeps you both from being too lonely and gives you someone to lean on from time to time. If that is the case, then “what is going on with him” is that he is content with the depth of your friendship. If you are not, then I would suggest you make some new friends.
If you are sexually intimate with him, then I would say “what is going on with him” is that he is getting what he wants without having to make real compromises or commitments. God intended our long-term, romantic relationships to reflect His own relationship with His people (Eph. 5:31-32) — which means an emotionally intimate and sacrificial relationship. It doesn’t sound like that’s what you have. If not, then maybe the real question is… what is going on with you? Why are you willing to stay in a relationship that is not pleasing to God and not pleasing to you? That might be worth exploring with a pastor or a counselor.