Q. I know I need to break up with my boyfriend because the relationship has really led me away from God and my family. But how do I do it? I still care for him, and donít want to hurt him.
A. Letís face it. Thereís no way to break up with a guy that will leave him feeling warm and fuzzy. Itís going to hurt. But it has to be done. If a girl never learns to take care of herself and say ďno,Ē sheís never going to find love.
To break up with him, maybe you can take your time to write a long letter. That way, you can get all your reasons across, and if he forgets any, he can always refer back to the letter. You are leaving him for his sake (because he needs to look at where his life is headed) and for your sake. After all, it's bad for your faith, your family, and your development as a woman. He'll probably try to manipulate you to stay, but you must be firm in your letter that it is over. Think of all the times you should have been firm with him, and make up for all of that in one letter.
So stay strong. Do nothing else physical with him. No kissing. No holding hands. No nothing. This man is NOT your future husband, and your affections do not belong to him. Any more affection you show him is simply leading him on. Be strong as I know you can be, and cling to God and some good friends as you pull away. That is, by far, the most loving thing you can do for him.
In the future, know that if any relationship is holding you back spiritually, then this is an unmistakable sign that the relationship is not of God. In the mean time, Iím excited for you to experience the
Q. How do you know if you should break up with the guy you're dating?
A. Ask yourself the following questions (the more questions you answer with "no," the more reason you have to break things off):
Has my relationship with him brought me closer to God? Can I see myself marrying him? Would I like my children to grow up to be just like him? Am I dating to discern marriage? Do my parents approve of him? Is he one-hundred percent faithful? Do I feel safe, honored, and respected around him? Is he clean of any drug, alcohol, or pornography problems? Has this relationship helped me to become the woman I hope to be? Does he bring out the best in me? Does he respect my purity? Does he love God more than he loves pleasure? Can I honestly say that the relationship is emotionally, physically, spiritually, and psychologically healthy? Has the relationship brought me closer to my family and other friends? Ideally, you should be able to announce an emphatic "YES!" to all of the above questions. The more negative answers you have, the more reason you have to think twice about the relationship. You might also want to take the love test, here.
St. Paul tells us that an unmarried woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, about how she can serve him and be holy (1 Cor. 7). Are you free to be anxious about the things of the Lord or are you consumed by emotional conflicts with your boyfriend or consumed by your relationship in general? Some young women are willing to stay in bad relationships so that they never have to be alone. They'll put up with disrespectful behavior, compromise their values, and stay in a dead-end relationship that should have ended long ago. Many couples become so close that they feel as if the other person is their entire world. If they let the person go, they fear that they'll have nothing left and love will be lost forever. Do not give in to this fear.
If he has some major issues, do not move toward marriage expecting that these issues will resolve themselves over time. This is denial. If he treats you disrespectfully, lovingly confront his behavior. If he listens, apologizes, accepts responsibility, and works to correct the behavior, then he is making progress. If not, then do not harbor false hope. If you want to know how the future will be with him, look at the past. The longer you wait to deal with his problems, the more burdensome they will become. Throughout all of this, he must have some personal desire to change. All of the motivation should not come from you.
The presence of difficulties does not necessarily mean you need to break things off. It is common for couples to walk away from a relationship if things get tough. Your job is to discern if the issue is significant enough to merit a breakup, or if it is a problem that can be solved. As you pray and ask the Lord for guidance, do not try to figure out the answers on your own. Turn to people you trust, such as family members, a priest, youth minister, or friends. Reflect on their input and have courage.
Whatever your decision, make it clear. The longer it flops back and forth, the worse it is. If you do break things off, do not worry. If he is the right one for you, then taking this time off won't hurt. Also, don't jump back into the relationship quickly if you see signs of improvement in his behavior. Often a guy will manipulate a girl into letting him back even if he hasn't made a true change of heart. Resist the temptation, wait on God, and write a letter to yourself about why you broke up, and what you are looking for in a spouse. When you feel the urge to jump back into the relationship for comfort, you will have a reminder of why you are holding out for God's best.
If you break up, you might desire to "just be friends." But as long as one of you is still romantically interested in the other, this is practically impossible. If the two of you are to be friends again one day, you need space right now. When we try the "just friends" approach right after a breakup, it is usually because we are dragging our feet and we do not want to let go. I have tried it before, and it can harm the friendship in the long run because the breakup is so drawn out.
And remember to take this to God in prayer. Ask him what he thinks you should do. Sometimes we run around and grab what we want and rarely sit still long enough to hear him. He will speak if we will listen. Until you do make a decision, live the virtue of purity in the relationship. This will help you to see more clearly. Also, chaste relationships tend to end on a happier note, since the couple did not do anything regrettable.
Q. My girlfriend of two years just broke up with me. I thought that she was the one, and I feel crushed. I'm not sleeping well, I've lost my appetite, and I can't understand why God would let this happen.
A. I have been through a couple of tough breakups, and during those times Scripture was a great consolation. God wants us to remember that even when we know nothing about our future, "The Lord is trustworthy in every word, and faithful in every work" (Ps. 145:13). The Lord's timing is perfect, and his will is your refuge. His plan will be clear in time, so be still and know that he is God, that he is faithful, and that he knows exactly what he is doing. "The works of the Lord are all good, and he will supply every need in its hour. And no one can say, 'This is worse than that,' for all things will prove good in their season. So now sing praise with all your heart and voice, and bless the name of the Lord" (Sir. 39:33Ė35).
It is natural to feel a painful sense of loss during this time, but in the midst of this suffering, do not lose your peace. In the words of St. Paul, "Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thess. 5:16Ė18). The prophet Nehemiah advises, "Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength" (Neh. 8:10).
Although rejoicing may be the last thing on your mind right now, God deserves our thanks just as much when times are bad as when everything goes our way. One of the most beautiful forms of praise to God is when we thank him for his providence before we see it unfold. After all, is he less of a good God when we can not understand his ways?
So take this time to draw closer to God and rest in him. As Psalm 62 says, "My soul rests in God alone" (Psalm 62:1). The more our peace depends on human beings, the more we will realize that another human being can never satisfy us. I sometimes imagine a little throne on top of the human heart, and we get to decide who sits there. We often place people there, and if things go well with them, life is beautiful. When things go wrong, and they do not return affection, or say just the right thing, then we lose our peace. Only God deserves to sit on this throne, and only he can hold it in peace.
This is not to say that once we put him there, nothing affects us. Trusting him does not mean that we will never have feelings of hurt or confusion. It simply means that in the midst of the storm, we remain at peace even when it seems like Jesus is asleep (see Mark 4:35Ė41). Now is a good time to make sure that all is in order in your life and that doing God's will is your number one priority. Sometimes we are so anxious about our relationships with others that we forget that the most important relationship in our lives must be our friendship with God. Pray that you may be single-hearted for the Lord as King David was.
Also, know that your suffering is not in vain. When you accept suffering, you can join it to the sufferings of Christ and offer it as a prayer. The apostle Paul said, "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church" (Col. 1:24). If you need a suggestion regarding what to offer your sufferings for, I would ask that you offer some of them as a prayer for all of the teens I speak to about chastity. You can save many souls through your suffering, although many people do not realize this. So suffer well, be still, and trust the Lord. As they say, "There are years that ask questions, and there are years that answer."
Q. My boyfriend used to smoke pot and do meth a lot, but heís really gotten better. He still does it once and a while and youíre probably thinking Iím crazy for not dumping him, but Iím afraid what heíll do to himself if I leave. Iím only fifteen, and Iím not sure what to do.
A. Iím very happy that youíre taking the time to sit still and question this relationship. So many girls drag these relationships on for years, while constantly trying to ignore their intuition to leave.
I have confidence that you will let go of him because your eyes are open to the problems. But you must realize that you can NOT change him. Girls constantly try to do this, and at times the guy temporarily improves, but I've never, ever, seen a permanent change take place. This is because she is the one trying to motivate him. He always ends up back into his problems, because he is the one who needs to realize that his lifestyle is unhealthy.
Only he can change himself, and the longer you try to mother him, the longer it drags on his need to confront his behavior. If something goes bad, and he gets high to deal with it, then he's using that bad event as an excuse for his behavior. If you dump him and he goes back to meth, then again he's using unhealthy behavior to cope with his problems, and making up excuses. Nothing has changed.
If he goes back to drugs, it's not your fault. You're not putting the pot in his mouth. He just wants you to feel responsible so that you'll stay. He wants you to think that if you walk away, then you might as well be building a methamphetamine lab in his closet. Donít fall for this. Itís a way that immature guys manipulate insecure girls. If heís that unstable, then he needs professional counseling, not a fifteen year old girlfriend.
If you leave him, it will teach him a very valuable lesson that his behavior has negative consequences that harm his life. Itís the fastest way to help him grow up. But even if he comes back to you saying he's a changed man, do NOT go back. He needs a lot of time to get on his feet, and you need some time to find out who you are, and what you're dreams and goals are in life. In the mean time, pray for courage and strength, and do not be afraid.