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I am in my very first relationship. I am 19 years old. Years ago, there was a boy that I thought was my friend that took advantage of me and did some awful things to me. It freaked me out, and it literally took me four years to get the courage to actually see anybody. This year, I met an amazing boy who loves God. I was terrified to get involved at first and pushed him away for months. He pursued me the whole time. Finally after four months, I have him a chance and I fell fast and hard for him. We’ve now been together for 5 months, but i find myself closing up to him. Im afraid, because I realize now that ive given him most of my heart. He knows a lot of stuff about me that my best friends of 6 years don’t even know. Ive become completely transparent with him, and now i’m terrified. We’ve gotten to serious to quickly. I feel that I’ve trusted him way to easily How do I handle this situation? I can’t unsay the things Ive told him. (we haven’t gone far physically. only kissed, no french)
It’s perfectly understandable that someone taking advantage of you would have a seriously adverse effect on your ability and desire to trust people. Taking it slow and being cautious was very wise. Finally taking the leap was a very brave step, it is very easy to let past hurt and fear control us and you chose to move forward, that is a huge victory to be celebrated. It also makes sense that after 4 months of pursuit and waiting, you jumped in with both feet once you started dating each other.
All that makes perfect sense, but here is where you lose me: what on earth is “giving someone a piece of your heart”? That phrase is all over Christian dating books and talk, but it seems to be a phrase void of meaning. What it is loaded with is guilt and fear. How do you give your heart away? You still have it. Sometimes these buzz phrases run wild without anyone thinking about that the idea might be…you know, dumb.
You’ve shared a lot about yourself with the guy your dating sooner than you may have been comfortable with. If you are uncomfortable with that then you can certainly talk to your boyfriend and maybe get a little space. The problem is if you are only freaked out because some dude you’ve never met wrote a Christian dating book saying that you should feel guilty. Are you worried this guy will go around telling everyone what you’ve told him? Has he given you reason to not trust him? If so, then that is something you can address with him, openly and honestly. If you don’t have those concerns, then you should look at where these feelings are coming from.
It is perfectly natural to get a little freaked out at a certain level of intimacy, especially if you’ve never been in a relationship before. No one likes putting themselves in a position to be hurt, but that is part of the deal with romantic relationships. That’s why the “don’t give away part of your heart” stuff is enticing, it offers the idea of love without risk, of relationships where you never take the chance of being hurt. But that is not the way people work, and it is not the way love works. You can and should be level headed and thoughtful, which it sounds like you have been, but there is no eliminating risk in relationships.
As for what to do in your current relationship: if you decide that things have moved too fast, then you need to communicate that honestly and slow things down a bit. Just shutting down without saying why will be destructive to the relationship and unfair to both you and your boyfriend. If things don’t work out, you will go through the hurt of that and then you will pick yourself up, dust yourself off and learn from that experience for your next relationship. Making mistakes, working through them or not, getting hurt and gaining wisdom is all part of the dating thing and there is nothing wrong with it.
-Matt from The Bridge
a few years back i dated this guy. it didn’t work out but we decided to stay friends and we became VERY close. like the call multiple times a day,go to family functions, and just love being together close. during our 3 year friendship i fell in love with him and i was told i was loved in return. that was one of the many lies i was told. i cut him out of my life over a year ago and it was the best thing i’ve ever done. over the course of that year he’s been calling and texting with little response from me. I knew he was dating someone and I was ok with that, I felt bad for her because of his history with lying and cheating but I’m glad he is happy. I’ve just learned that he’s engaged and the old hurt is returning with a vengeance. How can i get past this for good. I don’t want to hurt anymore, I don’t want to feel like I’m not good enough anymore. I’ve been praying nonstop since I found out, I’m comforted but the years of hurt just simply won’t go away.
There are a lot of things going on in this situation so the first step is to identify and isolate the main thing. It seems like the confusion is coming from the fact that intellectually, you know that this shouldn’t effect you. This guy is a cheater and a liar and you dodged a lot of misery by not being with him. Yet, you still feel the hurt of not being chosen by him, even though he is not someone you would want to be with. This happens to everyone sometimes, you know how you should feel logically, but you don’t feel that way.
Let’s look some facts that you can return to when you start feeling overcome by the negative feelings.
You cut this person out of your life for a reason. This is not a case of “oh it just wasn’t the right time and now the window is closed”. The relationship didn’t work out, then dude used friendship as an avenue to emotionally manipulate and lie to you. If you were getting married to this guy, your life would be miserable for it. We often tend to look at our past and focus on the good, which is only natural, but you have to force yourself to see the whole picture for what it really was.
The age at which you get married doesn’t mean anything, it is not a race. People, especially women, especially Christian women, often seem to see getting married as a statement about you as a person. It is some sign of arrival as an adult, or a statement that you are a person who is officially worthy of love, or something. Here is the thing no one really says: if your prime goal is to get married, you can have that hooked up anytime you want. You can find some dude who is clueless and charm him around your little finger and be at the altar before you can say “terrible idea”. Now, if your goal is to live the life Jesus wants for you, including a partner who will make that life richer, then it takes some patience. But that time doesn’t say anything about you other than the fact that you are a grown woman who knows what she deserves and knows the God who is going to provide it. That makes for a long term, happy situation.
There are people who deserve no say in how you feel about yourself. This one is tough. Most people, but again maybe girls more so, are raised to believe that it is possible and a good goal to make everyone happy. We all have that fantasy that we will be the right weight, have the right list of accomplishments, have the right quiver of witty comeback, and everyone will just declare “we are officially impressed and accept you now” and then we will be happy. The problem with that is some people are jackasses. They will always want more, always look to tear you down, always want to use your insecurity to their own ends. People who treat you poorly forfeit their right to have any impact on the way you feel about yourself. It is a very hard concept to get your head and heart around, but it is incredibly freeing once you do. On the other hand, Christ purchased you with His blood, so He has earned the right to tell you who you are and He is crazy about you.
Focus on things that do define you in Christ. Keep praying, even though it is hard, and ask the Lord to show you who you actually are in Him. A conqueror, a beloved daughter, a princess, an ambassador of Christ. I would also advise you to find a place to live that out through service. Helping someone else who is going through a tough time can give you a sense of purpose and strength that will drown out the naysaying voices. That could be as simple as helping at a soup kitchen, teaching children’s sunday school, volunteering at a women’s shelter, anything.
Unfortunately there are no magic words, no 7 step programs, that will take away the pain and make you sad-proof. There is a Jesus who loves you, who listens and speak actual truth about who you are into your heart; and there is a world of people who would love to have someone like you come alongside them. Even if you can’t see it now, you will come out of this with a sense of who you are and what you can make it through that you didn’t have before.
-Matt from The Bridge
I’m a Christian but my boyfriend is not. He used to believe but over the past few years (before I knew him) he found problems with it and now regards himself as a deist. He’s completely open to the possibility that his mind / heart / faith could change again in the future and he’s completely supportive of me. How do you feel towards relationships between a Christian and a none Christian?
Relationships between Christians and non-christians don’t work. And it makes sense that if you disagree on the most fundamental thing about how you see the world, then a relationship can’t fire on all cylinders. You want to pray about big decisions, he doesn’t believe in prayer. You are fired up about a missions trip, he isn’t going to want to go with you if he doesn’t believe in the reason behind the mission. It is a deeply foundational difference where the most important thing in your life is something he is open to, someday, maybe, if he sees a sign.
Deism is not a healthy medium either. James 2:19 says “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that”. To be clear, I am not calling your boyfriend a demon. I’m not even saying he is a bad dude, he sounds perfectly nice. What I am saying is that acknowledging that there might be a deity of some sort in the universe is not anywhere near accepting the love of Jesus and declaring Him Lord of your life.
I think it is great that your boyfriend is supportive of you, but that is not what you want. What you want is a partner. You want someone who can push you and help you in your walk with the Lord, which someone who is not walking with Jesus simply cannot do.
There is nothing in the Bible about dating non-believers, in fact there is pretty much nothing in the Bible about dating. Dating as we know it has been around for less than a century. But the Bible is clear that you shouldn’t get married to a non-believer. So if you know you can’t marry this person, then isn’t the relationship running on borrowed time as it is?
I think the mistake a lot of young Christians make is that they hang on to a relationship they shouldn’t out of fear that God will never let them have another one. The thinking is “I should just hold out that this guy gets saved, because who knows if I’ll ever get another boyfriend”. As with all decisions made out of fear, it ends up blowing up in your face. You need to have the faith in God that He is going to give you the relationship you are meant to have, with a godly man who can be a spiritual leader, and not settle for less out of fear.
-Matt from The Bridge
I’ve slept with several men, and I know that spiritually I am married too them. Though I loved each one at the time, I’ve decided now that I want too wait - mainly because sex means nothing too me. I have a child. And I was wondering, how on earth am I supposed too act around men, just, generally, and also, what should I potentially expect from a future Christian man or whatnot? What kind of man figure should I accept as a father, and mate? What characteristics should I look for?
Well I don’t know who told you that you are “spiritually married” to every person you’ve slept with, nor do I have any idea what “spiritually married” means, but that is not a scriptural idea. You made mistakes in the past, but you don’t have to carry them with your for the rest of your life. Jesus separated your sins from you, they are paid for, you don’t need to keep dragging them around.
That brings us to the question of what you should be looking for in a Christian man. You want a guy who is aware that who you were is your past, not who you are or who you are being made into. That means a guy who is aware that he too has a past, and he knows that the love of Jesus has rendered that past null and void, and he is aware that the same is true of you.
This dude is also going to be a stepfather, and that is a job for a real man. This is, again, from a proper understanding of the mercy and love that God has showed him. God is a father by choice, which is a deep love and one that your future husband will have an acute understanding of. There is a massive mature move in saying “I have claimed this child as my own and they are mine.”
What you want in a partner is someone who knows who they are in the Lord. If there is any lingering insecurity or lack of identity, then that could turn out very poorly. A man who knows the depth and width of the love, mercy and grace that Jesus has poured out on him will have a proper understanding of how Jesus feels about your past (He has forgiven you completely and forever). We love because Christ first loved us, so a man has to understand and receive God’s love before he can give love to you.
-Matt from The Bridge
what do you do if you are in a relationship with somebody, a christian, who a few months down the road starts to have serious doubts about their faith? i know we’re not supposed to be unequally yoked, but is it really the right thing to do to ditch someone because they’re questioning their beliefs? The disciples doubted Christ everyday, even knowing him in person and watching all his miracles..
Let’s get this straight right off the bat: a break up is not a divorce. You don’t have to fill out a form and give a cause. You can break up with someone for any reason you see fit, and you are under no moral or spiritual obligation to justify that decision to anyone. If you feel that you don’t want to be in a relationship with someone anymore, then it is not a wrong thing to do.
You are also setting a pretty ridiculously high bar if you will only break up with someone over a behavior that Jesus wouldn’t have put up with from the disciples. You are not Jesus, and you do not want the relationship with your significant other that He had with the disciples. I think a boyfriend denying publicly that he knows you or turning you over to the cops for silver would be behaviors that would certainly warrant a break up. The thing about Jesus’ earthly relationships is that He was needless, you are not. You have needs in a relationship, and you should break it off if those needs are not getting met.
It seems that you are afraid you will be thought of as mean or heartless if you dump this person when they are going through a tough time. What that doesn’t take into account is that you are not this person’s therapist or their babysitter, you are their romantic partner. If they are not holding up their end of that partnership, then you don’t have to stick around just because. You want someone who will help strengthen your walk with the Lord and help you serve Him better. You at the very least want someone who shares your values and worldview.
This person is not bad for going through a season of doubt. They are not cut off from God and they are, as you point out, certainly not the first person to go through this. But they are also not in a position to be a good significant other right now. Maybe that will change, maybe it won’t, but you deserve someone who will give you their all and is in a position to be an able partner for you. You need to believe that and be willing to take the risk of ending the wrong relationship to find the right one.
-Matt from The Bridge
What happens if you get into a relationship with someone who is a Christian and then starts to have serious doubts about it a few months down the road?
Well there are a couple of pretty obvious answers to this question. The first one is talk to the person you are dating about how you are feeling and the doubts you are having. And then, depending on how strong your doubts are and how that conversation, there is a possibility you should break up with them. Those answers are obvious to the point that what we really need to look at is why you seem to be trying to avoid them.
There are not a lot of things about relationships that are universal, but one is that communication is of the utmost importance. If you can’t talk to someone about real feelings that you are having, unpleasant as they may be, then you cannot have a functional relationship with that person. The plan of just waiting for your doubts and fears to resolve themselves is something we have all tried, and it never works. I know the conversation will be uncomfortable, but life’s like that sometimes.
Having doubts does not necessarily mean your relationship is doomed. I know that people who write movies and people who write Christian dating books would have you believe that once love happens, there is never a moment of anything but rainbows and gentle music. Unfortunately, relationships that aren’t scripted involve real people and real people have moods, and insecurities, and doubts. Talking it out is the only way to resolve it, which is the only chance you have at the relationship moving forward in a positive direction.
And while we are on the subject of wildly unrealistic attitudes some Christians have about dating, a break up is not a failure of you two as human beings, it does not mean that you have given away a piece of your heart that you will never get back, or any other nonsense. A break up means that you made the determination that a relationship wasn’t working for you and you decided to end it. That is a good thing, that is a mature thing. Dating can lead to marriage, but agree to date someone is not some engaged to be engaged to be engaged promise.
Break ups suck, and they hurt, but they are not sinful. We Christians, as a culture, have a huge problem with confrontation. There are people who would rather everybody just be miserable in silence forever, than someone say something that will may hurt someone’s feelings, but will allow us to move on. A couple of years ago, I was dating a girl I was absolutely, out of my mind, head over heels about. She broke up with me. It wrecked me, but it didn’t make her a bad person. It made her a person who respected herself, and me, enough to not want to be in a relationship that wasn’t working for her. I could see past the hurt to respect why she made that choice.
Niceness is not next to godliness. If you want out of the relationship and don’t say anything out of guilt and fear, you will be shortchanging both yourself and your significant other. That is neither nice nor godly.
-Matt from The Bridge