Is it unwise to keep in touch with my ex-boyfriend?

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Is it unwise to keep in touch with my ex-boyfriend?

Mar 25, 2014 |Scott Croft
Question

I recently broke up with my long-distance boyfriend of almost one year. From that breakup, I am reminded that God is close to the broken-hearted, but there are two questions I have as follow-up.

1) During that time, we discussed the topic of communication and whether or not we should keep in touch, and if so, how we would maintain that in a healthy way. We have had minimal communication, and being long-distance makes it somewhat easy to refrain from communicating. But as I pray about contact, I'm not sure what is wise. We did not part on bad terms, but I do want to make sure I am wise and guarding my heart.

2) During the course of our relationship, we also talked about the possibility of my moving and/or changing jobs. Now, as I seek to ask God whether or not I should apply for jobs outside of my home city (not necessarily in the city that he lives in), I wonder if I am trying to run from my problems and my heartache. I know this is complicated and not necessarily simple or straight-forward, but I feel like God's Word tells me to be patient, and I'm not sure if I am taking matters in either of these situations into my own hands. Please help!

Answer

Thanks for writing, and I'm sorry to hear that your relationship didn't work out. Obviously, I don't know the specifics of your situation, but let me try to offer some broad thoughts on each of your questions in turn.

First, as to keeping in close touch with your ex-boyfriend, I don't think I would recommend that as a general matter. You didn't write about why you ended the relationship, but often when a serious relationship ends — especially if, as you said, you were able to stay on good terms with one another — the temptation exists to try and hang on in some way to the security and companionship the relationship provided. That course usually proves to be unwise.

For one thing, continued efforts at regular communication on your part may create confusion and hurt for you and/or your ex-boyfriend. You broke off the relationship, but it looks like you want to keep talking and interacting — at least in some ways — as if you still want that relationship. I've written in several columns that close friendships between single men and women tend to be problematic in part because of the likelihood of confusion and hurt on someone's part about what the relationship really is and where it is or isn't headed. Those issues, it seems to me, would be even more in play where a dating relationship did exist and then ended on relatively good terms. Even if you are really clear in your own heart and mind about what you want and don't want from your interactions, your ex-boyfriend may not be as clear. Where there is lack of clarity — especially combined with the potential desire on his part to resume the relationship — hurt and confusion are likely to follow.

In other words, without knowing any more specifics of your situation, the kinder path would seem to be to have a clear breakup, or, if you desire to resume the relationship and have received good godly counsel about it, make that clear to your ex-boyfriend instead.

The other issue with keeping aspects of your relationship going is that it may — whether consciously or subconsciously — keep both of you from moving on. If your needs for opposite-sex relationship and companionship are being at least partially met by one another, his incentive to pursue and your incentive to be open to a new, godly, viable relationship will be diminished. Also, keep in mind that others in your churches or friend groups are likely to notice your apparent continued relationship with one another (though long-distance communication is certainly less noticeable than continuing to hang out together) and act accordingly in terms of a decision whether to date either of you. If the two of you ultimately desire to be married, the temporary pain of a real separation — and the desire for companionship that it leaves unfulfilled — probably is the wiser course. In the meantime, as you said, the God of all comfort is "near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit" (Psalm 34:18).

As to your job question, you have a lot of Christian freedom here. Based on your question, I would not advise you to seek and take a job in your ex-boyfriend's city (at least not because he's there). I normally would not counsel someone — a woman in particular — to uproot and move for a relationship unless it is a thriving, mutually committed, bordering-on-engagement-or-marriage relationship. That clearly does not exist at this point between you and your ex. There may be other reasons to consider that city, but you will need some good counsel from godly people you trust to make sure a decision to go there is a clear-headed one.

More generally, as you consider whether and where to move, remember that God calls us not merely to patience, but to positively make the most of our singleness by serving in a solid church, loving others, and pursuing growth in Christ. I would encourage you to prioritize a good church (whether that means staying at one or moving to another city to find one) and life with God's people over any particular job or city. God also calls all of us ultimately to find our contentment in Christ rather than in any particular set of circumstances (see Philippians 4:10-13). If you are not pursuing that contentment, a mere change in scenery will not ultimately satisfy.

Beyond that, seek godly counsel from Christians you trust, consult God's Word, and go (or stay) where you can serve Him best. God's Word gives His children great freedom in exactly how to pursue His glory with our lives, so long as His glory is why we do what we do.

I will pray for the Lord to give you wisdom.

For His glory,
SCOTT CROFT

Copyright 2014 Scott Croft. All rights reserved.

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