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Secret Girlfriend

We received an e-mail from a reader earlier this week whose boyfriend had asked her to keep their relationship secret. Here’s an excerpt:

… he didn’t want anyone to know about our relationship. He had in the past had a relationship and had a bad experience from it. The reason that he didn’t want to reveal the relationship was because there were many other girls in our church who also liked him and he was afraid that it would cause much quarrels and hatred between me and the other girls. (That was what happened to his past relationship.) And he felt he was not ready to tell anyone about the relationship.

I argued that I didn’t feel comfortable hiding it from my leaders as I myself am a leader, and I do want to set a good example to others. But, I compromised and continued on with the relationship.

I knew right off the bat that such a relationship was flawed. We at Boundless think a healthy relationship is characterized in part by transparency and submission to proper authority. This relationship had none of that.

She went on:

However, as time passed, I felt more and more disturbed because while we were in church, we would have to distance ourselves. It wasn’t helping either, because he was serving together with his ex-girlfriend (who still has feelings for him). They are still close to one another, serving together, sharing problems. There were many times that I felt so hurt in my heart and we quarreled over this issue. He said that I had jealousy in my heart, and he merely treated her as a sister. I do know that, but what about the girl?

The question I would like to ask is, is it wrong for me to feel this way? It is insecurity that I have. Is it wrong for me to feel hurt and jealous when I see the guy that I love being so close to another sister? And is it wrong to hide the whole relationship with everyone in the first place?

At the beginning of this year I felt more and more guilty about hiding the relationship and I told him that if we couldn’t reveal it, then we should not have a relationship at all. And thus, we ended our relationship because of this disagreement. It was so painful. Should I have ended it?

I wrote back immediately:

Yup, I do think you did the right thing. No dating/courtship relationship should be secret. He was wrong to insist that it stay that way.

She’s given me permission to share her e-mail here, which I’ve done. Now I’m interested in hearing your take on this situation. Is there ever a place for having a secret relationship? What do you think is wrong with such an arrangement? What can someone say to this man that will help him change his mind about the appropriateness of keeping his girlfriend a secret?

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