Good morning beautiful friends.

Last week I never got to post a question or response. Instead, I got stuck at O’Hare airport in Chicago on Sunday. My plane had mechanical problems and thus the long layover in Chicago while I waited for my connecting flight home to Allentown. I’m thankful I got home that evening, even though it was very late. I had hoped to finish writing this blog while I was waiting but my body and brain gave out and I had to rest. I just finished speaking at the Hearts at Home Conference in Rochester, Minnesota. What a wonderful organization of committed mom’s who want to help women be the best wife and mother they can possibly be. I love that I get to serve God and help women grow closer to Him and to the one’s they love most dearly.

I know some of you also prayed for me this past Monday night where I had the opportunity be a guest speaker on domestic violence for Winston Smith’s marriage class at Westminster seminary. I’ve been teaching this particular class for several years and I’m grateful that they consider this an important enough topic to devote an entire 3 hour session to understanding the underlying dynamics and how to best minister to a family caught in this devastating sin. I am always a little bit surprised at the number of people who are taking this class who find themselves also in a destructive/abusive relationship. It is such an important topic for the church to understand and address. I am grateful that more and more pastors and church leaders are asking good questions and wanting to know what they can do to be helpful and proactive in these situations.

This week I want you to share with me what specifically you are thankful for. In my weekly blog, our focus is typically on difficult relationship problems. But I don’t want you to lose sight of all the good that is around you even in the midst of the pain and suffering that you might be experiencing.

Please know how thankful I am for all of you who read these posts and e-mail me how they have been helpful to you. I am thankful for the work that God is doing in your hearts and relationships. I am so grateful for the wonderful opportunity God gives me to serve you through answering your questions each week.

And on a personal note I am thankful for my daughter Amanda who regularly posts pictures of Amaya, my new granddaughter on Facebook, so I can keep up with her beautiful progress, and my son, Ryan who is always so helpful to me and my husband, Howard, who brings me up a cup of hot tea with lemon every morning as I am waking up and my dear friend Barb who is cooking Thanksgiving this year.

This Week’s Question I have been in a dating relationship for almost 3 years. My boyfriend and I are in our 30’s and our relationship is always on and off due to my boyfriends talking, texting, e-mailing other women. He has 2 social networking accounts and when I get the chance to see what he has been up to, it’s usually not good.

He is handsome, funny, charming and loving, and I guess you can say has a roaming eye. He is a very good when he is with me…and we are almost always together. We have fun and do family activities and enjoy each other’s company. We don’t live together and we don’t have any children together. He has one daughter and I have 4 teens from my husband who passed away 5 years ago.

My problem is I cannot handle him talking with other women. It makes me so insecure and I am constantly watching to see what he is doing. His behavior hurts me and I have anxiety attacks after seeing him talk to these women. Some are high school girlfriends, ex’s and crushes. He doesn’t tell me he talks to them, he does it when I’m not around or he goes online whenever we have an argument, then he tells these women that I’m jealous and insecure. He shouldn’t be telling anyone my business right?

I love him very much but I feel I have no self-esteem. I am constantly comparing myself to these other women. We have been broken up for about a month and I wonder if I should give him another chance? I have told him what bothers me and if he just would stop doing it our life would be good. But he doesn’t seem to take my feelings into consideration.

As I am reading what I am writing, I believe I know the answer to this question. I am strong in faith and believe in God and prayer. I pray for him to change, but when I see him doing it again, it discourages me and I stop praying. I am so confused. I don’t know what to do anymore. Part of me wants him back but the other part says I deserve respect and deserve a lot better. Please, any feedback you could give me would be greatly appreciated.

Answer: Writing things down or speaking them out loud is a great clarifier. As you a noticed when you were writing out your concerns and question, deep down you already know the answer to your dilemma. You say that you love this man but you realize that he is not a good candidate for a long-term relationship. After almost 3 years of dating, it doesn’t sound like he wants to commit himself fully to you. He wants to be free to flirt with other women and text, e-mail and talk with them as he desires. The problem I see is that he isn’t being honest with you about his level of commitment to you, or that you’re not hearing him.

So what I want you to do is stop and ask yourself two questions. First, has he told you again and again that he’s not ready to have a serious long term committed relationship with you? Perhaps he tells you that he wants to “go out” and “have fun” but not exclusively? Have you ignored what he’s told you, hoping and praying that somehow he would change his mind and stop looking at other women and flirting? Then when you discover that he’s been doing those things, you compare yourself with these other women and feel more and more anxious, insecure and jealous?

If this is what’s going on, I think you know that it’s not a matter of giving him another chance. Instead you will need to hear what he is able to give you and then decide whether or not you want to accept that level of relationship. It sounds to me like you are ready for a more committed relationship but he may not be. If that’s true it’s best that you let go. He’s made it clear to you that he’s not ready to commit and his behavior continues to hurt you deeply.

You say you have a strong faith but I wonder if this man has become too central to your well-being as a person. From what you describe, you have allowed your self-esteem and emotional well-being to be totally dependent on him. That is a very slippery and dangerous slope for any person. Your need for security and love will never be fully met by another human being but only by God. When we ask another human being to give us what only God can give us, we’ve put him or her in the god position in our lives, making him/her an idol.

I’d encourage you to take the time now to strengthen your own relationship with God so that you become a God-centered woman instead of a man-centered woman. This will help you even if you answered no to the first question and yes to this next one.

The second question I want you to ask yourself is does he say one thing to your face like “I want to be in a committed relationship with you,” but then he behaves very differently when you’re not together or you’re not watching him?

If that’s the case, then you still may have put him in the god position in your life but you also have a different problem.

It’s crucial that you not confuse charm and charisma with good character. You say that he is a lot of fun to be with and treats you well in some ways but you’re also telling me that he hasn’t been truthful with you, he’s hiding what he’s doing and he’s been inconsiderate of your feelings He wants you in his life but he minimizes the pain he causes you. In addition, when you confront him on his actions, he flips things around so that the problem becomes your jealousy and insecurity instead of his deceit and flirtatious behaviors.

It’s important that you ask yourself why you would continue to pursue a relationship with someone who cannot be faithful to you, isn’t honest, and doesn’t care about how he hurts your feelings? Is it that you’re afraid to be alone? Or is it that you’re not sure you will be treated any better by someone else?

Do you really want to be a detective or policeman over his phone and internet use? If you choose to do that, how will that make you feel more secure or loved? When we start trying to control another person’s actions, it usually results in the other person becoming sneakier and more cleaver at hiding things, not in a more loving and honest relationship.

Your problem as I see it is that you don’t like your boyfriend’s deceit and flirtatious behavior. You don’t like feeling insecure around him and you don’t like that he doesn’t seem to value you enough to change his behaviors. You are discouraged that your prayers haven’t changed him yet but have you considered that perhaps God might be trying to change you instead so that you respect yourself enough to not allow yourself to continue to be treated in this way and that you not marry this kind of person?

I’d love to hear how you worked this through and what the results were. Please share your journey with the rest of us. God Bless.

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2 Comments

  1. Ropewalker on November 23, 2010 at 5:27 am

    I've got to be thankful this year, including your book and seminar, The Emotionally Destructive Relationship. But, this morning, I was eating some grapes and I thought; 'Lord, thank you for GRAPES!' They are a simply wonderful gift from our Father! Sweet. and/or Sour. Juicy. Cruncy. Handy. Portable. We can eat em as is or make Jelly. Jam. Juice. Wine. Chicken Salad.
    So, I'll say it again…Thank you dear Lord for your gift of GRAPES!

  2. Anonymous on November 23, 2010 at 6:19 am

    I am thankful for the hard things I have gone through in my life. It helps me to have compassion for others who are hurting and going through hard things in their lives. I am thankful that God helped me find Dr. Leslie Vernicks materials and website about Toxic Relationships May 2010, the same week of Mother's Day. I have been speaking up and standing up to my Mother. She is choosing not to listen to my feelings right now. I am having to do some hard things by not having contact with her. I am praying that my Mom will have a change of heart eventually, but for now I am having to get healthy and learning how to strengthen my self-respect muscle and become assertive, without feeling guilty and bad. I have also been dealing with the unforgiveness and bitterness. I am thankful that God has been helping me and bringing me to a healthy safe place. So many good changes, and God showing me His real love and that I am worth it and valuable to Him, no matter what my abusers say. For the first time I am seeing God as good and loving, instead of as a harsh hard abuser. I am also thankful for a safe church that God helped me to find. My past experiences have been with a lot of "religious abusers" who are hard, harsh judgmental and critical, who twist scriptures for their own benefit. Much like the ways my Mom has treated me. God is showing me the
    Truth and delivering me out of that bondage of being a people pleaser. I am becoming a God pleaser instead and not submitting myself to ungodly people who want to dominate and control. I am beginning to be okay with who God created me to be. I am being delivered from shame and condemnation, which I used to think was from God. Now I know that I was believing lies. God is revealing all the lies that have kept me captive as a prisoner. He is showing me the Truth and making me Free! I am truly Thankful….it's a God thing and He is healing my heart!

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