Here are the questions to ask yourself.
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 100 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.
Saint 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 will put up with disrespectful behavior, compromise their values, and stay in dead-end relationships that should have ended long ago. Many couples become so close they feel as if the other person is their entire world. If they let the person go, they fear they will have nothing left and love will be lost forever. Do not give in to this fear.
If the guy has some major issues, do not move toward marriage expecting these issues to 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 motivation to change. All of the impetus 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 will not hurt. Also, do not jump back into the relationship quickly if you see signs of improvement in his behavior. A person can manipulate another into letting him back even if he has not 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.
When you become close to a boyfriend, it can be easy to overlook his faults. One way to prevent this from happening is to make a calendar of his unhealthy behavior. For example, If he has a habit of being disrespectful or of flirting with other girls, mark this on a calendar every time it happens (without his knowledge). Ideally, you should leave him as soon as it happens. But if you don’t feel strong enough to let go and you have the habit of justifying his behavior, it will be hard to deny the evidence when you see the pattern documented in your own handwriting.
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 not easy to do. If the two of you are to be friends again one day, you need space right now. When people try the “just friends” approach right after a breakup, it is usually because they are dragging their feet and 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.
Since you are here…
…we’d like to have one more word with you. We are excited to report that Aleteia’s readership is growing at a rapid rate, world-wide! Our team proves its mission every day by providing high-quality content that informs and inspires a Christian life. But quality journalism has a cost and it’s more than ads can cover. We want our articles to be accessible to everyone, free of charge, but we need your help. To continue our efforts to nourish and inspire our Catholic family, your support is invaluable. Become an Aleteia Patron today for as little as $3 a month. May we count on you?