Should I Break Things Off?

A couple of weeks ago, I posted this to the prayer request board:

A while ago, I had a relationship end when my boyfriend felt a call to the priesthood. Now, it looks like it might be happening again, with my (serious) current boyfriend feeling a pretty strong attraction to the religious life. It was hard enough the first time- I just can’t wrap my mind around it possibly happening twice!
I’d appreciate prayers for him to discern God’s will and for me to accept and love it.

For more background, he started feeling really attracted to the religious life after spending some time visiting a monastery. He says he thinks he’s to be a monk, but that he doesn’t want to break up. we don’t see or speak to each other very often right now (we’re a little far apart until school starts soon), but, when we do, he’s been pretty distant. He explained to me that he doesn’t feel he can return my affection and, at the same time, be trying to be a monk. That makes a lot of sense to me.
HOWEVER, I’m wondering now whether I should break up with him once school begins and we can talk properly. I love him quite a lot, and I’m worried that I’m a sort of obstacle to his discernment. I suspect that he’s only trying to save my feelings right now, but it might be best to keep things from dragging out. I advised him to start spiritual direction and to ask Father, in particular, what he should do about me. He listened to the first bit of advice, but as to the second, he said “well, I’m sure it’ll come up.”

My question is this: should I continue to leave things on his terms? This is what I want to do, because A) It’s his discernment. B) I naturally prefer to let him sort of “take charge”. He’s generally more prudent, calmer, and more reasonable than I. (especially calmer). C) Well, I don’t want to break up. Even though I’m growing more and more convinced it’s inevitable, I still dread it. Also, I still have a little hope.
On the other hand, it might be more loving to break things off. If he’s hesitation out of fear or reluctance to hurt me, then I don’t want to be the one standing in the way of his obedience to God. What should I do?

How did he come to tell you? Was it instantaneous, or after a period of time? What words did he use?

I don’t mean to badger you, but I feel that these are relevant to the discussion. :slight_smile:

I would suggest that you do break up. It will be easier for him to discern his vocation, and you will not have to constantly wonder. You say that it’s “almost inevitable” you will break up, so I agree with you that you should not want to drag it out any longer. It may be easier for you to end things now, before you can see no other option but the “inevitable” but do not want to break it off.

I’m sorry you’ve had this happen to you twice :hug1: This hasn’t happened to me in a romantic way, but this has happened in friendships I have had, and I know how you’re feeling right now. I want to say: Don’t worry. Things will look up for you, even if you don’t feel they will right now.


Since we all sin, it’s really your call.

I would suggest if you want to be with him, to accept him “warts and all”, not trying to change him.

I’ve heard it said that women typically go into a relationship thinking, “I can change him” whereas men tend to think, “She will always remain the same”! Neither is really true.

Is this something you can accept?

I see you live in Mexico. Perhaps you’re used to hearing the same thing people say here in Brazil: “A woman always marries a man hoping he will change, but he never does. A man always marries a woman hoping she won’t change, but she always does.”

Sort of… both.
A few months ago, he’d mentioned something like “I think it’s important to remember that we should both be open to having a vocation other than marriage. I hadn’t thought of it until now, but I guess it’s possible.” At that point, my attitude was pretty much “Well, duh” but perhaps that was the beginning of something for him.
Then, a few weeks ago, he spent a couple of weeks living in a monastery. We couldn’t talk while he was there (because of phone service.) His time at the monastery wasn’t for any sort of “discernment” type thing, but to study, so his going there wasn’t based on feeling any sort of call (I won’t say exactly the program since it was pretty small and I want to respect his privacy).
While he was gone, I’d written to him talking about the coming year, and how it would be a good time to start being more… purposeful in discerning a relationship. We’d talked about this before, but I had some ideas (ie get direction from one of the priests we know well, read some books, etc).
He called me when he got back, and mentioned my letter. He said that we did need to take discernment seriously, but that he thought he might also need to spend time visiting monasteries. Then, he said that he felt he should tell me that he felt strongly drawn to the sort of life he’d been exposed to over the past few weeks. He talked about the peacefulness and purpose that the monks had. He said that he could see clearly the sacrifice and joy in both the married and the religious life, and that he just didn’t know. Then, he said he “wasn’t 100% sure, but pretty sure about being a monk”, and began to talk about not knowing whether it was only out of cowardice or running away. Then… he said he still didn’t want to break up… and then talked about the food!
I though, at first, that he just had a really good time. The summer apart has been tough and required sacrifice from both of us, so the monastery probably seemed more pleasant. Also, we’re both very serious people and he has a tendency to want to choose the very best out of all possible options, or to do the hardest possible thing… which the religious life would be. I decided to wait and see.
Now, we got the chance to see each other, and it was nice, but he was a little distant.I told him that I loved him, and he didn’t respond. I mentioned something about not being quite sure how to act, but that I was trying to do right by him. He said “As you know, I’m trying to become a monk, so I hope you understand if I’m not ready to respond to your affection.” Then he told me that as always, he wanted me to be happy and was praying for me.
That’s about it. The last part, with “trying to be a monk”, seems like he’s decided… but he still hasn’t broken up with me. I’m VERY confused.

I don’t understand. It’s not a matter of acceptance. If he’s going to be a monk, then we could never get married, and I shouldn’t continue to date him.

I guess you answered your own question.

There are many nice Catholic men out there.
CAF is full of them.

So, I really shouldn’t wait for him to do it? I’m just scared to be the one to take the initiative- what if he’s NOT going to be a monk, and I ruin things for no reason?

What are you ruining?
If he doesn’t go through with it, he has your number, right?
If he doesn’t go through with it he may or may not look you up.
Only time will tell.
The ball is in his court. Don’t interfere with his possible vocation.
If it’s not God’s will, he’ll be around.
In the meantime, pray for God’s will to be fulfilled. Whatever that may be.

Okay, that’s all true. But (yes, I know “but” from someone you’re giving advice to is obnoxious) if the ball really is in his court, mightn’t it be better to wait for him to do the breaking up?
I’m sorry if it seems like I’m just being stubborn. I genuinely appreciate the advice.

Sent a PM.

I think you’re making way too much about “breaking up”.
If he goes away to a monastery or a seminary you’re broken up.
If you are apart and not dating openly, you’re broken up.
By pressuring him to “choose” you are appearing to be kind of selfish. If he leaves, he might not come back to you again if he feels like you manipulated him in to choosing, and I gather you want him to return to you.
Better to keep a friend. If it turns into more someday, great.
But if you care about him, you’ll just drop it.
Be cordial. But don’t force his hand.

So what you are saying is you would just sit around twiddling your thumbs while he decides whether you are in or out?

I think he wants to have it both ways. He wants to string you along until he makes up his mind what he wants to do.

Not right, no matter what decision he makes.

I am with the people that say break it off. “He is not that into you.”

If you are waiting for him to break up there really isn’t incentive for him to to do that.

Discern This Drama Boy

Especially if this has happened twice (read the post I linked; you are not the only one!). How did the first one work out? Did he take the initiative or did you?

The first one felt he was being called in the middle of the night, and broke up with me that morning (though he clearly didn’t WANT to, he was crying, he knew it was the right thing to do). In general, he was a lot more communicative/expressive than the current guy is.

Also, that link didn’t work!

Trying again. Discern This Drama Boy

Bruised Reed, great link.

It’s interesting that the writer in the blog piece also said the same thing I said earlier, “he’s just not that into you.” She also spoke about being strung along.

If he is discerning, you are not his first choice. His discernment is. And if he decides he does not want to become a priest, will you really feel special to him, or will you feel like his default choice?

Okay, I think it’d be best to break up.
I’ll talk to him once we’re back in school (in a few days).
Now just to decide what to say.

Perhaps all you need to say is that you think you should break it off. He is discerning and you want to look for someone that is not, someone that is fully open to a relationship and where it may lead. Wish him the best and tell him you will pray for his happiness whatever his choice ends up being.

Do not leave the door open by saying you will be there if he decides he wants you instead. That isn’t fair to either of you.

May God bless you and guide you. :slight_smile:

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