Young People Ask . . .
How Can I Stop Liking Someone?
“I AM 20 years old and a baptized Witness of Jehovah. But I began dating a 28-year-old [unbeliever]. I loved him, and I believed that he loved me. My parents didn’t know about it, for I knew they would not approve. When they did find out, they were hurt and shocked. They could not understand how I could be emotionally involved with a worldly man.”
So wrote one Christian young woman we will call Monique.* Sad to say, a number of young people have found themselves in similar predicaments—infatuated with or romantically attached to an unbeliever, someone who does not share their Christian beliefs and moral standards. The preceding article in this series (Awake! of May 22, 1994) showed that such a relationship is not only displeasing to God but also a serious threat to one’s happiness and well-being. Young Ruth came to realize this fact. “I became quite close to a guy who was not a believer,” she confesses. “I realized, though, that if I was to have any kind of relationship with Jehovah, I had to cut off the relationship with him.”
If you are a Christian, you can probably quote the Bible’s words at James 4:4: “Do you not know that the friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever, therefore, wants to be a friend of the world is constituting himself an enemy of God.” But if you are emotionally involved with an unbeliever, these words may not be so easy to apply. Indeed, the idea of breaking off the relationship may overwhelm you. You may feel virtually torn apart inside. ‘How can I stop liking—or loving—someone?’ you may ask.
The apostle Paul once said: “I really delight in the law of God according to the man I am within, but I behold in my members another law warring against the law of my mind and leading me captive to sin’s law that is in my members. Miserable man that I am!” (Romans 7:22-24) Like Paul, you may be experiencing a struggle with your feelings. Yet, a number of Christian youths have won this battle and have been, as it were, ‘snatched out of the fire.’ (Compare Jude 23.) How? By ending destructive relationships before irreparable damage was done.
Mark, for example, developed what he calls “a serious crush” on an unbeliever when he was only 14 years old. Rather than seek help, he tried to keep his feelings secret. But his feelings for the girl only grew stronger. Soon he was making secret telephone calls to her. When she started calling back, it was just a matter of time before his parents figured out what was going on.
Don’t make the same mistake of trying to solve the problem on your own. Proverbs 28:26 says: “He that is trusting in his own heart is stupid, but he that is walking in wisdom is the one that will escape.” Really, would you be in this situation in the first place if your judgment wasn’t somewhat impaired? At times our emotions overcome reason, and we need the help of someone more clearheaded and objective. Your parents are probably in the best position to help you, especially if they are God-fearing. Likely, they know you better than anyone else does. They were young once and can be helped to understand what you’re going through. At Proverbs 23:26, the Bible writer Solomon exhorts: “My son, do give your heart to me, and may those eyes of yours take pleasure in my own ways.” Why not give your heart to your parents, and let them know you need help?
Young Jim did that very thing. He was in the throes of a strong infatuation with a girl at school. He says: “I finally asked my parents for help. This was a key to my overcoming these feelings. They helped me a lot.” Having experienced his parents’ loving support, Jim gives this advice: “I think other young Christians should not hesitate to talk to their parents. Communicate with them. They will understand you.”
In a similar situation, a youth named Andrew availed himself of yet another avenue of help. Regarding his attendance at a local circuit assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses, he says: “One of the talks hit me. The circuit overseer gave strong counsel against developing relationships with members of the opposite sex who are not Christians. I knew I had to correct my thinking right away.” So what did he do? First he talked to his mother, a single parent, and benefited from her advice. Then he also approached an elder in the local congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, who was able to render follow-up assistance. Congregation elders can be “like a hiding place from the wind and a place of concealment from the rainstorm” for distressed ones. (Isaiah 32:2) Why not approach one of them, and let him know what is troubling you?
Making a Clean Break
When Mark’s parents discovered his secret relationship, they reacted immediately. “They were very direct in telling me to stop this relationship,” says Mark. “My initial reaction was rebellious. We exchanged words loudly, and I shut myself in my room. But soon reality set in, and I realized the girl and I had different goals. It was not going to work.” Yes, meditating on the realities of the situation can help cool off your feelings. Ask yourself: ‘Does this person share my goals, my convictions, my moral standards? Were we to marry, would this person support my efforts to worship God? Does this person share my enthusiasm for spiritual things? Really, what harmony could there be in such a relationship?’—Compare 2 Corinthians 6:14-18.
Making a clean break will not be easy, though. Monique, mentioned at the outset, admits: “I tried on two occasions to break off the relationship but unsuccessfully. I didn’t want to let him go completely. I tried witnessing to him, hoping he would accept Jehovah. He even came to a Sunday meeting once. But he had no real interest in Jehovah. I realized that the proper course was to let him go completely.”
This reminds us of Jesus’ words at Matthew 5:30. There he spoke about things that could hinder one’s entrance into God’s Kingdom—things that might be as dear as a right hand. Even so, Jesus advised: “Cut it off and throw it away from you. For it is more beneficial to you for one of your members to be lost than for your whole body to land in Gehenna [a symbol of eternal destruction].” In harmony with this principle, courageously approach the person with whom you are involved and “speak truth.” (Ephesians 4:25) In a public setting—not alone or in a romantic situation—let him or her know in no uncertain terms that the relationship is over. Young Sheila recalls: “What worked for me was taking definite action. No more lunches together. No more seeing each other during study periods. I made my position clear to him.” A Christian girl named Pam was equally blunt: “I finally told him to leave me alone, and I just ignored him.”
Getting Over the Pain
In the aftermath of such a breakup, you may feel like the psalmist who said: “I have become disconcerted, I have bowed low to an extreme degree; all day long I have walked about sad.” (Psalm 38:6) Some period of grieving is only natural. The Bible acknowledges that there is “a time to weep.” (Ecclesiastes 3:4) But you need not grieve forever. The pain will diminish in time. “Yes,” admits Mark, “I did go through a grief period. My parents sensed this and increased my associations with other Christian youths. This was very helpful.” Andrew, who similarly felt depressed after his breakup, says: “The elders helped. I also got more involved in the preaching work and got close to some Christian brothers with whom I had a good rapport.” Yes, get busy in spiritual works. (1 Corinthians 15:58) Some physical activity or exercise may also help. Avoid solitude. (Proverbs 18:1) Keep your mind on things that are cheerful and upbuilding.—Philippians 4:8.
Remember, too, that Jehovah will be pleased with your courageous stand. Feel free to go to him in prayer for help and support. (Psalm 55:22; 65:2) “I engaged in a lot of prayer,” recalls young Sheila. No, it is not easy to end a harmful relationship. Admits Sheila: “Even though it’s over, I sometimes think about him and wonder what he is doing. But you stick to your resolve, knowing you are pleasing Jehovah.”
The names have been changed.
[Picture on page 18]
Let the person know in no uncertain terms that the relationship is over