Ask Mary – Complicated Relationship

Dear Mary,

As a christian, I feel like people should be given second chances. That we should see the good in people despite their past mistakes. But when do we draw the line in the forgiveness?
I have had a complicated friendship with a guy for a bout a year, which briefly turned into a relationship that ended badly. He just can’t seem to make up his mind and decide what he wants. He has always been good to me and seems to genuinely care about me, but still seems to be attached to his ex. He seems to want the best of both worlds and keeps managing to pull me back into the complicated friendship.
Despite everything that has happened, I still care for him and have hope for the future. But at what point do I stop being the bigger person in the situation and move on from the past, even though I still enjoy hanging out with him?
sincerely,
undecided heart

 

Undecided,

So sorry to hear you are going through this.  Relationships sometimes can seem so complicated, when in reality they are not supposed to be complicated at all.  Our feelings get all tangled up and we don’t want to leave, so we call it “friendship,” but a real friend wouldn’t be doing this to you.

In truth, I don’t believe that guys and girls can be really close friends without it meaning anything more.  Sure I have my guy friends I can talk to from time to time, but I don’t have guys who are just “friends” that I chat with for hours on the internet, over texting, or late into the night on the phone.  Actually, I don’t even really have girlfriends I do that with on a regular basis :P  That’s because this is the behavior of a romantic relationship, and if your “friend” is letting the two of you do these things and calling it anything less, he is playing games and you need to call him out on it.

Should you forgive your friend for hurting you in the past?  Absolutely.  But should you give him an unmerited chance to do it again?  Probably not.

My advice is this: Be honest with him.  You can’t be just friends, and the complications and heartache of the last year should be evidence of that for you.  What you need from this guy is either hard-and-fast commitment, or for him to be out of your life completely—none of this in between stuff that makes you wait for him to make up his mind.  There is a difference between genuinely caring about you and wanting to genuinely care about you.  If he genuinely cared, he would recognize what this back and forth is doing to you and put an end to it either by committing to you or walking away.  Maybe he isn’t capable of genuinely caring about you the way you are supposed to be cared for right now.  Could that change in the future?  Sure.  But until there is evidence of that and he is willing and able to actually give you what you need, it is probably best to get out of the situation.

I’m not telling you to hate him or hold anything against him.  Sometimes being the bigger person means recognizing that a situation is not doing either of you any long-term good, and having the courage to walk away for both of your sakes.