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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

When Someone You LIke Begins Straying Off the Path with Their Current "Relationship"

[Readers,

This column is a followup from the one I posted yesterday.  I've been dropping the ball lately (my apologies) on publishing columns Monday, Wednesday, and Friday like I've promised, so I'm going to try to make it up to you by sliding in this extra one.

Blessings to you all!

- Bro Jo]



Dear Bro Jo,

Hi Bro Jo, this is NW. =)

I e-mailed you a while ago about my best (Mormon) guy friend/crush, who is dating (steadily, girlfriend / boyfriend) a non-Mormon girl.

You told me to, um "stop treating him like the sun, moon and stars", which I thought was hilarious!

Anyway, you said not to talk to him about it, but to go have my own life. I've been trying to follow your advice, but it's been harder than I expected. I love him a lot. But I'm trying, and I think I've been maintaining some good distance.

The reason I'm e-mailing you is that things have gotten worse with him, and I'd like a re-reply?

Something like that.

See, since I e-mailed you last, he's...changed. He's not acting like himself anymore, and I would know, because he's been my friend for 4 years.

I'm not the only one who's noticed. My friends all agree, and some of them don't even know him that well.

The adult leaders are also worried.

He's usually really bright and sunny, right? Totally charismatic, funny, and a great leader. He makes everyone around him happy. And sometimes, he's still like that.

Sometimes he's still my friend.

But then all of a sudden, he'll go "dark", I'd call it. He gets all angsty and depressed and stops talking to me and the others. He beats himself up, too, calling himself "a jerk" or "selfish".

Orchestra means everything to him, but he keeps saying he's not good enough, even though he's so gifted it makes me jealous sometimes.

This switch can happen in the space of a few minutes.

When he's not in either state, though, he'll get flippant and even cruel, saying things to me I know he never would have once said. We already got in one brief fight about it, before I even knew he was with the girl.

It's horrible because he's always been such a good guy, like, the type who would NEVER go against the Church or his parents' rules, or hurt anyone, and I think this is messing him up. I've heard some... bad things about the girl, too, and she might be just making it worse. I know for a fact he's lying to his parents about it, and he's been ditching classes and seminary.

He's destroying himself, and it's killing me a little.

The other kids either don't know him well enough or are too scared to talk to him about it. He's ignoring the adults.

So my re-question is, do I talk to him about it NOW?

Or do I keep being a distant alternate option, dateable and friendly enough to make him not want to be in a stuck relationship?

You recommended basically the second before, but now... I'm really scared for him. I'm so tempted to start yelling at him to get his life together (I've even had dreams where I do just that). Of course, that would be unproductive. But one of my friends suggested I say "I'm worried about you. You don't seem happy," and leave it at that.

Your advice??

Very much in need of help,

- Name Withheld




Dear NW,

I agree with your friend.

As a friend, or more appropriately As A Sister (I hope the difference makes sense), you have a right . . . an Obligation, to say “hey, you seem really unhappy lately, what’s going on?”

As he talks to you he may or may not want your input or advice; you may or may not think he needs to go talk to someone in authority . . . like the Bishop.

Start by just listening.

If it all gets a little deeper than you’re comfortable going, tell him so. And then refer him on.

If he won’t open up, then the best you can do is say “well, that’s just how it seems to me, and I thought maybe you’d want to talk to someone; if not me, then perhaps someone else”.

Wish him happiness and move on.  Don't abandon him as a friend, but give him the space he needs to be responsible for his own actions (as a dad I can tell you, that can be Very Difficult . . . but it's Very Valuable).

Oh, and as always whenever you’re about to have a difficult conversation, I highly recommend praying first; these are moments when we definitely need the Spirit.

The "Boyfriend - Girlfriend Thing in High School (or before)?  Yeah . . . Never a Good Idea.

IMHO

- Bro Jo

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