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Friday, March 8, 2013

Getting Him Not to Wait for You When He Comes Home and You're Gone - and Why That's a Good Thing

Dear Bro Jo,

I just posted a comment on the Waiting for a Missionary post from 2009. I didn't realize it was from so long ago until I made a comment.

I posted as anonymous about the boy I've been writing on a mission but how I'm also going on a mission and he wants to wait for me.

Anyway, I know you have to approve all the comments for them to be seen so I just wanted to say that you don't have to put the comment up if you don't want since it's from so long ago or you can if you want, either way is fine. I don't really want my name on anything, but I would really like some advice, so if you could at least email me back or post a comment that would be great.

I do know that a lot of girls are having similar problems as me - leaving on a mission while a boy they had been writing comes back soon.


Future Sister Missionary

Dear Future Sister,

Thank you for writing me via email! Much more personal than an anonymous comment.

Even though that original post is from nearly 4 years ago, it still gets read, responded to, and referred to often. (I find it interesting that with the change in Missionary Ages that the emails have gotten a little different.)

For context (and for our readers) here's what your comment said:

Hi Bro Jo, I just read this post and all the comments and I guess I have a question. I dated someone for 2 years in High School and he went on a mission. I broke up with him before he left because I didn't want to wait for him. He's been gone about 14 months, and I write him weekly and send him packages frequently. I agree that waiting is silly and that holding yourself back is easy to do when you do wait. But it's pretty hard to just stop loving someone and stop talking to them. I don't think that loving him is holding me back - I go on dates and I've actually received my own mission call. He comes back November 2013 and I'll come home in November of 2014. So my question is, when he comes back I think he'll want to wait for me. It'll be a year where he's home without me, and we both still have a great relationship that's supportive and encouraging. I think that both of us have needed each other in these past months. How do I get him to do the right thing and not "wait"? He keeps saying he's not going to want to date anyone when I'm so close to coming home and we can be together (we've never discussed our wedding or even told each other we want to get married because I feel that's inappropriate) I realize now that this was a big long ramble, but I wanted any 3rd party advice I could get before I ship off to the MTC in May. - Anonymous 

First of all, I've never said to stop loving someone. That would be silly. I'm not even sure how one does that!

Secondly, if you're wondering: no, wouldn't tell him to "wait" for you if he asked. I'd tell him what I tell all RM Young Men: go on at least one date a week, changing it up, dating different girls until he found one that he wanted to date so much more than the others that she became his weekly (or more often) date. And if he dated her a few times in a row and realized he wasn't as interested as he thought he was at first, move on to someone new. Or back to someone he'd previously dated (if she was still available) that he couldn't get out of his mind or simply just thought it would be fun to date again.

When y'all are separated, especially when the separation happens so young and the period is for a relatively long period of time (two years, after all, is 10% of your life! whereas for an Old Person, like myself, 2 years is only about 4.5% of mine) and not only can things change, but we build up this fantasy image of what someone is really like.

(Relative Tangent: this is why some "Old People" - stupidly in my opinion - leave their marriages for that person they remember from High School or College; they have this image in their mind . . . this mythical person they think they remember, and they convince themselves - usually quite wrongly - that if they can just "recapture" that relationship As They Remember It, it will be easier than working out the problems they're having in their current relationship. But enough on that for now.)

What you can do for this young man (and yourself) is to tell him that you have no idea if you're meant to be together, if you'll be Good Eternal Companions for each other, and while you've had the freedom and opportunity to date others while he's been gone, you wish him to have the same freedom. That way, you'll say, when you come back . . . if he's still single and interested, the two of you can date again knowing that, him having all of this new dating experience, that he's dating you because he's dated others and is still looking . . . not because he's been lonely and "waiting" for three years (total).

Whether or not he takes you up on your request is, of course, up to him.

But you may want to also tell him this: when you come back, if he his single and interested, he won't be the only guy you'll be dating because you'll want to be certain, too.  (While neither of you may be 100% "certain", having dated other people will go a long way towards helping you more easily know if this is a Good Match for you . . . or if any match is Good, really.)

And stick to that.

Whatever works out, however things are meant to be, I wish you both Eternal Happiness!

Work hard, love the people, and enjoy your mission!

- Bro Jo

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