“Ask a Priest: How Can I Trust When I Am Waiting to Be Engaged?”

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Q: I have a boyfriend, and it is very serious even though we are not engaged yet. I am so worried that my boyfriend will go and that we will never be wed. He tells me to trust in the Lord, but practically I do not know how. I just want some kind of firm thing to say that things are moving. Please, I’m at the end of my strength. Help! – V.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: Without knowing more about your situation, I can offer only general advice.

You say the relationship is very serious and that you are “not engaged yet,” but that you fear your friend will leave. This makes one wonder whether the relationship is serious from your boyfriend’s point of view?

It might be good to sit down and speak with him about how he sees the relationship and where it is going.

If he doesn’t want to commit, then you have to decide whether to wait for a possible commitment or to move on.

Perhaps you might consider a time frame. For example, if nothing happens within six months or a year, it might be time to rethink whether an engagement is a possibility or just a mirage.

This might not be easy to face. There can be a tendency to think this is the last person you will ever love, and that life will lose its meaning if he leaves.

If that is the case, it is good to put things in perspective. The only man who has always loved you and who will never leave you is Christ. In fact, Christ is at the center of all healthy relationships.

So it might be good to intensify your prayer life and sacramental life. Stay close to Our Lord, in other words.

This will: 1) remind you that you are deeply loved by Christ, and 2) improve your chances of making good decisions in regard to your boyfriend. On this note, you might want to take a look at our Retreat Guide called “Who You Are: A Retreat Guide on the Sacrament of Baptism.”

Be careful not to project too many unfounded hopes into this relationship. Learn to look for evidence that your boyfriend is really becoming committed to you and that the relationship is maturing.

You don’t want to fantasize about things that aren’t there. If months from now your friend doesn’t seem to move closer to popping the question, then you might ask yourself whether he is the right person for you.

To help get perspective on your situation, it would be good to find a regular confessor or spiritual director who can guide you.

If you think your friend needs time and space to decide, then you might suggest that he attend a spiritual retreat. A few days of silence and prayer might help nudge him toward a definitive decision about the relationship.

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