Dear 100 Hour Board,
My friend is in a relationship with a pre-missionary. She's a mature, responsible person and she says she can see herself with him in an eternal sense. Her question isn't about whether or not she should wait for him, since she's decided that she's not going to officially do so. He's leaving in 8 months. She does wonder, though, how she should best handle the months coming up to his reporting. When/how should she start to distance herself, etc.?
Your description of your friend's situation reminded me very much of one of my friends, Flute Fry. I emailed her to see if she'd like to respond, and this is what she said:
Wow, this is so much like my situation, right down to the not-officially-waiting. I'd say my strongest advice about distancing herself is actually pretty vague: I'd suggest being extremely careful, and perhaps involving the counsel of Polly's/her boyfriend's bishop.
My boyfriend still has another month and a half to go before he reports to the MTC, and about a month ago, his bishop counseled that we strictly limit our contact with each other. Since we were already long-distance by then, that meant we stopped texting, video chatting, etc. and limited our contact to weekly letters. We'll also have a couple of phone calls before he reports. I think that was a very good decision for us, because that means that when my boyfriend gets to the MTC, he won't be going through girlfriend withdrawal--he'll be in the same circumstances (with me) that he's already been in for a couple of months.
I'm not saying that Polly's friend should necessarily choose such strict limitations. The reason that my boyfriend and I did it was because his bishop counseled us to, and we felt like it was important for us to follow that counsel. So I'd definitely advise Polly's friend and Polly's friend's boyfriend to go to her/his/their bishop, and ask him for counsel, and then follow it. Obviously, it's especially important to avoid temptation during the time period before a guy goes on his mission, and bishops are a great place to go for wise advice. Bearing in mind whatever he says, Polly and her boyfriend can set more specific limits and figure out how to distance themselves from each other.
Good luck to Polly's friend and her man :).
Once upon a time, I was in a relationship with a pre-missionary. Like your friend, I had told him that under no circumstances was I going to officially wait for him and he agreed that would be best. At that point, we decided that we would break up the day he turned his papers in and would limit our contact between then and his call date.
But, like all genius plans, it didn't work out quite the way we expected. A few months before our designated "break up" date, I starting thinking that it wouldn't be that bad if I did wait for him. No matter that I knew it would be emotionally destructive for me and distracting for him, I justified that waiting for him could be a possibility. After talking to some of my close friends about it, I decided that waiting for that magical "break up" date wouldn't be emotionally beneficial for either of us. We had to give ourselves a longer amount of time to detach. As a result, we broke up later that week.
The first few times we saw each other after that were a little awkward. But it got better. We became even better friends and were still able to hang out and talk to each other. That way, the few months leading up to his mission didn't have to be awkward for us, with us both having to balance our emotions and trying not to be heartbroken over breaking up. Instead of cutting off contact cold-turkey or imposing strict limitations a short time before he left, we were able to spend that time being just friends. Not only that, nothing was ruined in our relationship so that we can't see how it goes when he gets back.
Like Flute Fry, my advice to your friend is pretty vague. I wholeheartedly agree that getting counsel from her/her boyfriend's bishop would be appropriate in this situation. I also suggest that she think about what will be easiest in the long term when deciding when/how to distance herself. In the short run, it was much more appealing to me to remain in a relationship with my missionary. But I know that would have made life harder in the long term. As time passed, I know it would have gotten harder and harder to stick to the commitment I made to not be a distraction to him during his mission.
I'm under no delusions that what worked well for me will work for everyone, but it's something to consider. If your friend realizes that it will be too hard to limit contact later on, she may want to think about transitioning from a relationship to a friendship before he leaves for two years. It might make things easier in the long run.