Dear 100 Hour Board,
My boyfriend, who is also my best friend, will be leaving on a mission in the next 6 months (approximately), so he's started to distance himself a little bit from me. I want to be excited for him and encourage him, since going on a mission is exactly what I want him to do, but all I feel is bitter and reluctant to give him space. Do you have any suggestions for how I can get used to the idea of not seeing him for more than 2 years and how I can help him while he's trying to prepare to be a missionary?
-Afraid to Lose Him
Before M left, I think the possibility of losing him was the hardest thing for me. I was so terrified by the idea that it might not work out between the two of us. Even though I knew, intellectually, that if that were the case I would still find someone to love and be happy without him, it was almost impossible to convince my emotions of that. Fortunately, M was pretty secure about everything, otherwise I think I would have been an unconscionable distraction.
At the same time, what you have to realize is that getting a bit of space is going to make it more likely to work out on both ends of the spectrum. If you can be supportive without being clingy or needy, he won't feel like you're a distraction, so he won't feel the need to stop writing you during his mission. For yourself, getting some space and being used to a bit more distance will allow you to step down your relationship, instead of suddenly finding yourself without him. It's my opinion that loneliness and the sudden change in emotional support are the biggest reason girls Dear John guys. When I felt impressed to break up with M over four months before his mission, we thought we were doing it for him. In retrospect, the increased amount of space was what I needed to prepare for a two-year separation. Now, obviously you're not me, but I think you should step back, take a serious look at things, and prayerfully consider what you both really need in this relationship. It may not be what you immediately want, but the Lord will never lead you astray. Whatever he prompts you to do will be the right thing, and what will bring you the greatest happiness in the long run.
Furthermore, as much as you may love him, you should not be the most important thing in his life at this moment. It's hard to hear, but it's true. If he feels like your relationship needs to change because of his mission, his mission is more important. To quote The Fray, sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same.
Finally, let me give you a word of encouragement. Breaking up with M was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I was so devastated by the idea of losing him; even when we continued to be friends and work towards a long-term relationship, not dating was extremely hard for me. Even little things, like not kissing goodbye or saying "Good night, I love you" over text messages, were hard for me to give up. At the same time, in retrospect, it was absolutely the right decision. The Lord knew what we needed better than we did. By the time M left on his mission, not only were we more prepared for him to leave than we would have otherwise been, but our relationship was significantly stronger. We knew that we could trust each other to work through hard things, we had learned how to support each other, and we knew that we would place the Lord first in our lives.
Pray for help and guidance. If you're just giving him space because that's what you hear you should do, it's easy to become bitter, reluctant, and afraid. But these are not the fruits of the Spirit. The Lord wants you to be happy. Even if he asks you to do something difficult about the situation, he will bless you with peace, comfort, and strength as you do so. Like everything else, this situation is easier with the Lord's help.