‘I still love her more than any other girl, including my girlfriend’

Tell Me About It: Who to date? The one I love the most but who is less intentional about her life or the one I love less but who is very intentional about her life?

PROBLEM: In 2016, I got close to a girl, whom I considered as a sister. She was also a churchmate (I’m very serious with my Christian faith). With time and proximity, I could see from her words and actions towards me that she was interested in me. I also started developing feelings for her, but at the same time I still considered her more as a younger sister. I had romantic feelings for her, but I had more brotherly love feelings. One thing I really appreciated about her was her seriousness with church and God’s things, as well as some other qualities, like being business minded, passionate about helping others, developing and adding value to herself everyday (through books, motivational words, prayer, etc) – basically, living an intentional life.

We kept going and growing in this friendship.

By the end of 2016, I met another girl. From the first day I saw her (in church, from afar) I simply fell in love with her. But I didn’t do anything about it. About two months later, I started chatting with her and got close to her too. I knew I loved this girl more than anybody else. I knew she also had feelings for me. She was also a Christian, but wasn’t actively involved in her Christian life and in church activities. In addition, I could rarely see her do things that add value to her life, develop herself and being intentional about having a successful life.

I was in a dilemma: who to date? The one I loved the most but who was less intentional about her life or the one I loved less but who was very intentional about her life?

Both have beautiful hearts and excellent characters as ladies.

Finally, I ended up choosing the one who was more intentional about her life, because, after all, even though I saw her as a sister, I also had some romantic feelings that had grown with time. So I started dating that one, I practically stopped all contacts with the other girl (because I wanted to focus without any distraction on my new relationship). This silence between that girl and me lasted about 1½ years.

I had a great relationship with the one I dated and we got along very well; we managed challenges wisely. It was and is still relatively peaceful, even though there is a happiness and satisfaction I feel I do not have. So everything was just all right in our relationship, but I simply never forgot the other girl, even during those 18 months of almost no communication. Every time I would see her (from afar since we weren’t communicating any more), I still loved her so much and something in me strongly wished I was dating her. I still thought about her.

This really got me confused, to the extent where I now consider thoughts like breaking up with my girlfriend and dating the other one. I restarted chatting with that other one not long ago and it made me realise she still likes me too. I never have any intention to cheat on my girlfriend, but I think my behaviour towards the other girl made that other girl realise I still love her too.

I’ve also seen that she started being more intentional about her life, adding value to her life and being more serious about church things, even though my actual girlfriend is by far doing better. I can see in my girlfriend a very successful woman.

I feel called to pastoral ministry and I know I will be doing that, alongside with business and my clinical profession. Religious ministry, I believe, requires a partner who will be supportive and who is really intentional about her life.

My relationship has shown me that my girlfriend can do that quite well, and that I can be a good help to her too.

I know the other one would be willing to do the same with me and support me in all I do, but I do not know if she will be able to, because it requires a lot of mental and spiritual strength and I’m afraid she won’t be able to manage all that because I am not fully satisfied with the way she lives. But still, I have loved her, and I still love her more than any other girl, including my girlfriend.

ADVICE: Your approach to finding a life partner comes across as interviewing someone for a job. While this may have some merit, it puts you in the position of being the manager, the person who measures the other for suitability and proposes a lifetime of performance management. Can you check this against your Christian beliefs and look at what love and commitment means?

There is no doubt that a combination of head and heart is required to choose a life partner and you are in the lucky situation to find two women who are willing to fulfil your requirements for that position. The dilemma, it seems, is that you want a combination of the two or, as a colloquialism puts it, “having your cake and eating it”. The difficulty with this is that you are continuously measuring your partner against an ideal in your head and, of course, the partner will inevitably disappoint and then you will turn to the other candidate as being more suitable. The effect on both people in such a relationship is destructive: you because you will never be happy with what you have and the other as they are at the receiving end of criticism and disappointment.

Your good fortune is that you are getting to live a life that is both full of meaning and direction (you are very clear about the spiritual path you are following) and you have two women with whom you might live that life. However, right now, you are engaged in a type of deception and some level of cruelty as you internally pit these women against each other for the prize of spending their lives with you. This might indicate a level of self-aggrandisement that might be worth investigating if you wish to commit to a life of service. You could take this question to your spiritual leader or perhaps to a counsellor with whom you could investigate it in confidence.

This would display a dedication to being the best person you can be in pursuit of high moral ideals, and it might help develop your capacity for being the future adviser that you are planning to be. Imagine, in the future that a parishioner comes to you with a question similar to your own – can you really offer judgment when you yourself have not tackled such a common human issue yourself?

You are in a position of needing to make a choice and then committing fully to that choice. At the very least, the woman whom you are publicly dating needs to know of the situation so that she is not shamed when the other liaison is discovered. These life pinch-points offer us an opportunity to face our own fault-lines and a chance to correct these and evolve as human beings.

As someone who plans to be a leader, some self-examination is called for as a prerequisite to a life of service. Seek guidance now.