I want to break up with my girlfriend. I have tried to do it three times, but each time she has suffered a lot. I am confused because I don’t know what to do: whether to keep going out with her so she won’t be hurt, or break up with her because in my heart I just don’t feel the same love for her as before…. What is the right thing for me to do?

Dear Friend,

I am very glad you have told us your story, because there are many men and women who have had, or will have, your exact same situation. The advice we give will be good for you as well as for them.

Relationships that are forced or coerced are not built upon love. They are built upon obligation, guilt, or duty, which make a very unstable foundation for the future of the relationship. To continue based on that kind of foundation is to choose a very difficult path full of unhappiness and lack of fulfillment.

If you had already married this girl, the right thing to do would be to stay with her and learn to love her as much as possible. But you are not married, so get away as fast as you can!

She is manipulating you into staying with her because she believes that she can make you love her. Since you don’t love her, you are just prolonging her pain by agreeing to stay with her. Make a clean break and don’t go back. Don’t answer her calls or texts or emails. Don’t explain yourself over and over. Be gentle and kind, but firm.

Her pain will turn to anger, and she will lash out at you, trying to hurt you like you have hurt her. Or she may threaten to kill herself. All of this is more manipulation, and it should not cause you to waver. Be strong enough to resist the coercion, knowing that it will be better for her in the end.

Your girlfriend deserves someone who treasures her. She is much more likely to find lasting happiness with someone who is with her because of love, not obligation. With you she would end up very unhappy, since you neither love nor treasure her.

Did you know that God, who loves us very much, never forces any of us to love Him back? He lets us choose for ourselves whether we will love and serve Him, or whether we will reject Him. He doesn’t want a relationship with us that is built on obligation or duty or even guilt. He wants us to love Him for who He is and for all He has done for us.

When Jesus died on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven, He did it out of love for us. But if we choose not to accept His forgiveness and to develop a close relationship with Him, He will respect our decision. What do you choose? I recommend that you ask God to come into your heart today and to help you in every difficult decision in your future.

I wish you well,