I am twenty‑four years old. About six years ago I met a guy. We started going out, but he deceived me a number of times and then met another girl and left me to be with her for a year…. Now he left the girl and has come back to me. Since then I don’t know if he has cheated on me, but he deceived me in a different way: he was smoking marijuana.

He is in rehab now, but ever since I found out, I feel really badly. They say he needs love and understanding to overcome his addiction, but I feel confused…. I want to know if it is advisable to help him or not.

Dear Friend,

We can understand why you are confused. You see that this guy is going through a difficult time, and others have told you that he needs your love and support. You obviously have a compassionate heart and you want to do the right thing. You don’t want to feel responsible if he fails in his attempt to get off drugs. But you also are smart and you can see that he has demonstrated a pattern of deception and instability.

We could quote you many sayings and even Bible verses that talk about kindness, compassion, and forgiveness. But you have treated this guy with kindness already, and you have forgiven him various times, so you don’t need advice on those topics. Instead we want to share with you a different kind of advice from wise Solomon. He said, “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.”(1) It’s rather disgusting to think about, isn’t it? The reason a dog will lick up the vile substance that he has just thrown up is that he doesn’t understand that he threw it up precisely because it was nasty. When you return to this guy repeatedly, overlooking the deception, the lies, and the insensitivity with which he has treated you, you are acting just like the dog, going back to what is obviously bad for you.

Please don’t misunderstand. We do hope that your ex‑boyfriend will be successful in therapy. So we wish him well. But we do not believe that you are the one who should give him the love and support that he needs. If he is not blessed enough to still have family or friends who will care for him, then hopefully he will find new friends during the process of his rehabilitation. However, this is not your concern. When he tells you that you are the only one who can be there for him, he is deceiving you yet again. From the beginning he has only used you, and he is using you now.

So make a clean break today. Write him a nice letter full of good wishes, but with the firm declaration that you must end the relationship for your own protection. Do not answer his phone calls, and do not go to places where you might see him. Share your determination with a close friend or relative, and ask her to help you stand firm against all the begging and pleading that is sure to come from this guy.

Be strong!

Linda and Charles
1 Pr 26:11