Why does my boyfriend seem so contradictory?


My boyfriend and I met through a mutual friend several months ago. We both are very involved in church. He leads a youth group at a local high school, along with other ministries in our community. This attracted us to each other and was a major conversation starter when we started hanging out. We clicked instantly and have been having a great time together. Both of us have had pre-marital sex in past relationships. He was a "typical guy" in high school and college but has changed his life around. I had only been with a previous boyfriend whom I dated for several years, and thought was "the one." We both have admitted our wrongs, and said that we were going to wait as long as possible to have sex. Unfortunately, that did not happen. Although it is not a regular thing and we both know it is wrong, it still happens.

I am currently doing a study abroad trip, and have been away for over a month. I return home in a few weeks. While I have been overseas, it has been very distant between us. He continues to say that he is not a very affectionate or needy person, but some things still strike me as just feelings any person should have. If your girlfriend leaves for two months, wouldn't you at least be a little sad? He combats everything with, "if it's meant to happen, then it will happen." By saying this, I feel like that is his way of not trying, which obviously guides what is going (or not going) to happen.

We came to a point before I left where he said that our relationship needed to be more Christ-centered, which I do agree. We started doing devotions every day before I left and I do really enjoy them. I enjoy becoming a better person and I feel better about where my life is going. However, since I've been here he has not responded to one single devotion. I've still done mine every day, but he hasn't done one. He has been busy with his job, but I'm overseas and can still find time to do them. It just really gets to me. Since his job has slowed down now, I told him that I really want to do these and not start when I get home. I want to do them now because they are important to me, and he was just as insistent at the beginning. Like everything else, he has no real response. When we talk on the phone, he is so quiet. When I ask him why he just says he doesn't really talk. I always feel like I'm doing something wrong or awkward just sitting in silence, but I do want to talk to him. Is it me?

He continued to tell me that when I get back that I'm no longer going to be able to stay the night. Like I mentioned before, the sex is not often. The staying is just cuddling, or it's too late to drive home. I know that does not make it right, but when it comes to that, it sometimes is just easier to crawl into bed and fall asleep. We both kind of realize that it's not right, but dismiss it if nothing happens. I said, "oh ya? Why is this?" His religious friend and mentor, who helped him turn his life around, told him that it wasn't a good idea, so now he's just listening to her. I can understand that it is a good idea, but shouldn't he talk to me first? I said I would have like to have been included in this decision, and he said that there was no decision to be made; that that was just it. I said he could have approached or presented it differently, like, "Hey, I talked to (his mentor), and I think it'd be a good idea if you don't stay the night. If this is going to work, then you need to get on board" or something to make me feel included. He just kept saying that he didn't understand why it was such a big deal. It's not the actual thing itself rather than the just whatever-ness he approached it with. Again, this is a situation that should never have happened in the first place, which is probably why it is awkward and frustrating now. I just don't feel respected or considered in the situation.

The whole time I've been overseas I still feel like I'm the one craving the attention. I'm half a world away and don't feel missed one bit, but he tells me that I should already know that and he shouldn't have to tell me all the time, but he doesn't tell me at all.  Like I said before, I know I can back off and be less needy, but I still want to feel like his girlfriend and that he likes me and misses and cares about me. He can be really sweet and cute, but when I tell him to do those things more, he says, "I told you I wasn't like that." Like he doesn't even try or says he will and that's the end of it.

I love hanging out with his friends and the people we're around. I love that I'm working to be a better person and more faith-focused. I love going to church more and the people there. He can be really sweet and makes me so happy and smile, but when I try to mention it, he just shuts it out and says he's not like that. Is he being selfish or am I? My mom is not happy at all. They rode home from the airport together when they dropped me off, and my mom said it was the most awkward hour of her life. My mom gets nervous anyway. She said she tried to start a conversation, and she just got a couple of laughs and grunts out of him but nothing else. I told him he needs to talk, and he says he doesn't talk. I thought "Umm, really?" It's just so frustrating because I can see how good it can be and is sometimes, but I don't know what to do.

I mentioned to him that I'm applying literally everywhere because it's hard to get a job and asked what happens if I get a job far away, what is going to happen to us? He told me that I can't worry about that because whatever happens will happen. So what does that mean? Don't do anything and hope you just magically wake up there one day? I don't get it. We talked about moving near his friend, but now since we can't even stay together, how are we going to live together? He said he'll live with his friend, who just got married a few weeks ago. I mentioned that his friend and his wife don't want you living there. He said they said he could. They all have good-paying jobs, all under one roof. But I'm supposed to get my own apartment on a much lower salary in an expensive area of the country? Something doesn't seem right about this.

My mom asked if his mentor told him to jump off a bridge, would he just do it? What if she said to get rid of me just on what she's heard or something when I've never met her, would he? I can honestly say probably yes, he would. I hate that but something keeps telling me he'll change. Before I left he said if something would ever happen, he wouldn't want me to be upset or mad because he'd want me to understand that it's just a part of God's plan and that everything happens for a reason. What is he thinking of telling me this?

I feel as though he can just be contradictory. For example, with the devotions, he was so excited but now doesn't seem to care at all. He is so excited about his other ministries and the kids he works with but doesn't seem to show that same passion for other important people in his life. I don't feel like I'm getting the same amount of respect that he gives to his high school kids. I just feel as though I am last on the list of his priorities.

I do love him, I'm just not sure what God is trying to show me or do in our lives.


Please understand that I only have your view of the situation to work with. I am going to make some guesses and draw some conclusions that might need adjusting if I heard his side of the story. In particular, I'm going to assume that he is wanting to live a godly life.

One of the things I noticed is that while you see things, you tend to avoid taking things to their logical conclusions. Let me give you an example from your note. You admit that fornication is wrong, yet you've had sex with this man repeatedly. You've been gone almost half the time you've known him, but you and he were in bed together several times before you left, which tells me that the sex started soon after you two decided to be boyfriend and girlfriend. But I noted how you excused your sin:

  • You both have had sex before.
  • You initially intended to wait.
  • You both know it is wrong.
  • It didn't work out.
  • You didn't do it regularly or that often.
  • It just happens.
  • It was too late to go home, or you were too busy cuddling, so it was "sensible" to just go to bed together and hope sex wouldn't happen.

The fact is that you both claim one thing but do something else. He had an established habit of having sex with any willing girl before he decided he wanted to be a Christian. When he is alone with you, you get him so sexually aroused with your cuddling that he stops thinking about his commitment to the Lord. I suspect that he is really consumed by guilt over his fornication but couldn't figure out how to stop with you around. He knows he is supposed to be a youth leader, so how is he supposed to teach young people not to have sex outside of marriage when he is doing it? Now that you have been gone for a while, he has had a chance to clear his head, and he realizes that he can't allow those sins to restart when you return. That is why he said in no uncertain terms that there will no longer be any overnight stays.

Meanwhile, you claim that you know the fornication is wrong, but since you have a long list of excuses, you won't face the fact that you are sinning. "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God" (I Corinthians 6:9-10). Somehow you've convinced yourself that this doesn't really apply to you. I think you mostly arrive at that state by just not thinking about it. But it is long past time to start thinking. I'm going to take you through each of your excuses:

The fact that neither of you is a virgin doesn't mean that you have a license to continue to sin. Nor does the claim that you are Christians and understand it is wrong. "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" (Romans 6:1-2).

Actions speak louder than words. And your actions say that you believe that sex before marriage is acceptable. You said, "we were going to wait as long as possible to have sex." The very attitude portrayed is wrong. You didn't say you were going to wait until after marriage. You had already decided that you were going to have sex with him before you got married. It just came a bit faster than you would like to admit. It is because of this that I concluded that you don't believe that sex outside of marriage is always wrong.

The "It didn't work out" and "It just happens" are again ways of avoiding responsibility for your actions. Sex doesn't happen by accident. I might grant that you didn't intend for it to go so far, but the act of intercourse has to be purposely done. One of the subtle things that I took note of is that you haven't expressed any concern about the possibility of pregnancy. I would conclude from this that you or he are taking steps to prevent conception -- but that means some forethought was given to the likelihood of having sex without being married. Once again, the actions speak louder and I conclude that the accident line is nothing more than an excuse and a way to deceive yourselves.

You mentioned several times that you didn't have sex often. Of course, "often" is a relative term. But the number of times it happens or does not happen is not an excuse for sin.

Finally, you told a lie when you said, there were times you just had to stay because it was so late. That never was true. You could have left at any time, but you didn't want to and he didn't say "no" to your leaving either. Worse, you used the excuse for staying also as an excuse for occupying the same bed. What you are saying is that you made no effort to avoid sex.

While you agree that it is a good idea not to stay the night, at least in theory, you are upset that he told you instead of asking if it would be all right with you. You are upset with the person who is trying to teach him how to live as a Christian for suggesting it. What you told me is that what is right or wrong is less important to you than you deciding what you want to do. If being godly was a high priority with you, then I would have expected to see concern over how often you gave in and relief that the decision to back off didn't have to come from you.

Even in the living arrangements, you hinted that you were expecting to be invited to live with him when he moves, but without being married. You're right that it is unusual for newlyweds to invite someone to share their house, but I'm left wonder if a part of your annoyance is that it will be a hindrance to staying the night as you have become accustomed to doing and ruins the excuse you hoped to have for moving in with him.

I know laying all of this out can't be easy for you to read, but in part, it explains why you are having a hard time understanding this man. I suspect that he doesn't like confrontation, so he closes down when he believes a conversation is going to get heated. Rather than tell you he disagrees, he just doesn't say anything at all. Being male, he isn't comfortable in putting feelings into words. Most guys know words are not their best way of expressing themselves so rather than trip up and say something wrong, he says nothing. That is probably why he said little to your mother; after all, what do you say to the mother of the woman you've been guilty of fornication with? I suspect that he just knew that if he said much, your mother would pull the whole story out of him.

I can't tell from what you've told me what his feelings are about you. You want too strongly for things to be the way you want them that you are telling yourself little lies about the relationship, such as your certainty that he will change. Why? People need the motivation to change. There are hints that his desire to be godly is causing him to change, but you're upset because the change is in a different direction than you want. There are hints of change, but you are telling yourself that he hasn't changed, at least not yet.

I'm guessing that he is a man who strongly believes in predestination. Such people are often hesitant of making their own decisions for fear of going against God's will, so they let life move them, waiting for "signs" that certain actions are what God wants them to do. In a way, it became a justification to him for the fornication he had done if he too looks at it as being lead into it. But as I said before, whoever is teaching him has convinced him that you two really were sinning and that it really is against God's will. He is willing to continue the relationship to see if it will lead to marriage, but he has decided that he is not going to bed you again if he can help it. I suspect moving in with his friends is to provide himself with extra motivation to keep his clothes on.

Rather than seeing contradictions, I see a young man struggling against sin. The contradictions you see are the differences between what is happening and what you hope would happen. You keep telling yourself it is really going the way you thought, so when it doesn't, it must be an inconsistency in him.

What you need to do is decide if you are going to take Christ and his laws seriously or not. This man appears to be aiming to marry someone who will help him live righteously. I suspect that if you keep cuddling him into bed, guilt will drive him to find a woman that doesn't cause him to behave in an ungodly fashion. He's keeping his distance emotionally because he suspects that this is the direction the relationship will go. Yet he still desires your body, so he is having a hard time just ending it. Unlike women, men don't need strong emotional attachments in order to perform sexually, which is why he is conflicted concerning you and why you are assuming things that are not likely to be true.


We are both aware of our sins, and I apologize if I was trying to make excuses. I grew up going to a Lutheran church every Sunday but was still free to explore the ways in which my life could go. I am still a practicing Lutheran. Compared to my peers in high school and college, I was seen as the "good" kid. Again, I know this is not an excuse, but I just want to give you some background. My boyfriend seems to hang out with two different types of people. There are the people whom we are involved with in ministries and the people whom he has grown up with. We have talked several times about how his friends from growing up are not Christians and really have no interest in any of it. They are "good" people but still go out, fornicate, etc. Compared to typical society standards they are "normal," but I realize we are held to higher standards than society by being Christians. I have told him that it is hard to see where his head is at by being with both groups on a regular basis. This is why I become unsure about his commitments and what he is thinking at times.

How can we become more Christ-centered and righteous as a couple? I mentioned the devotional previously and how he has randomly stopped since I have been overseas. What other things can we do to help each other be more righteous besides not fornicating? We are involved in a few ministries and do devotions when I am at home. But sometimes, it just feels like it isn't clicking. Maybe he is more advanced in his faith than I am? I read the Bible, I understand it, I ask questions, I pray, but I still feel like I am missing something.


I know you weren't trying to make excuses, but I wanted you to see what was slipping out. And you don't have to make yourself look good to me. It might be hard to realize this, but I don't hold the fact that you've sinned against you or your boyfriend. My sole desire is to help lift you two out of the sin you got yourself into, and the first step is to more clearly see where you are so you know what you need to leave behind.

It is hard to pick this out from just a few brief notes, but I get the impression you are trying to balance your sins with good deeds. One the one hand is your fornication but on the other is your mission work, and I get the impression that if these cancel each other out, you're doing all right. If that is what is going on, then I can understand why it isn't clicking.

Christianity isn't about doing more right than wrong. "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?" (Romans 6:1-2). It is about molding our lives to be like God. "Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy"" (I Peter 1:13-16). This doesn't mean we won't slip up once in a while, but it does mean that our aim is to be as close to God as possible, thus leading far from sin.

I am trying to say is that instead of focusing on things to do, spend some time looking at improving yourself. There are two books in the Bible which are particularly good places to start: James and Proverbs. Perhaps you can examine these books and see what changes you can make in your life. I can guarantee that as you improve yourself, your relationship as a couple will also improve.

I can't tell you what your boyfriend needs to do to improve because I'm not talking to him. Each person has to work on his own problems. And since I only know about him through your eyes, it means I really don't know what is going on in his head. Any suggestion I might make would be off-track.

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