In addition to the below post, we have created a new miniseries on Being Strung Along. It features:
- Six Signs He is Stringing Her Along
- Six Signs She is Stringing Him Along
- Am I Stringing Someone Along?
Check them out!
None of us want to be someone’s “Plan B.” As tempting as it may be to keep someone emotionally strung along just in case someone better doesn’t come along, it is hurtful and utterly selfish. We all like to be wanted and desired, but keeping someone guessing as a way of supplying that affirmation is an incredibly self-centered and prideful action… and believe me… it will backfire: we reap what we sow. You may have been on one side or the other of this issue; whereas, some of you have been on both sides; you know how easy it is to get caught up in such a game and how hurtful that game can be. Most of us, at some time or another, will probably care deeply for someone who doesn’t reciprocate those feelings toward us. Like the award-winning song suggests… everybody plays the fool sometimes.
Ladies, if someone is crazy about you, it may not be something you initiated; therefore, you are not able to make him quit caring. The only thing you can do is demonstrate (verbally and behaviorally) that you are not interested and allow time to pass for him to move on. However, the temptation is often to pull him in… just enough that you get the emotional benefit receiving attention (a good feeling) without the commitment. Most females don’t have cruel intentions in leading a guy on… most of us just get caught up in the flattery and don’t want to let go of those feelings. Sometimes we may even try to convince ourselves that we could grow to love him.
When I was a teenager, I experienced both sides of this dynamic. After praying about whether or not to date a certain someone, I went against what I knew the Lord was speaking to my heart, and dated him anyway. The experience was a rollercoaster ride of emotions with him leading me on and breaking up with me… repeatedly. I wanted to be free of him; yet each time we broke up, he still somehow dangled me at the end of a string, just in case a better girl didn’t come along. Looking back, I certainly feel foolish for not completely walking away… but, at the time, that string was so powerful that I felt completely unable to break free. Had I listened to the Holy Spirit’s leading in my heart, I would have avoided this trap.
While I wish I could say that I walked away from that experience with compassion for those being strung along – as I had been – what happened is that I unintentionally adopted my old boyfriend’s dating tactics. Don’t get me wrong… there were guys I dated for whom I genuinely cared; however, there were those times I would try to convince myself that I cared about someone simply because I learned that they cared about me. It is not easy for me to share this because I can think of few things I’ve done that I’m more ashamed of doing; but, I consider this topic important enough that I want to be open and real with you. There were some people that I really hurt – and it was for no other reason than my own selfish assurance that someone would be romantically interested in me. Now that I’m an adult, and happily married, I consider all that time of petty game-playing such a waste of my youth and singlehood. Why was I not treating these guys as brothers in Christ, respecting them, and encouraging them? It was because I was self-centered in my approach to relationships. Looking back, I was not ready for those dating relationships. Entering a healthy dating relationship assumes that you will seek the other person’s best – not your own (and that he or she will do the same for you).
Have you had a similar experience? Are you currently in an on-again, off-again relationship with someone who is searching for someone “better?” If so, let me assure you that this is not the relationship for you. Anyone who will take you for granted in a dating or engaged relationship now will take you for granted in marriage… and much more in marriage.
Are you struggling with the opposite problem? Are you dating someone, or luring someone in, that you have no intentions of considering for a potential mate? (I am not talking about when you’re first getting to know the other person.) If so, I would challenge you to have a long look at your intentions and gently end the relationship. It can be easy to allow ourselves to get caught up in the fantasy where we may convince ourselves that we would marry someone; yet, when we are being honest and real with ourselves, we know that we would never propose or accept their proposal.
One of the hardest things to realize, especially in the moment, is that breaking off a dead-end relationship is an act of kindness. How much more hurtful is it to later explain that you are not interested in getting married… and never really were… after leading this person on in believing you were interested in a future together? Maybe you do care deeply for this person, but you know in your heart the relationship is not the direction God has for your life. Go to the Lord and ask for strength to end the relationship. It may be one of the hardest things you ever do, but being in God’s will is worth the sacrifice… and He has better plans for you both.
If you know you’re stringing someone along, be honest and kind to them – end the relationship. If you’re the one being strung along, you also need to get out of the relationship – you are worth more than that. If both of you have had a decent-sized history together (over a year) and are still unsure as to whether you both want to pursue marriage in the future, pre-engagement counseling is a great vehicle to really dig deep and learn more about yourself, each other, and what a long-term future would look like together. It is a minimal investment into your future that will reap large dividends. The goal is to strive for a relationship and marriage that emulates Christ and His bride (the Church). Don’t settle for anything less.
Are you stringing along someone in a relationship while looking for other options – or being strung along and grasping onto them just to have someone, even if only for a little while?