Some Kind of Cruel Joke

Visitor's Question from a 21-30 year old Female
This is without a question the hairiest and most complicated relationship issue I have ever even heard of, much less been involved in.
I have known my ex for 9 years. He was my highschool sweetheart, and we dated for 2 years in highschool, and remained the best of friends throughout. We graduated and I left for college in another state. We remained good friends, talking on the phone and e-mailing each other. He was never anything but supportive and loving to me. I returned to our home city, where he still lives. We began hanging out again, and it became apparent to us both that we were still in love with each other. Our relationship was absolutely wonderful, lasting 1 1/2 years this time. He is intelligent, kind, creative, loving, respectful, attractive, and is the love of my life. I can't imagine what life would be like without his love, or at least his friendship. He has finished his bachelors (I am almost done with mine, but not quite.) and is working on his masters degree. My ex has always been a very spiritual and religious person, something that I admire about him very much, as it shows conviction. Problem, I am Buddhist and he is Eastern Orthodox. While I am fairly devoted to my faith, he is and always has been moreso. In October of this year, he confessed to me that he felt called to the priesthood. In the Orthodox church, priests are not celibate, but there are monastic priests who are. The non-celibate priests are only allowed to marry a woman who is also Eastern Orthodox, and her role in the church is very involved as well, as the priest's wife. He told me that he still loved me, and that he was very upset to have to hurt me in that way. He knew/knows how I feel about him - I was even planning to propose to him this New Year's eve. Back to our conversation - I told my ex that I loved him enough to let him pursue the priesthood if that is what made him happiest, but that I couldn't convert to a faith that I don't believe in, or sacrifice my own goals (law school, private practice) in order to be with him. The role of the Orthodox priest's wife is a very constrictive one, not conducive to my feminist beliefs or the future I dream of for myself. We were both absolutely devastated by this, crying together and saying how much we still loved each other. The way I feel for him has always been unconditional, even though it breaks my heart. Skip forward. I didn't contact him for 4 months, because I knew continued contact with him would only make the pain worse for both of us. I even began dating another man, even though the relationship felt hollow, and I was only trying to make myself feel better. The ache in my heart every time I think about him (still very often) has not even been lessend at all by the time and separation. If anything, it has intensified. I have begun to realize that he was the only person I have ever met or been with who I feel truly understands or loves me the way that I need in order to be happy. I am completely preoccupied with thoughts of him, to the exclusion of all else. I cannot even casually date others any more, or have sex with another partner, because it feels like I am cheating on him. I began talking to him about 3 weeks ago, initially sending him an e-mail telling him exactly how I feel. He responded, and says that he still loves me too, and would like to be in my life as a friend again. I have seen him a few times, even meeting for dinner once. It went well, but only served to remind me how much I love him, and how empty my life feels without him. My life, in actuality, is far from empty, with a sucessful career, friends, and a scholarship to law school, but it seems so meaningless now, as this was work I was doing to build a future for us together. Here is my question: he has been acting in ways which lead me to believe that he may be slowly changing his mind about his vocation. His words, actions, and passtimes are not stereotypically priestly (hanging out at poolhalls with guy friends, buying a motorcycle, listening to metal), and I think that he may be rethinking his choice. I want him so badly! It just kills me to think that I cannot have what I so desperately want! I haven't even had a sex drive at all since we broke up, and have no desire to try dating again. Heck - I may become a nun. What I want to do is to keep inviting him to do things with me "as friends" and see if I can not possibly push him in that direction. Maybe even to try to re-seduce him. Maybe by spending time with me again, he will see what he would be missing out on otherwise. I mean, he even still flirts with me! How can he do that if he wants to be a priest?!?!?! What do I do? I love him so much and I just can't let him go! He even says that he still loves me - how is it possible for him not to want this as badly as I do? The phrase one of my girlfriends used when I was talking about trying to win him back was "emotional suicide". Do you think this is true? It has been six months since he broke up, and it has not gotten better, it has goten worse. I cry every time I think about not being with him, and I still have vivid dreams about him. I know one thing for sure - I will not love anyone else like I love him ever again. It makes me wonder why I even bother trying to build this life for myself, if it is destined to be empty. Advice!! Please!!! Advice
Since you are still in college, you have access to psychologists to help you.

Seek out their assistance as soon as possible. You can get a compassionate and objective viewpoint which will help you.

As far as your relationship with him-- make sure he understands that you cannot give up your career and life plans. Not because you don't want to, but because it goes against your beliefs. How can a Buddhist lawyer click a switch and suddently become an Eastern Orthodox minister's wife? Can't be done.

Try to creatively think of alternatives where he can get his feet into the church and you can follow your career. Perhaps you could become a consulting team for the Eastern Orthodox churches. The church must have need for such a skill set.

If that sounds weak, then think up your own options. In this wide world, there are things for everyone to do. Just open your minds.

I hope this works out for you! George

-- from George
One of Your Friendly Advisors at

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