Q&A: Is it possible to date my ex's friend?

Question More than a year ago, I broke up with my boyfriend.  Currently, I am quite interested in another guy that my ex is also friends with. Here’s the dilemma: I don't want to hurt my ex. I was the one that broke up with him. I broke his heart, and even now, I feel so guilty about it.  Should I stop what is happening because they know each other, and if my ex sees us together he may be even more hurt?

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How should you respond if a non-Christian asks you out?

Last week I answered a question from a woman who isn't sure how to turn down a date with an unbeliever. She wrote,

A few weeks ago a non-Christian asked me out. I didn't know he was interested in me, was taken off guard, and didn't know how to respond. I felt very uncomfortable saying, "Sorry, I won't spend time with you because you aren't a Christian." Instead, I made up a lame excuse and left. I'm sure that was not the best way to handle the situation. It certainly wasn't honest. What do you think is the most sensitive and loving way to explain that you only date other Christians?

It's a good question both because it reaffirms the biblical command to only date and marry believers, but also because it reminds us that some ways of saying no are better than others. I replied,

In order to follow through on your desire to date and marry a believer, you must love Christ above all else. He must be more valuable to you than any human relationship — He must be your greatest treasure. Then, rooted in His love and empowered by the Holy Spirit, you will not only have the ability to obey His commands, you will also be able to do so — including saying no to a date with an unbeliever — in ways that testify to your faith.

So what to do in this specific situation you’ve raised? In short, you should reply “No, thank you.” Said with a smile, those three little words are powerful for guarding you from all sorts of undesirable situations. ... sometimes it’s necessary to say more than that. I agree it’s not a good idea to say, “Sorry, I won't spend time with you because you aren't a Christian.” But you can certainly say, “As a Christian, I’m committed to dating only those who share my faith.” A response like this may cause a young man to stop and think, and may open his eyes to the Gospel.

You can read my full answer at Boundless.org.

How can I break up with an unbelieving boyfriend without turning him off to the faith?

Last week I received an email from a woman wondering about the best way to break up with her unbelieving boyfriend. She wrote,

I have decided to break up with my non-Christian boyfriend. Should I tell him that my main reason for doing so is his lack of faith and thereby risk turning him off to Christianity forever? Or should I withhold this information so that he won't associate my faith with the pain of being dumped?

I care a lot about him, and I definitely want him to find God on his own someday. I'm just afraid that I will do or say something to jeopardize his journey. Is there a way to do this kindly and honestly without damaging his view of God?

I love getting questions like this, especially when they're full of faith in the God who convicts us of sin and gives us strength to obey. I replied,

I'm so thankful you're willing to do what's painful in order to obey God's Word (1 Corinthians 7:39, 2 Corinthians 6:14). This is evidence of the Holy Spirit's conviction. You're right that how you do this is important for how he perceives God. I don't think you should tell him your main reason for ending your romantic relationship is his lack of faith, however. Instead, I think you should tell him it's yours. ...

It's not your boyfriend's fault that this is ending so much as it's your responsibility that it began. As the believer in the relationship, you are the one who knows what God requires. If you're trusting in Christ's atoning work on the cross, you have the Spirit of Christ within you to empower you to obey. Rather than telling him it's over because of a faith he doesn't have — and risk a false conversion or, as you fear, a reason for him to be bitter about Christianity — explain that you were wrong to date him once you knew he didn't believe the Gospel. Tell him you're sorry for misleading him about your faith.

You can read my full answer at Boundless.org.