Young People Ask . . .
What if He Says No?
YOU thought of him as a friend. But then he caught your attention in a different way. Perhaps it was his good manners or the way he smiled at you when he spoke that drew you to him. In any event, time passed, and he failed to express any romantic interest. So you decided to ask him if he wanted to go beyond being just friends. To your deep disappointment, he kindly but firmly said no. *
Naturally, you are hurt. But do not overreact; try to see things in proper perspective. Yes, a young man has said that he is not interested in a romantic relationship with you. Remember, his decision does not change your worth as a person, nor does it negate the fact that others continue to love and respect you. In fact, his decision may have less to do with you than it does with the young man’s own personal goals and priorities.
If you are a Christian, you may remember, too, that “God is not unrighteous so as to forget your work and the love you showed for his name.” (Hebrews 6:10) Sonja * puts it this way: “You are still valuable. You are an asset to Jehovah as a single person.” Since the Most High and others highly esteem you, why should you lose your self-respect?
You may still feel like a failure or fear that you may not be marriage material. But just because you do not appear to be “right” for this young man at this time does not rule out your being “just right” for someone else. (Judges 14:3) So rather than view your search for a suitable marriage mate as a failure, recognize that your efforts have yielded one beneficial result: You’ve learned that this young man is not for you. Why do we say this?
Was He Right for You?
The Bible commands husbands to “be loving their wives as their own bodies.” (Ephesians 5:28) It also commands husbands to ‘assign honor’ to their wives. (1 Peter 3:7) Now in this case, the young man may very well appreciate you as a friend. But by saying no, he has shown, in effect, that he is not prepared at this time to love and honor you as his wife. He had the right to make that choice. Think about it: If that is how he feels, would he really be a suitable husband for you? Imagine your unhappiness if you married someone who did not love you and cherish you as the Scriptures direct!
It may also help to take another look at this young man, now that your hopes for a romantic relationship will not be realized. Sometimes infatuation blinds one to personal or spiritual flaws that may be obvious to others. For example, was he unaware of your growing feelings for him, or did he knowingly encourage your feelings to grow by continued association with you? If the latter was the case, might it not indicate that he is not ready to be a considerate, empathetic Christian husband? If so, it is good that you found that out, painful though it may be.
Marcia’s emotions were aroused when a young man began showing her special attention. When she asked him about his intentions, he told her that he was not interested in a relationship with her. What helped her to deal with the disappointment? She says, “Thinking with my brain, not my heart, has helped me handle my feelings.” Recalling the Bible’s requirements for husbands helped her to realize that he simply did not measure up. This helped her to overcome her sadness.
Andrea had a similar experience with a young man. She later realized that his actions toward her revealed a lack of maturity. She came to see that he was not ready for marriage, and she is grateful that Jehovah opened her eyes to that fact. She says, “I believe that Jehovah can protect you from circumstances that can hurt you, but you have to trust Him.” Of course, in many cases a young man conducts himself well and says no for honorable reasons. In any case, how can you cope with the feelings that result?
What You Can Do About Your Feelings
Your heart may need time to absorb the fact that he has said no. Your affection for him developed over time, and reversing that process likewise requires time. Rarely can romantic feelings be turned off like an electric light. On some days they may seem overwhelming! Be patient with yourself. As time passes, so will those feelings. But if you want those feelings to disappear more quickly, avoid things that feed them.
For example, resist second-guessing yourself by reviewing your every word and gesture when you revealed your feelings to the young man. If you do not restrain such thoughts, you may end up believing that he did not really mean no or that trying a different approach might work. Face the fact that you cannot change how he feels. In all likelihood, no matter how you approached him, his answer would have been the same.
Daydreaming can be another snare. You conjure up a mental picture in which the two of you live happily ever after. Those reveries may seem soothing, but they are not real. When they end, your sense of loss reappears and with it your agony. This cycle of pleasure followed by unbearable pain may go on for a long time unless you try hard to stop it.
Work to push daydreams out of your mind. When they begin, get up and take a walk. Do a physical task—something to get your thoughts moving in another direction. Concentrate on things that build you up, not things that depress you. (Philippians 4:8) This can be difficult at first, but in time, you will win the battle and find peace.
The support of close friends can help. (Proverbs 17:17) However, Sonja gives this caution: “It is not good if your friends are all single, of the same age, and desirous of getting married. You also need older friends, who can help you to keep things in perspective.” And remember, there is someone who can be of even greater help in overcoming your pain.
Jehovah—A Friend and Support
When one faithful man in ancient times faced disappointment, he prayed to Jehovah for help. The result? He wrote: “Whenever I am anxious and worried, you comfort me and make me glad.” (Psalm 94:19, Today’s English Version) Jehovah will comfort and sustain you too if you pray to him in faith. Andrea did so. She says, “Prayer is so important to help you get over the pain and move on.” Sonja likewise says regarding prayer, “It helps you to have self-worth that does not depend on whether others like you or reject you.”
No human can fully understand your feelings, but Jehovah does. He created humans with the desire to share love in marriage. He knows the power of romantic attraction, and he knows how to control it. He can help you overcome great pain of heart, for 1 John 3:20 says: “God is greater than our hearts and knows all things.”
Keep Your Balance
Marriage can be a source of great happiness, but it is not the only source. Joy comes to all who serve Jehovah, and married people have no monopoly on it. In some ways, single ones have certain advantages over those who are married. They do not suffer the “tribulation in their flesh” mentioned at 1 Corinthians 7:28. This tribulation refers to the stresses and strains experienced by all married couples. Single people also have more personal freedom and can more easily use their lives in Jehovah’s service. Hence, the Bible teaches: “He . . . that gives his virginity in marriage does well, but he that does not give it in marriage will do better.” (1 Corinthians 7:38) Even if you have a strong desire to marry, meditating on these Bible teachings can help you to keep your balance and to make the most of your present circumstances.
Some well-meaning friends may tell you, “Don’t worry, one day you will find someone wonderful.” And it is true that your having suffered one rejection hardly means that you will always be alone. Still, a young Christian woman named Candace reasons this way: “I do trust Jehovah. I don’t necessarily expect him to give me a husband to make me happy. But I know that he will give me what I need to fill that void.” Thinking in this positive vein has helped her to overcome romantic disappointment.
Attempts at romance often fail in this world, but so do many marriages. If you put your trust in Jehovah and obey his counsel, he can help you to replace disappointment with joy. You can have an experience like that of King David, who wrote: “O Jehovah, in front of you is all my desire, and from you my sighing itself has not been concealed. For on you, O Jehovah, I waited; you yourself proceeded to answer, O Jehovah my God.”—Psalm 38:9, 15.
^ par. 3 The article “Young People Ask . . . How Can I Tell Him How I Feel?” (October 22, 2004) explained that in some lands there may be cultural objections to a woman’s approaching a man about a romantic relationship. While the Bible does not condemn this practice, it does encourage Christians to avoid stumbling others. Thus, those desirous of God’s blessing do well to take the Bible’s counsel into account when deciding what to do.—Matthew 18:6; Romans 14:13; 1 Corinthians 8:13.
^ par. 5 Some of the names have been changed.
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