How long should I wait before pursuing a young lady who has recently gone through a difficult break-up with a boyfriend? I realize that she's in a place where she needs time to deal with the hurt and loss. At the same time, I don't want to wait around too long and possibly lose out on any chance I might have with her. Any advice?
Time heals, but the amount of time required in any given case depends on a number of complicated factors. For this reason, we can't tell you, "Wait six weeks and then make your move." Instead, we'd advise you to keep your eyes open, go slow, and proceed with caution. In particular, we'd suggest that you give serious attention to the fact that this girl has experienced a very real loss, and that different people grieve such losses at different rates. For the time being, you're in a watching and waiting game. You need to approach this situation with a great deal of sensitivity and compassion.
As we see it, a great deal depends on how well you know the young woman in question. Is she a friend, an acquaintance, or just someone you've had your eye on from a distance? Your level of familiarity with her will necessarily dictate the way you relate to her under the present circumstances. If you're already friends, you probably have a pretty fair idea of how you might talk to her about her current situation. If not, you will want to think about building a friendship with her – again, slowly, carefully, and bit by bit – while maintaining an appropriate emotional distance. Don't presume anything. Give her the space and time she needs.
When you've earned the right to do so, you might try asking her some questions about the recent break-up. What was this experience like for her? What did she learn from it? Who was responsible for ending the relationship? Did he break up with her, or did she break up with him – or was it a mutual decision? Factors like these are likely to make a huge difference in the amount of heartbreak she's going through.
Whatever you do, don't push her into some kind of "rebound" relationship. Remember, contentment and self-sufficiency are key factors in the psychological health of the individual, and it takes two healthy partners to make a healthy couple. You don't want her to jump into a new connection with you just because she desperately "needs" somebody. That will only lead to other problems down the road.
If you think it might be helpful to discuss your questions at greater length with a member of our staff, we'd like to invite you to call Focus on the Family's Counseling department.
I, Isaac, Take Thee, Rebekah (book)
I, Isaac, Take You, Rebekah (broadcast)