An impressionable and inexperienced teen-ager sometimes forms a violent attachment which, to put it mildly, is inappropriate. The same thing may, and dose, happen to older persons.
This incompatibility may be serious enough to involve mortal sin. Thus if you are in love with a married person, you have no choice but to do violent to yourself and stifle such illicit love at once. Failure to do so may result in great unhappiness, involving a sinful “affair”, which, with all its deceits and miserable subterfuges, may cause untold suffering to an innocent party and perhaps to children. An entanglement with a divorcee, or a person of immoral character, is also a very serious matter.
“In a certain business firm, five or six of the employees use to lunch together. Gradually, for one reason or another, the numbers dropped, until finally only two remained - a girl of nineteen and a married man. Instead of exercising the virtue of prudence and breaking up the association, they went ahead, fell in love with each other, broke up his hitherto happy home, and found, not happiness, but misery and eventual remorse”.
The incompatibility, however, may not be sinful, but may still be such as to jeopardize your future happiness. Such could be an attachment to an alcoholic, or to one who is very jealous, or who has any other serious fault of character. Unfortunately, you may not regard these traits at this stage as being important, thus love is blind. Or if you do, you may dismiss them with the vain hope that “it will be different when we are married”.
If you are fortunate enough to realize your problem, which is really the problem of your whole future happiness, you must pray earnestly to God for help, and then force yourself to root this attachment out of your heart. The first step is the most difficult, namely, to convince yourself that the break must be made and to determine to make it.
The recognized method of “ falling out of love” are to give up seeing the person, to ban all telephone calls and correspondence, to destroy all letters and get rid of all tokens. This is called physical separation. Then there is mental separation, which consists in not indulging in repining and day-dreams, and in avoiding self-pity. This is best done by deliberately seeking new interests and occupations.
Very great courage is needed to break a strong attachment. However, after prayer, perhaps a friend is the best help. Sometimes a priest or a religious is a wise choice, for such are not likely to compromise. What you need most is for someone to keep telling you firmly, over and over again, that you are doing the right thing in breaking the friendship. This strengthens your resolution, though it may not make your task any easier.
It should be of some comfort and encouragement to those who find themselves in this difficult predicament to know that many others have broken such an attachment before them, and are still doing it. Usually, after a long or shorter period of misery and heartache, a happy marriage with another is achieved and also, they are grateful to God for the decision they made.
Since good girls and boys have an incalculable influence on one another, the very first thing to get straightened out is the matter of religion, if one party happens to have become careless in its practice. This often happens when boys go on with their studies, or begin to work in factories, workshops or offices. It also happens to girls in certain circumstances. For example, it should be known that a careless Catholic partner is likely to be a life-long source of anxiety to the practising Catholic.
The choice of a partner is one of the most important decisions in life. Since the “yes” of the bride and bridegroom makes a marriage, since this consent is actually the sacrament, since the marriage bond is indissoluble, this decision cannot be base on emotional love; for this kind of love, as we have seen, can sometimes be blindly directed to unworthy objects.