This week, we are helping couples work through whether they should break up, whether they should get back together, and how to recover after a break up. Please “like”, tweet, and share these posts with your friends and family so we may be able to help them too. Thank you!
Is there anything that clouds our judgment more than matters of the heart? In college, I remember going on and on about numerous issues I was having with my then-boyfriend – and my longest, dearest, most exhausted-with-my-drama friend responded to each of my complaints with, “So, break up with him.” She was so worn out with my constant negativity – and from her perspective, it didn’t make any sense for me to stay with someone if it was obviously not working out between us.
Looking back now, it should have seemed like a cut and dry decision; yet, at the time, my heart was involved. Sure there were about a hundred strikes against us as a couple, but something inside me didn’t want to let go. It could have been the fear of loneliness. Or, maybe I was afraid of how a break up would affect him and those around us? Despite all the negative issues, there were probably some positive points in the mix which kept my mind swirling with confusion.
Is it Time to Let Go?
“So, should we break up?” That is always an easier question for our friends and family to answer than for us to answer.
“Yes, she’s dragging you down.” “No, she’s so sweet and you’ll work through your problems.” “Yes, he is using you.” “No, your relationship will improve once he graduates and isn’t under so much stress.”
Ultimately, we need to decide for ourselves whether or not our dating relationships should continue. So, it is no wonder why our friends stay in what we would consider “doomed” relationships so much longer than we think they should. But, mix the emotions they’re feeling with their good memories and confusion and it can make coming to a relationship-ending decision quite the challenge.
Questions to Consider
The list below is not exhaustive, but we want to provide those who are trying to decide between staying in their dating relationship and throwing in the towel a few questions to consider:
1. Have you and your boyfriend or girlfriend been breaking up and getting back together?
If you and your boyfriend or girlfriend are in a pattern of breaking up when the going gets tough and then getting back together when life cools down, that is a sign that your relationship is not healthy. If you leave each other whenever there is a problem, instead of working it out, your pattern will continue after you’re married. Constantly breaking up leaves both of you insecure (When is he or she going to leave me again?) and is tremendous practice for divorce. Take some time apart from each other to mature and evaluate what you want in life. Most of the time, relationships that waffle back and forth don’t last forever – and they certainly don’t bring harmony, comfort, and security to those involved.
2. Are you compromising who you are to stay in this relationship?
Do you feel like you’ve lost who you are in this relationship? Are you afraid being yourself or that voicing your concerns will cause your boyfriend or girlfriend to be angry with you or leave you? A successful marriage consists of two different people (either similar or dissimilar) who actively love and give to each other. If you can’t be yourself or voice your opinions around him or her, or you feel the need to be someone you are not to stay with your guy or gal, it’s time to move on to greener pastures. You won’t be able to keep up your act forever – and if you try, it will get exhausting. Eventually the real you is going to burst forth!
3. Do you have different religious commitments?
Maybe you both profess to be Christians and love the Lord; yet, are you both serving Him whole-heartedly, or is one of you hanging back and having a form of godliness while the other is striving to be more Christ-like? If you are serving God at two different speeds, you should seriously consider ending your relationship. The one of you who is not serving God with all your heart will pull the other down (in short order or over time – but, it will happen).
4. Are you or your significant other desperate to make your relationship work?
Have you ignored scores of bad behavior from your significant other because you are determined to make your relationship work against all odds? If so, really think about why. Dig deep and ask yourself, “Am I afraid of being alone? Am I trying to prove others wrong? What is the underlying reason why I’m holding on so tightly to this relationship when there are so many problems?”
5. Are you staying in the relationship because of the time and energy you have invested?
When you consider breaking up, does it pain you to think of all the time you’ve already spent trying to make it work? Is the investment you’ve made one of the main reasons you’re still in the relationship? If your relationship was only a few months old, would you stay in it if it was exactly the way it is now? Just like a poor investment with a negative long-term outcome, it is just as good to get out of a dating relationship which is not bringing you a positive return on investment.
6. Can you imagine being in this relationship in five years? … in ten years?
I once asked my godfather how he knew my godmother was the one for him. He said that when he and my godmother were dating he asked himself, “If I’m not married in five years, who will I be with (i.e., dating)?” He realized that even if he wasn’t committed to her in marriage, he’d still be in a relationship with her in five years. If you’re dating someone and you don’t envision or can’t imagine being with him or her in five or ten years, that’s a good sign that it’s time to break up.
7. Are you having serious doubts about your girlfriend or boyfriend being the future parent of your children?
There are a lot of problems you may be willing to put up with now that you may feel much differently about when you become a parent! If you don’t see good parental potential in this man or woman, I would not suggestion considering him or her as a future mate. Even if you don’t think you want kids now, you may change your tune later… or you may be surprised with a pregnancy no matter what birth control methods you’re using. Besides, those who you don’t think would make a good mother or father likely won’t be a kind, loving spouse either. (If you’re not sure if he or she would make a good mother or father, give a young couple with some children a night off – they go on a date and you both watch their children… and then observe.)
8. Is there abuse of any kind?
Abusive relationships do not get better after marriage. Don’t believe the lie that he’ll stop hurting you after you agree to marry him. Don’t expect her to stop screaming at you after marriage if she’s doing it now. Character flaws intensify after marriage. Before marriage, we put our best foot forward and don’t usually show the worst of ourselves. Seek help or shelter if you need to; however, do not continue dating someone who abuses you – and absolutely do not marry him or her.
9. Are there trust issues between you two?
Is there a history of one or both of you cheating? Do you fight over accusations of cheating? Are you paranoid that he or she is with someone else when you’re not together? Can you relax in this relationship? Without trust, there is no relationship. You may be able to fake it in front of others, but we can’t fully connect with people we don’t trust. If trust is a problem, you may wish to seek counseling before making your final decision. Trust may be able to be regained and repaired, but the relationships are never exactly the same once trust has been broken.
10. Is he or she (or you) refusing to completely let go of past relationships?
If your boyfriend will not stop contacting his ex-girlfriend, even if he claims they’re “just friends,” then it’s a problem. If your girlfriend finds constant excuses to see her ex-boyfriend, that is not good either. We can’t help who we run into on the street, but if he or she is actively trying to maintain a friendship with an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend, save your heart and walk away. If your boyfriend is kind to his ex-girlfriend, but isn’t trying to find ways to include her in your lives, that’s a good sign. If your girlfriend still politely converses with her ex-boyfriend at church or in class, but is not trying to contact him outside of those times, she’s probably not still pining for him.
The Greatest Piece of Advice
Here is perhaps the greatest piece of advice I can give you on the subject: pray. If you still don’t know, pray harder still. The Holy Spirit has always been faithful to guide me in and out of relationships. Usually I’d guide myself into a relationship knowing it was not a good idea and the Holy Spirit would faithfully remind me that I needed to get out. If you don’t have a good feeling about your relationship, there is probably a good reason. You need to get to the bottom of why if there is something wrong in your relationship.
Before I was old enough to date, I had a boyfriend (you know, the “I’m going out with…,” but we didn’t actually go anywhere relationship ~smile) which left me with an uncomfortable feeling. A few of my friends had bad dreams about him (as did I) and he had a creepy air about him. About six months after he broke up with me, I found out that he had physically abused his next girlfriend. Years later, I looked him up online and found that he’d been arrested for domestic abuse. Don’t ignore the still small voice telling you to get out.
Please Contact Us if You Want Help
If you have a specific question about your situation, feel free to contact us and ask your question. Depending on the sensitivity of the circumstances, we may respond privately or create a mailbag video to help others in a similar situation. We know breaking up is difficult and we pray the Holy Spirit will lead, guide, and direct your decisions. Remember that having no dating relationship is far better than enduring a bad one. You may need to free yourself to prepare for the romance God has in store for you.
Are you having concerns about your current dating relationship?