The phrase, “breaking up is hard to do” is an understatement. If you’ve been on the receiving end of a break up, you are familiar with all the questions and emotions that follow. Did I do something wrong? What’s wrong with me? I thought we were doing fine. Is there something I could’ve done differently?
If you’ve ever initiated a break up, chances are you have felt guilt, worried that you made the right decision and even missed your ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend on some lonely days that followed. Regardless of whether you or your ex initiated the break up, the days, weeks, and months that follow can feel excruciating.
Because of the pain that is associated with breaking up, many people avoiding it even when they know that ending the relationship is in both people’s best interest. Have you ever stayed in a relationship simply because you could not find the words or the nerve to break it off? If so, you are not alone.
When I was a teenager, I experienced both sides of a break up. When someone broke up with me, I experienced humiliation, deep aches in my chest, and I would continuously wonder what was wrong with me. When I would break up with someone, I would stress about how he was doing, second guess my decision, and in most cases I’d miss him – at least for a while.
Some people experience a break up where they have had enough and they end the relationship in a colorful, unforgettable way (perhaps with explosiveness or public displays of emotionality) – walking away guilt free and happy to have their lives back – this never happened to me. No matter what the reason for breaking up with someone, I never felt good about it. Maybe I felt at peace because I knew the Holy Spirit had been nudging me to do it, but I never experienced the joy of “getting rid” of someone. In fact, there were times I prayed that my boyfriend would initiate the break up just so I wouldn’t have to do it.
No matter how hard these break ups were for me, and for others involved, they were clearly for the best. At the time the world seemed to be ending, but now that I look back on my life, I’m confident that each painful choice (whether made by myself or an ex-boyfriend) was a good choice. Why? Because staying in a dating relationship that does not have the potential for marriage (in the relatively near future) is never a good choice.
If you are contemplating a breakup, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is this person heading in a direction that is similar to the direction I’m heading?
- Does this person lift others and myself up, or does he/she tear others down?
- Is this person ready to start considering marriage? Am I ready to consider getting married?
- Can I be myself (completely comfortable) when I’m with him or her? Am I trying to be someone I’m not to keep him/her happy?
- Is this person encouraging me to follow God’s will for my life (including remaining pure in heart and body), or is he/she pushing me to compromise God’s standards?
- Do my parents/those I respect feel good about my relationship with this person, or do they have concerns?
- Am I growing closer to God as a result of dating this person?
- Is my relationship with this person causing me to push other important people out of my life?
- Does he or she have a history of unhealthy relationships? If so, has he/she had time to grow and mature since ending his/her last toxic relationship?
- Is the Holy Spirit urging me to end this relationship?
These are just a few questions to consider when deciding whether or not to continue in a relationship. If I had not ended relationships in my past or others had not ended relationships with me, I may have settled and one of them may have settled for me. Something amazing happened to all the guys I dated before Eric: they moved on – imagine that!
If you are afraid to break up with your guy or girl because you don’t think they will be able to live without you, let me assure you – they can. It may take a while for him or her to heal, but leading someone on indefinitely is much crueler than being graciously honest. After breaking it off, leave your ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend alone and let the healing begin.
Be prayerful about your decision and honest with yourself. You will both get through this difficult time (I Peter 5:7; Philippians 4:6-7).
Are you continuing in a relationship just to avoid a painful breaking up?