How long it takes to recover from a break up varies from person to person. Someone who was in a relationship for three months and never talked about marriage will probably bounce back faster than someone who was on the verge of engagement. Sometimes, a six-week relationship sweeps someone away more than a previous two-year relationship did.
Because of the pain of break ups, and because they help us practice better for divorce than marriage, we don’t recommend dating just for the sake of dating. We recommend dating with purpose.
“When I grow tired of this relationship, or if we cannot work out our problems, we’ll just break up. It has worked before, and it can work again.”
If you have been dating (i.e., going from one exclusive relationship to another) without defining your purpose for entering each relationship, we would strongly recommend that you change your dating philosophy a bit.
Eric’s Recommended Process of Dating:
Step 1 – You see someone you would like to get to know better. You date him or her. And by “date”, he means to just hang out with him or her. You have fun with other people together. You enjoy learning about each other in dating without jumping into a committed relationship. In essence, you develop a friendship with him or her.
Step 2 – If after getting to know your special friend well you can easily see yourself marrying him or her someday, you should then purposefully enter into a time of “courting” (for some reason I thoroughly despise this word, but I agree with the concept! ~smile~) which is a season of growing together, commitment to each other, and preparing for engagement. You are not required to continue in the relationship if one or both of you decides you are no longer interested, but typically courtships do not break up as easily, or for petty reasons, in the way dating relationships often do. (And in Eric’s process of dating, if the couple is only dating, there’s really nothing really there from which to break up.) Since both people took time and consideration before entering into this season of courtship, they are less likely to walk away unless there is ample reason.
Step 3 – Engagement after groom-to-be receives permission from the bride-to-be’s father (or father-figure if her father is deceased or unavailable). It is romantic no matter how outdated it seems! ~smile~
Step 4 – Wedded bliss – and by ‘wedded bliss,’ I mean a lifetime of growing, overcoming obstacles, and learning to love another sinful creature… sacrificially. ~wink~
However, if you’re fresh from a break up, here are some thoughts about working through this time in your life.
Working Through the Grieving Process
Though you do not want to shut the world out after a break up, it is important that you let yourself grieve. Even if you believe that your pain is ridiculous (and it isn’t), you still need to grieve. Pushing it down and ignoring it will only work for a short time. Eventually, your grief will either explode out of you as tears, anger, or frustration, or it will poison you and turn into depression.
Choose a Date in the Near Future When You Will Try to Get Back Into the Social Scene
While you are allowing yourself to lay low and not engage in a lot of social activities while you heal, pick a date in the near future which seems reasonable to plan a social outing for that day. It can be lunch with a friend, coffee with a mentor, basketball with buddies, or anything that makes you comfortable. If that outing goes well, you can plan another and ease back into the swing of socializing. If not, give yourself a little more time, pick another date on your calendar, and try again. In the meantime, close friends can come over and just hang out with you if you are up for it. Support is good! We need support.
Focus on Making Friends
Once you are out on the social scene again, work on fostering friendships. Instead of being on the prowl for a new romance, just focus on making new friends. Often the best spouses come out of a group of friends!
My grandma had a plaque in her house that said (roughly translated), “Make new friends, but keep the old. New friends are like silver and old friends like gold.” As you make your way back out into the world, keep your old friends close. Don’t smother them, but don’t take them for granted either. In addition to keeping your old friends close, don’t hesitate to make new friends as well. These new friends are not replacements. New people can broaden our horizons and show us new perspectives.
Though it may be tempting, try not to go out into the world obsessed with finding Mr. or Mrs. Right. Concentrate on enjoying your life, giving to others, and being faithful to God and your obligations. If you open yourself up to new friends, you may find that you get to skip the awkward “first date” stage altogether. Eric and I were so comfortable with each other as friends when we became a couple that we never had to endure a painful first date. By the time we went on an official “first date,” we were already in love and planning to get married. Not everyone’s love story will work out that way, but if you focus on friendships and not on jumping into romantic relationships, you are likely to experience a smoother transition from single life to married life.
It really is the way to go. Nourish old friends. Make new friends. Marry your best friend.
What is your dating philosophy? Are you happy with it, or do you want to change it?