Whoever said “Breaking up is hard to do” did not explain the half of it! Though breaking up is hard, it is not only the initial pain of the break up that people dread, but also the roller coaster of emotions experienced in the days and weeks following. It is the emptiness one battles, the awkward friendships, the redefining of oneself, and the development of the “new normal” that makes breaking up so tough.
The good news about breaking up is that the pain does lessen. It does. And the more support you have from family, friends, and especially God, the easier the healing process will be. However, before the healing process begins, many hurting people struggle with deciding if they should continue to “connect” with their ex.
We still want to be friends.
I just miss the sound of her voice.
He is the only one who ever understood me.
Have you ever heard a friend say any of these statements? Have you said them yourself? Trust me. I can relate too!
Should I Connect with my Ex-Boyfriend or Girlfriend?
The short (and highly unpopular) answer to this question is: “No, you should not.” This is experience speaking here! When I broke up with a guy, or a guy broke up with me, it left an awful void in my life. After all, I had poured my heart and identity (to some degree) into this person and walking away from the relationship, no matter how certain I was that God wanted me to end it, was a lot easier said than done. So, I started a horrible pattern of breaking up, getting back together, breaking up again, and so on and so forth.
It would have been bad enough if I had done this with one guy and then learned my lesson, but I did not learn my lesson the first time; so, I repeated this pattern in multiple relationships. It was as if I was trying to ease their pain and mine by trying to “be friends,” only to find myself diving head first back into the very place the Holy Spirit had so clearly told me to leave. By the time we actually broke up for good, any hope of salvaging a friendship, or even toleration of each other, was pretty much long gone.
What Will Happen if I Continue to Connect with my Ex?
If you are on the receiving end of a break up and you continually attempt to connect with your ex (e.g., phone calls, going by her workplace, leaving notes on his truck, etc.), you will push him or her further away. Regardless of the overall reason, all break-ups say, “I want space from you.” Pleading with your ex only makes you appear needy and weak. It solidifies his or her decision to end the relationship all the more. If the break-up is only an attempt to play with your heart and make you insecure so you will appear more devoted to him or her (a game that is played all too often), then groveling and begging will only reward such behavior. And, if he or she is serious about ending the relationship, begging him or her will likely change your ex’s opinion of you for the worse. Consider the following two interchanges:
- I really think we should see other people.
I respect your decision. I wish you the best. Then go home and cry in private, throw pillows, call close friends, and pour out your heart to God. Do not do any of this in front of your ex.
- I really think we should see other people.
What! Why?! What did I do? I’ll do better, I promise. You are my whole world. I’ll be lost without you. Just tell me what I need to change and I’ll change! Just don’t leave me!
Which respondant above would you respect more?
If you initiated a break up, continuing to connect with your ex can cause him or her to feel incredibly insecure.
“What are we? Does he want to get back together?” “Is she just using me?” “He said he just wants to be friends, but he still touches me a lot.” “She treats me like we are still a couple in private, but tells everyone else we are just friends. I don’t know what to think!”
Not only can it cause your ex to feel insecure, but it can cause others to loose respect for you as well.
“That girl is just messing with him. She’s no good.” “That guy is playing with her heart. She deserves so much better.”
Regardless of your reasons for continuing in a “friendship” with your ex, it almost never ends well. Don’t kid yourself into believing that you and your ex are going to be the one couple in history that is going to be able to go from “in love” to “still close friends” overnight without any repercussions. Someone is going to get hurt. At some level, you will probably both get hurt.
There are some who believe exes can *never* be friends again. Though I am extremely skeptical and tend to lean towards this line of thinking, I do believe that if there is any hope of a friendship being restored, time and space is an absolute must. You may be friends with your ex in the future, but if you mess around with him or her now, you are poisoning those chances.
When you break up with someone, don’t try to convince yourself that you will stay friends. It is a nice thought, but obsessing over it can cause more hurt. Let him or her recover. Give necessary space. Don’t play games. Then, perhaps after a while has passed, the two of you can forgive and be comfortable with each other again. Not best friends forever (the movies are lying to us), but comfortable.
I Am In So Much Pain… I Just Want to Hear His or Her Voice.
This is common and I completely understand. After breaking up with a college boyfriend, I remember driving back to my dorm, parking, and sobbing. Even though I was sure beyond the shadow of a doubt that God wanted me out of that relationship, I still cried out to Him, “What am I supposed to do now?!” After pouring all my time and energy (something I regret) into this guy, I did not know where to go from there. So what did I do? I continued to stay in contact with him. And what happened? We ended up in a relationship again. Any guess what followed that? Yes, more agonizing and then eventually breaking up with him on Christmas Eve. It was horrible.
What should I have done? I should have trusted my God. I should have known He would never tell me to do something and then leave me hopeless. I should have turned to my friends. They cared. They were there even though I had been spending the majority of my free time with this guy. I should have chosen to cut off communication with him. I should have stuck to my guns no matter what he said and no matter how alone I felt. It would have saved us both a lot of heartache.
Interestingly, he was married six months after we officially broke up. Whatever weird idea I had that he needed me was bogus. It seemed that way at the time, but it was the shock and emotions talking. Going back and forth only caused us more pain. The same month he got married, Eric and I began dating. God knew what was coming all along. I should have trusted Him and I can go back to this time in my life again and again when I need to be reminded that I can trust Him with every part of my life – and so can you.
Is there a break up in your past you wish you had handled differently? What have you learned from that experience?