There is a mental battle during the dating stage which I know all too well: “Do I stay in this relationship or should we break up?” It can feel like torment, especially when everyone has an opinion. The swirling thoughts and questions are overwhelming and, if you are anything like me, the desire to run away is strong! There were so many times I just wanted to hide and let the situation pass. Sometimes, I would ask God to have my boyfriend break up with me because I could not bear broaching the subject.
Breaking up is not easy – and it probably should not be. If hurting someone, no matter how noble the reason, makes us feel good or neutral, we should explore that promptly. It is not a positive quality.
The questions below may not bring you to a complete and locked decision, but they should help you logically think through your relationship and give you some solid reasons to stay or walk away.
- Am I being emotional in my decision? There are many opinions flung at us on a daily basis; in all the clamor, it can be difficult to discern the truth. That is why it is so important that we spend time reading and studying what God says so we can learn to think Biblically and not be torn from side to side. So much of my life, I have depended on emotional guidance, but emotions are unstable; whereas, biblical truth does not change. Based on your knowledge of Scripture, the counsel of Godly people, and your personal time with the Savior, what decision do you believe you should make?
- How is the timing? Is this relationship coming at a bad time? Is there healing from another relationship that needs to happen first? Are either of you too busy with school or work to devote time to growing a healthy relationship? Are you in two different places spiritually or emotionally? Is this a good relationship at a bad time? Could pushing for the relationship now damage your chances for a wonderful relationship in the future?
- Are we heading in the same direction? Do we have similar life goals? Attraction is wonderful. It can be intoxicating. Unfortunately, it is not enough. Relationships go through stages and the overwhelming emotions which flood us in our courtship phase taper off over time. For many, their relationship becomes more comfortable and mature – a sensation often preferable to the initial euphoric stage. For others, their relationship dies down and becomes a burden. Couples who walk down separate paths are likely to experience discouragement and frustration in their marriages. It is exhausting to play tug of war for fifty or more years – and most people do not. These couples tend to give up – either ending the relationship in divorce or giving up on their dreams and divorcing emotionally. If marrying this person requires you to turn your back on your true self, is it worth it?
- Do we lift each other up or tear each other down? As a whole, have you pointed each other towards Christ or distracted each other from a closer walk with the Lord? Do you speak to each other in ways that inspire courage or do your words and actions discourage each other?
- Am I a good fit for him or her? Two perfectly wonderful people can be a completely horrible match. Just because you are not a good life partner for this person does not mean you will not be an incredible partner for someone else. While considering your boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s traits you should also consider your own. Do you have what he or she needs in a spouse? If you clearly do not, be kind enough to set him or her free.
- How different are we? Being complete opposites may seem romantic in the beginning; yet, over the years, your vast differences will take a toll on your marriage. You do not want to marry a replica of yourself, but the more you have in common the easier your relationship will be over the years.
- What do my friends and family say? Not everyone may give you a glowing review, but if the majority of reviews consistently have concerns about your long-term future with him or her, that is nothing to ignore. Humbly sit down with each person individually, with a notepad in hand, ask for the pros and cons they see in your relationship, and write down their reflections. Take time to review and look at similarities of comments across the lists and be honest with yourself. Being with someone else out of rebellion is not going to lead to a lifetime of your happiness.
- Am I scared? Do I already know what I should do, but fear the loneliness that may follow? What will happen if I let the relationship linger knowing it will eventually end? If you really think you should break up, take some time to think about how you would re-acclimate to single life. Form a game plan to seek out close friends, journal, take a trip to think and pray, and/or post encouraging Scripture around your house. Doing this in preparation will help reduce that fear as you will see a path going forward.
- Can I realistically see myself with this person in five years? I asked my godfather, Charles, how he knew my godmother, Becky, was the one for him. He said that he asked himself, “If I do not get married in the next five years, who would be my girlfriend?” He replied that it would still be Becky. He knew that even if they did not get married after five long years, she would still be the woman he wanted to date and that helped him make his decision.
- Does this person possess the Christ-like qualities I prayed for in a spouse? Does she possess a quiet spirit that the Lord finds precious? Is he self-controlled and a man of honor? Recently, a friend told me about her experience with a “suitor” who always kept her guessing. One day, she was watching him as he once again acted unchivalrously and she thought, “This is not what I prayed for.” Knowing who she is in Christ and the type of person she should wait for helped her let go of a troubling relationship.
- How does he or she act in various situations? How does he or she respond to disappointment, discouragement, elation, winning, losing, exhaustion, or disrespect? It is extremely important to notice how your sweetheart acts in varying situations, such as when he wins or loses a game. What does she do when she stains her clothes or has an unpleasant encounter with a friend? How does he treat wait staff at restaurants? How does she act when she does not get her way? If you are consistently uncomfortable with your sweetie’s reactions to life and stress, you should factor that into your decision. Remember, how we act in the dating stage is us on our best behavior.
Though your decision may seem gut-wrenching, I want to encourage you. This phase of your life will pass. The stress you are feeling now will leave you. A time will come when you only have faint recollections of the events happening in your life right now. This is not the end. No matter how unpleasant, there is more to come – more good to come. Look to the future and know that you will conquer this mountain and the next twenty after it. It is going to be okay.
If you have repented of your sins and placed your trust and faith in Jesus Christ, you will be more than okay (Mark 1:15). In light of eternity, this moment in your life is very small. You are going to make it.
Are you confident about staying in your relationship or do you think it is time to say goodbye?
Picture: iStockPhoto/shannon hollman