I don’t blame you if you wonder whatever possessed me to write an article about breaking up. But someone asked me to. So here it goes.
Nobody wants to get into a relationship that’s going to end in a breakup. But it happens. So how can we minimize the hurt involved or is it even possible to minimize the hurt? Of course, I’m not talking here about divorce, the ultimate heartbreak, but rather the break-up of a courtship or an engagement.
Part of the glory of a relationship in the first place is that you are putting yourself (and your heart) at risk. So it is important to keep your heart guarded until you know where this is going. Don’t be too hasty in giving it away. Remind your heart that you are simply in a courtship, or simply dating, or whatever you want to call it. Until you are engaged, you should play it safe.
Even if you play it safe, both parties are still going to be vulnerable. That is simply a given. But you can exercise wisdom as you go, and protect your emotional commitment as much as possible. One of the ways to do this is to keep the physical relationship out of it until there is an engagement. Then you still want to go slowly and maintain a pure code of conduct.
If a young man has initiated a courtship, and he has gone to the trouble of calling Dad, we can all safely assume that he knows what he is doing. On the other hand, perhaps that is not an entirely safe assumption. We would hope that before he had entered into a courtship, he had been fairly sure that this was the girl for him. This means that the whole thing is a whole lot riskier for the guy, and that is how it should be. He’s the one sticking his neck out. He’s the one who may get a pink slip from Dad that says, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
When a girl, on the other hand, enters into a courtship, she is agreeing that she is willing to be won over. The young man is courting her. He is trying to win her. She is willing to be won. But she hasn’t promised anything. And a wise father will be over-seeing this process, making sure that during the courtship the young man is not misbehaving in any way, but treating his daughter with honor, respect, and courtesy.
My money is on the dad who gives the young man a couple of months for the courtship proceedings. That prevents the never-ending courtship, protects the daughter from too much emotional vulnerability, and gives the young man a nice hard deadline. Doug always called this the “fish or cut bait” talk, and he suggests that talk happen a couple months into the courtship.
But sometimes a couple of months, or a couple of weeks, may reveal that this is not to be. The girl decides it’s not working. Or, and this is not as nice, the man decides it’s not all he thought it would be. And no matter what kind of “procedure” you may follow, breaking up is always hard to do. Somebody always gets hurt. Somebody was too invested to walk away painlessly.
I remember one dad doing the breaking up on behalf of his daughter, and even he said it was the hardest thing he’d ever done. So I have no tips on how to make it into a party. It’s just not gonna be.
But here are a few suggestions anyway. If your behavior has been above reproach, then you can hold your head up and walk away, thanking God that He truly does rule the earth and will work this for your good. It is safe to assume that God is protecting you, so feel grateful. Gratitude will help subdue the disappointment.
Then I would encourage you to watch what you say to others. Don’t bad mouth the breaker-upper. And this sounds very trite, but get over it. Press on. Do the next thing. Don’t let your thoughts dwell on it. Change the subject. And expect that the actual recovery time might take a week or two. That’s normal. This is what all the country songs ever written (pretty much) are about, so don’t feel like you are the one and only human being to ever experience this kind of thing. Happens every day of the week. And don’t turn the sadness into a long, drawn-out drama. Don’t indulge yourself by having a never-ending pity party. That is not going to help.
If you are the one doing the breaking up, then do it with courtesy and kindness, as soon as possible, and then watch how you talk about it afterward. You want to honor the guy who honored you. It’s a compliment, after all, to have someone interested in you. The big goal here is to not set yourself up to have regrets about your own behavior.
But what if the relationship itself was not a God-honoring one in the first place, and then it broke up. You thought you were going to marry the guy, so you confided more than you wish you had, you got closer than you should have, and now you are embarrassed and ashamed of the whole thing. Take the hit. Learn the lesson. Grow up. Receive the forgiveness you need and quit beating yourself up. Sometimes we learn things the hard way.
A broken relationship can be looked on as a beginning instead of an end. God has something else in store for you. Trust Him and don’t live in the past. Do you need to change churches so you won’t see him? I doubt it. In fact, the sooner you can see him in public and simply be polite the better. You don’t need to be chums. Neither do you need to duck into the broom closet to avoid seeing him. Just get it over with, and let him see that you are alive and well. The first time will be the worst. And then let it all go. Let him go. If he latches on to someone else, don’t let it get to you. He’s not going to be your husband, so the sooner you quit thinking about someone else’s future husband, the better.