In today’s dating advice post, Dr. Jim writes provides his thoughts on Breaking Up 101.
Breaking up is reality
Many classes are offered on a variety of subjects, but I have never heard of one on breaking up. It is certainly an experience that none of us want to experience. However the realities of life reveal that we have or we will very likely experience this one. Everyone needs to give some thought to the process of breaking up if they intend to relate to others.
Give more thought to considerations of others
Our society is in too big a hurry to get somewhere. The truth of what we realize is that we too often end up just going around in a circle. Internet dating has been a major contributor to feeding the ‘rush’ mentality. It has left too many single adults hurting and wounded in its wake. I strongly believe that it does not have to be this way. If more thought were given to proper considerations of others, the injuries would be significantly reduced.
Do unto others…
There is an all-encompassing Biblical principle that must be applied in relationships. It is found in Luke 6:31.
‘Do to others as you would have them do to you.’
Perhaps you recognize this as the Golden Rule. The application of this principle to all relationships would bring about a healthy experience for all.
Allow me to share some basics to consider as relates to ‘break-ups’ in a dating relationship.
HOW TO HANDLE NEW RELATIONSHIPS
As you approach a new relationship, keep fantasy in check and seek reality. It is thrilling to find someone paying attention to you and wants to spend time with you. However the initial stages of ‘connecting’ is a dance where everyone is on their best behavior. Do not contribute to the fantasy as you enjoy getting to know the other person.
Discuss your relationship
Set aside times each week to discuss how the relationship is being seen from each of your perspectives. This will cause each to pay attention to realities and not venture off alone into a world of fantasy.
IF you find that something in the relationship is not quite right, or even annoying, discuss it with the other person. Perhaps you can tell that they are really embracing the relationship, but you are not as far along as they are. Share this with them in an open and considerate manner.
Take time to process any issues
When an obstacle develops in the relationship, do not immediately look for the door – unless it is a major offense. It will not only serve the relationship well if you take the time to process the item, but will improve your relationship skills for this or another relationship.
When discussing, don’t use “You”
I want to share a fundamental key when discussing something that may be controversial or confrontational with another person. There is one word that must never be used. It is the word YOU! Too often the conversation begins with ‘you are doing something that irritates me.’ Whenever the word YOU is used in discussing something that is bothering the relationship, it puts the other person on the defensive. How do you approach these topics? Focus on yourself and what the feeling is that you are experiencing. Something like ‘I would like to share how I feel when I hear you say..’ You may have a misunderstanding of the motives behind the words or actions. This will allow the other person to express their perspective in a non-threatening environment.
HOW TO BREAK UP WITH SOMEONE
Get a wider perspective
I would encourage you to have a mature Christian buddy of your own gender, or mature Christian couple, to walk with you through a developing relationship. They can help you have a wider perspective and consideration of what is happening in a relationship.
When you find that the relationship is not working for you, seek these counselors for input and prayer. Are you repeating past cycles or are your thoughts and feelings valid?
Pray for wisdom
Pray. God’s Spirit needs to give you wisdom and understanding. He also wants to prepare you, and the other person, if the relationship needs to be ended.
Don’t drag it out
Do not allow this to drag out in consideration of the other person’s feelings and needs. If you are in quandary of what to do in the relationship, share this with them and seek mutual considerations of how to approach this. Do not expect them to be overjoyed that there is a challenge in the relationship. At least you will know that you are being considerate and trying.
Skip the laundry list of reasons
When you have arrived at a decision and know that you must end the relationship, do not develop a laundry list of reasons to share. This can be very hurtful and is not necessary. I suggest that you share from a tender heart that you had great desires for the relationship, but as you prayed about it and sought input from wise friends, you have arrived at the conclusion that the relationship needs to end. In consideration for their needs, you want to value them and not allow them to invest more of their feelings when you are not investing yours.
They’ll need time to process
Do not expect them to respond with understanding. They need time to process and grieve. Do everything you can to be considerate, and give them space.
Pray for them… after you leave
Pray for them AFTER you leave and for the next week or so as God leads you.
It is an immature and damaging thing to just drop a person with whom you have initiated a potential relationship. Christians must not participate in the shopping cart mentality so prevalent online. I have received so many emails from singles that were abruptly dropped, or from someone who would drop in and out of the relationship. Yet they can go online to the mutual dating service and see that the person is online seeking others at the same time that they were either not available or not connecting with someone in whom they had expressed an interest. This is not only immature, but also downright mean and inconsiderate. Be sure that you are not guilty of inconsiderate damage of another person.
SURVIVING SOMEONE BREAKING UP WITH YOU
Hopefully the person is considerate, and perhaps read the above. I wish that life were always fair. It just is not so and the dating scene is one confirmation of this.
You will always find it wise to have one or two Christian buddies of your own gender walk with you through any relationship experience. As I mentioned above, they will provide needed perspectives as your relationship develops. They can also help you keep your head in reality instead of the great adventure into fantasyland.
Don’t fight it
When someone comes to you and says that they want to break up with you, do not fight it. Ask them to share with you what is going on within them and hear what they have to say. Often the real reasons are not shared as some weak excuses are provided. When another person has reached a decision to end a relationship, it will not serve you well to argue or challenge them. It is very proper for you to express how much you desire for the relationship to succeed. Talk about where you are and what you desire, but do not attack them for their position.
Respond in love
The best thing that you can do is to respond to them in love. It likely will not be your first thought, but I suggest that to do so will speak volumes into their spirit. While time may see them change their mind, it will more likely come about if they find you loving. Do not feed the reasons they may have for a break up by behavior that is unkind or hostile.
Don’t rush into another relationship
You will need time to grieve. You need your buddies to come along side and allow you to be you, while encouraging you to gradually move forward with your life. Do not rush out and try to find another relationship.
Leave hurt with God
If there were hurtful words or actions that came from the other person, take them to Jesus. Ask His Spirit to reveal anything to you that you can learn. Otherwise you will leave those hurtful things with Him and let Him address them. This is a very important step. In fact, if you cannot leave them with God, I plead with you to find a good counselor. The processing of hurtful events/words in our lives is essential to being able to move on with life in a healthy manner. If you do not process these in a healthy manner, they will lie within your spirit and surface in future relationships. I speak from personal experience in this area.
Move forward, one step at a time
Move forward – one step, one thought at a time. Philippians 3:13b says ‘Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.’ It is not easy to just let go and move on with life. It takes an effort each moment and day. As you focus on activities that move you toward a future, the past will lose its pull. Spend the next 28 days focusing on activities, thoughts, friendships, education, etc. that have to do with building you a better future. This amount of time will create a new pattern and replace the old one.
Pour it out to God
God wants to comfort and encourage you. This is the purpose of His Spirit being within us Believers. Pour your hurt, frustration, and anger out to God. He is big enough to take it and turn it into good.
Breaking up is never a fun process. However it does not need to be a damaging one. Whichever end of this you find yourself, be considerate of the other person. Place your focus on God’s ability and desire to provide a future filled with hope and joy.