Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and couples are getting ready for the big day. Social media will soon be flooded with brag posts from the wooed and the wooers. On the darker side of this bright red day however, many are thinking about something entirely the opposite – breaking up and saying goodbye. It’s not hard to understand. Having to celebrate Valentine’s Day with someone whom you don’t want to stay in a romantic relationship with anymore is pretty unbearable to any honest soul.
Many of us have either been through a breakup ourselves or have seen our friends trudge through it. I’ve certainly witnessed a fair share of heartbreaks through those around me. From having walked through these difficult times with my friends, I like to share here what I observed to be ways to make the break – although painful – less injurious.
If you are reading this and you are married, I want to say that there is always hope to rekindle and reconcile. You might think you’d need super power to mend this marriage. The good news is – there is! It’s been said that while there is no back door in a marriage, there is certainly a ladder to Heaven. The source of of love and forgiveness is available to anyone who seeks it. Believe me, I’ve witnessed the miracle happen for many and I know it can happen for you. Open up your heart to God, go to your local church and find some godly wisdom there.
But for those who are only married in the name of Facebook, maybe you have been staring at that exit door for a while. These are uncertain and fearful times for you. You are filled with guilt and anxiety as you imagine the scenario over and over again. Most people worry about the other party, who will be left alone and a lot of times – lonely. And unless both parties are mutually tired about the relationship and both are ready to move on, there is one thing for certain – there will be pain.
There really isn’t any one way to approach a breakup because every situation is different. But I hope these suggestions would help.
- Think clearly, are you sure? Just as one should never rush into dating, neither should one end a relationship in haste. Except for obvious reasons, such as abuse and irreconcilable differences relating to faith and life values, much thought and considerations should be given before you decide to break off. Finding someone special to share that special relationship with is not something that comes by easily. Treat it like a precious pearl necklace. Think twice before giving it away.
- Seek advice from a mentor if you have one. No one should should go through a crisis alone. Find someone mature and wise and who is connected to God to talk this over with. A person who is more seasoned in life may help you find your blind spots and give you a clearer perspective on things. And if you really need to talk to more people about this besides your mentor, try to keep it to a very small group of trusted people. You wouldn’t want the other party to hear about it from anyone else before s/he hears from you.
No matter whom you seek advise from, the decision should still ultimately be yours and you need to own up to it. Be sure that if you decide to break up, you and the other party are clear that it’s your own decision, and that it’s not “because your adviser(s) said so.” And if things don’t turn out right somehow? Don’t shift the blame to your adviser. You might be tempted to do so to lessen the guilt and pressure, but it stunts your personal growth. Taking ownership for your own decision is a milestone to maturity.
- Be honest. No half truths. No white lies. Lies and half truths just make what is already a sad situation ugly. They are like piled up garbage swept under the rug. Someone is bound to trip over it and most likely, that someone will be you. Dishonesty creates a mirage of false hopes and guilt. It prolongs the pain and adds salt to injury. But of course, it doesn’t mean you have to be brutal with the truth either. “Speaking the truth in love,” as the Bible commands, is the healthy balance.
- Do it in person. Don’t just leave a voicemail on the person’s cell, or announce your decision through texts, a Facebook post or a change in FB relationship status. And don’t just disappear from the Planet Earth. If you can’t man(or woman)-up to this, you shouldn’t have been in a dating relationship in the first place. So grow up and face the situation in person.
- When trying to explain the reasons for your decision, focus on using the “I” messages rather than “You” messages. If you find yourself starting sentences in your explanations with “you” did this or said that, you are not only shifting blame, you may actually be creating false hope that as long as the other party makes changes, the relationship has a second chance. Focusing on how you feel and your actions gives little room for disputes and lessens the load of guilt and regret for the other party.
- Be clear and upfront about what went wrong. If you made mistakes, own up to them. Don’t shift blame. On the other hand, don’t apologize for things you did not do either. It lays breeding ground for needless false guilt, which is the last thing you need during this transition.
- Agree to mutually keep a distance after the breakup. Allow the person and yourself to cool down and heal. Don’t expect to stay friends like how it used to be for at least a little while. Sure you might want to quickly wind back the clock and be buddies again like nothing happened, but you know that would be impossible. Attempting to do so would just muddle your decision and entangle both of you in confusion. Relationships are kind of like a lump of clay, no matter how hard you try to shape it back to the way it once was, it can rarely be the same.
- Last but not least, ask God for wisdom and courage. God is the first source you should go to. He holds all wisdom and gladly gives it. Remember, only He can touch, mend and strengthen a heart – no pretty words or persuasive arguments can do that without His help. Tell Him all about it. If your heart is open to Him, He will speak to you in surprising ways that surpass human understanding.
The common threads within these eight suggestions are these three: respect, honesty and communication. As a matter of fact, I think they ought to be the core of all our relationships. In the sad event of having to say goodbye to a romantic relationship – respect, honesty and communication, like fall guards, would make departures less hurtful. Together, they help keep one’s dignity intact, lessen the emotional trauma and empower one to exit the relationship – graciously and gracefully.