A Dating Guide for Godly Girls: (#7) Handling Goodbye
Tip #7: Say goodbye with grace. There comes a time in every dating relationship when each person must determine whether or not the person they’re dating is one God would have them share the rest of their life with. Because so many factors specific to the individuals involved play into the timing of this moment, couples rarely come to it simultaneously, which is why most dating relationships end with a break up instead of a mutual parting.
Having been on both sides of the break-up experience multiple times, and I can tell you this: No matter how logical the reasons for a breakup look on paper or sound when spoken, no matter how firmly one or both of you believe that walking away is what God truly wants for you, no matter how relieved you may feel once the deed is done and you’re freed to the next dating opportunity, breakups equal pain.
The key to minimizing, processing and handling this pain, whether you find yourself on the giving or receiving end of the dreaded breakup speech, is grace.
No matter what you may be feeling in the moment and no matter how the man you’ve been dating handles his end of things, show him grace. Consider his needs, put them ahead of your own, and treat him even better than either of you think he deserves to be treated so God will be glorified in you.
How? Here are three tips:
If you know that the romantic relationship you’re in is unhealthy or going nowhere, end it. Do it carefully, respectfully and humbly, but end it. It’s cruel to give a man reason to hope once you know a future with him is not possible, what you want, and/or what you believe God wants for you, and it’s selfish to postpone the inevitable just because you know the conversation won’t be easy, because you’ve come to depend on whatever it is they’ve been providing, or you don’t want to step into the unknown alone. The longer you wait, the harder it will be for both of you.
If you are the one on the receiving end of the breakup speech, remember that what may come as a surprise to you is not a surprise to God. He’s way ahead of you, providing for your needs even before you ask Him, so don’t be afraid. Let go of what could have been and tighten your grip, instead, on the One Who will never let you go. Resist the pull of anger and the weight of bitterness and trust that God will replace what was good with His best. Walk in confidence. You are dearly loved!
Tell the truth.
If/when you end a romantic relationship, give honest, concrete, complete reasons for your decision. Choose life-giving words and resist the urge to blame, but don’t speak in generalities or skirt issues to speed up the process. Doing so will only leave him with unanswered questions and give the Enemy room to play with his heart and mind. Instead, take adequate time to prepare what you will say ahead of time, say it, and then answer his questions to the best of your ability. Apologize for anything you may have done, knowingly or unknowingly, that has caused him pain and ask for his forgiveness. Don’t argue, and don’t chase rabbits.
If you are the one on the receiving end, be honest about your feelings. If you feel you’ve been wronged in some way, speak up so he can apologize for things he may not even realize he’s done and you can offer your forgiveness. Maintaining self-control made possible by the Holy Spirit within you, ask any questions you need to have answered, giving him time to respond without interrupting so the conversation can stay on track and accomplish something. Without malice, say the things you need him to hear so you don’t have to replay the scene in your head and it can truly be over when it’s over.
If/when you end a romantic relationship, do the mental work required not only to understand how he might be feeling, but to feel it yourself so you can serve him well to the end, doing everything in your power to help your brother in Christ move past the pain of the present. Treat him how you would want to be treated, and when it’s all over, let it be over, giving him as much space as he needs in the days, weeks, months ahead. Don’t gossip, but keep the conversation between the two of you and protect him from the speculation of others by interacting with him as normally as possible in public.
If you are the one on the receiving end, put yourself in his place. Whatever his reasons for wanting his freedom, he feels he needs it, so let him go. Don’t cling, punish, or damage his reputation by sharing what should be kept private with others, and do your best to interact with him normally in public.
Listen, breakups are tough, but you and/or the man you’ve been dating don’t have to join the ranks of the skeptical, suspicious walking wounded just because you’ve experienced one. Love to the end and beyond so you both can run ahead whole once your goodbyes have been said.