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The temptation to rebound with an immediate dating relationship after
one has ended is enormous. Why? Because we’ve been in a relationship
long enough that we’ve become accustomed to having someone to call,
touch, and hang out with. To go from that to nothing feels like the rug
has been pulled out from under us, and our first instincts are to get
ourselves back into a relationship as soon as possible in order to avoid
the awkwardness of readjusting to being single. But when we start
relationships in order to avoid being single, we’re actually just using
the new guy or girl for our own selfish ends. That foundation isn’t
going to take us very far, and we should expect more heartache to come
if we just rush into new relationships after ending old ones.
If a relationship doesn’t work (for whatever reason), it’s always
important to take some time away from dating relationships and
recalibrate our hearts and minds. We need to carve out time to reflect
on what went wrong, and why. We should explore how we need to grow from
our experiences in the previous relationship so that future
relationships are healthier and more Christ-centred. Relationships teach
us a lot if we’re willing to listen to the lessons. Be sure to carve
out at least three months between dating relationships so that you can
focus on learning whatever lessons God wants to teach you during your
time of transition.
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Break up well.
This might be one of the
most surprising and overlooked pieces of advice on the subject
of building healthy relationships, but it’s so important. Nothing tests
the genuineness of our discipleship commitment to Jesus than our
willingness to refuse to blame, badmouth, or hurt the other person
during a break-up.
A break-up usually results in a lot of hurt for everyone involved.
Two people who once thought of each other as “true loves” now become
enemies looking to strike back at each other. However, it’s exactly in
this new and awkward context that Jesus’ challenge to love our enemies
(Matthew 5:44) comes into play.
If we’re the ones doing the breaking up, we need to do so in a way
that minimizes the emotional damage for the other person. We’re going to
cause hurt, so we need to be as gentle, reasonable, and kind as humanly
possible. Being rejected is a horrible feeling, and we don’t need to
escalate those feelings (even if we think the other person deserves it).
We should strive to be gracious and kind, and after the break-up never
speak badly about the other person.
If we’re on the receiving end of the break-up, the emotions that
flood into our hearts are going to make it very easy for us to justify
hatred and retaliation. We need to fight those impulses with everything
in us. That doesn’t mean minimizing how much it hurts to have someone
dump us, though; it just means refusing to let the hurt we’re feeling
morph into a cancer of anger and bitterness. Getting dumped sucks, but
striking back through hatred and retaliation won’t provide the healing
we’re looking for. That can only be found when we pour our energy into
our relationship with the One who is “close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalms 34:18).