Is it possible to have a break up without a blow up? | A discussion to honor one another

Boy and girl meet. There’s attraction. This leads to a first date, first kiss, and first “I love you” (should it get that far). It’s all new and exciting.

But, what happens if that summer love comes to a screeching halt? Is there a way to break up without a blow up? As the relationship ends, are there ways to honor that other person?

I work as a pastor where relationships can abound. It is a sizable church (we were called mini-mega a few weeks ago…haha!) where the average age is under 25 and 70% are single. Realistically, these men and women are going to meet one another and some will start dating. So, I have a front row seat to all that is happening. Some of these relationships end with the guy buying a ring and the girl buying a dress. But, not all of them. 

One person (the question of “Is a break up ever 100% mutual?” can be left for another time) shares that it’s time to break up. What next? At this point, I have seen a mixture of Clint Eastwood’s 1960’s movie The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

But, even as I share some things below, this topic is best suited for MANY responses. What has your experience(s) been like? Or what are ways that you have seen people honor one another in the midst of a break up?

In reverse order:

  • THE UGLY – The manner with which you break up with someone says something. It puts your character on display. Those of the opposite gender are watching to see if you were honorable. If not, why would they consider putting themselves in a position to be treated similarly in the future? I have seen this come out in apathy, faithlessness (in the disconnecting from God sense), carelessness, and unkind words.
    1. The relationship goes deep fast. It becomes physical. She departs.
    2. The relationship goes deep fast. It becomes future-oriented (i.e. life dreams, marriage, etc.). He departs.

In the end, this departing may be the best thing. But, I have also seen a rush to action cause what I perceive to be unnecessary pain.

  • THE GOOD – The person shows honor from the start of the relationship. Then the break up also takes this form. It is a recognition that the other person is great, but just not a great fit for you. No doubt about it, rejection hurts. But, if this person has been pointed to God and continues to be pointed to God, is that not consistent with what we’re called to as believers?

You’ve heard a few of my thoughts. What are yours?

QUESTIONS

  1. Do you think it’s possible to have a break up without a blow up?
  2. Do you have some examples of UGLY or BAD that you want to make clear to the opposite sex to NEVER do?
  3. What are some ways to honor the other person in the midst of a break up?

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Posted on by Cor in LIFE

11 Responses to Is it possible to have a break up without a blow up? | A discussion to honor one another

  1. Jade

    “1.Do you think it’s possible to have a break up without a blow up?”

    I didn’t used to. I was once in a serious relationship that, when over, left me pretty broken. I now know that having a right relationship before the Lord and not ending up in a major blow-up are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they go hand in hand.

    To be vulnerable: I (we) made almost every mistake listed above that you’ve categorized as the making of a really bad break-up. Physically and emotionally handing over too much of our hearts to one another; lacking wise counsel; making hasty decisions.

    Because when it came right down to it, we weren’t honoring God or each other fully in the relationship, it was impossible to not be pretty broken with the ending. As you said: in the end, the depart was absolutely necessary. However, it was hasty and did not give one another the honor each deserved. A direct result of lack of honor in the relationship itself led to a break-up that carried much unnecessary pain.

    After much healing, I eventually was a little older and wiser and entered into a new relationship.
    The relationship was a testimony to others and God by the way we honored, respected and guarded one another, emotionally and physically and sought guidance from wiser others. We dated each other knowing each had qualities in a potential marriage partner, but not dead set that specific end result.
    All of these things are directly related to our civil, honoring break-up when the time came. After a certain point, we were able to indeed acknowledge and affirm one another’s great qualities, but recognize it wasn’t going to work out long-term. Because the relationship was right, the break-up was able to be as well; and we both left honor intact.

    Among many other things, I believe the Lord used that relationship and break up to teach me that a relationship can be glorifying to God and edifying to me without ending in marriage OR a dramatic and traumatizing break-up — Two things I formerly did not believe could be true.

    • Cor

      Jade,

      Thank you so much for your comments. What you’ve put forth here is SO honorable. And it’s so cool the changes that God brought from the first relationship to the second.

      Thank you so much for sharing.

      Cor

  2. Evan L

    Having gone through two breakups, both of which have ended amicably, I’m convinced that it’s possible to avoid a blow up.

    When I broke up with my most recent girlfriend, the driving reasons were God-honoring. We had dated for about 8 months and had been having some pretty serious, honest conversations about our relationship. I’m going to give a simplistic account of the main reasons why we ended it.

    – We weren’t in a place where we were seeking marriage anytime soon due to academic/professional pursuits.
    – While we were great at communicating clearly, I didn’t do a great job of supporting / initiating in the relationship.

    She voiced her concerns about these things and while I was improving on the latter point, the former point was pretty crucial since we would both be across the city and absorbed in stuff that would keep us from giving each-other our best selves. While we broke up, we had made a pretty serious commitment to be friends to each-other no matter what happened.

    ANYWAYS: When we broke up, after a few nice notes of clarification, we didn’t see each-other or talk to each-other for about 6 months. I think this was crucial in avoiding a blow-up in our friendship. We’ve gotten coffee twice since then just to catch up on life and I really value her as a friend.

    To sum up, a good breakup will follow from a good relationship. If you’re willing to have her/his best interests in mind from the moment you meet the person until after you part company, breaking up will be a good (but not fun) thing if you’re moving in different directions.

    • Cor

      Wow, Evan. This is really encouraging. You are mature beyond your years! Thanks for the comments.

    • Ryan

      I have also gone through two break-ups of long term relationships. I actually just attended the wedding of the girl I dated in high school and was happy to be able to be there as a friend supporting her in her marriage to another. I was (and to a degree still am) a firm believer in remaining friends after breaking up.

      I do want to highlight Evan’s comments about not talking with each other for a significant amount of time after breaking up. I used to think this was “immature” and even unhealthy. I thought that it was best to strive for friendship even if it was awkward or uncomfortable.

      I have come to realize that this time apart is indeed crucial. I found that in my desire to remain friends and be reconciled right away was not wise. I usually found myself desiring the relationship to go back to the way it was when we were dating which got in the way of my healing process and lengthened the amount of time it took for me to move on. What I thought was the best step towards healing and reconciliation was just the opposite.

      So if you pursue a break-up with the plan of remaining friends, make sure you have a plan of what your interactions will be and some sort of timeline that includes a good amount of time with no contact.

      • Cor

        Thanks, Ryan. Great comments. I’m so encouraged to hear how you could attend the wedding and be happy for her. That’s awesome.

  3. Jordan

    I also have two break-ups in my past. Actually, they looked quite similar on the surface: fairly mutual, had been together around the same amount of time, broke up for similar reasons, etc. However, I handled them very differently.

    For the first, I was very unforgiving and bitter that it had ended – not because I hadn’t wanted it to, but because I wanted to be in a relationship. While I knew he wasn’t “the one”, it was still nice to be pursued, feel desired, etc. Also, my pride wouldn’t have felt so hurt if I’d broken up with him, and he’d been devastated. Sick, right? But it’s true. He made me feel valued and important. In my mind, a mutual breakup meant I wasn’t a great as he’d originally thought. HOWEVER, I didn’t acknowledge this at the time; we ended things saying we wanted to be friends, so I ignored that I’d been hurt and pretended nothing had happened. It took a long time for me to deal with the bitterness from things that went wrong in that relationship.

    My more recent breakup, however, was one of the biggest blessings I’ve had in the past year. God used it to show me what grace looked like in a real, tangible way. We were both honest about where we’d gone wrong, why we ended things, etc. And this time, I was able to voice my hurt, as was he. We forgave each other and consciously decided to try and remain friends. It wasn’t easy right away (forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting). We had to swallow our pride and work on a healthy friendship, even taking a couple occasions to talk about post-breakup boundaries. Which sounds like overkill, but it was so needed! While I’ve had plenty of instances of reconciliation with friends, it’s different with a ex-boyfriend. You’re more intimate and feelings are just different in general (obviously). So it was cool to see grace and forgiveness and reconciliation on a deeper level than before, giving me more of a window into what that looks like with Christ. I’ve sinned against a Holy God, but we have a deep relationship anyway. So cool.

    So I guess my answer is that breakups without blow-ups are definitely possible… They just take effort, work, humility, and most importantly, Christ.

    • Cor

      It’s so cool to see how people learn from one relationship to another. Praise God. That’s awesome.

  4. Laura

    I’ve been waiting for this post!

    The blow up is possible to avoid. My dating experience has had the blow up and the non blow ups. Key factor is was what Evan said, having the best interest of the other at the beginning. I think the blow up happend in the past because we were both in it for what we could gain out of the realtionship rather what we could give.

    This is the differene I’ve noticed in the relationships I’ve had without the blow ups. We’ve pursued each other with the idea of what is best for the other person. These relationships were also focused on Christ and it reminded us both to act out of selflessness as Christ did. We were mature enough to realize how immature we really were and asked for Godly widsom. We went deep, in honoring ways moving towards marriage(moving foward spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically), but had found then we were not right for each other. In those moments, it really sucked. However I knew this person was still caring for me the best way they knew how to and he still has my best interest in mind. Though I didn’t understand why the feelings had changed for the other person, I trusted God was not withholding his best from me. I’ve realized I have to do my best to not let the blow up happen, because truth is so hard to believe when I’ve invested into something and things are not going they way I want. It easy to respond poorly when I’m not believing truths about God and the gospel.

    Something else that was honoring was in the mist of our breakup and feeling vunerable we still cared for one another despite the lack of desire that was happening in the relationship. Both relationships that had ended not by my initating the man cared for me well by having open communication with me and asking what he could do to help in this transistion out of a dating realtionship til the very end. He then also continued this past the relationship into a friendship or an existing relationship without akwardness. Allowing space if I needed or more conversation to help me not believe lies.

    One of the most honoring and healing things a man told me in the mist of the break up was that he had intensionally acted and cared for me in a way that in the future if I would be getting married to another man, he could look my husband in the eyes and say, I did nothing to defile your wife.

    Something I’ve strived to do in relationships to honor the man I’m dating, while not knowing the outcome of the relationship, is to realize the I opportunity to encourage this man into who God created him to be, point him to Christ, and have a sliver of influence to prepare him for his wife. I know how honored I’d feel if women dating my future husband responded in the same way.

  5. Whitney

    1. I think it is possible not to have a blow up when, as others said, you aren’t self-focused. My non-blow up break ups have been with godly men, just sayin’ ;) Also, communication. Looking back, the blow up break ups I have had are 99% due to a lack of communication on both parties. I can’t stress communication enough! Read some good literature on communication in relationships!

    2. The worst was, “We have been fighting a lot lately so I have seen this coming for a few months.” Even if it’s honestly how you feel… maybe sometimes not everything needs to be shared. I don’t consider that line, “I have seen this coming for days/weeks/months/etc” good communication. Don’t assume the other person sees what you see. Months? That stung. I felt robbed of my time. It definitely could have been left at, “We have been fighting a lot.” This isn’t gender-specific, though.

    3. For the person doing the breaking-upping: I think you can honor the person by breaking up with them at a reasonable time for them. I know it sounds silly, but getting broken up with right before they have to work, go to class, etc. is really hard. Make sure you have enough time to talk, whether it’s over the phone, skype, or in-person (never text it, ever).

    • Cor

      Thank you so much, Whitney. These are great comments. Communication is an absolute must yet can be SO HARD to make sure happens.

      re: the timing of the break up. I wonder if others have experienced this. I feel like I have heard of the following situation. I’d love your (and others) thoughts on it.

      She senses something is wrong. He blows it off (maybe there is or maybe he doesn’t know exactly how he’s feeling). She insists. He denies it. A third time she asks. Then he tries to articulate how he’s feeling. KA-BOOM. Rather than setting a time to talk through this, it feels like it gets sprung on them as one of them really insists on speaking right NOW. YOu know what I’m saying?

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