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Healing from Breakups: A Practical Guide

December  8th,  2020
Caroline A.
By Caroline A. read
Posted in Culture

Dating relationships can only end in two ways: getting married or breaking up. Perhaps you’ve recently found yourself experiencing the latter. How can we deal with breakups and take the time to truly heal? Whether you’ve been the dumper or dumpee, in the end there will always be disappointment. Praise God for the hope and excitement we feel when beginning a relationship, but once it all ends, that hope sometimes becomes hopelessness. Maybe you’re asking “What do I do now?” Let’s start there.

  1. Go straight to the Lord.

After my first long-term relationship ended, I was so mad. Mad at my newly ex-boyfriend, at men in general, and at Jesus Himself. I avoided prayer for far too long, but prayer was the solution to my problems! If you’re mad at Jesus, tell Him! He can take it. He wants to receive you in your sorrows. In a time when you feel lonely, don’t start by isolating yourself from Jesus. He’s pursuing you and wants to use this suffering as a path for redemption! More on this later.

  1. Bring your best friends into the loop ASAP.

Who is your best friend? This is who you want walking with you through the tough times, so allow them to walk with you now. Bring your best friends into the loop immediately, even if you are waiting to spread the news of the breakup to others. My best friend in the entire world once snuck into my sorority house to leave intentional gifts in my room everyday for a week after a breakup. Your best friends and close family members are the only people who can love you in the unique way that you need to be loved during this time. You are incredible and strong, but you are also made for communion. Now is not the time to fall into the trap of self-sufficiency. You are made for love! And especially if you’re feeling unchosen, rejected, hurt… Let others love you. Let the Lord love you.

  1. Break through the “blindness.”

Have you ever heard the phrase “love is blind?” When we reflect on past relationships, we sometimes notice problems within the relationship that we were unable to see before, as if we were blind, because we were so caught up in the emotions of what we thought was love. This is good to reflect on now to help us grow for future relationships. What could’ve caused this? A common cause of blindness within relationships is the experience of lust. Did you know that sex and sexually intimate acts scientifically makes you think less critically about your partner? That’s great, but in the proper context. For a married couple, being less critical of your spouse is only one great benefit of sex, allowing them to thrive in this permanent vocation. However, for a dating couple, the point of their relationship is to discern the possibility of marriage. Here, the standards for our partner should be raised, not lowered. How will this couple determine if they’re called to marriage when their vision is clouded by lust affecting their own neuroscience? After a breakup, they might wonder, “What went wrong?” They might also feel used or regretful after giving so much physically to the other person. I don’t know your personal story, but did lust replace love, leading to blindness and an unexpected ending? It’s not too late to start over and let the clarity that comes with chastity lead you to the authentic love you desire.

Maybe you’re a future-planner like me. While dating, did you imagine what your life could’ve been after XYZ things happened, dreaming of a perfect future? Breaking through the blindness also means breaking through the “what could be” mindset to arrive at the “what is.” After breaking up, it can feel like the world’s been flipped upside down since your future was planned around your significant other. This is disappointing because that life is no longer an option, and you’re stuck in reality. Now’s the opportunity to return to the present moment, exactly where you are, exactly as who you are. Your life, right now in singlehood, has meaning and value. There’s a way you’re called to love and change the world in a way that only you uniquely can! When you see the truth of “what is,” your own goodness and purpose, it changes everything.

  1. Take the time to grieve.

Well, it’s a breakup, not death. However, you’re still experiencing loss. You’re transitioning from having someone heavily in your life to not at all, so take the time you need to grieve that loss. Despite others thinking you should be “over it” sooner than you’re ready, slow down. Giving yourself the space for healing now leaves lasting positive effects later. If you find yourself returning to your ex- as “friends,” searching for “closure,” or to not feel lonely, you can’t grieve. Maybe friendship is possible down the road, but I encourage you to wait until both hearts are ready for this next step (and it’s likely longer than you think you need).

Healing from Breakups: A Practical Guide

What does healing look like? After my own tough breakup, I was introduced to a healing process/analogy called “The U,” inviting us to unite our suffering to the Lord’s. Imagine the letter “U,” with the top left as Good Friday, where the Lord experienced His Passion (the initial wound, hurt and pain of your breakup). Descending to the base of the “U,” there’s Holy Saturday, where Mary and the apostles had to exist in sorrow before Jesus returned (your own grieving process in prayer). Finally, we reach the top right corner of the “U” and there’s Easter Sunday, the Resurrection, the greatest joy the world has ever known! This is the redemption of your own suffering and past. Once the Lord has given you every grace He desires you to receive from Holy Saturday, He will catapult you to the Resurrection!

  1. Rejoice in this new state of singlehood!

While we are made for communion, relationships, and a vocation where we can totally give the gift of ourselves, this time of singlehood is not a bad thing! It’s this exact time where you can rediscover yourself as an individual and beloved son or daughter of the Lord. You are in the Resurrection–rejoice in this! You are now living in the “what is” rather than the “what could be.” Rediscover your joy as you live in the will of the Father! Pursue and be pursued in virtuous male and female friendships! If you’re a girl, find your gal pals; if you’re a guy, find your best bros. This time of singlehood will be so important for our future vocations, so let’s live in the present and grow into the saints we’re all called to be! 

Caroline A.
Caroline A.

About the Author

Caroline is a 2020 graduate of the University of Texas with a B.S. in Chemistry. A true Texan and Catholic convert, Caroline wouldn't have dreamed of leaving her beloved state post-graduation. However, upon meeting the Culture Project at SLS20, she felt God was showing her what she never knew she needed. The radically different lifestyle of missionaries spreading a message of authentic love made it easy for Caroline to say yes to joining the family! "In each of our histories, we can identify exact moments when someone failed to love us. I'm excited to invite others to reflect on these moments and share with them the truth: they're worthy of a love flowing from their identity as God's beloved."

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