“Breaking up is hard to do.” Or so the saying goes. But, in all honesty, it doesn’t have to be. Hear me out. Be honest, be intentional, and, for the love of all that is good, don’t do it over text.
Now that last part may seem silly, but I’ve witnessed it so many times that I feel it’d be an injustice to exclude it from a conversation about break ups. So let’s get started! It’s time to reclaim the break up!
(And yes, I know that’s a weird way to put it, but I can explain!)
For starters, we have to get an idea of how our society views breakups and the world of pop culture is a good place to go for some insight. However, you don’t have to watch every breakup movie movie ever released or listen to every breakup song ever written to know that the outlook is fairly bleak. And with that outlook usually comes a negative view of love.
This is where we find, in my opinion, the two most commonly prescribed methods of dealing with a breakup.
- Bust out the junk food and the tissues and wallow in sadness until someone comes looking for you.
- Get out there and show him/her that you don’t need anyone!
Although these make for great lyrics or scenes, the truth is that these are extremes and neither tends to result in healing.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good breakup song or film as much as the next guy. I’m just saying that, in a general sense, this is the stance that our culture has taken on this topic; and many people are inclined to agree. So what can we do about it?
I’m glad you asked! This is where we begin the reclaiming process. First, let’s look at the perspective of the one initiating the breakup.
The following is some practical advice:
- Be courageous and set up a face-to-face conversation. This is where my comment about texting comes in to play. This is a human person that we’re talking about; i.e. a unique and unrepeatable life deserving of the utmost love and respect. Being able to look at this person in the eyes, even during something as difficult as this, is an important aspect of reverencing his or her dignity.
- Be clear and intentional. This whole “it’s not you, it’s me” thing is getting kind of tired. What does that even mean?! This is where clarity and honesty come in. Take time to really understand your reasoning for desiring the breakup and make that evident to this other person.
- Be charitable. A breakup is not an opportunity to read off a list of this person’s flaws or mistakes. He or she may have done things to upset you, but leaving a relationship with resentment only makes the situation more difficult. Do your best to be kind.
As for those who are on the receiving end, maybe the following advice can be of some help:
- Let yourself feel what you need to feel.
- Give yourself the time and space to feel it.
- Pray through the process!
On a side note, maybe you’re reading this just after a breakup. If that’s the case, I’ve written an entire article on the subject that elaborates on these points. You can find it by clicking here.
Finally, I’d like to add some things that are universal to both sides. Pray for a spirit of gratitude. Give thanks to God for the relationship, for the joy it brought to our lives during that time, and for the gift of being able to enter into communion with another. I would also consider thanking God for giving us an opportunity to grow; maybe this tragic moment is a step closer to our true vocation.
Another healthy encouragement is to pray for this other person. A breakup does not signify that all love is lost. Loving another extends far beyond the romantic realm and praying for someone is a beautiful way to love him or her in this new form that the relationship has taken on.
Now I’m not saying that this will eliminate the pain of a breakup entirely. It can still be a difficult situation to navigate and certain emotions are sure to come out. However, by choosing to flip our perspective and reverence the dignity of the human person, we may be able to turn this tragedy into something beautiful.