HELP FOR THE FAMILY | YOUNG PEOPLE
When a Courtship Ends
“I thought I had found the right person for me. ‘I could spend forever with this guy,’ I told myself. But after two months of dating, I had to break up with him. I couldn’t believe that what started so great could end so fast!”—Anna. *
“It seemed as if we couldn’t be more alike. In my mind, I already had us married. As time passed, however, I began to realize how different we were. When I saw what a huge mistake I was making, I broke up with him.”—Elaine.
Have you been through something similar? If so, this article can help you deal with the experience.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
A breakup can be painful, even for the person who initiated it. “I felt terrible!” says a young woman named Sarah, who broke up with her boyfriend after six months. “One minute this person was in my life and in my future; the next minute he was gone. Then I’d hear songs that were special to the two of us, and that would remind me of the good times we had. I’d be at places that were special to us, and I’d feel the pain of his absence. I felt all of this even though I was the one who initiated the breakup!”
A breakup, though painful, can be a good thing. “You don’t want to hurt the person,” says Elaine. “On the other hand, you realize that eventually it would hurt both of you if you were to pursue a courtship that just isn’t working.” Sarah would agree. “I think if you aren’t happy with someone when you’re dating him, you probably won’t be happy married to him, so breaking up is for the best,” she says.
A breakup does not make you a failure. Really, a successful courtship ends in a decision, not always in marriage. If either you or your partner has serious misgivings, the right decision may well be to break up. If that happens, the fact that the relationship has failed does not mean that you have failed. You can move on! How?
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Acknowledge the pain. “I lost more than just a friend; I lost my best friend,” confides Elaine, quoted at the outset. When you break up with someone who was that close, a period of grieving is normal. “A relationship has ended,” says a young man named Adam, “and there’s always some pain involved in that, even if you know it’s for the best.” You might feel similar to King David of the Bible. “All night long I soak my bed with tears,” he wrote during a period of anguish. (Psalm 6:6) Sometimes the best way out of pain is through it, not around it. Acknowledging the reality of your own feelings can be the first step in healing.—Bible principle: Psalm 4:4.
Associate with people who care about you. Admittedly, that may not be easy. “At first, I didn’t even want to see people,” admits Anna, quoted earlier. “I needed time to recover, to go over everything in my head and make sense of it all.” In time, though, Anna saw the wisdom of spending time with close friends who could build her up. “I have a better frame of mind now,” she says, “and the breakup isn’t as devastating to me as it was before.”—Bible principle: Proverbs 17:17.
Learn from what happened. Ask yourself: ‘Has this experience revealed any areas in which I need to grow? What, if anything, would I do differently in my next relationship?’ “After time passed, I could better analyze what happened,” says a young woman named Marcia. “However, I had to wait until I could look at things rationally rather than just emotionally.” Adam, mentioned earlier, feels similarly. He says: “It took a year for me to get over the breakup. It took even longer for me to turn the experience into something constructive. What I went through taught me a lot about myself, the opposite sex, and relationships. I feel much less pain now about the breakup.”
Pray about your anxiety. The Bible says that God “heals the brokenhearted; he binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3) While he is not a celestial matchmaker—nor can he be blamed when a courtship ends—God has an interest in your well-being. Pour out your feelings to him in prayer.—Bible principle: 1 Peter 5:7.
^ par. 4 Names in this article have been changed.