There are two kinds of heart-crushing breakups: the I-Never-Should-Have-Dated-Thems and the I-Just-Lost-My-Soulmates.
Lucky for you, I’ve been through both. So I know that each presents its own challenges in returning to normal life, post-breakup. You force yourself to cut romance out of your heart for good, like a soldier cutting a piece of shrapnel out of his own flesh. You convince yourself that you don’t want or need love; that true love doesn’t exist, at least not for you; that you’ll just die alone with a hundred cats. And you harden your heart so that no one can hurt you like that ever again.
Believe me. I’ve been there. The last break-up I went through two years ago (the I-Just-Lost-My-Soulmate variety) had me vowing never to fall in love or get married for the rest of my life. I wanted nothing more than to be alone with a bunch of dogs, kicking butt as a military detective and retiring to write novels on a cute little farm à la The Hannah Montana Movie.
Over a year before that relationship, I’d been in an I-Never-Should-Have-Dated-Them. I was, at the time, vulnerable because I was still healing from all the bullying I’d endured my first two years of high school. I’d just transferred schools when a popular guy at my new school set his sights on me. I was flattered, I let myself be fooled by his charm, but in the end all he did was use me for his own physical pleasure. After that one, I felt horrible. But God gave me so much hope & healing after that one, that I just have to share it with you. If you or someone you know is struggling with getting over one of these soul-crushing breakups, or feels they can never find true love after being used or losing The One, please keep reading. If God can heal my broken heart, He can heal yours. It does get better. I promise.
- Watch this video. And, if you’re like me, sob for a half hour afterwards because that’s the kind of love story you desire. Let this video be a glimmer of hope that God will write a beautiful love story for you. Your future spouse is out there, and God is still writing that story. But like the man in this video, it takes time, and we have to wait on God. (Psalm 27:13-14) You will get your happily ever after.
- Pray for your future spouse. After the I-Never-Should-Have-Dated-Him relationship ended, I took a class on The Confessions of Augustine. (Catholic schools. ‘Nuff said.) Because of it, I started thinking about where my future spouse might be at in life. Perhaps he was like Augustine pre-conversion, living a life of sexual promiscuity and drunkenness. If he was, I wanted to be like Monica, Augustine’s mother, and pray for his conversion – for years, if necessary. Monica’s tireless prayers for her son inspired me to pray for my spouse. So every night before I went to bed, I started praying for him, wherever he was at in life, that God would take him out of a life of sin (if that’s where he was at), draw him closer and transform him into the man he was meant to be.
- Write letters to your future spouse. Many times when I felt lonely or low on hope, I would pull out a journal and write letters to my future husband in it. In fact, I filled up two – I’m on journal #3 now! Tell them about how you’re feeling, what’s going on in your life, what you hope the two of you will get to do together, or even the fears you have of never finding them. It’s comforting to share your heart with someone who, even though not currently in your life, will someday love you even in your brokenness.
- Know that you are lovable. If you (like me) were used in a relationship, especially for physical pleasure, chances are you feel a lot of guilt or shame mixed with resignation (“well I guess it doesn’t matter now. I’m damaged goods.”) A lot of times we get haunted by thoughts of “How could anyone ever love me after what I’ve done?” Let me tell you: the right person will love you. I absolutely 100% promise. How do I know? The man I love has a very sinful past. Do you think that makes me love him less? No. In fact, it makes love him more. It makes me want to show him what a pure relationship looks like, to love him in a way that is pleasing to God. If anything, it’s motivation to love him perfectly because he wasn’t before. His past doesn’t change the way I feel about him at all.
- Go on a dating fast. After a really, really bad breakup, I always recommend taking a year off from dating. Yeah, a year. Why? Because your heart needs time to heal, and entering into another relationship too soon will just bring all your heartache and insecurities into it. Use this time of singleness as a time to
- Draw close to God
- Strengthen your relationships with family and friends
- Get to know yourself more
- Discover/try new things
- Find healing (which often means re-finding your self-worth & identity)
- Find healing. For me, this involved a lot of prayer & going to God with my pain. Whenever I cried myself to sleep, I would ask Jesus to hold me. I prayed a lot of rosaries. I read a lot of books, including How to Find Your Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul and Get Lost. I listened to a lot of Christian music & Jason Evert talks. Over time, God does heal the pain and repair your broken heart.
- Figure out why you’re attracted to “that person” so you can stop making the mistake of dating that type over and over. In his book Love and Responsibility, Karol Wojtyla (aka Pope John Paul II) described that we are romantically attracted to people who embody the virtue we value most. The hard part is distinguishing if that virtue is actually present in the person, or if it only seems like it is. Ask yourself why you started dating that person in the first place. Was it because of some virtue you thought you saw in them? Or was it because you wanted something from the relationship? Make a conscious decision to dis-attract yourself from the wrong type and instead start seeking your right type – the kind that actually embodies your values.
- Set standards. So make a list of all the virtues and qualities you desire in a spouse. Even add some specific things you want them to enjoy doing, like camping if you’re outdoorsy, or dancing if you’re a sucker for two-step. Don’t date anybody who doesn’t fit your list (and I mean it; no exceptions. Don’t go all “Well, they fit almost all of them…”) No. Don’t lower your standards. They’re not too high, and often those desires are set upon your heart by God for a reason.
- Have a breakup buddy. This is the friend (must be same gender as you!) whom you can text/call/hang out with whenever you’re missing your ex or feeling lonely enough to settle for someone who isn’t good for you. Ask a close friend who is usually accessible to be your designated breakup buddy. Then whenever you’re tempted to go back to your ex, go to your buddy instead!
- Let people love you. Let your family and friends do kind, caring, loving things for you – and accept those things! You deserve it. You are priceless, of infinite worth. Accepting love from others is a way to open your guarded heart. True love – including non-romantic love – heals.
- Date with purpose. Don’t date whoever comes along first, or jump to the next relationship when you feel lonely. Only date people who you would actually happily marry! Believe me – this will save you so much heartbreak, and put an end to the cycle of I-Never-Should-Have-Dated-Thems. (And please, don’t ever date someone hoping they’ll change or that you can fix them. Been there, done that.)
- Stick to the 5 Principles. This is a system of qualifications I’ve developed from years of studying love, dating, what went wrong, and how to have a love that lasts. I have personally decided not to date someone unless they fit all 5 of these principles. (I obviously recommend the same for you, but hey, it’s your choice.)
- Same values & beliefs. It’s not going to work if you believe two totally different philosophies. How will you ever agree on moral issues? How will you raise your children? What affect might this have on your hypothetical marriage?
- Similar likes & interests. This is the basis of friendship. You should be able to enjoy doing the same things so that you can have fun spending time together!
- Similar life experiences. While this isn’t 100% necessary, it helps with building a sense of understanding between one another. For example, I was overweight as a child, so that’s had a lot of lasting effects (like how conscious I am of staying fit and active). The man I love also happened to be overweight as a child, so he understands the hurt I still carry from that. Because of our similar experiences, we both place a high emphasis on fitness.
- Complimentary personalities. Where you are weak, they are strong (and vise-versa). Maybe you’re ruled by your emotions, so you’d benefit from being with someone who looks at things objectively. I have a tendency towards depressive episodes, so I need a Mr. Brightside.
- Your lives are headed in the same direction. This is by far the most important. If he wants kids and a house in the country, and she wants to be an urban professional without the responsibility of kids, it will never work. One of them is going to have to compromise and end up unhappy. Only date someone if you have similar life goals or want to live the same lifestyle.
Dealing with shame from sins committed in a relationship? Read about how to overcome sin in your life here.
Feeling depressed after a breakup? Read about 25 coping skills here.
So what do you think? Are there any other ways you’ve found that help getting over breakups? What gives you hope that you can have the love story God intended for you?