(by Dawson McAllister)
They Broke Up, Now What?
It happened. Your son or daughter, niece or nephew, granddaughter or grandson, or the student in your youth group started dating. It was going great, they opened their heart up to romantic love and then they got hurt. A break up occurred and now you are wondering how to help them pick up the pieces.
It’s most likely going to happen at some point in their life. And while it hurts to see them hurt, it’s not all bad that perhaps their first heartbreak happened while you are near and can help them walk them through their pain.
Let them know that you are available just to listen, if they want to talk. It is important that they talk to someone who cares about it all. I heard someone say once that 90% of good counseling is just talking out how you feel. So let them talk.
And while we may wonder how they could possibly fall “in love” so hard, so fast (I mean, how serious could they have been, right?) To them, for that time, it was really important and really real. So just listen and don’t say, “You’ll be fine, it’s no big deal.”
As you listen to them, here are some suggestions you can weave into your conversation to help them heal and move forward.
- Allow yourself to be human and feel the pain. One of the ways we know we are human is that we feel pain. Going through a break-up can be very difficult and touch raw emotions. It is extremely important to let those raw emotions out. Find a safe place where you are comfortable and let the tears flow. It is our body’s way of ridding itself of the pain and hurt. Some people run from their hurts, but it’s only when we feel our pain that we are able to honestly deal with it and move on. If we don’t, that pain will come reappear somewhere else, usually in an unhealthy way.
- Give yourself time to heal. If your heart has been broken, it will take time for you to completely heal. Some people heal faster than others. Some people’s emotions go deeper than others. The deeper your emotions, the longer it will take to heal. So be patient with yourself. Eventually, you will get through this. It may help to think about the tens of millions who have gone through what you’re experiencing. There’s a reason there are so many songs written about heart-break…everyone’s been there. So take heart and hold on.
- Learn lessons from the experience. Everything happens for a reason. It’s not a question of if difficult things will happen to us, but rather how we handle it when they happen. What can you learn from the experience? You might want to ask yourself some meaningful questions about your broken relationship. For example:
- Did you fail to communicate openly?
- Were you insensitive to your partner’s feelings?
- Were you too possessive or selfish?
- Were you dishonest in the relationship?
- Am I learning how other people can be hurt?
Answers to these and other questions can help you be a much deeper person, better equipped for your next relationship. In the end, it comes down to whether you are going to allow this break-up to make you stronger, or stay a victim. It’s no longer about the ex. It’s about you now.
- Let go of mementos. If you have collected items that remind you of the one who left you behind, you may need to give them up. When you were still dating that person, these mementos meant the world to you and had a powerful impact on your emotions. But now, these same mementos only work to break your heart. These include things like pictures, rings, pillows, music, clothes, etc. Hanging on to reminders of the relationship will get in the way of moving on. Get rid of them. It’s hard to do because there is something very final about throwing them away. It’s like you saying to yourself, It’s over. It’s truly over. This is an important step to take.
- Keep yourself busy by giving to others. When you were dating, you spent lots of time with your special someone who has broken your heart. Now you have all this time on your hands. People who get over broken hearts find ways to fill that time with something positive. For example, you might want to get to know your friends again. Or you can get involved in helping organizations like Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Filling your time with positive activities will both help distract you and help you feel good again.
- Take care of yourself physically. It is very difficult to overcome a broken heart when you don’t feel good physically. Not feeling well only adds to your depression. When people have their hearts broken, they tend to quit eating or begin overeating all the wrong things, looking to food to give them comfort. Sometimes they even try to self medicate through drugs or alcohol. None of this works and usually makes matters far worse. Eat right and get some exercise. You will have more energy and your mood will lift.
- Move on. Finally, that moment comes. Sometimes it creeps up on you. Other times, it’s like a light bulb goes on in your heart and you say to yourself, “It’s time for me to move on. I’m not going to die. The sun will come up tomorrow and I feel myself learning to live without the other person. In fact, I can go a whole day without thinking of him/her.” When that happens, it’s an awesome thing. There’s nothing quite like the realization you have decided to move on.
- Bring your broken heart to God. We are never promised that love will go perfectly here on earth. We live in a sinful world. But God does promise he will never leave us or forsake us. In fact, the Bible says that he is close to the broken-hearted. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18) When we get down to it, all we really want is to know there is someone who knows all about us and still loves us no matter what. Only God can love us this way. Another person will never be able to fill the hole in your soul. But God’s love is perfect and can make you complete.
When we have that foundation of knowing we are loved no matter what, we all have the strength to face rejection from others. I love God’s promise in Jeremiah, “I have loved you with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.” (Jeremiah 31:3)
What a blessing that we can share this important truth with the teens and young adults in our lives.
For additional help and information click here to download TheHopeLine® eBook, “Understanding a Broken Heart.”