Let me begin by saying, I’m sorry you are hurting. I wish there was a shortcut to the pain you feel right now that makes it hard to concentrate or think about anything but your ex.
There are many causes of a broken heart, but the focus of this message is the heartache after a breakup. Why? Because moms often tell me how unexpectedly hard a breakup was for their daughter (and oftentimes, their son). And, I know very few people who make it through the dating years without a heartache along the way.
I don’t know your story – whether he broke up with you or you broke up with him because you felt like you had to – but I can guess this: You really liked that boy. When things were good, when your relationship hit that magical peak, you felt happier than ever before.
Now, looking back, those good memories may flood your mind. They may play in your head like a movie trailer, one cinematic highlight after another that makes you ache for what you once had and fear that you’ll never experience that level of joy again.
But you will, my friend. You will experience great joy again because you now know what to look for. Your eyes have been opened, and your heart has expanded to a new depth of feelings toward another human being. This can keep you from settling in the future. This makes lukewarm relationships look far less attractive because you know that mountaintop moments are in reach.
I know this relationship hurt you, but it also taught you important life lessons. And if you reflect on these lessons – talking them out with people you trust or journaling about them – you’ll gain self-awareness and wisdom that can help you significantly down the road.
It’s difficult to think straight when your mind is foggy and your emotions are tangled, so here are a few truths to help you navigate this breakup.
1. You are a gift. The end of any relationship can make you doubt yourself and question your worth. When someone changes their mind about you, loses interest, gets bored, betrays you, or starts taking you for granted, it can lead to a grueling self-critique where you ultimately conclude that you must be the problem, because if you were prettier/skinnier/funnier/smarter/more exciting, this wouldn’t have happened.
But remember: The same God who made the stars and the moon and raised Jesus from the dead also created you. You are His masterpiece, loved passionately and unconditionally even on your worst days. Many people in this world won’t treat you like a gift or see you through God’s eyes, but that doesn’t change your value. Know your worth, and treat others like a gift as well, because that’s where healthy relationships begin.
2. Boys will come and go – but God is forever. A boy will never be the solution to all your problems, even if you find the right one. Why? Because boys are humans, not Saviors, meant to be a part of your life, but not the center of your universe.
Girls often put boys on pedestals they don’t deserve to be on. They often mistake infatuation for real love, pouring their heart and soul into relationships that devastate them in the end.
The upside of a breakup is that it interrupts any spell. It reminds you why God wants to be your #1: Because if you don’t worship Him, you’ll worship something or someone else. A boy can say “I love you” on Monday and break up with you on Tuesday, yet God never leaves you. By putting your trust in Him, by letting this breakup inspire a deeper and richer faith, you’ll find the security you’re looking for and be better positioned to find real and lasting joy.
3. The first cut is the deepest. With your first real boyfriend comes your first real breakup – and many real emotions in the days and weeks that follow.
I won’t lie: It stinks. You can feel more saddened by a relationship that lasted 6 weeks versus 2 years if your connection was unique and special. Even if the parting was mutual, even if you’re at peace with your decision, even if it’s clear what all was wrong, even if he hurt you beyond repair, you’ll probably feel pangs when you see him move on…especially with another girl.
These pangs are not a sign that you need to get back together. Instead, accept them as part of the process, and keep people around you who remind you of why you broke up.
4. It’s possible to be a good ex. Many girls get their first real boyfriend around 10th grade, and according to one 10th grade teacher who watches and observes, girls handle these first breakups in vastly different ways.
While some act mature, others get bitter. They beat the dead horse into the ground, even losing friends who get tired of the rants. How a girl acts in the aftermath is proof of how attached she still to her ex. Be sad at home, cry your eyes out with friends, but in public and at school, act dignified and hold your head up. Don’t burst into tears at the sight of your ex. Don’t glare at him or key his car. Don’t extract revenge, harass his new girlfriend, or earn a new label as the girl with snakes in her head. Most of all, don’t make him extra-certain that cutting ties with crazy, out-of-control you was the best move he ever made.
It won’t happen immediately, but you may be friends one day if you handle the breakup maturely. If friendship is out of the question, you can be cordial. Be the girl he remembers fondly – and possibly, as the one who got away.
5. Dating is about rejection. While writing a chapter about boys in my book, a priest told me that dating is about rejection, and the purpose of dating is to find the one person you’re meant to marry.
This eases the sting of rejection. It’s also a great reminder to keep your relationships innocent, because it’s 99.99% guaranteed that any boy you date won’t be your husband.
With some boys, you’ll know immediately if you’re compatible. There may be one date – and that’s it. With others, you’ll want to dig deeper. It may take a few months to get to the hidden qualities that aren’t readily apparent – like how he never talks to you when his friends are around, how he won’t hold your hand in public, how he makes no effort to know your family, how he gets moody and withdraws when he doesn’t get his way.
Through innocent dating and friendships with boys, you discern what you like and don’t like. You build a radar for the protectors and the predators. You get to know yourself so that when your husband comes along (if marriage is in God’s plan) you know he’s the right match for you. The boys you date now help lead you to your spouse, and your best approach is to treat them as you hope some girl is treating your future husband – as his guardian and friend, not his lover.
6. Healthy relationships are blessings, bad relationships are lessons. As you reflect on your time with your ex, ask yourself, “Did he make me a better person? Do I regret dating him, or was he good for me?”
If he impacted you positively – enriching your life, growing your faith, drawing you closer to those who love you most (i.e. family and close friends), and supporting your dreams and goals – then you didn’t waste your time. If he impacted you negatively – creating tension, division, insecurity, apathy, or secrecy in your life – then you can chalk him up to experience and promise to never repeat that mistake.
I once met a father who tells his daughters, “If a boy ever comes between you and God, he wasn’t sent by God.” This advice is gold and an easy way to filter whether a boy deserves a place in your life.
7. Friends and faith make breakups bearable. When a boy has been a main character in your life for weeks or months on end, his sudden absence will leave a void. You may feel lost with extra time and energy.
Invest this time and energy in your faith, your friends, and yourself. Especially if you sacrificed your friends while dating, now is the time to reach out, reconnect, and apologize for dropping them.
Dating or not, you need good friends. You need good friends more than you need a boyfriend, because 20 years from now, the time spent with friends will be your best memories. These are the relationships that can last a lifetime.
I know many women who regret overinvesting in their early boyfriends. In some cases, they spent so much time with a guy they never cultivated deep friendships. In other cases, they invested time in a boy that they needed for themselves – like the woman who once helped her high school boyfriend make SGA election posters rather than study for a test; he won the election while she got a C.
Whoever he is, he’s not worth losing your friends or dismissing God’s call for your life. Use this season of heartache to deepen your friend connections and remind you there is life beyond your ex.
8. You’ll get through this. In the book Boundaries, the authors say, “Hope is rooted in memory. We remember getting help in the past and that gives us hope for the future.”
Because you’re young, you don’t have much past to draw on. You live a world of firsts, and if this is your first heartache, you may struggle to feel hope and believe that things will work out.
But they will work out, I promise. Today’s circumstances are not your destiny, and any pain you feel now can’t compare to the joy that is coming (Romans 8:18). Rather than rely on your feelings, which are volatile and subject to change, stand on God’s promises. Let Him carry you through this trial and be your source of hope.
C.S. Lewis said, “Don’t let your happiness depend on something you may lose.” This is easier said than done, yet it’s a solid motto for dating. Your worth is not determined by a boy’s acceptance or rejection, and while it’s thrilling to feel chosen and desired, you can find peace in any season knowing you are chosen and desired by God.
Today marks a new chapter, so make it a great one. Let this chapter make you feel proud because of how you bounce back. Protect your heart, and set high standards for any boy you spend time with. When an interest or attraction crops up, take it slowly, getting to know him first as a friend so you can think with a clear head.
Meanwhile, have fun. Choose company that makes you laugh and feel uplifted. Most importantly, grow your relationship with God, and get yourself in a healthy place. As you build a life you love that has nothing to do with dating, you’ll attract the right people, and should a boy enter the mix, he can be part of your universe yet not the center of your universe, a relationship to explore becasue he makes you a better person and adds value to your life.
Thanks for reading this message. Please share it on social media, or click over to the Girl Mom podcast to listen to it audibly.
My new book Love Her Well: 10 Ways to Find Joy and Connection with Your Teenage Daughter is now available, and it’s getting a fantastic response as moms read it and tell all their girl mom friends to buy it. You can find it everywhere books are sold, including Amazon and Audible. What a privilege it’s been to narrate my first book for moms!
My two books for teen girls, 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know and Liked, have been used widely across the U.S. for group studies. For more posts, subscribe to this blog or join me on Facebook, Instagram and the Girl Mom podcast.
Posted by Kari on November 15, 2020