Young People Ask
Should We Break Up?
“Three months into the relationship, both of us were saying that it felt so right. We talked about spending the rest of our lives together as if it were just a given.”—Jessica.*
“I had a huge crush on him, and then a couple of years later, he actually started noticing me! I liked having an older boyfriend who would watch out for me.”—Carol.
In time, both Jessica and Carol broke up with their boyfriends. Why? Were they foolish for giving up such great guys?
YOU’VE been dating for nearly a year. At first, you were sure that he was “the one.”* At times, you can even rekindle the romantic feelings that characterized the onset of your relationship. But now you’re having second thoughts. Should you ignore those thoughts? How can you know if you should break up?
First, you need to face a cold truth: Disregarding danger signs in a relationship is like ignoring the warning signals on your car’s dashboard. The problem will not go away; likely it will only get worse. What are some of the danger signs in a relationship that you would do well to heed?
Things are moving too fast. Problems can arise when a romance moves too quickly. “We were e-mailing, chatting online, talking on the phone,” Carol recalls. “Those methods of communication can be more powerful than face-to-face because you can get way more personal, way too fast!” Don’t rob yourselves of the chance to get to know each other. A relationship should not be like a weed that sprouts up fast and then withers. Rather, it should be like a precious plant that takes time to grow.
He’s critical and demeaning. “My boyfriend was always putting me down,” says a girl named Ana, “but I wanted to be with him so badly.” She adds, “I tolerated situations that I never dreamed I would have allowed!” The Bible condemns “abusive speech.” (Ephesians 4:31) Demeaning words—even if they are delivered calmly and quietly—have no place in a loving relationship.—Proverbs 12:18.
He’s got a volatile temper. “A man of discernment is cool of spirit,” says Proverbs 17:27. Erin found that her boyfriend had problems in this regard. “When we had disagreements, he would shove me,” she says, “and at times I ended up with bruises.” The Bible tells Christians: “Let all malicious bitterness and anger and wrath . . . be taken away from you.” (Ephesians 4:31) A person with little self-control is hardly ready for dating.—2 Timothy 3:1, 3, 5.
He’s secretive about our relationship. “My boyfriend didn’t want others to know that we were dating,” recalls Angela. “He was even upset when my dad found out!” Of course, there may be valid reasons for a couple to maintain a measure of privacy. But secrecy—a deliberate attempt to keep the relationship hidden from those who have a right to know about it—spells trouble.
He has no intention of marriage. Among Christians, dating has an honorable purpose—to help a young man and woman determine if they want to get married to each other. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you need to make wedding plans the moment you start dating. In fact, many people do not end up marrying the first person they date. At the same time, a person shouldn’t date if he or she isn’t ready to shoulder the responsibilities of marriage.
Our relationship is on-again, off-again. Proverbs 17:17 states: “A true companion is loving all the time.” Not that the two of you will always agree. But a relationship that constantly seesaws between breaking up and making up could indicate that something deeper needs to be addressed, as Ana came to realize. “The many times I broke up with my boyfriend brought me so much heartache!” she says. “I kept going back to fix a relationship that I would have done better without.”
He pressures me for sex. “If you love me, you’ll do it.” “We need to take our relationship to the next level.” “It’s not really sex if there’s no intercourse.” These are all manipulative lines that boys have used to pressure girls into sex. Says James 3:17: “The wisdom from above is first of all chaste.” You deserve a boyfriend who is morally clean and who respects your chaste sexual boundaries. Don’t settle for anything less!
Others have warned me about him. The Bible says: “Get all the advice you can, and you will succeed; without it you will fail.” (Proverbs 15:22, Today’s English Version) “You can’t ignore what your family and longtime friends think, any more than you can ignore those little alarm bells that ring in your head,” says Jessica. “The more you ignore what others are saying, the harder you’re making it on yourself.”
Above are just a few danger signs that could mean trouble in a relationship.* If you are dating, how does your boyfriend measure up in the areas discussed? Write below any personal concerns you may have.
How to Break Up
Suppose you determine that it’s best to end a relationship. How will you do so? There are a number of ways, but keep the following in mind.
Be courageous. “I had become so reliant on my boyfriend that I was afraid to leave him,” says a girl named Trina. It takes courage to speak up when a relationship needs to end. But standing up for yourself is healthy. (Proverbs 22:3) It enables you to establish firm boundaries as to what you will and what you will not tolerate in a dating relationship—and, later, in a marriage.
Be fair. If you were on the other end of the breakup, how would you want to be treated? (Matthew 7:12) Surely, your boyfriend deserves more than a brief e-mail, text message, or voice mail saying “We’re through!”
Choose the right setting. Should you talk face-to-face or over the phone? Should you write a letter or have a discussion? Much depends upon the circumstances. You should not meet in any setting where your safety would be put in jeopardy, nor would it be wise to be in an isolated area where wrong desires could be stirred.—1 Thessalonians 4:3.
Speak truthfully. Talk honestly about why you feel the relationship cannot continue. If you feel that your boyfriend has not treated you properly, say so. Stick to viewpoint statements. For example, instead of saying, “You’re always putting me down,” say, “I feel put down when you . . .”
Be willing to listen too. Is there something you’ve misunderstood about the situation? Do not allow yourself to be manipulated by clever words, but at the same time, be reasonable and consider all the facts. The Bible wisely admonishes Christians to “be swift about hearing, slow about speaking.”—James 1:19.
More articles from the “Young People Ask” series can be found at the Web site www.watchtower.org/ype
Names in this article have been changed.
Although this article presents matters from a girl’s perspective, the principles herein apply to both genders.
For more information see Awake! of May 2007, pages 18-20.
TO THINK ABOUT
▪ List below the traits you view as essential in someone you would date. ․․․․․
▪ Which traits would you consider to be unacceptable? ․․․․․
[Box on page 20]
THE PERSON YOU CHOOSE TO DATE SHOULD . . .
□ share your spiritual convictions.—1 Corinthians 7:39.
□ respect your moral boundaries.—1 Corinthians 6:18.
□ be considerate of you and of others.—Philippians 2:4.
□ have a good reputation.—Philippians 2:20.
[Box on page 20]
BEWARE IF YOUR BOYFRIEND . . .
□ always insists on getting his way.
□ constantly makes you feel guilty, stupid, or worthless.
□ tries to keep you away from your friends and family.
□ constantly checks up on your whereabouts.
□ accuses you of flirting with others when there is no basis for his doing so.
□ makes threats or gives ultimatums.
[Picture on page 19]
Disregarding danger signs in a relationship is like ignoring the warning signals on your car’s dashboard