While I definitely do not profess to have it altogether when it comes to dating, what I will tell you is that I have learned a TON in the process of trying to navigate the murky waters of getting to know someone pre-marriage. Add in trying to date for the glory of the Lord and, PHEW, there are endless learnings!
It’s no secret at this point that you might have realized this past year I dated a man that I crazily fell in love with. That same relationship also very abruptly ended a few months ago. It has taken me time to process this breakup, but as it has been months now since it has ended, I wanted to do something maybe a bit unexpected and share with you all why this relationship, whilst over, is still worthy of celebrating.
Usually after a breakup, you hear the person talking about the various hurtful parts about the relationship. Often the hurt that resides in the heart of that person comes out in the form of resentful words and a negative overall picture of the relationship as a whole. Have you ever been that person?? I can honestly say I have, in the past! It’s easier to talk about the bad stuff sometimes when you are hurt because it makes you feel justified. Yes, there are relationships that can be destructive. BUT even while that is true, I still venture to believe that a TON was likely learned in the process which is something to be SO grateful for.
What you don’t often hear is the breakup-er or the breakup-ee with a smile on their face as they reminisce on the beauty that was their last “no-longer” relationship. Though this heart break hit me hard, I still think back to this relationship and smile because of how truly LOVELY and HEALTHY it was. While we may not be together now, I am proud to be able to have a clear mind towards our time together and celebrate the valuable lessons learned in this last relationship.
So!! I have decided to give you some insight into what I have personally from the perspective of your truly, the breakup-ee. Below you will get to see what being IN this relationship has taught me about DATING specifically, and how it has truly set me up for an even higher level of healthy dating for the future.
Side note: These lessons are specific to our actions together duringdating. Stay tuned later on for a post dedicated to MY specific learnings after the breakup. [oh la la, that will be juicy!]
LESSON # 1: Have low expectations to start.
….becausefrankly it can protect your heart, allow you to remove judgement and also sets you up for possibly being surprised in the best way possible. The way it started with me and my ex was actually quite awesome. It began with an emphasis on low expectations and was capped off with a clear and quick intention to be exclusive.
My biggest mantras when it comes to dating, especially in the beginning is being CLEAR, HONEST, and INTENTIONAL. This was exactly what this pursuit looked like. For our first date, he ever so cleverly made it CLEAR that he wanted to get to know me, whilst also taking the pressure off. He stated “I’d love to take you out on a low-pressure, get to know one another hangout”. An intentional hangout?! Well, that sounds COOL! Because we both went into it with low expectations, we ended up coming out of it more than surprised and excited. I mean, shoooooot, the date lasted over 4 hours when it was just supposed to be coffee. Afterwards we proceeded to text all night… I was like, “Okay God, I see you!“My biggest mantras when it comes to dating, especially in the beginning is being CLEAR, HONEST, and INTENTIONAL. Click To Tweet
All that to say, both of our hearts were protected before going into that first “intentional hangout” which allowed God to do whatever HE wanted to do, without our own need to control and overthink getting in the way. Trust me yall, I have struggled so much in the past with overthinking and putting too much pressure on the first, second, and even third hangout with a man. So to finally make the effort to remove that mindset and allow God to work felt so FREEING. I mean it. I was allowing God to do whatever He wanted through the situation, and it felt like my soul was able to fly. Imagine if we removed our own grip, got out of our [sometimes misleading] minds, and surrendered every though captive to allow Him to do His work more often in dating? Come onnn!!!
LESSON #2: Frequent DTR’S can be AMAZING.
If you don’t know what DTR stands for it clearly just means Define the Relationship. Throughout our relationship, we had moments of checking in to see where one another were both at. It felt like a breathe of fresh air each time for my heart. SURE, going INTO a DTR conversation can be a touch daunting. “What IF that person isn’t on the same page as you?!”, “ What IF they want to end things, and you are head over heels?” Yes, I know those are all possibilities, but the honest truth is that IF you are satisfied with knowing that God’s outcome is the ONLY outcome you truly want, then you won’t be afraid of a DTR conversation. The reality is, we need to be in complete surrender at all points throughout the relationship.
A quick reality check: NOTHING get’s in the way for God’s will for your life. If He wants the relationship to continue, it will be in His will to do so. And if He does not, it will end, and THAT IS OKAY! [take it from me, the breakup-ee]
Now, before you freak out, I am not saying that you have to establish if you are boyfriend and girlfriend after just a weeks time… calm yourself! Rather, I am referring to DTR’s to get you to understand that defining the relationship simply means being vulnerable with the other person about where you are at, and communicating your intentions to them clearly and honestly. This relationship was one of the first times BOTH of us were comfortable with frequently DTRing, and it was AHH-MAZING for the stability of my heart, and his too.
Note to self: DTR’s can be awkward, but it is not being cool. This is about truly caring about the other person’s heart.A quick reality check: NOTHING get’s in the way for God’s will for your life. Click To Tweet
LESSON #3: Serve through your Communication.
We all have different ways of communicating. For me and my ex, we chose to quickly learn HOW we each best receive information. I have the kind of personality where I need information presently very gently and kindly. I like to think of it as jumping off a high cliff into a pile of soft, pillows. The far jump can be daunting, but the landing is soft and fluffy so I’m okay with making the leap. My ex on the other hand was a bit more direct. He loved information delivered very clearly and extremely pointed. Both are totally acceptable, just a bit different.
SO as you can imagine with those kinds of communication styles, there might be some work to do! Eh eh? If I were just to communicate with him only how I wished to be communicated to, how would that serve his heart? Would he actually be able to hear me? Indeed we had to actually work at learning how to communicate with one another in a way that was helpful, and well received on both ends.
This is IMPERATIVE my friends. Each of us were crafted so differently, and hence have VERY different ways of processing. This is why I love to call it “serving through communication”…. because figuring out how to best communicate with them in a way that their heart receives can truly make or break a relationship. It is in essence serving them, because you are bending your normal ways of doing something to better serve that other person. But let me tell you, though it takes work and take effort, I found the output is always pivotal for growth and understanding.figuring out how to best communicate with them in a way that their heart receives can truly make or break a relationship. Click To Tweet
I’m pretty sure if he is reading this right now, he is probably smiling… because this is one of his favorite mantras! The funny thing is, it is mine TOO! You may have heard me reference it a time or two in other posts. Let’s get right to it then, shall we? There were many times it would have been easier to just go about our way as a couple and graze over heavy subjects or ignore little annoyances. But instead of avoiding and putting things off, we decided to address things with one over time in another in patience, love and with graceful, open minds.
We were different people, with different backgrounds and different ways of seeing life based on our personal life narratives formed through experience. This is first of all an amazing thing, because we both saw life differently and could learn SO much from one another. That alone is so, so rich. It simultaneously made way for many places of discomfort because we had been through different, sometimes very difficult situations and seasons. What I learned overall was that embracing the discomfort to make room for vulnerability, helped me to embrace my story and be proud of my scars from the past.
What I learned even further, is that embracing discomfort allowed Jesus to move in huge ways. I’m not gonna lie, I have been through a LOT that my ex had never really had to face. That alone proved to be one of the most challenging things for me in this relationship: learning to accept and own my story. But through actually putting this to the test, it allowed me to continue to fully embrace Jesus’s unfailing love for me and ALL parts of my story. [Wowza, more to come on all I learned through that!] All I know is that Jesus’s love for us was glorified each and every time we embraced discomfort as we grew in understanding and love for one another.
The key to embracing discomfort: Remove judgement! I think the only true way to embrace uncomfortable situations is to come in with a heart of GRACE above all, with clear eyes and a sound mind for the other person.Embracing the discomfort to make room for vulnerability, helps YOU to embrace you story and be proud of YOUR scars from the past. Click To Tweet
LESSON #5: Community with friends as a couple in dating is imperative, essential, necessary, and a straight up non negotiable.
In the past, I have been in relationships that have been so all consuming from the beginning that after we became exclusive, my friends didn’t see me again for 6 months. Have you 1. Ever experienced that with a friend? or 2. Been that person yourself? I know you may be eye rolling right now… because ‘ the thing that everyone says they will never do, but then always ends up doing once infatuation takes over. Face palm.
The truth is, we could not have done this relationship successfully without our amazing community. When we had areas of potential concern, or needed to process through how to deal with something, we both had amazing friends ready with spiritual guidance that we could trust. From early on, we brought our close friends into the relationship through hangouts, phone calls, church and more. No more leaving things to the dark! No more constant one on one hangouts with NO visibility to the outside world! We made sure to intertwine community as an essential part of our relationship to help reveal blindspots that maybe we could not see ourselves.
Through this relationship I have truly learned that wise counsel and community in relationship is a straight up NON NEGOTIABLE. When you are in love with someone, it is easy to become all consumed with just that person to the point of having “love goggles”. It happens you guys, because we sometimes want to see only what WE WANT TO SEE [whether good or bad]. For me and my ex, we made it a priority to continually invite close friends that we trusted and who also loved Jesus immensely to the VIP viewing deck. They got the best look at our relationship. They got to know us individually and together. And they were able to valuable provide insight and love to both of us throughout.
I cannot tell you how much I needed this guidance throughout our relationship. I’ll tell you what, though one on one infatuation can be fun and all, nothing is more comforting than having the support, love, and guidance of friends being your #1 cheerleader [or critic, if it is truly unhealthy].We made sure to intertwine community as an essential part of our relationship to help reveal blindspots that maybe we could not see ourselves. Click To Tweet
LESSON # 6: Pray together. A LOT.
If you are Christian, this may seem like a no brainer. But the reason why I think this is so necessary to bring up is that that I see so many Christian relationships where the couples rarely prayer together privately. They go to church, they have Christian friends, they pray separately, but they rarely prey together. The reason I say that is because I USED TO BE THAT COUPLE, TOO! The couple where we walked the christian walk, but rarely brought the Holy Spirit into our relationship on a day to day, intimate level.
This last relationship was one of the first times where we both made it a priority to pray together all. the. time. I’ll be honest with you, it wasn’t always our first reflex! Sometimes it required effort and mindfulness. There were times we stayed up FAR too late, and wanted to just end the night. There were times it seemed easier to just be upset and remain silent. But as we made prayer a priority time and time again, it so eloquently brought peace, restoration, and more love into our relationship. It also helped us each and every time get re-centered on the actual point of the relationship to begin with: To glorify the Lord! Heyoooo!
Prayer can also be a vulnerable and very intimate thing for those of us who don’t always pray out loud, which is also why it is so beautiful in relationship. When you pray together in and through the relationship you begin to also know one another on a deeper level, because you start to see one another how JESUS sees you. Good golly I can’t emphasize this enough. It is truly beautiful and SO not to be underestimated!
My recommendation: Pray even when you don’t want to. Pray sometimes more than it seems necessary. Pray short, pray long, pray whatever length you want to…. but invite Jesus into the space with you consistently. I promise you won’t be disappointed!Pray even when you don’t want to. Pray sometimes more than it seems necessary. Pray short, pray long, pray whatever length you want to…. but invite Jesus into the space with you consistently. Click To Tweet
A FINAL WORD, FROM THE BREAKUP-EE
Okay you guys, so these are SOME of my top learnings from my last relationship. The funny part that you may now be thinking is, “ Well sheesh, Kait, you got broken up with, HOW do you have such a clear and grateful view of the relationship now?”. You guys, I am telling you, because we actually DID all of these things above, we were able to end the relationship both knowing this was extremely healthy throughout. I have never really been able to say that before!!
That didn’t mean we didn’t disagree, and that didn’t mean we were perfect…. AT ALL. But rather, we consistently fought to understand one another, see one another, appreciate one another, have close friends rally around us, and invite Jesus into the center. These are some essentials I have learned that you BETTA BELIEVE I will be bringing into whatever relationship I enter into next.
I have nothing but lovely and wonderful things to say about my ex, because though I know that even though he is not perfect, and even though I am far from perfect, our relationship was still glorifying to the Lord. It helped me to learn more about myself. It helped bring some harsh realities to light. It helped me to understand what true selfless love could look like. It helped me to see how wise counsel in relationship can be a game changer. It helped me to truly appreciate and love the differences in one another. It helped me to see how Jesus can and should be glorified through dating.
All this to say, I don’t think there is a perfect formula to dating… but I DO think that there are many things we can do to preemptively seek HEALTH and set ourselves up for success in the long run. I am so glad to have shared with you guys my dating lessons from the breakup-ee….. and I also cannot wait to reveal to you the actual BREAKUP lessons I learned after this lovely relationship came to an end. Stay tuned for more, and thank you for listening to this VERY lengthy blog post as I revealed another layer of my heart on this dating journey.
KI don’t think there is a perfect formula to dating… but I DO think that there are many things we can do to preemptively seek HEALTH and set ourselves up for success in the long run. Click To Tweet
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