What to do when your ex moves on super-fast

I spoke at the MOVE14 Conference back in January. I met a girl there, and she bought one of my books. I signed it, wished her well, and didn’t expect to see her again. Well, I did see her again—in my inbox. She loved the book (yay!), however she had bad news: she is going through a rough breakup and homeboy just started dating another girl. I wrote her back, and after thinking about it, I figured it may make a good breakup post. The more you talk about dating, the more you hear the stories of hurtful breakups. It’s hard to avoid them. I’m even thinking of writing a second book on breakups as a follow-up to the first. So here’s her question and my response. I’d love to know what you think, if you’d add anything, or how you’ve dealt with breakups in your past!

HER: “Hey Ashley, my name is ***********. You see, I met you at the Move 2014 Conference and I got your book. I really liked it! But what I am wondering is this: when I guy breaks up with you and gets a new girlfriend, how do you deal with it? If you could tell me it would be greatly appreciated!”

ME:  ***********, thanks so much for your email! Glad to hear from you. I’m so sorry about your breakup. I know that’s the worst 🙁 Here’s what I can tell you.

USE THESE POINTS FOR FAITH-BASED PERSPECTIVE:

1. Receive it as confirmation from the Lord.
I know in the moment it feels so horrible and almost like betrayal, right? But God has done the same in my life: making something crystal clear when I needed him to. If this guy isn’t for you, it could be easy to stay in contact with him if you both were heartbroken and vulnerable, you know–still pine after him, or send a random text or snapchat every now and then, etc. But when he’s got a new girl, it almost helps you avoid those things by default. The breakup was step one in realizing that God doesn’t have this guy for you. But him moving on to another girl so quickly is step two from the Lord and reinforces that his character isn’t that of a man yet; it’s the character of a boy. I’m not slandering him, I’m simply saying if he’s moved on to another girl this quickly, he probably hasn’t been engaging with God first. And as a believer, you don’t want a boy like that. Trust me, God is using this as a way to put a nail in that coffin for good and he’s asking you to trust Him. Do you want to marry a man that has a tough circumstance in life and then runs to everything else except the Lord? Do you want a man who trusts in quick-fixes? Or do you want a man that truly seeks God when something unexpected hits? It seems this boy is not that type of person. Again, not slandering him, just showing you that God is protecting you from a future with this person. Running to the nearest girl after a breakup only reinforces this boy’s character. Choose to see this as a confirmation from God of the original decision to breakup–not as a punishment from Him.

2. Use it as a season to give your broken heart to the Lord.
I know this sounds obvious and cliché—“give your heart to God.” Although you and I know that Christiany phrase, I’ll bet you’re a lot like I was. I usually ran to other things to make me feel better when I was upset about a breakup— a movie, a ton of TV show episodes, eating a lot, talking to my friends about it all the time, a glass of wine, the attention of another guy—anything to make it go away for a little while. But, listen, God is giving you a strategic opportunity to learn how to give HIM your broken heart. Don’t give it to TV. Don’t give it to another boy prematurely. Give it to God. Meet with him every night and pour out your heart to him. Let him be the first one who catches your tears. Read the Psalms for comfort. Don’t give this vulnerable time to any one else. You’re going to wade through the pain of this breakup regardless, so you may as well let it be a tool to deepen your relationship with God. Be able to look back and say, “that was a really rough time, but I do know this: I truly gave it all to the Lord and left it at His feet. I didn’t run somewhere else.” These are the days that you start training your heart to run to the right places when life hits you hard. So this situation isn’t stupid, and it’s not to be lightly passed over. Take it as an opportunity to train your heart to open up to God. Don’t waste this season trying to get to the next one. Some of our deepest seasons with God are those when we are hurt and he comes to comfort us. Don’t shy away or try to act like a hero if you’re truly heartbroken. Be sad, but mourn with God, not the world. God wants that heart of yours, in whatever condition it may be in. And he’s the only one who has the ability to truly mend it:

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
(Psalm 34:18)

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
(Psalm 147:3)

3. MOST IMPORTANTLY: Remember who your Savior is
One of the best benefits of being Christian is that we follow a God who understands our deepest heartbreak. What a gift this is! Our God is not one who sits in an ivory tower above us, unfamiliar with what it’s like to be human. One of my favorite parts of Christian doctrine is that Jesus understands divinity, sure, but he understands humanity fully too! He knows what it is to be human, vulnerable, heartbroken, exposed, betrayed, and the like. We have a God that can empathize with our pain, a God who was heartbroken too and can walk with us through it. Remember that Jesus himself was betrayed by those closest to him. He understands that pain. He’s not on the sidelines telling you to “get it together.” He’s on the field with you. He’s been through it too. You feel like this boy moved right past you, onto the “next thing.” You feel picked over. Isn’t it insane that GOD has felt that way and can relate with you? Think of all the times in the Bible and even now that we move right past God, our first love. Think how many times we run to the “next thing” that we think will satisfy. Think how many times we ourselves have done the “picking over.” The people he came to love rejected him without blinking an eye. All that to say, He gets it.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
(Hebrews 4:15)

He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. (John 1:11)

He was despised and rejected–a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised by people, and we did not care.
(Isaiah 53:3)

USE THESE POINTS FOR EVERYDAY PRACTICALS

So we know that God doesn’t have this guy for you. But how do you deal with the “everyday” stuff that hurts so bad?

Put-down-phone1. Unfriend, Unfollow, Un-EVERYTHING: I know this is a toughie, but it SO has to happen. You just have to do it: unfollow him. Unfriend him. Delete him from all your apps and your contact list–and hers for that matter! The hardest thing about moving on from an ex in this day and age is that there are about 15 places you cross paths with him (both in the real world and the virtual one) that you have to re-route in order to avoid him: school hallways, hometowns, social gatherings, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, texting, email, Gchat, etc. You have so many portals that lead you to his life and you have to shut them off. It’s hard. It’s really hard. But watching his life from afar will only make it worse. TRUST ME on that one. I did it for way too long, and it’s still tempting sometimes, even though I’m married! Again, if you sneakily “follow him around” on social media, then you’re training your heart for the future. And as a married woman I can tell you, that “I’m just checking in on his life” pattern doesn’t turn off. My heart wants to do that stuff because I did it for almost 7 years in the past. Don’t allow it to become a pattern now. You have the chance to pull the plug and train your heart to not be a social media stalker. It will pay off later. Trust me.

2. Make plans:
This one is pretty obvious. If your schedule is wide open with nothing to do, you can bet your bottom dollar that you’ll end up pining away after this boy, or worse, stalking him on social media. This one is just plain practical: make plans with people. Go to a movie where you can’t be on your cell. Head to a friends house. Go out to eat with your family. Watch a family movie in the living room where everyone can see what you’re doing. Go bowling. Take a jog with a friend and leave your phone at home. Just make some plans—and not with people that will allow you to “accidentally” run into him. Don’t make plans with his best friend or his sister. Capiche? Making plans helps your brain bounce to another activity. My mother always called it “changing the channel.” It really helps.

3. Tell your closest, most reliable friends and have them hold you accountable.
This one is HUGE. Tell a couple close Christian gal-pals (notice I didn’t say talk about it with 15 people) your struggle right now. And make them swear to hold you accountable. When I had a weak moment  during a breakup (i.e.—I REALLY want to text my ex right now. I miss him! Help!), I had a close friend I would text instead. I literally replaced his number in my phone with hers! She knew my situation and she’d always respond—“Sooo glad you texted me. Let’s go get some ice cream. And I’m taking your cell phone when we get there.” We all have friends that will let us do whatever we want. They aren’t the friends you need to keep around you in this season of life. You need the friends that will chuck your phone across a room in order to protect you.

4. Don’t gab about it too much.
You need accountability, yes. But sometimes I used to find myself talking about the breakup under the guise of “I need your accountability.” The truth was this: I just wanted to talk about him. I just liked talking about him and bringing him up. It made me feel like I was still part of his life, like we were still “something.” Try and limit these kinds of conversations. The more you gab about him, the bigger you make the situation in your mind and the harder it is to get over him. Bring it up to a friend when it’s absolutely necessary–you know, like if you feel the urge to contact him or swing by his house. Again, remember, you are using this season to bring it all before the Lord. So if you need to talk about it, talk about it with HIM first.

I hope these points help. Let me know how it’s going. I’d love to hear how to Lord works in this. Praying for you sister!

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Jesus
(Matthew 11:28)

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