In my work with college students, I’ve done a fair amount of breakup counseling. Usually I’m helping a student process the grief of a lost relationship. Sometimes, I’m contacted in the middle of a crisis to try to mediate a solution.
Some thoughts from where I sit:
- The Stress May be Temporary. Students often break up during finals. They’re stressed out, sleep deprived, and exhausted from the semester. The demands of the relationship become too difficult to manage–especially if they begin destabilizing, and need even more time to maintain the relationship. I say the most stressful time of the semester is when you should expect relational difficulties–and to not be hasty to end an otherwise healthy relationship during finals. (Similar advice applies to other stressful-but-temporary periods of time–like graduation, a new job, a move, etc.) Don’t break up if all you really need is a break.
- Seek Better Advice. If you’re in a serious relationship, and your friends and family are supportive, and you’re stuck on a recurrent issue, get some advice before breaking up. I highly recommend not talking to your peers–no matter how wise they seem. Go to a trusted professor, counselor or pastor. Lay out the problem and ask them to scale it for you. Ask them for advice on how to get unstuck–or if they think you should break up. Some couples need to break up. Others shouldn’t.
- Scale Concerns. If you’re in a serious relationship, and your friends and family are raising concerns–you should listen. If you need help scaling their concerns, again, seek counsel outside your friends and family. Some couples should break up. Others may simply be suffering from bad first impressions, misunderstandings, or jealousies. These need to be assessed by someone outside the system. You’d be crazy to quickly dismiss a legit concern. But misunderstandings happen too. You might need assistance knowing the difference.
- You’re Never Alone. Breakups can be devastating. You don’t need to shoulder the burden alone. Find someone you can talk to to work through the pain. There is always hope. The Gospel is bigger than you think it is.