We tend to demonize our exes. It’s a natural response to heartache, but it can be both shortsighted and cruel.
All relationships pose a risk. When we willingly join a relationship, not knowing the end, we’re risking the heartache some of us eventually experience. When those relationships don’t work out, our hurting hearts look for a place to land. Sometimes that place is bitterness.
But what if we looked at our exes from a different angle? What if we acknowledged a truth so often hidden in the throes of heartbreak—that our exes helped shape who we are today?
Past relationships affect us. No one questions that. But through the heartbreak, many of us became stronger, wiser, better people. Simply put, we wouldn’t be who we are without our exes.
Your Past Relationships Teach You Long-Term Lessons
I dated a few people before I met my husband, and he did the same. If we saw those relationships as failures because they didn’t end in marriage, they would be very discouraging. But the things we learned through our exes shaped us into better people for one another. We learned long-term lessons from short-term relationships.
Would we go through the breakups again? No thanks! Yet the pain we both experienced gave us perspective for the future. When we finally met one another, we knew what we were looking for. We knew what worked and didn’t work; what our priorities should be; what boundaries needed to be in place. We can thank our exes for teaching us these life lessons.
Your Ex Showed You What You Need in a Relationship
Past relationships also show us what we need for marriage. Moving on from those breakups is hard, but it helps us see clearly. We can think about communication style, personality and life priorities, determining what is most important for our next partner. Unintentional though it may have been, your ex showed you what priorities you have for a relationship. Every breakup is caused by a misalignment of priorities; one person wants something that the other does not.
Take whatever you learned from your past relationships and use it for self-reflection. What needs to change? How could you grow? How have you grown already from your dating experiences?
Breakups Can Drive You to Jesus
One of the most powerful ways your ex can impact your life is to drive you to Jesus. It’s a funny twist to a sad story, but it shows the grace of God: We can actually become stronger believers by ending a relationship with someone who isn’t following God. In a way, they help us become better followers of Jesus without ever intending to lead us in that direction! Ending a relationship is sometimes the best way to deepen your walk with God, which in turn teaches you what a godly relationship will look like.
Your breakup—whether done to you or a choice you made—doesn’t just help you. It helps your ex, too. Communicating why the breakup is happening can give you truths to work through with the Lord. I’ve known many people (including myself) who were forced to dive deeper into a relationship with God when they could no longer be dependent on a man. Your ex can drive you to Jesus—what a gift!
Right now it may not feel like your ex’s actions are a gift. But over time, you’ll see that your character grew through this experience. Without your ex, you wouldn’t think, act or choose the way you do today. Your experience has shaped you and your priorities. If you’re rooted in God’s Word and growing in Him, those priorities will lay a sure foundation for a future relationship.