Archives For Darwinism

Why Breakups Hurt

Mark Beuving —  March 30, 2012 — Leave a comment

Breakups are the worst. I doubt anyone is going to argue with me there. In some cases, the pain from breaking up is so intense that a person will vow to never date again. It leads some people to resolve never again to open up their heart to a member of the opposite sex. The pain of breakups is largely responsible for the Christian campaign to “guard your heart.”

Have you ever stopped to consider why breakups hurt?

In an evolutionary framework, breakups really shouldn’t be painful. Our goal is to “survive” by passing on our genes, so the ideal mate is someone that we can successfully procreate with. Romance is simply an evolutionarily derived mechanism for getting ourselves connected someone who can help us have kids. In this context, a breakup shouldn’t be that big of a deal. If we break up, I can rule out the possibility of progeny with you and move on to the next prospect. This is a pretty crass way to put it, but it is consistent within an evolutionary worldview. A strict Darwinist who believes that romance or commitment have value in themselves apart from the prospect of children is being inconsistent.

But the Christian worldview gives us a reason for believing that relationships are significant. People are important, and we are designed to live in close relationship with the people around us. We long for commitment and intimacy. So breakups aren’t merely a bump on the road to procreating. Breakups introduce division where there was once unity. This is bound to be painful.

As painful as breakups are, they carry an inherent testimony to the meaningfulness of life. They remind us that we are more than Darwin says we are. I’m not suggesting that we go around pursuing breakups for this reason, but as with anything in life, it is important to see this social phenomenon in a theological light. Our quest for relationship points to the reality that the universe is ultimately relational, a reality that is grounded in the eternal existence of the Trinity.

And let’s not forget the Christian hope that one day, when Christ returns, there will be no more tears, no more pain, no more division, and therefore no more breakups.