By David Marvin
Most dating relationships fail. They end. They break up long before marriage.
And that’s OK. I mean, it’s not great, and it’s not fun, and it ideally would never be necessary. But if you are in the wrong relationship, then it is necessary, and should happen sooner rather than later. Otherwise there will just be more hurt, heartache, and regrets when it does inevitably end.
Last Tuesday at The Porch we discussed the topic of when to break up and when not to. We covered the reasons why people should break up pretty fast, so we thought we should expand upon it and add a few to the list.
So, here are nine situations where you should probably break up:
1. When wise people around you are raising concerns about the relationship.
We believe there are three ways God most often speaks: His Word, His Spirit, and His people. The counsel of godly men or women in our lives is a provision from God to protect us and guide us (Proverbs 15:22). They can help us see things that we miss when we are blinded by emotions. If the community of believers in your life is raising questions and concerns about whether you should move forward with the person you are dating, you should listen to what they have to say.
2. When they are not a follower of Christ.
This is a crucial one. If you are not on the same page about who will be your Master (Jesus), then you need to get out now. Go read Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 6:14. Followers of Christ are to minister to non-believers, not marry them. Missionary dating is a bad idea; if they are not following Christ now, chances are they won’t be in marriage.
3. When you are not moving towards marriage.
If you have been perpetually dating someone for 12 years, it may be time to move on. As believers in Christ, dating should be a path, that leads to a promise, that leads to a lifelong pursuit (marriage). It is not a parking lot, or a road leading to some unknown end. Dating should not be used to fill our insecurities, meet our sexual needs, or be done casually. The (very recent) modern idea of dating for fun or sport is dangerous because your heart either will get damaged or become numb. As King Solomon said and Jesus later taught (Luke 6:45) you live from your heart, so above everything else guard it (Proverbs 4:23).
4. When you are not on the same page about sexual purity.
Sex is powerful. It is an amazing gift that God has given us, for a specific purpose: bonding. It is meant to unite a man and a woman in a way that is well beyond the scope of this post to describe. But it is powerful. My wife is a counselor, and every time someone comes to her and wants to share something they have carried with them in secret for years, she always knows what it will be about: sex. It uniquely impacts us in the deepest level of our being in ways that nothing else does. In 1 Corinthians 6:18-20, Paul tells us to flee sexual immorality because it impacts us like no other sin. One of the ways we flee this is by ending a relationship where we are being pressured into having sex.
5. When you are living together.
This one may not always be a reason to break up, but you should definitely move out and take a hard look at the relationship. Despite what our culture suggests, moving in together physically before you have moved together emotionally and spiritually is something that almost never ends well. God’s grace is big; He loves you and wants you to wake up to a spouse who is committed to loving you forever, not to a boyfriend/roommate who can leave at any moment.
6. When one or both of you need time to heal.
Life is hard. We all have our issues: baggage from our childhood, past relationships, and just being alive in a messed world. Sin includes actions done by us, to us, or in our presence that can leave us with scars that need to heal. There may be a time in a relationship where you discover you or the person you are dating needs time to heal. Dating can bring things to the surface we didn’t even know where there; huge icebergs can lie below the surface and often not visible clearly. Temporarily pausing our dating life to heal may be the best gift you can give to your future spouse—and the most honoring thing to God, as you trust His timing.
7. When you are not growing in affection towards each other.
If you don’t enjoy being with the other person, and look forward to being with them, it may be time to consider moving on. Husbands and wives are called to love and respect each other (Ephesians 5:28-33), and we are told to enjoy life with the spouse God has given us (Ecclesiastes 9:9). This may be difficult to do in marriage if you are not enjoying being with them when dating.
8. When they push you away from Christ rather than towards Him.
The whole purpose of your life and mine is to love God and love others (Matthew 22:37-40). If you are in a relationship that is making this more difficult to do, or distracting you from doing so, it may be time to move on.
9. Before you get married.
This past Tuesday we discussed divorce, and Jesus’ radical perspective on the permanence of marriage. But regardless of your beliefs or your view on divorce, most people would agree that a broken marriage is worse than a broken dating relationship. That’s why it is vital that you determine whether you should break up now, instead of committing to a marriage that will only bring you pain and a broken family.
If you are dating someone and the above scenarios apply to you, it may be worth breaking up now. This will be painful, but not as painful as a broken marriage would be. Consult your community of believers around you, and listen to the advice given in the Bible. God loves you, and He’s not trying to spoil your fun; He wants to preserve your future marriage.