9 Signs You Should Break Up

Guest Posts | March 19, 2014 . By The Porch

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.

  • The Porch

    We would be happy to connect with you, email theporch@watermark.org if you want to follow-up!

  • The Porch

    We would be happy to connect with you, email theporch@watermark.org if you want to follow-up!

  • The Porch

    We would be happy to connect with you, email theporch@watermark.org if you want to follow-up!

  • The Porch

    We would be happy to connect with you, email theporch@watermark.org if you want to follow-up!

  • The Porch

    We would be happy to connect with you, email theporch@watermark.org if you want to follow-up!

  • Michelle

    I have been dating my boyfriend for 10 months- we have known each other for over three years. After many delusion and bumps down the road, I have decided to pursue a relationship with my current boyfriend. The problem is we have had sex (and literally fought many sexual battles for over a year) We both have a clear understanding that sex is a wonderful gift from God to be preserved for marriage. I feel guilty- I feel like I have ruined his relationship with God. He is a wonderful godly man. Ever since, I came into his life, I feel like I have placed a boulder on his shoulder. Yet he still loves me. But sometimes I question the level of affection and love I have for him. I really do believe he deserves better. On the side note, we have been walking in the christian faith for four years, and we both work together in the youth group ministry. Do you think it is wise to break up? I sometimes feel like our relationship is a distraction. I want to make the right decision.

  • Mary

    Hello, I have a question about my relationship and I need advice. I’m sixteen. I have a boyfriend my age that I have been dating for a couple of months now. I have been a christian since I was born but never really had a relationship with God, which led me into doing alot sins including lying, sneaking, revealing my body to my boyfriend, etc.. We never had sex but we make out ALOT. I feel like he is using me for some reason. Whenever we talk, he looks at his phone and ignores me. He talks to me only when he’s got something to say about himself. And when I talk about something that means alot to me, he never listens, so I basically talk to myself. He never really spends time with me at all unless he’s alone . So about a week ago, I was at church watching a christian movie, that for the first time, gotme affected and got me crying. I attended 5 bible studies the following 3 days, and it made me realize that i deserve way better and that it was time for me to change. The bibe study was about Revelations. It got me wondering whether I’ll be able to have an eternal like with God or not. That question scared me. I felt like i need to make some changes to my life. And one of those changes is to break up with him because he is one of the reasons why I have been getting further away from God. Not to mention, my boyfriend talks about my body sexually MOST OF THE TIME. That’s become annoying and it disturbs me now. I know its my fault that i gave him an impression that i am an “easy to get” type of girl from the beggining. I am the only one from my friends who dates guys and I noticed that i am not as happy as they are. When i asked a friend of mine how she continues to be peaceful, happy and not in need of a guy, she answered, “I used to be like you until I changed and realized that guys are not going to get you anywhere and that you’re a precious and you’re body is a diamond that God gave you to homour him and keep it safely to yourself”. Lately I have had alot of thought about everything and i decided i want a fresh start. My problem is that, I am a shy person, I dont like hurting people and I dont know how to speak or even say “No” to someone. So I dont know how exactly i should tell him its over without hurting him. He is going to ask me why but i dont know how to answer that either. Thank you!

  • Melody

    I have been dating my boyfriend for 1 1/2 years now, and he liked me first for like 4 years, until I decided to give him a chance because he’s nice and is very passionate about serving Christ.

    But he wants to be a pastor, and I do not want to become a pastor’s wife. I’m pursuing a Masters in Nursing, and I feel like I’ll be the one making more money and supporting us financially, and I cringe at the thought of that. He’s also emotionally unstable and suffers from anxiety, episodes of depression, and is very physically “needy”

    But he’s a great leader and I know loves the Lord, he’s quick to admit his mistakes and is always trying to make Christ the center of our relationship and I love that.

    But I’m scared of the future. I do not want to be the one making more money, I do not want to be stuck in a church my whole, we fight A LOT, because we both have very strong personalities.

    I do not know what to do.

  • Lily

    My boyfriend and I have been together since we were seniors in high school we are now in our early twenties currently in college so 3 years. We were each others’ firsts but since have faced an uphill battle with being pure. We both want the same things and share the same faith and set of beliefs. We often think about marriage and our future together. Also everyone we know who are followers in Christ believe we fit perfectly together. However, I do feel like we are more so into each other emotionally and physically rather than God. He is a good man and I could not imagine being with anyone else but is it too late? Now that we have been physically intamite? Are we unable to have a successful marriage and actively purse God together? In other words is there no hope left in our relationship? Can we start over or do we have to break up?

  • The Porch

    Hi Danielle,

    I’m sorry to hear about your friend’s situation. Are both of them plugged into a church home and in a small group? We’ve found that situations like this are best navigated within the context of a small group of believers who love you and know you well. We do know that Scripture commands us to not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14), and that God can make things good that the enemy means for evil (Genesis 50:20).

    Here are some other resources that might be helpful to share:
    You’re Not Actually in Control
    The Gift of Singleness
    Guard Your Heart

    Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and He will make your paths straight.” Praying for your friends now.

  • Danielle

    The question I have is in regards to my friends relationship situation. While dating, she was able to lead her boyfriend to Christ. He is now a saved and born again Christian. However, after finding God, he claimed that God told him that they shouldn’t date. Prior to him becoming saved, their relationship was very rocky. She claims that God was telling her to break up with him, but, because she continued to stay, feels as though God was punishing her for not breaking up with him, hence their hardships prior to him finding God. Now they are no longer together, but, they are still attracted to each other, miss each other, both God fearing Christians, and pray for each other, but they will not get back together because they believe that God separated them.

    Is it possible that God did speak to them and separated them? Or, does it sound like Satan seen the two of them becoming a man and woman of God and weasled his way into tricking them to break up?


  • Ivonne

    Good afternoon. I know this thread is over 2 years old so I acknowledge I may not get a response, but I am frustrated and confused so will give it a try. I am also sorry because this post is quite long, but I feel I should give as many details as possible to get the best answer I possibly can.
    My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost 2 years now (next month), but I told him I don’t want to be with him anymore. The reason is that we were out eating, having a great time, taking pictures on his phone. We started looking through them when my boyfriend accidentally scrolled into a picture that was not of us. He immediately scrolled back. I looked at him and asked who that was and he scrolled back to it. The picture was a screenshot of a fb post by a girl. It was a gif type of post where it’s many pictures that say different things and they pop up really fast like a video. Apparently the different pictures would say things like “you are my boyfriend”, “you are my best friend”, etc. and you pause the gif video so that whatever it lands on is what you are to that person. Well my boyfriend paused it and it landed on “you are my ‘sex’ buddy” except instead of the word sex it had the f word.
    I don’t know who the girl is nor do I care, but more what infuriates me is that I feel that was such a disrespectful thing towards me for him to do. I understand it was “just a facebook post”, but what it said is something so disgusting and incorrect! I decided to tell him I no longer want to be with him. All this happened almost 3 days ago, but my boyfriend says he is still fighting for us.
    See, before we started dating I had been a part of my church for 2 years and he used to be Catholic but eventually became agnostic because his father died when my boyfriend was very young.
    At the time I was not in the best relationship with God and started dating him even though he wasn’t Christian thinking God could work in him. I realize this is so naive to think, but at the time I did think so because I knew the reason he had that certain belief was because of the hurt he had before and that only God could provide the healing he needed. He started going to church about 6 months into the relationship, but I could tell he didnt want to be there. However, within the next year he became a new person who now has a relationship with God.
    In the very beginning, first 6 months, of the relationship we had A LOT of arguments because of things he would like on facebook that I didn’t find appropriate. When he started going to church and changing, none of this was a problem anymore. I often wondered if it was my own fault when we had all those problems though because I know God says for us to be evenly yolked. And all the times we had problems I would still want to stay with him and as time would pass I would often wonder if maybe those problems were God telling me I needed to let him go. Like I said earlier, things got better after that. But now we have this problem. And back then I told myself that if anything like this happened I would not take it anymore. The thing is that I don’t know if to break up with him or not. What if God wants me to know he isn’t the one for me and I decide to forgive him and stay? What if God wants me to stay and forgive but I let him go?
    I just want to make the decision that is in God’s will and don’t want to do anything outside of it. I can see how either thing can be part of God’s plan and that is what is most confusing. I have been praying and fasting about it but God hasn’t shown me anything yet. I don’t want to ask any of my friends or mentors from church because I find it really embarrassing. Please help me. What should I do???
    Thank you and God bless you

  • The Porch

    Hi Kim,

    Thank you for reading our blog and for commenting. We believe that everything God needs us to know was revealed to us in The Word (2 Timothy 3:16), and would encourage as you’re processing, to seek out wise counsel (Proverbs 15:22) and wisdom from the Bible to help you in your decisions (Proverbs 3:5-6). We also want to test everything we hear or feel against the Word of God (1 John 4:1), to help discern whether or not we’re hearing from the Lord or feeling something that could be contrary to the guide book He’s given us, His Word (Joshua 1:8).

    Here are some other helpful resources:
    Don’t Date This Man
    How to Date in Community
    3 Reasons You Should Join a Local Church

    Thank you again for sharing. Praying for you now, Kim! Please feel free to email theporch@watermark.org with any questions or for help getting connected.

  • Kim

    So we have been dating for almost a year, he’s very controlling, and manipulative, and emotionally abusive, he criticizes me on almost everything. I’m led to break up with him, but he is the guy God once told me i would marry. He is not the guy im going to marry now. But i still have very strong feelings for him. I just need some advice, or insite, or something.

  • The Porch

    Hi Frank,

    Thank you for reading our blog and for commenting. Are you both plugged into a church and part of a small group? We have found that decisions like this are best made with people who love the Lord and know you well. Our class Merge is for seriously dating or engaged couples and would be helpful as you’re deciding next steps, how to communicate, and how to have a successful relationship.

    Here are some other helpful resources:
    Should We Get Married?
    How to Date in Community
    Leading Well

    Saying a prayer for you! Please feel free to email theporch@watermark.org if you have any more questions.

  • Frank

    Hi…. me and my girl have been dating for 3 years now, and actually we had good tomes together… she is now in high school and iam in college, truly i love her and wanna married to her, but the problem is i haven’t talked with her about this. I don’t really know how she will react when i tell her about this, is it the right time to tell her now or can I wait till she completed her high school studies first…advice me pliz

  • The Porch

    Hey there!

    Thank you for reading & commenting. Here are some resources that might help!:

    Who Should I Date?
    10 Things a Woman Should Look for in a Man
    How to Date in Community

    Please feel free to email theporch@watermark.org with any questions!

  • alceed

    well i havent broken up with him yet im just worried if he actualy cares for me if any one could give me tips of what to look for

  • L.Webb

    Hi Lulu,

    What a great a question! Thank you for trusting us to dig into that with you. We wholeheartedly believe that the Word of God is true and has an answer for every situation. You are right that we, as Christ-followers, are called to forgive as we have been forgiven, but the Bible also states that we are not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14). To affirm your decision, forgiving him doesn’t mean that you have to continue dating him. I think a great question to ask here might be, “Am I breaking things off because I don’t love him anymore, or am I breaking things off because I really desire to follow Christ?” Either way, we can trust God in knowing that His instructions are for our good (Isaiah 55:8-9). Are you a member of a church and plugged into a small group? We have found that locking arms with people who love the Lord and know us well is the best way to help us make God-honoring decisions and carry them out (See Proverbs 15:22). If you’re interested or would like to chat further, please feel free to email us at theporch@watermark.org, and we would love to help you!

    Here are some other helpful resources:
    Dating Directions
    Dating on Target
    Unequally Yoked

    Love that your seeking the Lord through prayer! Also want to encourage you to check out these resources on the gift of tongues since it can be a little tricky to translate what the Word of God says there:
    Gift of Tongues
    Gift of Tongues Today

    Thanks again Lulu!

  • Lulu

    Hi, I broke up with the guy I was dating because he is not of the same faith, we clash in so many ways, he makes fun of the way we pray (speaking in tongues). I am not perfect, in fact I always thought I didn’t deserve him because of his physical stature and the number of girls who would give anything to have him. I ended things because he was not faithful and I could not wait for him to leave. I loved him at first and I was very proud of him, but after the third time of cheating within 6 months I got tired.
    Now my concern is, he doesn’t want to let me go, I have told him I am better off without him as a boyfriend and I don’t love him anymore, but he doesn’t listen. He uses my faith to say that if I am a child of God I should forgive him, I told him I forgave him, but he says if I forgave him then we would get back together now.
    How do I completely break ties with him?

  • Celica,

    The thing that helped my now-wife and I resist temptation was to set clear boundaries and stick to them. These boundaries were intentionally conservative, so that even if we were to “slip” and “cross the line,” the line being crossed was still not a big problem. For example, if the line is “no sex” and you cross the line, you’ve had sex–the thing you didn’t want to do. But if the line is “no kissing unless you’re both standing up,” then if you do kiss on the couch, you can recognize that you went too far, repent, and no real damage is done. Make sense?

    See also: http://theporch.wpengine.com/how-far-is-too-far/

    For your second question, try this: http://theporch.wpengine.com/how-long-should-you-date-before-marriage/

    If you’re in Dallas, I would also recommend Merge when you’re seriously thinking about marriage. http://theporch.wpengine.com/merge-dallas-premarital-class/

  • Celica

    Hi… the guy and I..that I have ben dating have been talking marriage, I told him if he likes it. He better put a ring on it. And that im saving myself for marriage.we did slip tho but definitely dont want to again. He puts no pressure. But we are human. My question is. How do we resist temptation w/o staying apart? And how long to wait b4 tying the knot. Weve ben dating two months. But we both want the same thing an sex is not even a reason we both just seem to want the same life. Wana please God and want a long term partner. .is tht enough?

  • The Porch

    Ken –

    Our heart is to never be hypocritical but to align ourselves with what scripture teaches regardless of the circumstances. The issue with unmarried, grown women and men living together becomes two-fold:

    1. It creates a temptation that God’s word says to “flee from sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6).
    2. It also creates an appearance of immorality and the Bible is clear to not “quench the Spirit” and “reject every kind of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5).

    We’re so grateful for those like you who wrestle with these topics and look for truth in Scripture. The questions we always have to come back to are: Do we believe the gospel to be true? Do we believe that Christ died for ALL our sins? If so, how can we BEST live for Him?

    Please feel free to email us if you have any further questions so we can follow up with you. Thanks!

  • Brent

    A wise person once told me, “when you have a question concerning ANYTHING, ask yourself ‘what brings God the most glory?'”.

    It applies here without a doubt.

    Someone will say…
    “but if I stay together I will probably lead them to Christ” – hopefully, but understand you’re trying to lead someone to Christ by disobeying Christ (2 Cor. 6:14-15).

    “I know people who lived together before marriage and their marriage is flourishing” – and their relationship with Christ is suffering (1 Thes. 4:3-8). How many years will you be with your spouse? How many do you intend to be with God?

    “the only area they are missing ‘being like Christ’ in dating is that we have sex, but sex will be okay if we get married” – they have one sin now, they’ll have one sin then. If sex is more valuable than obeying God, it is an idol. An idols don’t go away because of a marriage certificate; they only transform into another passion/object. That one sin will lead to death (James 1:13-15).

  • Dre

    What if you are dating someone who already has a child? I mean I have no problem with being a parent in fact it even kind of comes naturally but the thought of living together is always in my head even though we are not yet married, however marriage is a goal we both agree upon. And is it ok to live together when you are engaged?

  • "Bob"

    When I moved here almost 2 years ago, my many broken relationships and failed marriage led me to ReGeneration. Before I even knew ReGeneration would ask me not to date for a year, I decided to take a year off anyway. One of the first lessons I walked into at WM was Adam Tarnow teaching on the $30K/Millionaire. Quickly God convicted me of my own misuse of His providence for my life. Looking inwardly on this subject helped me understand outwardly the grip that materialism has on the vanity that people often pursue in dating/marriage. From the statistics that Adam shared toward the end of the series, I performed my own calculation that narrowed down once very simply and devastating realization.

    Roughly, less than 5% of girls who go to the Porch are pursuing the heart of God with the money He has blessed them with. And the guys at roughly 2-3%.

    I learned that if I’m selfish financially, and pursue the Dallas Culture, I am by no means ready to pursue a relationship that would also honor Christ.

    If Men are to follow Christ’s example, to love their wives as He Loves the Church, we should abstain from dating long enough to be intentional about getting married, “go to prepare a place” for our brides, and be out of debt, or pursuing that freedom; all the while investing our resources and time consistently to the kingdom where neither moth or rust destroy.

  • Ken

    I would say in an ideal world these are the expectations that should be the model. I do think there are extenuating circumstances that might allow for some bending to those rules. I understand that living with your gf/bf isn’t the ideal situation to be in but some situations don’t leave a lot of choices. I find it to be a bit hypocritical that these ideas are being put on Christians when pre Christian couples lived together, later becoming followers of Christ and are flourishing in their relationships. I also don’t find any biblical references that deal with this situation.