When is it the right time to leave a relationship? We’re talking about a dating relationship, before it leads to marriage. The Bible says there is a “season for everything under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3) And a few of those seasons described, tell us there is:
“a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain. There is a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, and a time to tear and a time to mend. There is a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.“
Is There a Time to Leave a Dating Relationship?
But when is it the right time or “season” to leave a dating relationship? It’s a difficult decision to make. This is especially difficult when your beginning days together were so enjoyable. They showed promise that your union could fulfill so many of your hopes and dreams. You wonder if your relationship could ever grow into something good again if you just kept persevering.
If you had the answer to that question at your fingertips, wouldn’t life be easier? That’s especially true if you have the courage to carry out what you know you should, after you’ve received this wisdom.
God’s Amazing Grace
Years ago when my husband and I were dating and eventually became serious about each other, we struggled with this very decision. We were both young and immature (although if you had asked us, we would never have thought so). But looking back we both marvel that we were able to stay together to eventually marry. We fought so much, and neither of us were good at resolving conflict in healthy ways.
We both call it GOD’S AMAZING GRACE, that He helped us to grow past the nonsense that we each brought into our relationship. God has been faithful in helping us to grow and mature, to firmly hold onto Him and to each other. And He continues to help us, and teach us to be the married couple He ordained that we should be in this mission called marriage.
So for us, it has been a good thing that we didn’t leave our relationship when we could have. But that isn’t true for many, many other couples that are dating. Some relationships are toxic. One or both “partners” isn’t ready for marriage. Or one isn’t suited to marry the other, or one or the other (or both) shouldn’t marry anyone for different reasons.
Separating Wheat from Chaff
Obviously, the best time thing is not to even enter into any type of relationship with someone who isn’t ready to commit (when you are in that stage of your life).
But when you love this person that you are conflicted with, you don’t want to consider that you could be “blind” to the potential problems ahead. You want to believe that somehow your relationship can be salvaged. And you certainly don’t want to be hasty and make a wrong decision. No one wants to go through the trauma of breaking up with someone you care about because of the pain involved.
To help you to figure out if he or she is the marrying kind, Gary Thomas wrote a great article that we encourage you to read:
• 6 Signs He or She Isn’t Marriage Material
Even with these “signs” that Gary referred to, it’s still difficult to make the choice to stay or separate. It can bring a lot of inner turmoil. You want to do what is right but our feelings are tangled up in all of it.
To Stay, Or Separate
“It’s no wonder the choice to stay or separate causes so much inner indecision … especially for Christian men and women. Not only is it utterly life changing, particularly when the relationship is long term. But there are so many thoughts, emotions, and rationalizations that play into both staying put and walking away. We may feel guilt about leaving, fear of being alone, and conflicting feelings of love, anger, resentment, discontent, and every other sentiment under the sun.
“…For all these reasons, many people push the thought of leaving from their minds, instead resigning themselves to a life of less love, joy, and spiritual/personal fulfillment than they deserve.” (Nichole Williams)
To help you in this dilemma, Hope gives you some guidance we encourage you to prayerfully read and consider:
• As a Christian Man or Woman,
When Should You Walk Away from a Relationship?
Sometimes we risk and give more when we stay in a love relationship than we really should. And often times, God tries to get our attention to warn and sometimes stop us from continuing on in a toxic relationship.
Hudson Russell Davis writes about this in a series of articles titled “On Being Hindered” posted on Crosswalk.com. He writes about the distain he’s always had for “God’s barriers, His hindrances to relationships and the hedges He placed there.” And then he wrote:
“I hated letting go of someone that seemed so wonderful, never mind those things that were there to hinder me. But I came to revel in them. In the not so distant past, I did my best to go around these hindrances; anything but simply take them as they are and dare I say —wait.”
But eventually God showed him that there were good reasons for the hindrances he was encountering. And it made him reconsider his stand on this issue.
He came to the place of realizing:
“There is no doubt that sin is involved in human affairs and false ideas may help shape loneliness. Your desires may come from a desire to belong and to gain in this world a symbol of success —marriage. You may even crave a person simply because they present to you an opportunity to fit in, to belong, or to overcome the awkward feelings of singleness. You may desire someone because they fit the image you have constructed without really knowing that person.
“A person may be perfect on paper. But no one marries paper —at least no one should. That person may be perfect in dreams but life is not lived in dreams. They may have desirable qualities but nothing is sure until you walk down the aisle and say, “I do.” Until then, do not ignore the various ways in which God offers advice—the many ways in which he hinders.”
To read more of what God taught Mr Davis (and could teach you as well), please click onto the Crosswalk.com link:
In Part 2, Mr Davis states:
“God just may introduce obstacles or obstructions in the path you choose. He may look to hinder a relationship, to prevent or stymie the relationship. And He does all this in love.
“Ask the divorced, the abandoned, the discontent, or the hopelessly married, and they will tell you that there were signs, obstacles and hindrances they ignored. Though loneliness is not inviting, there is worse. If He hinders you, be hindered. If he places obstacles in the path of this or that relationship, HEED them.”
That’s part of the advice Hudson Russell Davis gives in the next article he wrote on this subject. To learn more, please read this Crosswalk.com article:
In Part 3:
Mr Davis writes about the “what if’s and the way they can haunt us. They can cause us to come to the point of wondering if these hinderances should be heeded:
“What if this IS the person for me? And what if I’m just too wounded to let myself be loved?”
“What if I am just too picky?”
“What if she is serious about changing?”
“And what if I never find someone else?”
“What if this is all in my head?”
Have you been haunted by these and other “what if’s?” If so, please read:
In Part 4, Mr Davis writes:
“Usually, the real issue is that though the spirit is willing the flesh is weak. Loneliness makes fighters of us all. And when it comes to giving up what we want—we are like a dog whose food is threatened. We growl though our master seeks to save us from harm.
“To the lonely heart it hardly matters if the relationship is worth fighting for. It hardly matters the pain and strife it brings. To the lonely heart it matters only that there IS a relationship to fight for and that on the other side is the gaping abyss of loneliness. Loneliness makes fighters of us all.”
Sometimes a person will battle with God along the way on their “path toward decision.” But in doing so, there can be loss on many different levels if you ignore God’s ultimate will for your life. To learn more, please read this Crosswalk.com article:
In Part 5, Hudson makes the point:
“There are no easy answers. But the reasons for staying in a relationship are the same for leaving a relationship. Staying is dependent on that person being an aide to your higher goals. Do they love God, love you, and love others?”
To learn more, please read this Crosswalk.com article:
If you have come to the end of this article and you are still doubting your relationship, whether you should stay in or leave it, then something is wrong. Either you are in denial about doing what deep down you know you should do, and you are stretching the pain further along, or you need to go further and get some good, godly counsel. You need to talk to someone who is impartial who doesn’t have an agenda in whether you stay in the relationship or leave it. Sometimes we heed someone who is wise to help give us that extra push to do what is best.
The fact that you are still laboring over leaving a dating relationship to this degree speaks volumes. It wouldn’t be a stretch for me to say that you are definitely not ready to marry this person at this time. Because if you did, the foundation of commitment would not be there. Your commitment should be steadfast and immovable.
You will encounter many storms if you marry. That is part of marriage and a part of life. The marriages that have staying power are those where both partners have the tenacity to hold on despite the storms that assault them.
Get the godly counsel you need and get off the fence on this matter. “How much better it is to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen above silver.” (Proverbs 16:16)
Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this article.
More from Marriage Missions
Filed under: Single Yet Preparing
19 responses to “When Is It The Right Time to Leave a Dating Relationship?”
(BAHAMAS) I think I need deliverance because I don’t want to be the center of other marriages.
(USA) Sadly too many continue to follow this advice after they are married. If they are hindered, instead of working through the issues, they take it as a “sign” “God” must not have meant for them to marry, so they should get a divorce.
(SOUTH AFRICA) A week ago I broke up with someone I believed that God said would my husband. The relationship started with sexual sin and during the 20 months we were together we made plans about our future,we even named the children we would have together. I decided to be baptised and then everything changed within me, I could no longer ignore what happend at Calvary.
Honestly, when the fruit of the tree we planted stated blooming, I ignored them and thought I can make right what we did wrong. These fruits were fights (about the same thing-sex), lack of trust, selfishness and tempatations outside of our relationship.
Then it finally hit me, I have to leave all (my life, my sins, my heartaches) at the cross to experience the true Joy of God in Jesus Christ, for me. I know its only been a week, but my spirit feels relieved and I know there is a lot of praying I must do, for God’s healing over my heart and I’m trusting him for that. If it is God’s will for us to be together, it will happen on his standards and commandments and not on the standards of the world.
(USA) Good for you Capone. The will of God is good for you. Keep on praying and God will show you which way to go. May God bless you for choosing to leave the sinful arrangement you had. I know it’s very difficult to leave someone you have been intimate with but it’s possible if we rely on God.
Pleasing God rather than men is the best way to go. It works all the time for me. There is joy in the ways of God if you are patient enough to witness it!
(GHANA) Please help, l am in a relationship with a seventh day adventist. I love him but won’t want to attend his church and the rules attached. Must I leave this relationship on this basis?
(USA) Well, it depends. My husband (boyfriend at that time) was a Seventh Day Adventist and I was a Catholic. I suggest you go there once and be open minded. I’m not exactly sure if you are a Christian or not, but if are, you need to ask God to show you the way. Your decision should be base on how much you love him, and if you are willing to compromise.
I did, however, eventually became a SDA member because I found the truth. If you have been trying to seek the truth, maybe God is using him to show you the truth. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. In my opinion, if this man treats you the way you should be treated, and if the only issue/concern is regarding his religion, then I believe that you should stay. Having a man who is God fearing is one that is to be treasure because it’s hard to find one nowadays.
Also, if he loves you he should not force you to go to church, but encourages you instead. In the end, it’s your salvation and your decisions
(GHANA) You said you love the guy but you don’t want to attend his church because of rules attached!! What rules? Not wearing earings or trousers? Is it love & happiness that you want or rules!! If you don’t like his church you can still go to your church If you guys get married it’s an agreement. You can take my contact if you like. Adventist guys are real blessings.
(S.AFRICA) Dear Bernie, I am a Seventh Day Adventist. When I married my husband I was a member of the Anglican Church and he was a Seventh Day Adventist. As time went by and I studied the Bible for myself I adopted the truth and God has blessed our marriage and family abundantly.
May you be open to discuss and study for yourself and receive the richest blessing in your life. You will be in my prayers.
(USA) I wish I had found this article years ago. In my youth, I used to take heed to the signs and then family (mama) told me I didn’t give people a chance and that no one is perfect. I knew that no one was perfect but I also knew how I should be treated in my relationships. Things changed when I ignored the flags and started giving my so called relationships chance after chance.
Now, I’m literally stuck with someone who has a little bit of every negative relationship I ever had. Being lonely looks a lot better now than the space I share at home with someone who doesn’t care one bit about me! Now, I’m married so I have to just stay in prayer and continue to do what is right in front of God. Next time, I will listen and be happy to be in my own company and in my space ALONE.
(GHANA) My boyfriend and I are planning to marry next year. He has a child who is an infant. My problem is that he’s not into pre marriage counseling and thinks that he knows it all –that marriage is all about love and not somebody telling you to do this and don’t do that. He works far away from home. What do I do because I believe that marriage is not only about love.
(USA) Rhoda, just a suggestion but, do not set a date until he agrees to Pre marital counseling. It reveals A LOT. There could be deeper issues there, that he’s hiding or doesn’t want to resurface. You want to know as much about each other as possible so there aren’t any “surprises” later on after the wedding. No one can know it all. The Bible says to have a teachable spirit. If not, there’s only room for pride which is the cousin of arrogance.
(GHANA) Thanks very much, Kim.
(UGANDA) Hi all, I’m writting this is desperation as my marriage is about to end in a couple of hours. My husband and I have had problems since day one and I’m being really honest when I say day one. Do you know the “honeymoon” phase everybody talks about? Well, I don’t know that feeling. I’m stuck, but so far I feel it’s for the best if I leave cause I just feel that I can no longer carry on. Advise please.
Dear Lost, This article is for those who haven’t married yet. Why do you think you can “no longer carry on” in this marriage? And how long have you been married?
(USA) How long do I stay in a marriage with a man who has cheated many times, both sexually and emotionally, came “clean” when confronted, was “good” for 2 years and then started sex-texting with other women? Our marriage is not a sex-less marriage and I have changed myself physically to try to please him… apparently to no avail.
I do not love him anymore. I am finally ready to re-claim who I am. I have stayed in the marriage for the benefit of our 3 teenage children, but I can no longer carry on this lie. This is the only time I finally have a peace about leaving and becoming who I am as God made me. Any suggestions?
(Somewhere) I have been in a relationship for the past 4 yrs and after a yr we started a premarital sex, which is not biblical. It lead to pregnancy which I aborted. Due to the abortion I want to break the relationship but I still love the guy. Please advise me; I am confused.
Dear All, The information in this page is very good, but I couldn’t find ON BEING HINDERED – Part 5. When I click the link, it opens to a page titled “The Opportunity of Valentine’s Day”. Is it correct? If not please make it correct so that we can get more counseling. Thank you.
Thanks Nini, for pointing this out to us. We fixed the link so you can now view it. We hope it helps :)
I’ve been in a relationship for 3 years; my spiritual leaders felt something was wrong, that I should go do a re-think but I felt I knew it all and had already made up my mind. Didn’t listen, even when what they said is true; he has cheated up to 4 times not really having sex with others because of the distance he had with these people, though if he had gotten the chance he would have (saw text messages of how he’s single and then I wonder who I am to him). The last was in December when I found out. This relationship got me into an addiction and am still asking God for help.
Traveled home December 31st and when I returned I planned breaking up with him. To my surprise he called me yesterday and said we should put the relationship aside and be friends. Been crying, but I see God’s hand in this; God knows if I do the breaking up it will be hard for me because I love this person so much.
Please remember me in your prayers, that God should take whatever addiction away and revive me back to him.