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:
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:
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.
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Filed under: Single Yet Preparing