Skip to content ↓

Seven Steps To a Good Breakup

Seven Steps To a Good Breakup

Not every relationship works out. Not every couple who begins dating ends up getting married. Neither should they. In fact, for a dating relationship to be healthy, there must be a way out. As Sam Andreades says, “If you are not able to end a dating relationship, you should never start one.” And so, “Before the day you say I do, you always have to be able to say, I don’t. In your heart, you must be able to not date, even if you really want to.”

In his book Dating with Discernment he offers seven steps to breaking up well.

Break up with bravery. To break up bravely is to determine that you will not remain in an unhealthy or unworkable relationship out of fear or cowardice. If the relationship is simply not working, not enjoyable, or not progressing, the brave thing is to call it off.

Talk in person. Though this may seem obvious in the abstract, in the moment it can seem easier to end things in a way in which you do not need to face the other person. Yet we are always called to treat people with love and this will most often mean refusing the temptation to break up by text message or phone call; it will most often mean breaking up face to face.

Honor the other person with gratitude. As you break up, it honors the other person to affirm them and express gratitude for them. And there will almost always be a number of ways to encourage them and express thankfulness. Though a breakup will probably require expressing some of the other person’s weaknesses and faults, there is no reason it shouldn’t also express some of their strengths and graces.

Be direct. You ought to be humble, of course, but humility does not require hiding or obfuscating the real reasons you don’t wish to continue the relationship. Don’t ghost the other person and don’t fail to tell the truth about why the relationship is not working out.

Deliver a vision of hope. It can be wise and good to include a vision of a brighter future for the other person. Though you will need to guard against sounding trite, “It is not insincere to express hope for his life, or to describe your faith in God about her, if you really do believe that there is a better plan for both your lives.”

End it with definiteness. A breakup ought to be a breakup. For sake of clarity and out of love for the other person, it is usually best to end the relationship with a kind of definiteness that means you will not keep texting as you did before or keep seeing each other as “just friends.” It could be best to agree not to be in contact for an agreed-upon number of months to help ensure the break is clean and that there is no confusion.

Take time to heal. A breakup could be very easy on you or very hard. You could breathe a sigh of relief or you could be emotionally devastated. At the very least it is bound to be a disappointment. Proverbs says “Hope deferred makes the heart sick,” and breaking up means you are deferring the hope of marriage. It is important, then, to give yourself some time to grieve and your heart some time to heal.

Though these steps don’t cover every person or every circumstance, they are wise guidelines that can help you end relationships in a way that honors God and expresses love for that person you cared about, but simply couldn’t marry.


  • A Whole Batch of New Books for Kids

    A Whole Batch of New Books for Kids

    Every month I put together a roundup of new and notable books for grownup readers. But I also receive a lot of books for kids and like to put together the occasional roundup of these books as well. So today I bring you a whole big batch of new books for kids

  • A La Carte Thursday 1

    A La Carte (June 13)

    A La Carte: Were the earliest Christians illiterate? / Our new religion isn’t enough / Why do evil and suffering exist? / The missing ingredient in too many marriages / Is Genesis literal or allegorical? / The death of fear / and more.

  • Tear Down Build Up

    It’s Easier to Tear Down than Build Up

    In my travels, I encountered a man whose work is demolition. When buildings are old and decrepit, or even when they just need to be removed to make way for others, his job is to destroy them and haul them away. New or old, big or small, plain or fancy—it makes no difference to him.…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (June 12)

    A La Carte: Does Bach’s music prove the existence of God? / Living from approval, not for approval / A surprising test of true faith / Do you have the support you need to grow? / Who was the “black Spurgeon?” / and more.

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (June 11)

    A La Carte: The blessing of constant curiosity / Church discipline in the digital age / Don’t be too easy to join / Body matters in Genesis / The local church is a sandbox / Seasons in a pastor’s life / and more.

  • Trusting Jesus in The Public Square 

    This week the blog is sponsored by Moody Publishers. Parents have a biblical responsibility to protect their children not only from physical harm but also from spiritual harm. It is entirely appropriate and right for a parent to wrestle with whether they want to allow their child to continue to have a friendship with a…