Jan 082014 29 Responses

Dating to Break Up: A Unique Perspective

Dating advice coming from me is like a Kardashian speaking at a convention on poverty. Generally one should only speak on a topic with which they have experience. When it comes to dating, I have very little experience. The only person I ever really dated was Jenny. There might have been other girls, but even a judge would have a tough time deciding if we ever actually dated. He would have to determine the technical definition of a date and I doubt any witnesses would admit to having gone out with me. So I only have one experience. Of course another way to look at it is that I’m one for one, batting 1000. Either way, I have some advice.

Jenny and I dated with a perspective which I think was valuable. Many look at the dating process and believe Christians should not engage in it. I understand this thought. I was of dating age when I Kissed Dating Goodbye was published. (Part of me wants to title this blog post, “I Frenched-Kissed Dating Hello” but it would be an out-of-date reference). Yet dating is the culture in which we live and for those who aren’t looking for alternative way to find romance, I would have one piece of advice:

Date with the assumption that you will break-up.

It seems counter-intuitive. It’s the last advice I would give to someone getting married. Never marry with the idea you will divorce, but do date with the idea that the relationship will not last. It’s simple statistics. Most people date several people before getting married. My story is the rare story. Chances are, you will date several people before you date your spouse. Since that is the case, you should always begin a relationship assuming it will end. You can always change your mind (but you shouldn’t do so too quickly).


Jenny & I in college at a fundraiser, 1999.

When Jenny and I started dating (October 6, 1998 and there is no way she would remember the date) she was emphatic she would not have a serious relationship her senior year of college (See: On George Straight, a First Kiss, and Seminary Women or A Preacher’s Wife). Her plans were big. She would travel, explore and experience the world before she settled down with someone. Her perspective caused me to assume we wouldn’t date after graduation.

The Danger of Assuming a Relationship Will Make It

Most people go into a relationship wondering if this is the one (as if there is “the one.” If you think there is just one person for you, read Happy Valentine’s Day, You’re Not My Soul-Mate). Several problems develop from entering into a relationship assuming it will work:

You move too quick both physically and emotionally. Instead of guarding one’s heart, many people enter into a relationship and far too quickly test the relationship by giving away their heart. They move too quickly both physically and emotionally. The physical connection clouds one’s thinking and makes building an honest friendship (they key to a healthy relationship) difficult. The emotional speed is often one-sided and unhealthy.

You lose your ability to see things critically. By approaching a relationship from a “I assume it will work” mindset, one loses their ability to properly judge people and events. The viability of a relationship is often determined by one’s desire for a relationship instead of the actual person. The more one party desires love, the more likely they are too see love. This causes them to overlook major problems and flaws.

You may scare off potential mates. Studies have shown that people are often more attracted to people who are less attracted toward them. By assuming the relationship will be long-lasting, we are more likely to smother a potential mate rather than attract them. (Note: if someone quickly makes you the sole object of their affection—run. If they quickly make you their everything, they will likely expect you to always be their everything. As great as marriage is, no spouse can be everything to the other.)

Dating With the End In Mind

Assuming that a relationship will end is not the same as what some do by sabotaging every relationship. The former is born from health while the latter is born from sickness. Some sabotage every relationship because they are afraid to get close to anyone. They assume they will never have a healthy relationship and it often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Dating with the assumption the relationship will end is a different perspective. When Jenny and I began dating, I told her that whenever we both got married, I wanted to be proud of the relationship we had. My hope is that we would both be able to tell our spouses about our dating relationship without shame. You should date for several reasons:

Date to have fun. The most obvious reason to date is to enjoy the experience. We were not created to be alone. Experiencing life with someone else is enjoyable. Too often when someone dates with the assumption the relationship will last, they miss this aspect of dating. Everything is so serious that they never have fun. Early dates in a relationship should be about having fun.

Date to learn. Another reason people should date is to learn how to interact with the opposite sex. We are not created with an innate understanding of the opposite sex. It’s a learned experience. Dating can provide opportunities to learn about ourselves and others. This can give valuable insight before the marriage relationship.

Date to find. By dating a variety of people, someone can find the qualities which are important for them in a future spouse and which qualities do not matter as much. Many people have a list of what they do and don’t want in a future spouse. Often times those lists include things that do not truly matter. Dating will help clarify what does matter.

The Benefit of Assuming a Relationship Will End

Dating with the assumption that the relationship will end has several benefits. Here are a few:

You move more slowly both physically and emotionally. If you know the relationship will end, you are far less likely to give your heart or body to the person. Slowing down the physical and emotional aspects of the relationship would strengthen the dating process. Friendship should always be the primary focus early in a relationship. (See: Pastoral Advice for Single Women)

You evaluate things more fairly. By assuming the relationship will end, you are more likely to see the good and the bad. You have no reason to downplay flaws or overlook negative qualities. This will improve the decision making process of picking a spouse.

You are more likely to date more than one person. If I could change the High School dating culture in one way, this might be the first change. Many teenagers start dating just one person far too early. This limits their experience and causes the relationship to progress far too quickly. Instead of dating one person exclusively, more people could benefit from dating multiple people. (Of course this should always be out in the open and never with deception.)

(Bonus benefit) You appear more attractive. Emotional health is attractive. Being emotionally healthy enough to date others without being in desperate need of their love will actually make you more attractive to others. It’s not our main desire, but it doesn’t hurt.

This Is Especially True in High School

While I would recommend this approach at the beginning of all relationships, I would especially recommend this mindset for relationships before college. Few people truly marry their high school sweethearts. I can only think of two couples from the time I was in high school who are married to each other. High school is not the time to find a spouse; it’s the time to learn, have fun, and do nothing which will greatly hurt your future. Dating with the assumption you will break-up can be a more healthy way to date. Even early in college this approach might work best. Some might reach a point in life in which the only reason they want to date is to find a spouse. If that is the case, they may not choose this method, even though I believe it is the best approach to take.

Change Your Mind

Most relationships do not make it past seven months. It’s possible this is a natural time frame in which we can change our perspective from assuming the relationship will end to exploring if it might work. While there are always exceptions, I would strongly hesitate making this switch before the seven month period. Until then, assume the relationship will end. Have fun, be smart, protect your heart, learn, and wait for the day in which you are surprised with the relationship that did not end. For more, see: The Single Life and Valentine’s Day What to Look for In a Mate What to do Right When You’ve Already Done Wrong

29 Responses to Dating to Break Up: A Unique Perspective
  1. Greg Reply

    Sweet suspenders

  2. Lindsey Kennedy Reply

    Love this! This is what Nick and I kind of did as well (although we were YOUNG – 15 & 17). He was graduating high school that year, and I just assumed that when he went to college, that would be the end. It worked well for us! This summer we’ll have been married nine years, together 15. In August, we’ll have been together exactly half of my life.

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  5. […] Dating can be a wonderful experience. We can learn about the opposite sex, relationships, and most i... kevinathompson.com/dont-blame-god
  6. dennyneff Reply

    I’m just now getting around to reading this via reading another Blog post “Don’t Blame God When You Break Up With Your Boyfriend” though I’ve never had a boyfriend. In my first relationship (high school) I was more into her than she was into me. We only went on a couple of “date” dates, the others were the hanging out with friends type. A couple of years later while serving in the Army, I met my wife. I was stationed at Fort Chaffee from May-August 1970 so our dating was most definitely one of the “It’s Going to End” type of relationships. We didn’t really start dating until the last six weeks of that period. But almost as soon as we started going out I knew she was the one and she did as well. In the latter part of August, when I knew I was leaving at the end of the month she said “I’m going to come with you when you leave” and that set the wheels of matrimony in motion. I said something profound like “I guess we’re going to have to get married then”. On the 1st of September, the day after my last official date of being assigned to Fort Chaffee and the day before I was to return to my permanent assigned duty station at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, we were married at the Central City Freewill Baptist Church, five miles east of Fort Smith. That was over 43 years ago. In those six weeks we had years worth of conversations. If I wasn’t working at my job, I was at the cafe where she worked and when neither was working, we were together. It was a magical summer and I felt like we compressed years worth of living into those six weeks. That summer she gave me her heart and I gave her mine. Since she has given me two beautiful children, a boy and girl, who in turn have given us five wonderful grandchildren. Our lives have been filled with years of loving; laughing and crying; good times; hard times but always times with love. We’ve been together two thirds of our lives. She’s made our home in San Antonio, Wurzburg Germany, San Francisco, Denver and the greater Fort Smith area. Making memories and dreams everywhere we called home. We have defied the odds and predictions of friends and family alike (some of whom didn’t think we would last 6 months).

    Your advise is good and wise, but sometimes God does intervene and I believe ordain two people to serve His purpose and plan and when we obey He gives us great and wonderful gifts. Thank you Pastor for taking me back to the time of dating, and falling in love, and just knowing we were supposed to be together.

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  9. Ron Reply

    How realistic is this for women? I can see it for some men, but to expect a woman to not get romantically involved when she’s going out on romantic dates? Just seems to me that many, perhaps most, women aren’t built that way.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Ron, I guess it depends on what you mean by romantic. I’m not saying you can’t have feelings for someone. I’m simply saying the reality that the relationship will likely end should influence how we act. Early in our relationship I told Jenny, “one day I want to proudly tell my wife I dated you.”

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  15. Aena Reply

    Hi kevin!
    I am from India
    I am glad to know that you are helping people through internet. You doing great. God bless your soul !
    In my case we broke up 6 months ago. *he broke up. I chased him for a month, then he told me that dating me was a mistake and I am scaring him, right from then I blocked him from everywhere, (unblocked him later though) but till now I haven’t contacted him. The reason he gave me for the break up was that he love me but not interested in me anymore, and the relationship is suffocating and that it will be good for me too to end this toxic relationship. He said that he has now realised that the relationship has been ended long before. We are just dragging it. I never thought he’d leave. Sinxmcr I blocked him he also never tried to contact me. We ignore each other. I THINK he is seeing someone else. But I still want him back. I have been trying to move on but it seems like I can never achieve in it. Our mutuals tells me that he ignores even talking about me in a very bad way. But I want to get him back. I am afraid to text him, like what should I text? Or should I contact him again? What all should I do to get him back

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Just off of the information you have shared, I would move on. I wouldn’t try to get him back.

  16. May Reply

    Hey Kevin, my partner and I (together for 5 years he’s 25 and I’m 24) broke up one month ago and since I have not been able to successfully implement a no contact period. Our relationship was going through a rough patch and we had a huge argument which ended with him heatedly yelling he never wanted to see me again. I went to a party that night and got drunk and a work colleague kissed me. I never told him because I disregarded it as nothing and I didn’t want to spark his sensitive anger issues. He found out on facebook when the guy messaged me about it. Our workplace is hospitality 200 staff aged 18-25 mainly and rumours fly around like crazy. It’s ultimately ended in people saying we slept together which is absolutely false. However hospitality and the immaturity of my work mates is toxic and I realise I need to get away from that.

    However my partner believed it, he’d been messaging another girl (we’ll call her Amanda) for a couple of months before we broke up venting about how stressed he was (with a 60 hour work week due to opening a new business and bouncing at the club). It’s been one month and obviously I want hi back, I haven’t successfully been able to implement a no contact period. However he did tell me he has been having sex and hanging out with the “Amanda” and he did it to make himself feel better and she’s attractive. He apologised for sleeping with her and then went on to tell me it’s not as special as it is with me. He’s still very angry and hurt and has “Amanda” in his ear saying she would never do that and that I’m a piece of trash talking to all her friends and his friends about me.

    What do I do? He shows signs of wanting me back but also flips a switch and is so hurt and angry he says the opposite. What do I do to get him back and make sure he doesn’t fall in love with “Amanda”? She hangs out at his business, asks him to go over to her house, facebook’s him, texts him, goes to the club he works at every weekend. Not to mention she is stunning!! Very made up with a lot of make up, hair dye and designer clothes, like Stella Maxwell looking but not as good and her personality sucks. Please help me!! We’d talked about marriage, kids and growing old together, I still want that!!

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      See if he will go to counseling with you. Have a professional assist you through the process of seeing how or if to move forward.

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  19. Prachi Reply

    Hi Kevin, I and my boyfriend were into relationship for more than 3 years. Suddenly he called up and said we can’t be together and never disclosed any reason. After that, I kept calling him to come back but he refuses and keeps yelling that he is happy that he is single now and he doesn’t want to date anybody right now. I really don’t understand what went wrong. I plead and begged but every time he throws his tantrums on me. He, in fact, blocked me 2-3 times but after pleading he again unblocks me on calls as well on social sites. He straight away said don’t call him back, again and again, let me live my life. I really love him but I need help to get him back. Please help me!

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      I don’t think you can get him back. Sadly, I think you need to let him go.

  20. Rach Reply

    My bf broke up with me a month ago (after 3 yrs of friendship and 2.5 years of relationship, although our relationshp lacked communication because we wer in a long distance for 1.5 years during the relationship, we loved each other even after that and he waited for me to come back). He always talked about our future and everything. And lately for a month he kept on talking about that I don’t want to get married and on the other hand that when we will marry we will do this.. he seemed confused and afraid of marriages as his sister and few near ones were getting separated. And our relationship is working bcz we hardly communicate.. and also that I m not a man who can be in a relationship ( as he failed in his past two so he always compare our with that, I always promised him that I m never gonna leave u)
    And I didn’t ask him anything that day after that and followed no contact and he called after a month but he simply asked that what happened why didn’t u call or text. I don’t want to talk about marriage that doesn’t mean our friendship is over.. I said that I need sometime to get over it. He said ok take your time and then he called me twice again the same day.. but I didn’t pick up bcz I was afraid and didn’t want to cry on phone. And two days later I texted him saying that “I will get back to you after sometime when I will be over you. And also if communication was the issue you could have just discussed with me and we could have talked more because I always saw us together and would have done anything for you but its ok if you don’t want just give me sometime”.
    Since We both were focused on our careers so we both neglected whenever the other asked to communicate more. And thought that anyway we will marry. Whether we talk or not.. we both discussed that no matter how much we talk or give time but we will stay together in future.

    And now I regret I should have accepted his friendship.. I know he is very emotional but since last one year he isn’t showing me his emotional side. And I think that he loves me but just afraid of marriages right now that’s why he gave up, he did that twice earlier but we sorted it and he came back. But this time I felt that I can’t force him to be with me.. but since the day he has called I feel that may be he wants me in his life atleast as a friend and may be more sometime later..
    Can I get him back? What should I do?


  21. TJ Reply

    Ok me and my girlfriend of 5 years have been broken up for 3-4 months thus far. It ended with a communication problem. She didn’t agree with the decision I made, and we separated. It wasn’t ideal, it’s not what I wanted she says it’s not what she wanted but being that I was going to another city I couldn’t fight like I wanted to because it happened over text. We haven’t been speaking often, I contact her she replies dry but being that she has ignored me before I’ll take the reply. She even returns my calls now but idk if that’s a good thing. It’s kind of hard to know if I’m making progress or not, I just need your help. She’s always wanted space so that we can get ourselves together, I never wanted it. I just want help and I’ll do anything to get help with this

  22. Caroline Reply

    HI KEVIN. My fiance broke up w/my anout 5 months ago. There were complicated reasons for the breakup, in some ways I think he didnt want to end. But relationship did have issues. We were together for 8 yrs. He has said that we werent happy. I just found out that he a new woman and she is pregnant. Just so you know we are both in our early 40s.

  23. Jesse L Reply

    Hey Kevin. Very interesting statistics.

    I recently broke up with my GF of 2 years. We both love each other and had a very smooth relationship. It just ended suddenly, yet she still tells me she loves me. It’s just so confusing and I was just wondering if you could email me back and maybe give me a few tips on how to move forward. Of course I am focusing on myself but It just doesn’t seem to all add up

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Think of a relationship much like an addiction. There are withdrawal symptoms but every time you reconnect, the process starts over. Go cold turkey–no contact, no communication, etc.

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