8 Guidelines for Breaking up with Him

I still remember how it felt, standing in the basement hallway after Wednesday night youth group, awkwardly and tearfully ending my relationship with my boyfriend. It was as altogether awful as my seventeen-year-old self could’ve expected—but it didn’t end there. The following weeks turned into a bumpy, gravely road of maybe-we’ll-get-back-together texts and I-miss-you notes.

My heart was limping and wavering, and though it was the right decision to end that relationship, I lost all my resolve to stand firm in my reasoning. Confusion, sadness, and a paranoid worry of someone else snatching him up clouded my mind.

His friendship had defined my identity for more than a year, and his sweetness made me feel ridiculously secure. But I could see the red flags flapping in the wind; I knew the right step was a breakup. My stomach wretched at the thought.

So began the confusing explanation of “We need to take a break because this isn’t best for us right now, even though I’m so upset I can hardly breathe, and maybe we’ll be able to date again in the future, and so I think we should keep talking and stay friends.”

It was messy. It didn’t make sense. We didn’t break up well. So armed with regrettably bad breakup experience, I’m here to offer you these eight do’s and don’ts when it comes to ending a relationship. These aren’t hard-and-fast rules to abide by; they’re lessons to help you seek God’s best, cope with heartache, and treat a guy’s heart with honor.

1. Don’t let guilt rule the day.

There’s no way around it—ending a relationship feels like you’re dumping an icy bucket of rejection over a guy’s head. The guilt can be crippling.

I still remember the tears that fell down his cheeks. Talk about gut-wrenching.

But guilt over hurting a guy’s feelings shouldn’t manipulate you to change your mind or avoid telling the truth. It might break your heart that you’re breaking his heart, but hold firm to what’s best for you both. If you shouldn’t be together, you simply shouldn’t be together. Heartbreak will be part of the process; you don’t need to crumble under the weight of guilt.

It’s not wrong to break up with someone. You can trust God to heal his wounds when you do.

My friend Paula offers wise counsel on this subject: Trust God with a guy’s broken heart. (Where were these glorious and freeing words when I was seventeen?)

It’s not wrong to break up with someone. You can trust God to heal his wounds when you do. And when the enemy tries to strangle you with guilt, keep dropping it before God in faith.

2. Speak the tough truth.

It’s easier to say, “Something just doesn’t feel right,” rather than saying, “I see some red flags in your character, so we need to break things off.”

Be straightforward, and tell the truth. If your relationship is totally distracting you from Jesus, tell him that. If he has treated you in an emotionally abusive manner, tell him that. If your relationship has veered down a sinful path, tell him that’s the reason you need to end it.

Don’t fall into the trap of devising complicated Christianese excuses that shift the blame to God, like “God doesn’t want us to be together right now.” What does that actually mean?

Give him concrete reasons, even if they’re difficult to say. You will demonstrate the love of Christ if you speak the specific truth tenderly.

Nope, it’s not easy to say things like . . .

. . . your rebellion against authority is a big issue.
. . . we disagree on critical spiritual issues.
. . . your unfounded jealousy and distrust are unhealthy.
. . . you pressure me to compromise Christ’s standard of purity.
. . . we’ve proven that we aren’t mature enough for a relationship.
. . . we’re sinning, and we both know it.

But if that’s the honest truth, then you should handle your breakup honestly. Own your shortcomings. Humbly address his, if necessary. The truthful reason your relationship is ending should be as clear as possible.

3. Beware of opening the “Maybe we’ll get back together in the future” door.

You never know how God could redeem a story, crafting something beautiful from pain. But if your relationship is unhealthy, it should truly end without exceptions.

When I was seventeen, I saw problematic levels of immaturity in my boyfriend, so I reasoned that if he reigned in his wild ways over the coming years, maybe a future relationship could work. While that might’ve been a possibility, how confusing is it to say, “I really like you, but we can’t be together now. Maybe later (if this, this, and this happens)?”

Do you stay somewhat committed to each other? Do you stay friends?

You’re breaking up. It’s probably best to truly, legitimately break up. Don’t be unclear with your intentions, and don’t rest in the hope of a vague, conditional possibility in the future.

4. Limit your communication with him.

A gut punch, I know. This is where it gets real—when you feel like you’ve lost your best friend and the only thing you want to do in the entire world is text him.

If you needed to break up, it means it’s time to discontinue boyfriend-girlfriend communication.

Let your breakup be the path that leads you straight into the arms of Jesus.

You’ll likely feel a deep void—and it’s okay to ache over that loss of connection. But space provides time for healing. You can’t move on if you still text and snap like nothing ever changed.

What’s more, this is exactly where the love of Jesus can become intensely real to you. No more sweet words of affirmation from a guy? No more quality time together? Feel like you’ve been disconnected from your oxygen source? God knows, and His unconditional love exceeds anything and everything another person could offer. Let your breakup be the path that leads you straight into the arms of Jesus (Ps. 147:3; 103:13–14; 56:8).

5. Honor his heart by:

  • not throwing him under the bus when someone asks you why your relationship ended.
  • not acting out in jealousy if you see him with another girl.
  • respecting his feelings if he doesn’t want to be friends anymore.
  • not posting vague-but-not-so-vague tweets or Insta photos that refer to your relationship.
  • treating him with kindness, as your brother in Christ.
  • being clear with your intentions—don’t send mixed messages, like flirting with him and leading him on while insisting that you’re still broken up.

6. Process your heartache, confusion, and questions with trusted mentors and friends.

During a breakup, community can be a lifesaver.

You’ll need friends who can offer understanding hugs and wise, older women (like your mom or a youth leader) who will listen to what went down and hopefully affirm that you made the right decision. That kind of encouragement can give you massive heaps of comfort to continue walking in faith.

During a breakup, community can be a lifesaver.

Accountability may be the thing that keeps you from doing something irrational and unwise—like calling him in a moment of desperation or recklessly diving headfirst into another relationship.

7. Don’t backslide.

If you made a courageous decision to break up with him (especially for a reason that honors God), don’t backpedal in moments of weakness. You stepped out in faith. Stand steadfast. Backsliding into a situation you had ended will only create confusion.

Don’t second-guess yourself, even if your emotions are screaming and you’re longing for the security of that relationship.

Don’t second-guess yourself, even if your emotions are screaming and you’re longing for the security of that relationship.

Don’t text him to say you miss him. Don’t stalk him on Instagram. Don’t read every message you ever received from him while crying over a pint of ice cream with a sappy rom-com playing on Netflix.

Instead, ask Jesus to help you leave this relationship and move on. He’s got the exact kind of grace, strength, and hope that you need (Ps. 138:8; 121; 37).

8. Seek out comfort in the right places.

I think we all possess a compulsion to do the wallowing thing: blankets, pizza, ice cream, a movie that will make you bawl your eyes out. And while there’s something to be said for therapeutic crying, you’ll definitely be better off opening the pages of God’s Word and pressing play on a Bible-teaching podcast.

You need truth by the gallon full right now, and it’s not at the bottom of the ice cream carton or in the credits of Sleepless in Seattle. It’s in the pages of God’s Word to us. (See Psalm 86, Proverbs 3:5–8, Psalm 136, and Lamentations 3.)

It’s true: Breaking up is hard to do. But when you commit to honoring God, living by His truth, and loving guys like brothers in Christ, it doesn’t have to be so complicated or messy.

I did eventually surrender that broken relationship to God a few months later—and it was without a doubt for the best.

Have you experienced a tough breakup? What did God teach you during that time?

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About Author

Samantha Nieves

Samantha loves lazy lake days, strong coffee, and writing about the ways Jesus transforms our everyday messes into beautiful stories. She digs the four seasons in northern Indiana, is probably wearing a Notre Dame crew neck, and serves as the social media manager on the Revive Our Hearts staff.

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