Remix #154. Breaking up after a retreat.

Much like a lot of the fun on this site, I didn’t come up with this idea. A friend of the site emailed me months ago and said “You know what we Christians love to do? Break up with our girlfriends and boyfriends after a retreat.”

I thought that was funny and true. Next to unpacking, dumping your boyfriend or girlfriend is the best thing to do upon arriving home from a weekend retreat. (Throwing away all your music or movies is pretty fun too though.)

What usually happens is that on Saturday night, which is the cryfest night where the minister really amps up the emotion, you are asked to “lay something down for God.” God wants something. And often the most immediate something you can think to give to God is that dude you’re dating. So you go home after the retreat and you dump him.

But what if you’re that dude at home? What if you’re the girlfriend that didn’t go on the retreat? What if this is a relationship that could really work out and be great but it instead gets blindsided by what my friend would call a Saturday night session of “sloppy agape?” How do you prevent this from happening if it’s actually a good relationship worth saving?

I thought of a few ways:

1. Go on every retreat you possibly can.
Resist the urge to go to a Beth Moore ladies only retreat dressed as a woman, but other than that, you better go on every retreat your girlfriend goes on. (How awesome would it be to get the Wayan’s Brothers of White Chicks fame to make a movie where a guy dressed up like a woman so that he could sneak into a Beth Moore retreat? We could call it “Moore like a lady.” That idea is free by the way. Go ahead, take it.)

2. Meet your significant other at the church when they get dropped off.
With flowers or gifts or Myrrh if you can find it, it’s kind of out of season. Seriously though, wherever the drop off spot is for that retreat, go there. Bring a boombox like John Cusack in the movie “Say Anything” if you have to.

3. Leave a kind note in their Bible.
I’m not encouraging you to manipulate your boyfriend, if you don’t have something kind to write on a piece of paper you probably shouldn’t be dating this guy anyway. But if you do, if you’ve got some nice, loving words to put down, hide that note in his Bible. On the retreat, when he digs in to read it on one of those, “please go find a quiet place to read your Bible by a pristine lake” moments that are mandatory on retreats, it will be waiting for him.

4. Don’t call them a million times during the retreat.
Relationships are kind of like sharks, they can smell fear. If you call or text or twitter or send pigeons one million times to your girlfriend during the retreat, here’s what you’re going to be saying to her, “Please don’t dump me. Oh good grief, please don’t dump me. Seriously, don’t dump me. We can make this work. I’ll call you back in 30 seconds, please don’t think about dumping me during those 30 seconds when we’re not on the phone. Please.” As a girl, which I’ve never been and am thus wicked good at writing from the perspective of, that would make me instantly think, “Should I dump him? Things were good before I left for the retreat, but he’s all panicky. Maybe he knows something I don’t know.” Give your girlfriend or boyfriend space on the retreat. Let them enjoy the weekend with God without your constant interruptions. Unless you are going to make my movie “Moore like a lady” and then let the hijinx ensue.

If you follow these tips to the letter, if you execute them perfectly, you’re still probably going to get dumped. What can I do, the “give something up for God” moment on a retreat is too powerful for a mere mortal blogger to overcome. My hope though is that if you do experience this, if you are dumped after a retreat, you’ll remember this post, wipe your tears away and be able to laugh at the irony of the whole situation. Or you could always email this post to your ex-girlfriend with the subject line “Our love just became a Christian cliché,” and burn that relationship bridge while driving away listening to Poison’s “Every Rose has it’s Thorn.” Either option is pretty nice actually.

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  1. Tou and David says

    First Comment!!! The rewards of living on the other side of the sea!

    Sounds like a list of break-up lines I once heard… :-)

  2. Joanna says

    I’m thinking “Our love just became a Christian cliché,” would make a great title for a christian breakup song.

  3. JennyM says

    “Lay something down for God”?


    Dude, you might want to rewrite that. I’m just sayin’.

    Or is it that I have a somewhat twisted view of this post.

    wv-tralas…what you get when you dump someone you don’t like. “I dumped him tra la la la”.

  4. sherri says

    I was planning on going on a ladies’ retreat, but now you’ve got me worried that my hubby might dump me!

    I don’t want our love to become a Christian cliche’. Especially right here around Valentine’s day.

  5. Nick the Geek says

    See, my plan was much more simple in HS. I never worried about getting dumped because I was proactive in the break-up game.

    “Hey, sweetie happy 3 week anniversary.”

    “Um, yeah about that, who celebrates a 3 week anniversary? The word anniversary means year by default. ‘An’ is the Latin root for year.”

    “What are you trying to say?”

    “I haven’t been on a retreat in a while but I think I need to lay our relationship down for God.”

    “I don’t understand”

    “When I start dating your friend you’ll figure it out but don’t worry we’ll break u in about 3 weeks as well.”

    Yep, I was a super jerk in HS but somehow 90% of the girls I dated became my good friends after we broke up. Probably because I didn’t do it quite like that, but close.

  6. Beautiful Intellectual says

    So its bad that on retreat, I can’t wait to get out the Saturday night quick enough to get on the phone to my man and be all “eurgh, so much schmoohoo-ing…why do Christians CRY all the time?!”

    Yes. Probably. Bad Laura.

    p.s WV – gnashr: (of teeth) goes with the weeping and wailing of a sloppy agape session

    (e.g.) Carley was the main gnashr during response time

  7. Prodigal Jon says

    Nick -
    “When I start dating your friend you’ll figure it out but don’t worry we’ll break u in about 3 weeks as well.”

    That killed me.


    WV: vocongl
    A run on sentence that resembles a vocal congo line of adjectives and nouns.

    “I read Stuff Christians Like sometimes, but sometimes the vocongls get on my nerves.”

  8. rustypants says

    one of my favorite bands of all time is/was everybodyduck – funny, on point, worshipful, and just plain off the wall.

    they have a song called Summercamp Romance that addresses the whirlwind of getting together, those precious few days together, then the inevitable breakup.

    clicking on the link should play the song for you. enjoy.

  9. Donna says

    Jon…did you get your wife to sign off on the “Moore like a lady”…..

    if not, you know Beth Moore will NEVER write a book cover blurb/review…

  10. Paul says

    I was not a retreat kind of guy most of my life. In fact, at the time I went on my first retreat I’d already been married for twenty years. I think my wife has been on exactly one retreat in her entire life. Now I’m starting to see this as a good thing rather than a moral failure on our part.

  11. attention deficit disciple says

    so far I’m going to have to say that this may be one of my favorite one liners of yours ever…”As a girl, which I’ve never been and am thus wicked good at writing from the perspective of”. that got me….will continue to get me throughout the day…

  12. Josh says

    Meeting one’s SO at the church imemdiately upon return from retreat may be the most crucial of these strategies. It’s important to catch them in that transition, between retreat world and real world, before something from retreat world gets cemented into real world mentality.
    Remember that guy C.S. Lewis wrote about who nearly came to believe in God while studying in a library but then walked outside to see a kid waiting on a bus or something and realized his conclusions inside the library weren’t real-world applicable? It’s a lot like that.

  13. stacie says

    Josh –

    “between retreat world and real world…”

    I immediately thought of the guy in the library! Excellent application of Lewis…I’m sure he’d be proud! :-)

  14. Adri says

    oh, man. i totally dumped my boyfriend after camp the summer I turned 16. he was so gracious about it, too. glad that he could help in the process of me laying something down for God, and all that.

  15. Alec says

    I was once a victim of the post-retreat break-up. After she got back, I got the “we need to talk” followed by the “where are we spiritually?” For the record, there is no right answer to that question.

    I remember when my next girlfriend went on a retreat, I was paranoid the whole weekend. This time I met her at the church, and we stayed together … until three weeks later when her best friend convinced her she needed to lay something down for God. There wasn’t even a retreat involved. I couldn’t win.

  16. Nick's HS girlfriend says

    “somehow 90% of the girls I dated became my good friends after we broke up.”
    You are so deluded. I was your only girlfriend. Quit flattering yourself.

    • Cyd says

      Hehehe i know what you mean. When my church had a guys purity conference about a week after the girl’s purity conference, a whole bunch of girls who were working in the nursery watched it on the TV and a couple women snuck upstairs to watch from the balcony until they we’re asked to leave cuz it was making the guys uncomfortable! And there we’re a few guys at the girls purity conference too but they were there for the “lifehouse-everything” skit and the “Christian guys perspective Q an A”.

  17. sonneta says

    Jon, I think you should approach Tyler Perry about the “Moore Like a Lady” movie. He’s a Christian, and he’s always making movies with dudes dressed up like ladies.

  18. Charlotte says

    When I was in 7th grade, I came home from a retreat and threw away all my secular music, and vowed to stop buying it. I didn’t buy another secular CD until I was in high school. Wow, I felt so holy and pure back then…

  19. heartafire says


    (Sherri, I think, according to Jon’s post, you will likely be the “dumper” rather than the “dumpee.”

    Maybe you ought to warn your husband….so he can do an *extra* good job of cleaning the house top to bottom while you’re gone, and also take great care of the kiddos.)

  20. jasonS says

    Great post and I still Sloppy Agape would make a great name for a all-girl Christian death metal band. I’m just sayin’.

  21. clay says

    You’re leaving out the post retreat/camp fling breakup. This is someone discovers that this person they previously didn’t associate with is really the person that God says they must be with, spends one or two glorious days with the ONE, then gets home and realizes that in the real world, he/she won’t even sit within three tables of that person in the school cafeteria.

    Word Verification
    DECTIM: What the angry boyfriend did to his girlfriend’s retreat-fling when they got back home.

  22. Sarah Lewie says

    How plausible is it that the dumper “lays something down for God” b/c during that moment of “sloppy agape” they saw the lead singer/guitar player/tambourine jammer rockin’ out for God all weekend? Kinda like the whole mission-trip dating thing? Seriously, I knew of few people in HS (or beyond) who would really give up the BF/GF for God unless there wasn’t some other tasty treat waiting in the wings.
    I’m just sayin’…

    And “Moore like a lady” made me chortle. Which is never pleasant this early in the morning. =)

  23. Helen says

    I am going to a Women’s “retreat” which is for about an hour and a half. More like a women’s sermon. Anyways, if I am encouraged to lay something down for the Lord at this mini whatever, it won’t be my husband. It might be sarcastical commenting on blogs. Or making up new words. Or chocolate. Hopefully the phrase won’t come up.

    wv. siner: when a sinner signs her name, she is a siner.

  24. joshua conti says

    “Relationships are kind of like sharks, they can smell fear.”
    that made my day right there =)

    wv: reutsm
    a disease contracted by reading the rss feed from reuters for more than 2 hours at a time.

  25. david romero says

    every rose has its thorn? hahaha, that is so hillarious.

    my youth group had a retreat last weekend and so far i haven’t heard of any break up casualties. i guess it’s just a matter of time.

  26. Sara says

    We had the opposite problem, “camp dating.” Gotta love the idea that we can have a long lasting relationship(long distance) after 6 days of camp. I guess it worked for a few people, but it seemed more like an inspiration for “The bachelor”

  27. Gabrielle Eden says

    I’ve had some pretty severe reactions to retreats or conferences. I’ve gotten pretty spiritual and had to had detox after that. Pretty funny Jon.

  28. Ryan B says

    This summer, my girlfriend went to a conference called Christ in Youth. I was unable to go (Just got back from a mission trip, helped run Jr. High that week while most of the adults were at the camp, etc.).

    I had gone the year before and new the general layout of how the conference was going to go due to experience and a bit of online research.

    I wrote one note for each day that she was gone and made it so it made sense with what was going on at the camp while also telling her what I was doing each day back home. I threw in the occasional bible and pimp verses and labeled each one for each day.

    I gave them all to one of her friends to give to her each day. Apparently she loved them and she didn’t dump me when she got back.

  29. Aaron Matthew Kaiser says

    The “Moore Like a Lady” concept is hilarious! I’m not sure how marketable that is and not sure that I would personally pick it up, but it made me laugh out loud when I read it!

  30. Paul says

    Pimp verses? Man, you got to tell me about the pimp verses. Jon? Sounds like a post to me. Unless, of course, it already has been and I missed out.

  31. Jarrod Haggard says

    I’m going to agree with Nick. I always went with the preemptive break-up. I was getting ready to go spend a week in nature with probably 150 gorgeous christian girls that I hadn’t met yet. Why bring sand to the beach, right?

    Or there was the time that I went to camp holding one girls hand on the bus, and left holding another’s hand on the ride home. (The ride home girl WAS the pastor’s daughter, so it was an obvious spiritual upgrade)

    @rustypants- I went to college with Darin McWatters and all those guys from ‘Everybodyduck’. They were pretty much awesome.

  32. Jarrod Haggard says

    I’m going to agree with Nick. I always went with the preemptive break-up. I was getting ready to go spend a week in nature with probably 150 gorgeous christian girls that I hadn’t met yet. Why bring sand to the beach, right?

    Or there was the time that I went to camp holding one girls hand on the bus, and left holding another’s hand on the ride home. (The ride home girl WAS the pastor’s daughter, so it was an obvious spiritual upgrade)

    @rustypants- I went to college with Darin McWatters and all those guys from ‘Everybodyduck’. They were pretty much awesome.

  33. Brenda says

    Guilty! Hahaha. I’ve done this, not necessarily after a retreat but definitely because God was “telling me to let go of some things.” I ended up back together with him, thank God. :)

  34. Sara S. says

    I had the opposite thing happen to me when I was in HS. I went to a retreat and my boyfriend at the time didn’t. I got back and he gave me this whole “while you were away, I had a chance to think about our relationship…” thing. I sure didn’t see that one coming!

  35. Miss W says

    The summer camp romance song is awesome. Thanks for the link, rustypants.

    WV: gidefa- that funky feeling you get that your boyfriend’s about to dump you. “When Jackie heard that her boyfriend had signed up for the Men’s Wilderness Pristine Lake Retreat, she was overwhelmed with gidefa.

  36. Wade Watson says

    I always found retreats were a great place to meet girls…they’re like the christian version of bars… Totally kidding. Kind of…it was a long time ago.

  37. says

    I went to a Beth Moore retreat dressed as a lady, I didn't make it past the estrogen dectors at the front door. Beth Moore herself beat me with a baseball bat :D.

    I once sent 100 carrier pigeons to a girl on retreat, I wouldn't recommend it. The fact I had never met her made it that much more awkward. haha love the the blog!


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