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I Kissed Dating Goodbye

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I Kissed Dating Goodbye
AuthorJoshua Harris
PublisherMultnomah Books
Publication date
January 1, 1997
April 2, 2003
Publication placeUnited States

I Kissed Dating Goodbye is a 1997 book by Joshua Harris. The book focuses on Harris' disenchantment with the contemporary secular dating scene, and offers ideas for improvement, alternative dating/courting practices, and a view that singleness need not be a burden nor characterized by what Harris describes as "selfishness".

By the late 2010s, Harris reconsidered his view that dating should be avoided, apologizing to those whose lives were negatively impacted by the book and directing the book's publisher to discontinue its publication.[1][2]



In I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Harris popularized the concept of "courting" as an alternative to mainstream dating. In so doing, he raised discussion regarding the appropriateness of his proposed solutions, as well as the foundations on which he based his reasoning.

According to Harris, people in dating relationships put up a façade in an attempt to appear to be what the other person wants, thus hampering the "getting to know you" part of dating. Harris said that it is more appropriate and healthier in the long run to participate in "group dates" in order to truly understand the way a particular person interacts with others; in a group setting, a person is less likely to be able to maintain a façade. Harris proposed a system of courtship that involved the parents of both parties to a greater degree than is usual in conventional dating. In an interview with Family Christian Stores, Harris indicated that "people have taken the message of I Kissed Dating Goodbye and made it something legalistic – a set of rules. That's something that's beyond my control, and it's disappointing at times..."[3]

On November 20, 2005, Harris gave a sermon entitled "Courtship, Schmourtship: What Really Matters in Relationships". In it, Harris encouraged single adults in his church to form friendships.[4]



The book has been cited as an example of belief in "benevolent sexism" and "women as property"[5] as well as promoting "rape supportive messaging"[6] and "sexual purity teachings" that emphasize a "hierarchical father-daughter relationship" and reduces the agency of adolescent girls.[7]

Other commentators have pointed to IKDG as an example of messaging addressed to conservative Christians that would make them less likely to engage in online dating.[8] Yet others have suggested that the book promoted "condemnation and shame" among young women in the True Love Waits movement.[9] The book has been characterized as portraying ideal young Christian women as "sexually passive, emotional, and patient"[10] and discouraging young Christian men from forming relationships with women.[11]

Christian psychologists Henry Cloud and John Townsend suggest that avoiding dating in order to avoid suffering, as Harris advises, causes those who do so to forgo opportunities to mature, especially through learning how to create healthy boundaries.[12]

Retraction and apology by author


In 2016, Harris appeared to be reconsidering the claims that he had made in the book and apologized to several who publicly communicated how the book had influenced them to stay single or had been used by adults to impose stringent rules on them.[13][14]

During a 2017 TED talk, Harris said his greatest regret about the book was him transferring his fears into the book. He said: "Fear is never a good motive. Fear of messing up, fear of getting your heart broken, fear of hurting somebody else, fear of sex... There are clear things in statements in Scripture about our sexuality being expressed within the covenant of marriage. But that doesn't mean that dating is somehow wrong or a certain way of dating is the only way to do things. I think that's where people get into danger. We have God's word, but then it's so easy to add all this other stuff to protect people, to control people, to make sure that you don't get anywhere near that place where you could go off course. And I think that's where the problems arise."[15]

In 2018, faith-based film company Exploration Films teamed with Harris to release a documentary entitled I Survived I Kissed Dating Goodbye.[16] That same year, Harris stated that he reconsidered his view that dating should be avoided, apologizing to those whose lives were negatively impacted by the book and directing the book's publisher to discontinue its publication.[1][2]

In July 2019, Harris announced on Instagram that he and his wife, Shannon, were separating due to "significant changes [that] have taken place in both of us".[17] Later that month, Harris announced that he was no longer a Christian.[18] In August, Exploration Films announced they would halt distribution of I Survived, citing a lack of transparency from Harris after working with him for months. The company returned the rights back to director Jessica van der Wyngaard.[19]


  1. ^ a b MacCammon, Sarah (December 17, 2018). "Evangelical writer kisses an old idea goodbye". NPR.
  2. ^ a b MarieAnn Klett, Leah (October 23, 2018). "Joshua Harris says 'I Kissed Dating Goodbye' will be discontinued, apologizes for 'flaws'". The Christian Post.
  3. ^ "Josh & Shannon Harris with Rebecca St. James Dating And Waiting". Retrieved December 23, 2007.
  4. ^ Wilkinson, Alissa (May 26, 2015). "Forget Tinder. Pop culture is side-hugging courtship hello". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 24, 2018.
  5. ^ Moon, Sarah, and Jo Reger. "'You Are Not Your Own': Rape, Sexual Assault and Consent in Evangelical Christian Dating Books." Journal of Integrated Social Sciences 4, no. 1 (2014): 55-74.
  6. ^ Klement, Kathryn R., and Brad J. Sagarin. "Nobody Wants to Date a Whore: Rape-Supportive Messages in Women-Directed Christian Dating Books." Sexuality & Culture 21, no. 1 (2017): 205-223.
  7. ^ Gish, Elizabeth. "Producing High Priests and Princesses: The Father-Daughter Relationship in the Christian Sexual Purity Movement." Religions 7, no. 3 (2016): 33.
  8. ^ Gurrentz, Benjamin Thomas. "The Effect of Religious Salience on Attempting Online Dating." (2013).
  9. ^ Sellers, Tina Schermer. Beloved Sex: Sex, Gender, and Christianity (2012): 218.
  10. ^ Freitas, Donna. Sex and the Soul, Updated Edition: Juggling Sexuality, Spirituality, Romance, and Religion on America's College Campuses. Oxford University Press, 2015. 302
  11. ^ Kiesling, A. J. Where Have All the Good Men Gone?. Harvest House Publishers, 2008. 54,185
  12. ^ Cloud, Henry, and John Sims Townsend. Boundaries in Dating: Making Dating Work. Zondervan, 2000. 12-21
  13. ^ Graham, Ruth (August 23, 2016). "Hello Goodbye". Slate. Retrieved August 4, 2017.
  14. ^ Harris, Joshua. "'I Kissed Dating Goodbye' author: How and why I've rethought dating and purity culture". USA Today. Retrieved March 11, 2019.
  15. ^ Klett, Leah Marieann (December 8, 2017). "Joshua Harris apologizes for mistakes in 'I Kissed Dating Goodbye' in powerful TEDx talk". The Gospel Herald.
  16. ^ "I Survived I Kissed Dating Goodbye COMPLETE FILM - Director's Cut". YouTube.
  17. ^ Harris, Joshua (July 18, 2019). "We're writing to share the news that we are separating and will continue our life together as friends. In recent years, some significant changes have taken place in both of us. ..." Instagram. Retrieved August 29, 2019.
  18. ^ Parke, Caleb (July 29, 2019). "Well-known Christian author, purity advocate, renounces his faith: 'I hope you can forgive me'". Fox News. Retrieved August 29, 2019.
  19. ^ Gions-Phillips, Tré (August 29, 2019). "Film distributor drops Joshua Harris' documentary after being blindsided by author saying he's no longer Christian". Faithwire. Retrieved August 29, 2019.