I Kissed Dating Goodbye

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

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]


Harris popularized the concept of "courting" as an alternative to mainstream dating, and in doing so has raised discussion regarding the appropriateness of his proposed solutions as well as the foundations on which he bases his reasoning.

In general, Harris believes that dating has become too inwardly focused. He feels that people date to find "their" mate according to their own principles, rules, and desires. In doing so, he argues, people put up a façade in an attempt to appear to be what the other person wants, and this hampers the "getting to know you" part of dating. He feels 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, since in a group setting in which some people know the person, that person is less likely to be able to maintain a façade for the duration of the date. Harris proposes a system of courtship that involves the parents of both parties to a greater degree than 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 message to the church at which he is Senior Pastor, "Courtship, Schmourtship: What Really Matters in Relationships".[4] In this message, Harris acknowledged problems with how the singles related in his church. Harris indicated that there was a "lack of freeness between men and women in cultivating friendships". He also used the words "standoffish" and "tightness". In the message, Harris also indicated that it was "OK" for single men and women to go out for coffee by themselves, apparently correcting misconceptions some singles had in his church.


The book has been cited as an example of belief in 'benevolent sexism' and 'women as property'[5] and 'rape supportive messaging'[6], and of a 'sexual purity teachings' that emphasize a 'hierarchical father-daughter relationship' that 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' amongst young women in the True Love Waits movement.[9] The book has been characterised as portraying ideal young Christian women as 'sexually passive, emotional, and patient'[10] and as 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]

Partial retraction and apology by author[edit]

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] In 2016 Harris began soliciting public narratives from people affected by his book,[15] but some critics reject the requirements that Harris imposes on the narratives.[16]

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."[17]

In 2018, Exploration Films teamed up with Joshua Harris to release a documentary entitled I Survived I Kissed Dating Goodbye.[18] The film was released with free availability. 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]


  1. ^ a b Sarah MacCammon (December 17, 2018). "Evangelical Writer Kisses An Old Idea Goodbye". NPR.
  2. ^ a b Leah MarieAnn Klett (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. ^ "Hullo Goodbye". Retrieved August 4, 2017.
  14. ^ "'I Kissed Dating Goodbye' author: How and why I've rethought dating and purity culture". USA TODAY. Retrieved March 11, 2019.
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on August 5, 2017. Retrieved August 4, 2017.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ "Our Mission - Life After I Kissed Dating Goodbye". www.lifeafterikdg.com. Archived from the original on January 1, 2018. Retrieved January 3, 2018.
  17. ^ https://www.gospelherald.com/articles/71699/20171208/joshua-harris-apologizes-mistakes-kissed-dating-goodbye-powerful-tedx-talk.htm
  18. ^ "Exploration Films".

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