Breaking Unhealthy Soul Ties: How to Get Over Past Romantic Relationships

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You enter into romantic dating relationships with the best of intentions and high hopes, but often, those relationships that you hoped would work out end, and you are left with feelings of regret, obsessive thoughts about the other person, and emotional baggage. In this age of serial dating, you can be married or in a dating relationship and still feel emotional ties to people from the past.

Is there a way to break soul ties from a past romantic relationship so that you can sever the thoughts and feelings holding you captive and fully embrace your current relationship or a relationship in the future?

The answer is yes. You can break free of unhealthy soul ties and get over past romantic relationships. However, to do so, you must understand what soul ties are and how they formed in the first place. God’s desire is for you to live free of emotional baggage and break negative ties with the past, but there are some steps you need to walk through in order to get free.

What are soul ties?

Soul ties are deep emotional connections with other people. Soul ties can form in friendships or romantic relationships. In fact, healthy soul ties are what God intended for us in friendships, family relationships, and the marriage relationship. The Bible doesn’t use the term “soul tie” but does speak of being connected on a soul level with others in a positive way — with friends, our spouse, family members and fellow believers (Ephesians 5:31; 1 Samuel 18:1). However, unhealthy soul ties can form in romantic relationships when you allow a person to rise to an unhealthy status in your life, or you are sexually involved with a person outside of the confines of marriage. (There are other reasons for unhealthy soul ties as well, but I will just focus on these two reasons in this article.)

God created sex for your enjoyment and pleasure, but He set sexual intimacy within the confines of marriage to protect you. When two people are physically intimate in a relationship outside of marriage, a deep soul connection is created that exists long after the relationship is over. Therefore, even if you try to move past a break-up with a person that you were physically intimate with, you won’t be able to without taking some key steps to sever the soul tie.

In addition, soul ties can form in romantic relationships even if a sexual relationship doesn’t occur. One way this can happen is by elevating a person to an unhealthy position in one’s life. Even as a Christ follower, another person can become a savior. Perhaps if you were lonely, you looked to another person to fulfill you in a way that only God can. When that relationship ends, even if the person didn’t treat you well or wasn’t right for you, you may still fantasize about getting back together with this person. Perhaps you have faced rejection in previous relationships so you latch onto a new relationship to help you feel good about yourself.

Whatever the case, here are a few steps you can take in order to be free of the emotional bondage an unhealthy romantic soul tie creates:

1. Repent and confess wrongdoing to God.

If you haven’t done so, confess your sexual sin or unhealthy obsession about a person to God and ask Him for forgiveness. Even if the relationship happened long ago, if you have never confessed to Him your sin, you can do so understanding that He grants full forgiveness for your wrongdoing the second you ask. If there are many people that you have been sexually involved with, go down the list and ask forgiveness for the wrongdoing in each relationship. If you have bitterness or unforgiveness, confess that to God and ask Him to help you forgive the other person. You may feel ashamed to go to God with your confession because you know that your actions departed from His Word. However, He already knows what you have done and repentance puts you in right relationship with Him and frees you of the guilt and shame you have been carrying.

Many people have a negative connotation of repentance, but repentance means simply to change one’s mind and go a different way. If you are currently involved in a relationship that has veered outside of the boundaries of God’s design, you can repent and go a new way by confessing your wrong and deciding to allow God’s Word and will to dictate your actions in that relationship. Confession means simply coming into agreement with God on the issue. So after you repent, allow God to help you draw boundaries so that you can be in alignment with His Word.

2. Turn to God.

After the process of repentance, continue to turn to God for healing and guidance. Severing romantic soul ties, even those forged a long time ago, can be a painful process. The reason that you most likely formed the soul tie to begin with was because the person or relationship provided something for you that you thought you needed. Even if you were not treated well in the relationship, breaking your soul connection with the person may be initially traumatic. You may have always hoped that you would get back together with that person. Or, perhaps if you are currently in a relationship that is unhealthy, you may not want to terminate the relationship because of the comfort and companionship the person provides.

Because of these reasons, you may go through a period of grieving for the relationship or not feel the effects of healing immediately after breaking the soul tie. You may feel empty and despondent. However, know that while breaking unhealthy soul ties in the short-term may be difficult, you will reach a place in the long-run where you feel lightened from your emotional baggage. In the process of healing, God needs to be the One you turn to in your pain. Otherwise, you will automatically turn to another person or thing to fill the void that you experience after your repentance.

3. Apologize for your wrongdoing to the other person.

Certainly, there are scenarios where you repent of an unhealthy soul tie and move on with your life. End of story. However, in some cases, there may be another component to the process of breaking free of negative soul ties. You might feel bitterness or anger against the other person for wrongdoing they have done to you or the way the relationship ended. In those cases, you need to apologize to the person for any wrongdoing you have done in your anger against them. The Holy Spirit will help identify the right course of action, but have you talked about the person maliciously behind their back? Have you hurled angry words in their direction? Have you retaliated in wrong ways in your place of hurt? If so, the Holy Spirit may prompt you to apologize to the individual for the wrongdoing.

In addition, another step I know was necessary in my own journey was to apologize to the other person for my part in the sexual sin. I know this is not going to be a popular step, and I have read many books and advice blogs on the subject that simply advocate confession (without apology to the other person for our part in the sexual sin). However, the Bible urges us not to be a temptation and stumbling block to another (Luke 17:1-4). If we tempt a person into sin or participate with them in sin (as we do when we are sexually involved with others outside of marriage), we should apologize to them for our wrongdoing in the matter.

Clearly, you need to use caution in this endeavor. I would advise keeping contact minimal and asking another person to keep you accountable in the process. A letter in most cases is most likely better than a meeting or phone call. You may have feelings re-ignited if you come into contact with an old flame, and it is advisable to simply state what needs to be stated and then no longer be in contact with the person.

I encourage you to pray about the right step for you in your circumstance. Obviously, certain scenarios exist where this step is not advisable, particularly in certain abusive relationships. If possible, seek out a Christian counselor or wise pastor to counsel you through your situation.

4. Let the past be in the past.

Sometimes, unhealthy soul ties can form with family members or friends for reasons not mentioned here (such as manipulation and control), and it’s possible to cut the unhealthy ties and set boundaries with the person and still maintain the relationship.

However, in terms of past romantic relationships, it’s best not to have contact with the other person once the unhealthy soul tie is broken. Continued meetings or contact with the other person will make it difficult for you to heal and move on. You may have to take some extreme measures such as discarding gifts or letters that the other person gave you, unfriending the person on Facebook, or requesting a transfer to another department. Sometimes the act of cutting an unhealthy soul tie in your life means making adjustments and setting boundaries so that you are not constantly reminded of the person.

You may feel like these acts are unloving, but truly, a past romantic interest that is interrupting your ability to be present with your spouse, fully engage in the relationships in your life at the moment, or grow in your relationship with God is not someone that you need in your life.


Unhealthy soul ties in romantic relationships can form when we walk outside of God’s plan for relationships and sex or elevate a person to an unhealthy place in our lives. Thankfully we have a God who is in the process of restoration. Even if you have made many mistakes in your past and have a string of past relationships that are tying you down, there is freedom for you.

Unhealthy soul ties can be broken when we apply the remedy of repentance given to us in Scripture and take steps to turn from unhealthy relationships and find healing through Christ.                                                                                                                      `

Carol Whitaker

Carol Whitaker is a coach's wife, mom, writer, and singer. She left a career in teaching in 2011 to pursue a different path at God's prompting. While she thought that the path would lead straight to music ministry, God had different plans -- and Carol found herself in a crisis of spirituality and identity. Out of that place, Carol began writing about the lessons God was teaching her in her desert place and how God was teaching her what it meant to be healed from a painful past and find her identity in Him rather than a title, a relationship, a career, or a ministry. These days, Carol spends her time shuttling her little ones back and forth from school, supporting her coach-husband on the sidelines, and writing posts. Carol also continues to love music and hopes to pick up piano playing again. Carol is a self-proclaimed blog junkie and iced-coffee lover. She resides in Georgia with her husband and three children.

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Breaking Negative Soul Ties: Getting Rid of Emotional and Romantic Baggage


My senior pastor once told a story of a third world country he knew of where families lived in and among mountainous piles of trash.

In preparing to write this post, I remembered his story as well as a mission trip I went on as a 16-year-old with my youth group. We went to Mexico City where we helped in a school and clinic on the outskirts of the city. I still remember crowding into vans and making the drive outside the city where pavement ended and rolling hills of dirt, trash, and cardboard boxes collided. Driving on the steep, muddy, pot-holed roads, I observed whole families living in slums.

These families did not appear particularly sad or disturbed. In fact, I wondered if they knew what it was like to have clean floors, running water, and plumbing. I wondered if they knew what they were missing.

When I first heard my senior pastor tell the story of the trash piles, he did so to illustrate the point that many of us in first world countries are living in garbage of our own. We may have sparkling kitchens, air conditioning, and indoor plumbing, but (sometimes unknowingly) we live in trash piles just the same.

Our trash piles exist in our own relationships and families.

I remember my insides churning during that particular service. I remember walking down with a trembling stomach and asking for prayer. My entire family had come out for a visit, and they watched me make that long, solitary walk from the balcony down to the altar. But I couldn’t do anything but walk away from my pew because of the tears I was sure they would see in my eyes.

Although I did feel some of the emotional burden lift from me that day at the altar, it was not until a few years later that I would receive a full healing from the emotional baggage in my past. Ironically, it was at a time when I wasn’t even thinking about getting healed or expecting it.

Since then, I have discovered that I had so much emotional baggage in my life because I had allowed myself to be connected to others with negative soul ties. When Jesus walked me through personal healing, He had me break the negative soul ties in my life and get free of the relationships I had never been able to let go of.

What is a Soul Tie?

A soul tie is a close emotional bond or a knitting together with another person’s spirit. According to the Great Bible Study site, the Bible does not use the term “soul tie” but does refer to being “knit together” with another person both in friendship and in marriage. A key example of a positive soul tie in the Bible is in the friendship of Jonathan and David. In 1 Samuel 18:1, it says that Jonathan became “one in spirit” with David and “loved him as himself.” Another time that the Bible speaks of a positive emotional tie with another person that exists on the soul level is in marriage. Ephesians 5:31 speaks of a “man leaving his father and mother” and becoming “one flesh” with his wife.

Negative soul ties are those that can form in many ways, but for the purposes of this article I will just be focusing on those that form through sex before marriage or through idolatry of a person. (Soul ties can also form through vows and commitments, rituals, accepting gifts from those involved in witchcraft, etc.)

Idolatry of a person means allowing a person to take almost a god-like status in your mind and constantly thinking of ways to meet his or her expectations — even if it means changing yourself or going against what you believe.

How I Formed Negative Soul Ties

I realize in looking back at my past that I did have some sexual sin, and I engaged in the idolatry of certain individuals. I had both friendships and romantic relationships where I idolized the other person and an unhealthy attachment formed, or I allowed myself to be idolized.

These relationships developed because of my own low self-esteem. I was constantly looking for love and validation from other people. I allowed relationships in my life to define me. I clung onto persons I felt elevated me by allowing me into their presence. I allowed myself to engage in both homosexual and heterosexual behavior because I wanted the acceptance and love. I made individuals in my life into Saviors.

And even when I tried to move on from these relationships, I still felt tied to certain persons. There was a brokenness on the inside that I couldn’t get rid of. Even after prayer and confession of my wrong in these relationships to God, I still felt defined by and connected to these unhealthy relationships.


Although He didn’t tell me what He was doing at first, Jesus had me go back to these friends and relationships and break negative emotional ties. Here’s how He had me break them: The first thing I did is talk with a Hope minister at my church about my past, sharing it for the first time. Then I went back to some of the individuals and apologized for my part in the sexual sin and told them what Jesus was doing in me.

I also apologized for any bitterness I had held against them for the bad way the relationship had ended or the ways I had felt they had let me down. I also was honest with the person if he or she had hurt me and spoke about that to the person for the first time. In some cases, I wrote a letter or sent an email. In other cases, I talked directly with the person.

I realize that not everyone may agree with my action of returning to these individuals. Certainly, not everyone agreed with this action when I was doing it. I was seeing a Hope minister at my church prior to my decision to make the contact with these individuals. When our sessions were coming to a close, I began to get a few people in mind that I needed to go back to. She assured me this was completely unnecessary, but I felt Jesus telling me to do it.

What It Felt Like to Break Free of My Negative Soul Ties

The process of making contacts to a handful of people from my past was the most excruciating one I have ever undertaken. I was alone. I had no support for my endeavor, and I underestimated the emotional toll it would have on me. What no one told me beforehand is that going back to the past dredges up old feelings. I felt, in many of those cases, not like a mature 35-year-old woman. I felt like a 14-year-old again. A 16-year-old. All of the fears and insecurities I had experienced in those moments so long ago raced back as I was doing it.

However, I felt Jesus nudging me on. How could He be so mean? So pushy? How could He make me relive all the awful again? I know why now. I had never handled those relationships properly during the time or ended them properly, so I had been left with a great amount of baggage. Soul ties to people I didn’t want to be tied to anymore. He wanted me to do it so that I could get free.

Additionally, I believe that God had me go to these individuals to not only break the emotional ties but also to help me overcome my shame over my wrong choices. I didn’t realize that by hiding what I had done from others, I was being held in bondage by shame and guilt. But as embarrassing as it was for me to talk with these individuals and share with others about my past — I ended up feeling really clean and peaceful inside afterwards.

What Does This Mean for You?

If you are reading this and you know you have a lot of baggage from your past, start with God. One thing I was amazed to discover is that He did not condemn me for my wrong choices — He helped me get past them. The condemnation I felt for a long time was actually coming from Satan. Facing the people in my past that had hurt me or I had given too much power to for far too long was very freeing.

Ask God to reveal to you where you might have negative soul ties with another person (either in your past or now) because of sexual sin or idolatry. If you haven’t already, I would ask God to forgive you for your part in sexual sin with the other person. Or, if there was not a sexual relationship but you know that the relationship was unhealthy for other reasons, ask God to forgive you for idolizing that person or putting that relationship above your relationship with Him.

Then ask God if there is another step you need to take. I would also highly recommend sitting down with a Christian counselor or a pastor versed in counseling. With that being said, go with what God is telling you above all else. Like I mentioned, I had a difference of opinion with my Hope minister about whether it was necessary to revisit the past.

I sought God very carefully on the issue over a several month period and received several confirmations about what He wanted me to do.

If you feel that God is nudging you to contact a person, but that person was a controller or abuser in the past, or you are concerned that a physical or emotional attraction remains, keep contact minimal — a letter. An email. And tell someone else what you are doing so he or she can hold you accountable. If the person or the person’s family can’t be reached, write a letter to the person to get the negative emotions out and then trust that God has healed you because of your step of faith.

God doesn’t intend for us to have sexual relationships outside of marriage or have negative soul ties with other people. He created boundaries to protect us. However, He doesn’t condemn you if you have made unwise choices. He wants to help you get healed.

However, just like He asked the crippled man at the pool at Bethesda, He wants to know: Do you want to be healed?

He wants to help, but there may be a step you have to take to receive that healing.

Author’s note: I wrote about soul ties in regards to consensual relationships, but soul ties can also form in sexually abusive, non-consensual relationships. If you were a victim of rape or sexual abuse, I would urge you to seek out the help of a Christian professional. You do not need to apologize for the wrong another person did to you. Your path to healing may look different than mine. I would also urge you not to be in contact with anyone who has physically harmed you — or put yourself in danger in any way.

If you are reading through this and feel that you may have negative soul ties in a friendship or relationship, please feel free to leave a comment below, and I will pray for you. If you would like to keep your name confidential, or have more questions about my experience, you are welcome to write to me through the Contact page, and I would love to help you on your journey to freedom.

Carol Whitaker

Carol Whitaker is a coach's wife, mom, writer, and singer. She left a career in teaching in 2011 to pursue a different path at God's prompting. While she thought that the path would lead straight to music ministry, God had different plans -- and Carol found herself in a crisis of spirituality and identity. Out of that place, Carol began writing about the lessons God was teaching her in her desert place and how God was teaching her what it meant to be healed from a painful past and find her identity in Him rather than a title, a relationship, a career, or a ministry. These days, Carol spends her time shuttling her little ones back and forth from school, supporting her coach-husband on the sidelines, and writing posts. Carol also continues to love music and hopes to pick up piano playing again. Carol is a self-proclaimed blog junkie and iced-coffee lover. She resides in Georgia with her husband and three children.

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