Deciding When To Breakup

If you asked if I was okay after my recent breakup, I would reply, “Yes, as okay as I can be.” It’s not that I’m not sad. Rather, I’ve made peace that the relationship has come to an end.

I didn’t believe a good breakup could be possible before, but navigating this breakup with someone I love has convinced me otherwise.

I don’t claim to be a relationship expert, but if you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, these are some things I learnt deciding whether I was okay with being single again.

Knowing when to breakup with the person you love

“I’m not happy about (insert-generic-problem here) which has been going on for a while. How do I know if it’s time to break up?”

In the past, I would be afraid to hurt my partner by breaking up with them. Instead of being honest, I’d pick the cowardly, easier option—to keep quiet and stay.

However, the internalised feelings of resentment and restlessness would resurface in the cruel form of me picking on my partners or worse.

This usually happens when your fights are always the same. Or one party is in a bad space and you can’t help them tide over their internal struggle. Maybe they’re not making time for you; maybe they want to but can’t.

In this relationship, my ex taught me to be better than I was. I learnt to be braver and more honest with my feelings. I didn’t fall out of love, but I recognised that we had reached a point where our happiness had become mutually exclusive.

So instead of possibly hurting them worse, I let go of the relationship.

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Viewing relationships from the sunk cost fallacy

“Ok I know our relationship is unhealthy, but I love them and we’ve been together for YEARS. Give me a good reason why I shouldn’t breakup with them?”

At the end of the day, my ex and I agreed people don’t own people. And the only thing we wanted from, for, and with each other, is to be happy. So we didn’t stall the breakup just because of the sunk cost fallacy.

In the words of my friend, Jiahan, a sunk cost is a cost that has already been incurred—no matter what you do you can’t get it back. A failing relationship is a sunk cost. There is no benefit to stay in the relationship, but you stay because you’ve already invested so much.

When a relationship has run its course, you will innately know. According to my desk buddy, one telltale sign you should walk away is when “you can no longer cry”.

To me, that’s when you’ve reached the “F**k it I’m completely DONE with this fool” stage and you’ve tried your best.

Reaching this stage is important because it’s an act of self-care; you’re creating healthy boundaries for yourself by putting your foot down. There is no point keeping a person out of pain at your own expense because you are taking on their pain.

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Setting your expectations right

“I’m not sure if there’s something wrong with the relationship itself. Maybe it’s me, am I asking for too much?”

Granted, whenever you hit a rough patch, you shouldn’t breakup right away. Ask, “Is this pain worth it? Is my being uncomfortable now something I can overlook because of the future we can have?”

Most of the time, it’s just a bad patch, not a bad relationship. Creating a lasting relationship requires compromise, so always try to see if you can meet your partner in a middle.

However, if your needs aren’t being met despite having already dialled down your expectations, or if your partner isn’t willing to compromise, it’s probably time to move on. You don’t have to breakup only when things go to complete shit.

A relationship isn’t two halves of a whole, it’s two whole people choosing each other every day. And while it’s true you should consider a person’s potential and the person they can become, it does no good to fall in love with a person that doesn’t exist.

Listening To Breakup Advice

If you feel you’re meeting someone who is the right person at the wrong time, they are still the wrong person. If they are meant to be yours, they will be.

At the end of the day, the decision to breakup should come from you. No matter how much breakup advice you read or friends you consult, go with your gut.

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