When You Should Break Up with a Guy (Hint: NOW May Be a Good Idea!)

girlfriend breaking up with her boyfriend

I like Sophia Benoit from GQ. Her prose doesn’t descend to the levels of most first-person journalism you’d read in EliteDaily or Elephant Journal.

This piece, simply called “When to Walk Away From a Bad Relationship,” is something I wholeheartedly endorse as one of the few dating coaches who believe it’s better to find an easy relationship than it is to double down on fixing a broken one.

With the exception of at the altar, or during sex, there’s no wrong time to break up with someone.

Money quote: “Let me set you straight: With the exception of at the altar, or during sex, there’s no wrong time to break up with someone. Everyone feels pressure to pick the “right” time, or even a good time…There’s no magical time when your partner is going to  like  being broken up with. Within reason (e.g., don’t call them at work or tell them while you guys visit their parent in the hospital), once you decide you want to break up, your best bet is as soon as possible.”

Yup. I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve had who told me that they are in the process of breaking up with someone and that this process may take a few months.

I usually correct them by saying, “You can hang up on me right now, call him, and be broken up in less than a minute.”

To which, of course, there is no defense – only the shameful silence of someone who knows she CAN act, but won’t do it.

Continues Benoit, “Until you two are married with kids, you can leave at any time. You can leave even if you’ve only been dating for a month. It’s very easy to convince yourself that you haven’t given someone a “fair chance,” but you probably have. Firstly, “a fair chance” is an arbitrary benchmark that no one can help you define, and also: You are not required to give anyone more of your time. It’s perfectly fine for a small moment to be a deal breaker, especially if that small moment points to the fact that this person is cruel or manipulative or disingenuous.”

I made a million mistakes as single guy, all of which prepared me for this unusual, made-up career, but the one thing I never did was stay with someone for too long. I as I wrote in Believe in Love, the second I knew it wasn’t right was the second I broke up. Which gave me ample opportunity to learn about myself, dating and women instead of doubling down on a dead-end relationship the way so many people do out of fear, inertia, loneliness or a lack of confidence.

So let’s hear it for breaking up. It may not be pleasant, but it’s a useful skill to have when you don’t want to waste your life on the wrong person.

Do you pull the trigger quickly? Do you stay too long?  Your thoughts, below, are greatly appreciated.

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  1. 1

    The question is  how to  know it isn’t right then. I’m very intuitive, when I get ahold of disingenuous behavior, lying (not small lies to dissipate awkwardness but lying about basic things about yourself.) I’m not a nitpicky person by any means, if they made a list I’d fall on last 5 percentages if not for 1. But the moment when they lie about such things, I can’t stop but think:  What else are they lying/will lie about?  

    Otherwise incompatibility in goals would be a reason to immediately break up as well. No need to steal anyone’s time. Again, flexibility is my strong suit. We can arrive at a point where we can both accomplish our goals. Wanting kids vs not, living in a certain environment, what we value etc are golden standards to gauge whether that is going anywhere.

    I’m on the autistic spectrum, so being accepting of my communication style is a green flag. I like recharging alone putting on a structure. I’m bi, and when talking about past relationships I tend to be very open with that. Because when I didn’t, I carried on a wrong relationship for too long. I think I’ve matured in a short time, since I am not motivated by fear as was the case before. Having discontent in a relationship is worse than being unhappily single. I am straightforward with what I think and things got a lot better than before. It attracts the compatible and repels the incompatible.

    1. 1.1

      Cathalei, you sound like exactly the type of person I’d be attracted to.. I don’t do dishonesty. It’s probably my only demand in a relationship..I am a very cuddly person but I too need that recharge time. I think that’s why dishonesty messes with me so much.. It makese crazy wondering what else they’re lying about and I become insecure and needy, which is not just a turn off for them, but me as well…and I don’t particularly enjoy loathing myself. Again with the honesty, being able to talk about past relationships and really anything is bonding and having your lover also be your best friend is the absolute best. I assume. 😉

  2. 2

    Now in my 40s I find myself struggling with two opposing forces. On the one hand it is easier to recognize when a relationship isn’t working, and to recognize the cost of staying. You can never be your best, most true self in a relationship that isn’t working, and as I’ve gotten older, authenticity has become a lot more important.

    But on the other hand, I struggle with accepting that even with the best intentions, there is a possibility that I will end up alone. I think being brave enough to leave a relationship requires one to be comfortable with risk, the risk being you might end up alone. I hear people say all the time they have learned to be happy on their own. I wonder if it’s more about not being afraid of the uncertainty. I realize if I got to that place, then it might be easier not only to end things earlier, but also not to rush into things prematurely.

  3. 3

    I think women get into relationships the same way they end relationships.   Find someone you like, the slowly convince yourself the man is awesome. Magnify his positives and diminish his flaws.   The same goes for the breakup. Decide the relationship(or the man) is going nowhere and slowly collect reasons why he is not so great.   Pull away, argue more and pretty soon a breakup is a much easier decision. He might even take the initiative and dump you first thereby relieving you of a guilt or second guessing.   Not the best way to find love but emotions are not logical or efficient.

    Also, if you are the type that fosters relationships easily, then a relationship or a breakup is not a huge decision.   However, you are the type that doesn’t have many opportunities to socialize with men, then a relationship or breakup has a more lasting impact.   Easy in, easy out.

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