When Should You Never Break Up With Someone? 13 Experts Weigh In
It can be really difficult to know when to fold 'em, know when to hold 'em, know when to walk away, and know when to run. But under which circumstances, should you never break up with someone? Sometimes it's super unclear just what to do —break up, make up, press pause, go to sleep and hope that everything looks better in the morning — there are a lot of options here. It's enough to make your head spin.
Enter a gaggle of excellent relationship experts, who told me that there are absolutely certain situations in which it's much, much wiser to just take a chill pill and hold off on any major decisions. Of course it's never a good idea to break up with someone when you're angry, but as it turns out, there are a whole host of conditions under which you should not split up with someone. Here are 13 such conditions, according to love gurus of all stripes. And if, right now, you are feeling particularly angry in the moment with your partner, you may want to hold off on marching over to them and telling them it's over. You can always do that tomorrow — but for now, just take a deep breath and read on.
1. At Night
"Don’t break up with someone at night," New York–based relationship expert and author April Masini tells Bustle. "You’re tired. They’re tired. You’re both more likely to fight at night than in the morning after breakfast, when you’ve had a good night’s sleep and a meal, and it’s easy to get into a reactive dynamic at night — more difficult to do so at 10 a.m." If it's the witching hour and you're fighting, resist the urge to tell them it's over.
"Breakups that are reactions to fatigue, hunger, and petty bickering aren’t the type you should be having," Masini says. "If you are going to break up with someone, make sure it’s because you’ve thought through your reasoning and limited your regrets before doing so." If you're really ready and you've thought it through, go forward — but not at midnight.
2. Before You've Hashed It Out
"If you have frustrations you have not addressed, it is often better to wait until you have had a chance to see your partner's response to your frustrations and see if there is a different perspective or behavior change that will make things better," Carlyle Jansen, author of Sex Yourself , tells Bustle. "It is not fair or even in your best interests to break things off before you've given your partner and the relationship and chance to fix it." So if you're considering ending your relationship, be sure that you've aired your grievances and allowed your partner to do the same.
Once you've given it some time, see where you're at in regard to whether behaviors or perspectives have shifted. "If you do break up, at least you know you gave it the best shot rather than later debating whether you should try to go back again," Jansen points out.
3. When You're Sick
"Never break up with someone when you're not feeling well yourself," life coach Kali Rogers tells Bustle. "Don't break up with someone if you're sick, intoxicated, tired, or stressed." If you're mid-flu, you're not thinking straight. "Wait until you feel better and then think about it," she advises. If you feel negative about your relationship when you're well, sober, energized and calm, then it may be time to make a move.
4. When You're Drunk
"You should never end a relationship when under the influence of alcohol or drugs because these substances suppress the frontal lobes — the thinking part of the brain — and you may feel very differently when sober," Boston-based clinical psychologist Bobbi Wegner tells Bustle. If you're drunk, do not make any major life decisions. Always a good rule of thumb.
"You should also never break up with someone when going through another chaotic or emotional time in life, like immediately after a death in the family, because it is a vulnerable time and nearly impossible to differentiate where the emotion is coming from — the relationship or the event," Wegner says. If you've been through trauma recently, give yourself some time to grieve before trying to figure out your romantic relationship.
5. When You're Taking A New Medication
"Never break up with a partner when you are under the influence, whether it be alcohol, recreational drugs, or even prescription medications that you don't normally take, or that are new." dating coach and licensed marriage and family therapist Pella Weisman tells Bustle. "When you ingest something that alters your biochemistry, your mood and mind are altered."
Though it's obvious that it's a bad idea to call it quits mid-drug trip, Weisman points out that your decision-making skills might be affected by new substances, and — real talk — the pill can totally mess with your hormones, aka emotions. "Wait until you're sober, or until your body has gotten used to the medications, before you make any big decisions," Weisman adds. Sounds wise.
6. When You're Overly Emotional
"When you are in an emotional mindset, avoid making big life — and financial — decisions," relationship counselor Crystal Bradshaw tells Bustle. "While it's important to be informed by our emotions, we should not let them lead the decision making process — at least not without consulting with our frontal lobe." Ah, shout-out to the frontal lobe again!
"We want to respond, not react, to things that happen in life, and that's why we really need our frontal lobe involved; our frontal lobe helps keep us in check," Bradshaw continues. "Higher thinking, impulse control and rational thought process all come from our frontal lobe, and we need these things present when we are faced with big life decisions — otherwise we could be dealing with the emotional fallout of regret."
Stay present, remain open, and don't rush into a decision if you're feeling super emotional. "Take some time, get some space, and get some perspective — then respond to what happened. Figure out what the best move is for you," Bradshaw says. "Don't react by hurting your partner just so they can feel your pain, because you might end up hurting yourself in the process."
7. In The Heat Of The Moment
"I think people treat relationships impulsively and like they are much more disposable these days," psychologist Nicole Martinez, who is the author of eight books, including The Reality of Relationships , tells Bustle. "Instead of trying to talk things out or work things out, they just end the relationship, which is often rash. If the thought of ending the relationship comes in the heat of the moment, and is not something that you have been contemplating — for good reasons, for quite some time — take a breath and wait," Martinez says. "Things may feel different tomorrow, or next week."
Spontaneity is a fickle friend. "Don't let one impulse make a potentially unalterable decision," she says. "Treat the end of the relationship with the same care you treated it throughout it." Though it may feel disposable in the moment, it's best to treat it with some respect and give it some time. "Do not take it lightly," she says.
8. If You're 'Doing It For Their Own Good'
"Believe it or not, one of the circumstances in which you should never break up with someone is when you think you are doing it for their own good," dating expert Noah Van Hochman tells Bustle. "This usually occurs after a financial setback or the loss of a job, but can occur under a variety of circumstances." Thing is, you shouldn't tell someone it's over just because you think it's "right for them," especially if it's not right for you.
"You do not know what is best for them," Van Hochman says. "Talk to them about what happened and get another perspective from someone who has a vested interest in your well-being that is not a blood relative." And whatever you do, don't rush into anything. "Take your time," he says. "It is very difficult to put the toothpaste back in the tube once you let it out." Indeed.
9. To Hurt Your Partner
"Never break up with someone in the heat of an angry moment," relationship coach and psychic medium Cindi Sansone-Braff, author of Why Good People Can't Leave Bad Relationships , tells Bustle. "Breakups need to be something well thought out, not something you do out of an impulse to hurt or lash out at your partner." Never, ever end things with someone to teach them a lesson, prove something or provoke them.
"Rashly breaking up with your partner may prove to be one of the worst things you could have done, particularly if your partner doesn't forgive you and take you back," she says. Just. Don't. Do. It.
10. Because Of Hearsay
"Hearsay is definitely something on my list of do-not-break-up-immediately," sex and relationship expert Megan Stubbs tells Bustle. "Take some time to calm down and then sit down with your partner and address the concern with them." If you hear that your partner is cheating, don't believe it blindly.
"As we know from the telephone game we played with children, things can get skewed very easily," Stubbs says. "Better to go directly to the source and then make your decision." Try to get a clear read before pulling the trigger.
11. Because You've Threatened To Do So
"Never use the phrase 'breaking up' during an argument," Tina B. Tessina, aka Dr. Romance, psychotherapist and author of How to Be Happy Partners: Working it out Together, tells Bustle. "Ending a relationship is a serious matter — do it in a serious, thoughtful way." If you're mid-fight, don't throw around the term "breakup" just to scare your partner. "Know why you want to leave, and what, if anything, your partner could do to fix the problem," she says.
I love the idea of keeping the word "breakup" out of your vocabulary during a fight — so smart. Threatening a breakup is not fair — and won't make either party feel good in the end.
12. Before You've Paused & Reflected
"I believe we should never make serious decisions when we're emotional," Tiya Cunningham-Sumter, certified life and love coach and author of A Conversation Piece , tells Bustle. "People are often unable to process or rationalize in the heat of the moment." If you suddenly feel like ending your relationship, that's a good sign that you should't do it quite yet. "Making decisions when you're emotional, especially ending a relationship, usually leads to regret," she says. "It's important that we take some time to pause, reflect, and then make a decision." Pausing is power, she adds: "There is so much power in pausing."
13. When You're Angry
"It doesn’t matter how angry you are, one should really cool off, analyze their thoughts and feelings, and then resume the conversation when it’s less intense," author and relationship expert Alexis Nicole White tells Bustle. Hit that pause button and see where you're at when you've cooled off.
Images: Andrew Zaeh for Bustle; Giphy (13)