How Long Should You Wait To Break Up? How To Figure Out The Timing That's Best For You, According To Experts
It’s usually better to break up sooner than later so that you end your relationship on a good note rather than dragging it on and on. But you also want to be sure about the breakup before you do it, and it can be tough to strike the balance between these two things. “Once you've decided to end a relationship, the timing of actually ending it is a critical element to you both moving on and living healthy fulfilling lives,” Certified Life & Relationship Coach Nicole Karslake, CPC, tells Bustle. So, how long should you wait to break up once you’ve started thinking about it?
First of all, it’s OK if you’re not ready to end things the moment the inclination hits you. “Change happens in stages: we get an idea, mull it around for a while, and add evidence to stay or go,” therapist Karen R. Koenig, MEd, LCSW tells Bustle. “From the idea of leaving a partner to actually doing so may take weeks or months. It shouldn’t be done in days, and you certainly don’t want to wait years.”
The exact right timing will vary from relationship to relationship, but there are several ways to figure out what the right timing is for you. Here’s how to make sure you neither break up impulsively nor prolong the relationship unnecessarily.
Let The Dust Settle
The decision to break up should be based on a long-term assessment of your compatibility (or lack thereof), not something your partner recently did to upset you, says Koenig. If they’ve recently hurt you, wait a few days until you’ve cooled off so you can make the decision as rationally as possible.
Wait To See If Things Change
If you’re on the fence, something might happen within the next few weeks or months to push you over it. Instead of obsessing over how the relationship is right now, wait to see if it gets better or worse, and then the decision may be made for you, says Koenig.
Go Through An Evaluation Period
Therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW tells Bustle she recommends doing some reflection once you think you want to break up. Write down the qualities you want in a partner, and pay close attention to them to figure out if they have those traits. If they’re not meeting these criteria or you find that you’re not looking forward to seeing them, you should probably end the relationship.
Have A Talk
Don’t assume you can’t change what’s making you unhappy about your relationship. If you’re thinking of ending your relationship, sit your partner down and talk about the state it’s in right now. Ask yourselves if you’ve tried everything, and if not, if there’s still something left that could work. “If you've given ending the relationship as much consideration and time as beginning the relationship, clarity around when to end the relationship will come,” says Karslake. “It's natural to still feel some anxiety, but take comfort in knowing you've done your due diligence in listening to both your heart and mind.”
Ask Yourself Why You’re Staying
It’s legitimate to stay in a relationship because you’re genuinely unsure if you want to end it, but don’t stay for the wrong reasons. “If you know in your gut you’re staying out of pity, guilt, or habit, then it’s time to leave,” certified counselor and The Popular Man founder Jonathan Bennett tells Bustle.
End Things On A Good Note
It might seem weird to break up if you’re still happy in your relationship, but that’s actually the right time to do it. If you avoid a breakup because you’re happy, you’ll end up waiting until you reach your breaking point and snap, marriage and family therapist Jim Seibold, PhD LMFT tells Bustle. Better to say goodbye amicably while you’re still getting along.
Stick With Your Decision
Don’t second-guess yourself once you know what you’re going to do, says Karslake. Otherwise, you’ll keep having doubts and second-guessing yourself every time something good happens between you and your partner. There will always be reasons to stay, but if you’ve already considered them and decided to go, there’s no use mulling over them. “Once your rational mind has decided to end the relationship, move forward with the breakup quickly before your irrational mind begins to try to justify the alternative,” says Karslake.
Once You’re Sure, Do It ASAP
“If the decision has been made, the sooner you tell your partner the relationship should end, the better,” says Karslake. Otherwise, you’ll keep worrying about how it’ll feel, how they’ll react, and every other detail of the breakup.
So, in short, don’t put yourself on a strict timeline for deciding if you want to break up. But once you’re sure of your decision, make a point to get it over with.