It’s Okay to Break Up
by Catie Martin
I’ve been thinking lately about relationships and endings. We just said goodbye to our peer education Theatre Troupe after an amazing year together. While we will be starting up again in the fall (and if you’d like to join, you can join us starting next January), I found it hard and sad to say goodbye to them.
Indeed, it would be even harder to say goodbye to them if there was a chance that I would never see them again.
And I think that many people feel that way when they are considering ending a relationship: that this person will never be with them in the same way as before.
And this is more than likely to be true.
But it seems more often many people stay in relationships just because they are scared. Scared of being alone, scared of hurting the other person, or just scared of starting a conflict.
There are a few concepts I’d like to introduce here from economics.
Now, I know that last sentence put most of you to sleep, but bear with me here.
One of the reasons it’s so hard for us to quit anything, especially a relationship, is because of a concept named “sunk cost.” This means that whatever time, money, emotions, or even thoughts we SINK into a relationship we feel we will lose if the relationship ends, and that mental and physical energy doesn’t feel as SUNK if we continue with the relationship.
However, every minute, every hour you spend in a relationship means that you are giving up something called “opportunity cost.” This is the OPPORTUNITY to spend that dollar, hour, smile, kiss, or thought on someone else. You miss out not just on other relationships, but friendships, jobs, and time spent with those who actually love and want the best for you. You could also spend time on yourself because you are a person worthy of that time and attention.
So, as you’re considering whether or not to end a relationship, make sure you pay attention to whether the sunk costs are making you feel like you’ve put too much into the relationship to end it now, as well as taking time to consider the opportunity costs of staying in this relationship.
Thanks to my heroes at Freakonomics and their podcast “The Upside of Quitting” for these ideas.
Since I can’t have an article without a list, here are some reasons to end relationships:
- The person doesn’t treat you well.
- You no longer feel the same about this person as you did at the start. (However, you need to be careful with this, because of the concept known as New Relationship Energy (NRE) that causes us to feel great about a new relationship but start to be wary and not like the person as much as we get further into a relationship. It’s okay if your feelings for your partner change as long as you still like being in the relationship.)
- The person is abusive (please let a trusted adult know if this applies to you.)
- The person’s long-term goals don’t match up with yours (they want kids and you don’t, they want to live in the city and you want to live in the middle of nowhere.)
- You don’t want to be in that relationship anymore.
This last one is the biggest. You don’t need a good reason, you don’t need an excuse. If you don’t want to be in the relationship, it’s okay to not be in the relationship.
If you’re having trouble starting the break-up conversation, visit one of the Corner Health Center’s counselors. They have many tools to help you think through your relationship and get to the point where you feel ready to end the relationship. Because it may be time.
Have fun. Be safe. Beyonce’
About Catie Martin
Catie Martin, LMSW is the Corner Health Center's in-house improv master and therapist extraordinaire. Little known fact: therapists with a sense of humor are better than therapists without a sense of humor.Counseling, Dating & Relationships, Mental Health and tagged break-ups, counseling, theatre troupe. Bookmark the permalink.