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On breakups: don’t break down, break open — you’ll wind up even stronger and more beautiful

When people are deciding whether they should end or mend a relationship, they often fall into two categories called ditchers or hitchers.

Ditchers leave relationships too quickly without giving them a chance to develop. They confuse falling in love with being in love and expect the whole relationship to offer that initial excitement. They underestimate the opportunity cost of learning how to make relationships work. Hitchers, on the other hand, stay in relationships too long.

They are affected by cognitive biases like the sunk-cost fallacy — continuing to invest in something because you’ve already dedicated a lot of resources to it — and loss aversion — our tendency to try and avoid losses because we experience them as particularly painful. Hitchers forgo the opportunity to find a more satisfying partnership. To figure out whether to stay or go, consider your historical tendencies and determine if you’ve given the relationship a fair chance. Get input from someone you trust to help you make your decision.


When you’ve decided you want to break up with someone, it’s time to make a plan. Think through what you’re going to say and when and where you’re going to say it. Be kind but firm. Use an accountability system and incentives to ensure that you follow through with your plan. Make a post-breakup plan with your partner to consider their needs. And don’t have breakup sex! Make a post-breakup plan for yourself, including whom you’ll reach out to when you’re tempted to text your ex.

After the breakup, give the other person space. Don’t try to be a nice breakup person. It makes you feel better but makes it harder for them to move on. You can speed up your recovery process after a breakup by reframing the experience from a loss to an opportunity for growth and learning. You can do this by focusing on the positives of the breakup, understanding the negatives of the relationship, rediscovering yourself, and learning from your mistakes.


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