Is it time to break up?

Should IAs someone who didn’t meet her husband until age 33, I experienced a lot of break ups. A couple of them tragic. A couple of them euphoric. Most of them accompanied by a lot of angst—is this the right thing to do? What if I don’t find anyone better?

I’ve also broken up with my fair share of jobs. Usually right after I started making a really decent living, because I was subconsciously committed to the idea that I didn’t like rich people, but that’s a subject for another post.

I’ve also been broken up with graciously, outright dumped, and unceremoniously laid off. So I know break-ups. I know how wrenching they can be, even the ones where it’s a total relief to be done. And so I’m feeling extra empathic lately for nearly all of my clients, as most of them are either contemplating or going through breakups of their own—husbands, family members, jobs.

While the topic of breaking up is so fresh on my mind, I want to get my overarching thoughts about them down on paper and send them out in to the world. Because I know if a few people I directly know are all going through the same thing, there are countless more who are also in the thick of it. Here goes.

Whenever you are wondering should I stay or should I go, the most important question you can ask yourself is, what is the most loving thing to do? It’s not, what’s the best way to get my own way? Or exact my revenge? Or make them see how much they’ll be missing when I’m gone? It’s not a battle or a chess game. It’s an opportunity to get in touch with what’s true for you, to communicate that to the person or people you’re relating to at whatever level feels right to you, and taking actions that are aligned with that truth.

Some people out there advocate a more sweeping approach – if you’re not feeling supported and loved, cut it off definitively and figure it out from there. Honestly, sometimes that’s the only option available if the person you’re considering breaking up with just won’t engage with you at all.

But most of the time, I advocate small steps. (Even as a kid, I never once dove in to the deep end of a cold pool – I went in literally one step at a time, pausing long enough to let my body acclimate to the slowly rising water.) I first counsel people to show up differently—letting their true thoughts fly and taking actions that feel right despite how they might be perceived by others.

Though this approach is gradual, it absolutely creates changes in your situation. By sharing how you’re truly feeling, setting better boundaries, being steadfast in your efforts to take care of your own needs, you will raise your energy level. And energy is magnetic. Think of Bill Clinton walking in to a room and everybody turning their head to get a look at him. When you raise your energy—go from feeling miserable and put upon to empowered and grateful for every lesson this situation is helping you learn—you make it possible for the people who spend time with you to do the same. Your actions will model a different way for them and how it feels to be in your presence will create an opening in their mind. Somewhere deep in their mind, they’ll think, “Hey, I could change how it feels to be in my own presence too.”

Energy is also mercurial. It can repel or attract. You can’t predict how it will affect someone else. They may see and feel the changes you’re making and be repelled. Which may not be the happy outcome you’re hoping for, but hey, you’ll have your answer: This person or situation is not right for the long haul.

Should you decide to stay where you are, just be sure you’re not doing it because you’re afraid you won’t find anything at least as good to take its place. That’s fear talking, and fear is always interested in your staying small and stuck. Make the most loving decision you could make and the universe will have your back. Help will show up in the most unlikely ways at precisely the right time.

(For more help figuring out whether you’re making decisions from love or fear, download this handout. It’s a tool I use frequently to help with big choices of all kinds.)

Bottom line is this: The universe is a loving and abundant place. If you’ve tried the gradual approach, or you know in your bones that there’s no happy future for you here, there is most definitely another relationship waiting for you, one that’s better suited to who you truly are and where you are now. No question.

If you don’t believe that fact now, know that I believe it 110%. Borrow my faith until you have your own.

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