There are countless ways to mourn a breakup: You might consider bangs, move across the country, acquire your driver’s license then write a hit pop ballad about loitering outside your ex’s house. You could email Nicholas Sparks. But for all the great films and poems dedicated to tragedies of uncoupling, we have far less discourse about the benefits of breaking up. Rarely do we celebrate — or even acknowledge — the ways that opting out of a relationship can be freeing, cathartic, or even, dare we say…joyful.
“Breaking off my engagement was the best thing that ever happened to me,” says dating strategist and breakup coach, Natalia Juarez. “It set the rest of my life into gear. And the truth is, if a relationship is no longer actively serving you, it’s probably holding you back — whether we’re talking about a partner, a friendship, or even your bank.”
It goes without saying, however, that break-ups are hard to orchestrate. No matter what you have to gain, broaching the subject can be uncomfortable, guilt-ridden, and, for lack of a better word…sad. Case-in-point: Per a 2022 survey of 1,050 millennials conducted by VICE and digital personal finance company, SoFi, 49% reported staying in relationships that no longer served them for over a year without taking action — and another 15% stayed more than five years.
This proclivity isn’t exclusive to our romantic relationships, either: 45% of respondents also said they’d stayed in toxic friendships for over a year, and another 37% said they’d done the same with their banks — staying committed to financial institutions that were ill-suited to their needs just because, well, it was easier than doing something about it.
“To carry out a break-up, you’re always going to have to disrupt a sense of calm. You’re going to have to create some conflict,” says Juarez. “And whether you’re more fearful of starting over, or of relinquishing the comfort of what you have, a breakup inevitably means change.” So how, exactly, do you know if you’re truly ready to take the plunge?
Fortunately, Juarez — whose digital menu of coaching services includes a) staging your ideal breakup, b) winning your ex back, and c) processing your heartbreak — has some answers. In fact, she's got a whole system in place for just this purpose: “discernment counseling” — which is something like souped-up pro/con listing. As she explains it, any healthy worthwhile relationship should reflect at least five of her six C’s: Connection (essentially, chemistry), Character (think: trust, respect, compassion), Commitment, Communication, Compatibility, and Circumstance. Often, a relationship is salvageable — or at the very least, worth fighting for — if only one of these qualities is missing.
“It’s not always easy to categorize behaviors or experiences into these buckets,” says Juarez. “But there are some flags that can help point us in the right direction, like thinking about the ways we communicate about big, tough subjects like family-planning or money.”
Conveniently enough, we can also apply these frameworks to our relationships with friends, jobs, or even banks. In fact, our reasons for leaving — or staying faithful to — our banks are not so different from those we might consider in our partnerships. According to the our survey, trust is one of the three most essential values millennials are looking for in both their banking partners and their romantic partners. Moreover, 45% of those polled said they’d avoided merging finances with a romantic partner — with the vast majority citing a lack of trust as the rationale for their reluctance. Sure, this is. often a purely a logistic, financial choice. But according to Juarez, if you’re apprehensive about starting a joint account with your partner, you should ask yourself if it’s about trust — and if it is, sit with that. How far does that mistrust reach?
“I’m actually going through a break up with my bank right now,” Juarez shares. “Basically, I put all my trust in this particular financial institution, and they messed up a lot of my records. So not only had they shattered my trust, which was a breach of character, but then they weren’t communicating, or apologizing. So now it’s time to go.”
This particular scenario is hardly uncommon: “I’ve seen so many people hesitate to make a break with their bank — even when they're dissatisfied — because they’re apprehensive about making a change to an unknown institution, or all the work required to get a new account setup properly,” says Kendall Clayborne, CFP at SoFi. “But the truth is, many turn out to be much happier once they make the switch because they've found something that better helps them achieve their goals."
On that note, according to Juarez, trust goes hand in hand with another one of the six Cs: communication. “If the something’s off, you need to be able to talk about it,” she says. “That’s the only way you can move past breaches of trust.” Per our survey, however, it’s common for couples to leave quite a bit unsaid — especially when it comes to money. Over one-third of polled Millennials said they’d spoken to someone other than their partner about their financial concerns — be it their bartender, a complete stranger, or their personal trainer. And on top of that, half of Millennials said they’d rather share their text messages than their bank statements with their partners, and 31% would rather share intimate sexual hangups than financial problems. “If you’re witholding from your partner, you’re creating a gap between you,” says Juarez. “And if you’re unwilling to find ways to bridge that gap, it might be time to reconsider.”
Beyond the “six C” method, Juarez says it’s also important to acknowledge the ways in which we may be avoiding ending relationships due to a reluctance to start over. Whether that’s about getting back out on the romantic playing field and making your first Raya account, or something as small as familiarizing yourself with a new banking app, it’s important to notice when we see ourselves leaning away from anything that’s not already programmed with face recognition (metaphorically and literally speaking).
“If you can acknowledge that the fear of starting over is really what’s holding you back, then maybe it’s time to talk through the ways we can make that process less painful,” she says. “But sticking around to avoid it will never work in the long run.”