January 20, 2018

The Breakup Exit Strategy Part I: Everybody Should Have One

Normally we enter relationships based off attraction and chemistry.  Rarely do we plan.  Everything goes great for the first few weeks, months, heck even the first few years…then the fantasy fades.  The rose-colored glasses come off and we’re like um, what did I see in this person?  Since we never plan our approach into relationships, we’re terribly unprepared to get out of them.  Our brains go into panic mode for reasons to break things off.  Hence the patronizing break up lines, “It’s not you, it’s me”, and “I need some time to figure things out.”  Better yet, how about picking arguments, being extra busy or just pulling a disappearing act?  Not too classy I know, but it’s better than hurting someone’s feelings, right?

Let’s face it, sometimes it really IS them and we just don’t want to say it.  Sometimes we love them, but are not in love with them, or we learn that they have a few screws loose.  In any event, we want to end things on a good note without being the villan or awakening the sleeping pit bull inside of them.  We need a plan!

It dawned on me one day that relationships are similar to starting your own business.  And like startups, relationships could benefit from business planning.  One interesting component of a business plan is the exit strategy.  After a few years of operation, if the business owner wants to leave, they’ll use their exit strategy to do so in a professional manner.  Breakups could be conducted the same way.

You’re probably asking yourself, how can a business exit strategy be used for a breakup?  The answer is simple: you would take the same principles from the exit strategy and use them to end your relationship in an amicable matter.  A breakup exit strategy is a plan that, like in the business world, you derive before you invest your time and resources so that you are prepared for whatever decisions you may need to make down the road.  In business you assess the product market.  You then do a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats).  Upon completing your analysis, you estimate your sales growth for roughly 5 years out and plan how to grow your business during that time frame.  If after year 5 you decide to continue on or leave, you either plan your way out or plan for long-term growth.

A relationship can be planned the same way.  First you should assess your dating market.  Then conduct a SWOT analysis by measuring your prospective mate’s strengths and weaknesses.  Next, analyze the upside and downside of being with that person.   After you’ve counted the costs, estimate the growth opportunity of the relationship and how long you believe it should take to achieve that growth.  Once the estimated time period has expired, reevaluate the relationship and decide if you want to stay or go.  The time period is critical because you have to allow time for some of the nuances and awkwardness in the beginning stages to play themselves out.  Five years is a bit long for relationship planning, so use your own judgement here.

Are you interested in what a breakup exit strategy looks like?  If so, stay tuned to read The Breakup Exit Strategy Part II: Everybody Should Have One!


  1. H A Ibrahim says:

    Thanks Kay this was great insight, and I’m sure that many of those who read this can relate or even have one of those “ahh oh yeah moments” like I did. Thanks again keep it up.

  2. I can definitely relate! I know I’ve been in relationships where I’m thinking how can I get out of this without being the biggest jerk known to man. You almost never want to hurt the other feelings, but at the same time, what about your own feelings! Hope part 2 can shine some light on this.

  3. Kay…Good stuff! The concept can be applied to all kind of relationships not just man and woman. When I say that I am talking about friendshps, we have a hard time ending relationships period. Cant wait to read part 2.

  4. @ Tooda, I don’t think we can control hurting someone else’s feelings. We just have to speak our truth with love. Usually we speak our truths in the heat of the moment and it comes out in anger, or we withdraw and leave the other person wondering what happened. Part II will definitely address that. @ Daphne, yes it can! All relationships could benefit from planning, and knowing when there’s no growing potential. Friendships can be painful to end too. I’ll address that in another post. @ Hamaas, thanks!

Speak Your Mind