How to Know When to End a Relationship?

when to end a relationshipA Useful Way to Know When to End a Relationship

One of the most useful concepts for making personal and business decisions is “Zero-sum thinking.”

What is it?

Zero-sum thinking is a method of clearing the mind of the effects of what is called a “sunken investment.” It’s a well-known fact that humans are susceptible to over-valuing things that they have already invested in.

For example, if you have invested a lot of time and energy in a relationship, there is a tendency to avoid giving up on that relationship because you feel like you have invested so much. You don’t want to lose your investment.

That logic makes sense on the surface, but not if you look a little more closely. The things you have invested are in the past. You cannot get them back. So your decision should be all about the present and the future.

Zero-sum thinking means you ask yourself this question:

“If I was not already in the relationship I am in now, would I choose to start this relationship given what I now know?”

This question clears the cobwebs of a sunken investment from our mind. It allows us to clearly think about what’s going to happen next. It allows us to stop making the mistake of thinking that our investments of time and energy in the past should be a factor that determines whether something is a good bet at this point in time.

Suzy Orman is an investment adviser who first revealed this concept to me. She was talking about the many people who own stock that depreciated in value during recent downturns in the economy. She talked about how many of her clients hold on to a stock because they don’t want to lose the money they have invested in that stock. They hope the stock will regain its value in the future and they can avoid the “sunken investment” loss.

Here’s what Suzy has to say about that. If you would not buy that stock today, swallow the loss and sell it today.

Nobody cares how much money you lost by owning a certain stock. The only thing that matters is whether that stock is a good place to invest your money at the present time. If you would not buy more of the stock right now (at the current price you could sell it for), that means you do not believe it is a good investment for the future. If it is not a good investment for the future, you should sell it now even if you take a loss in doing so. That is zero-sum thinking.

And now back to knowing when to end a relationship.

when to end a relationshipIf you are with a guy who has some good and bad qualities, who treats you well only some of the time, zero-sum thinking may be in order. Ask yourself this question, “Knowing what I now know, would I pursue a relationship with this man if I was single and starting over?”

I hope this concept will be as useful to you as it has been for me. It’s a way of reducing the complexity of decisions while focusing your mind on what’s coming next. Our decisions are always based on our best guess about what will happen in the future. You will make better predictions about the future if you clear your mind of the tendency to put too much emphasis on “sunken investments” from the past.

And if you are looking to learn more about making great decisions, I’ve developed a training course on mastering your own intuition to make the right relationship choices, check it out here.

Have a great day!

James Bauer

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39 thoughts on “How to Know When to End a Relationship?

  1. Casey said:

    Help for a broken heart needed! My boyfriend of 15 months broke things off suddenly 6 months ago. I ‘ve read all the How to get your ex back books and tried the various strategies such as asking for Help…hero instinct… he did call back but was very dry and cold and the conversation ended with me being even more disappointed. I tried the sending a text to remind him of something fun we did… no response. l could tell toward the end of our relationship he was getting overwhelmed and started to push me away–distancing moves… but i didn’t see how serious it was… I have kept the break up classy…no begging, or unkindness. I am certain he started seeing someone new – he likely met before breaking things off with me… We live 80 miles apart so i won’t run into him and we didn’t share common friends so some of the other How to get your ex back moves won’t work. Is there anything i can do to get him to talk to me again? I am still broken hearted as much as i have been trying to move on…. sigh! Any help?

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Casey. I wish you had a better experience with him. It does sound like you gave him every opportunity, yet he stubbornly refused the emotional tugs he no doubt felt in his heart as you triggered all the right feelings in him. That suggests he doesn’t like himself when he thinks about getting back together with you. He may be embarrassed about how he treated you. He’d rather not feel anything for you so he doesn’t have to feel guilty about the way he disrespected you by cheating on you.

      The truth is, some men don’t respond to the hero instinct. But it’s only the men who you would never want to build a long-term relationship with. Men who don’t feel a desire to be a hero to anyone but themselves. I realize that doesn’t heal your broken heart. But I hope it will help you to reframe the situation as a near escape rather than a devastating loss.

      Wishing you love and happiness,


      • Mary said:

        Omg…Of all the info that I have read lately and it has been a daily routine for me …( at least 2-3 hrs daily for six weeks now)…This has been the very best explanation I have heard..TY so much.

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