When Is It OK To Burn Bridges?

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When is it OK to burn bridges? Simple: when that relationship makes you constantly feel bad and it only keeps getting worse. Ok, I admit I oversimplified it there a bit though it doesn't have to be complicated to figure out. Though I never said it would be easy. 

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Whether you've fallen in love, gotten into a business partnership, had a friend or a client you have thought at one point or another that it might be better to go your separate ways. In some cases, that really is the best option. If what's going on between you and them is only hurting you it's time to pull the plug and hightail it out of there.

You've probably heard something like this before: “never burn bridges because you never know when they might be useful”. That person has apparently never been in a poisonous relationship. Never experienced the mental turmoil that a sour apple can cause.

Let's get a few things out of the way first:

  • Burning a bridge is just one of the potential options when things are bad.
  • I'm not saying that burning a bridge is always a good idea, I'm just saying that it is a possibility.
  • This is rarely an easy decision.
  • Sometimes it's not possible (such as being stuck with a crappy boss in a job you love)
  • It's OK to burn bridges.

Nothing is meant to last forever, and the harsh reality is that neither do relationships. As we're talking about relationships, let's first define what a relationship is. A relationship can be:

  • A business partnership.
  • Marriage
  • Friendship
  • Love (that goes both ways)
  • A network connection
  • A mutual acquaintance that you talk to only once in a while

It boils down to this: a relationship is a connection to anyone you know. You, by definition, have a relationship with that quiet neighbor across the street, the police officer who gave you a speeding ticket and even that cute barista at your favorite coffee shop. Whether that relationship is weak or small, loving and strong, or simply there is all up to you.

But what happens when things go sour? I don't mean the occasional spat. Everyone has disagreements now and again, there's nothing wrong with that. There is a problem when you:

  • You are constantly fighting
  • Disagree on everything (in a non-productive way)
  • Are feeling anxious, sad, depressed and/or angry most of the time around them (or because of them)
  • Feel suffocated by their presence
  • What they do to you (or around you) only causes you increased harm (mental and physical)

It's ok to burn bridges when those relationships are harmful.

Though only you can tell yourself if it's the right thing to do or not. If you're constantly feeling held back, bad, or even upset then it's a sign that it might be a good idea to get away from that person.

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