Naturally I’m discussing this because it happened to me just over a month ago. I wavered on stage 1 for longer than I would like to admit, but within just under a week I was on to stage 2. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I think a lot, and in this case that is evidently going to be to my detriment. So I started applying some “operational break-up” theories. First things first: figure out what kind of assets you have and how you can re-arrange your capital structure given the organizational change.
Since I keep extremely detailed financial records, I looked at the total cost of our relationship that came out of my pocket, removed excessively abnormal expenditures, and then made a forecast of spending, including all un-paid in-couple plans that existed prior to the termination of the relationship. I took the net-present-value of our relationship over the next 3 months, and discounted by expected expenditures on entertainment and dates (assuming I’ll be ready to date sometime in the next 2-3 months), which I calculated based on an average of “entertainment” costs over the last three months that I spent single. I then added in a “you only live once” premium, as well as premiums to take into account money I had saved for undefined future expenditure in the relationship, and the result was my “break-up slush fund.”
Step two is to take on a “project” that will maximize firm utility. In my case, I needed to be happy and I needed to be distracted. For me the former follows naturally from the latter, so it was simply a matter of determining what would keep me distracted for a while. At the advice of a few friends, I took my “slush fund” and turned it into a 15 day trip to Morocco, Spain (the Canary Islands), and England (London).
The end result: best two weeks of my life, some amazing memories, great new friends, a stronger hold on what I want from life, and my first major international trip under my belt. Not sure I’m ready to date just yet, but I am happier and accelerating into my life once again. Considering what I’ve gained in the past month, if anything, I should break up more often! (Ok, I’m joking… kind of.)
A suggestion for anyone who isn’t as anal-retentive as I am about personal finances. Doing my kind of NPV calculations can be irritating and nearly impossible, so try this: as soon as you are seeing someone exclusively, start saving 100-200 (or more) per month that you are together. Whatever you have saved if/when you break-up is the maximum that you get to spend on getting over your ex. No person is worth becoming poor over, especially someone you aren’t seeing anymore. Spend the money on whatever will keep you happy and distracted (I’d steer away from alcohol, but whatever floats your boat,) and you’ll pull through and probably get an awesome experience out of it.