Individuals stay in relationships that have passed their expiration date for many reasons, such as a fear of being alone or the shame of having another ex. “If in your heart you know the connection isn’t strong, then settling shouldn’t be an option,” says Jennifer Kelman, a certified life coach for more than 20 years. “Ask yourself, ‘Do I feel enhanced by being with this person, or am I depleted by it?’ ” She adds, “If there is constant arguing and poor communication, it’s time to call it quits.”

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HOW TO END IT

Like with any touchy matter, setting the wheels in motion can be tough. “I had accepted the fact that my relationship was over in October,” says Lana, 31. “But with the holiday obligations, I postponed the breakup. Then the Monday after New Year’s Eve, faced with the sober reality of another draining year, I knew it was time to stop postponing the inevitable.”

According to statistics published by edivorcepapers.com, January sees more legal separations than any other month, but the sooner you voice your dissatisfaction to your partner—in person—the better. Shockingly, a 2011 survey conducted by market research firm Lab42 found that about 33% of people have been dumped electronically. Show your soon-to-be ex some respect; end things face-to-face. 

“Begin with honest communication and feedback as to why you need things to end,” explains Kailen Rosenberg, relationship expert and author of Real Love, Right Now. “This is not a blaming session; it is a chance for each of you to grow from the experience so you are more skilled at love the next time around.”

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COOL YOUR JETS

As lonely as you may feel initially after the split, the first few weeks apart from your former partner is not the time for late-night emotional booty calls or spending time together as “friends,” which only leaves what is meant to be over in a state of confusion.

Rosenberg recommends not communicating with your ex for at least one month after a breakup, including no social-media stalking. In a 2011 survey conducted by love and relationship website YourTango, 40% of men admitted to looking at their ex’s online profiles too often and 57% of all singletons agreed that thinking about their ex prevented them from finding new love.

There's no correct amount of time you have to wait to get back into the dating game. In case you missed this episode of Sex and the City, Charlotte said it takes half the time you and your partner were together to get over him or her. A survey conducted by fifties.com, the largest dating website for the over-50 community, found it takes about 18 months for divorces to move on. 

"Casual dating can occur quickly, but to develop a long-term connection with someone, a true healing of your past relationship must occur," Kelman says. 

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DON’T GET FOOLED TWICE

The pressure to click with another can lead to the mistake of looking backward instead of forward.

“After a broken engagement, I found a quick fix in my old college girlfriend,” shares Josh, 29. “Soon we were fighting as we had years ago, and our issues were similar to those I’d had with my fiancée. I needed time alone to evaluate the qualities I want in future partners.”

Meeting new people and getting involved in new activities will lead to greater possibilities not just in love but also in self-discovery. “Start dating once you have a fresh sense of reality, to avoid carrying baggage into something new,” Kelman says.

Rosenberg adds, “There’s absolutely no reason that the next person you start dating can’t be the love of your life.”

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