Should you or shouldn’t you burn bridges?

Read this quote today and completely loved it:

Personally, I don’t like burning bridges but at the same time, I also know that sometimes it is the only way to move forward.

I didn’t burn bridges when I left the companies that I have worked with in the past. I had enjoyed my colleagues and my bosses and I kept in touch with them. Over the years some of these relationships evolved into deep friendships full of appreciation and support. We discovered new things about each other interest that kept the relationship going.

One example: I have been collaborating with one of my ex-colleagues on an online radio that he started. Over the past two years, I have found him and his wife to be two of the best people who I know here in Dhaka. I love who they are and how they conduct their lives, integrating and introducing their children to their various interests. They don’t preach, instead they live their lives in a way that would inspire any other parent. 

Another very good thing about not burning bridges – ex-bosses make the best possible mentors! They have worked hands on with you. Ideally they know your strengths and weaknesses and are therefore in a better position to help you grow professionally. As outlined in my previous re-blog of another post on mentors, you will need people who will mentor and sponsor you professionally. Ex-bosses are ideal for just that. If your relationship with your direct line manager is good and continues to remain so, you just might find a sponsor for yourself right there. 

So given all these, why would I support burning bridges? Why do I believe that sometimes it is in fact necessary?

This is where Dunbar’s magic number of 150 comes into play. According to Robin Dunbar, the British anthropologist who correlated the size of the primate brain with the average social group, humans can maintain an  average of 150 meaningful social connection. While the size may vary between 100 to 200, the research showed that the bigger the number the more disintegrated the relationships. 

We are continuously growing and evolving as a person. And at some point in time, we might find that our personal growth is creating distance between us and some of the people in our immediate circle.  This maybe due to anything, from a simple change in physical location to difference in ideology etc.

Our time and energy are limited. Hence our primary resources are usually spent on maintaining the relationships that are integral to our very own well-being – our parents, siblings, spouse, children. Next comes those with our friends, colleagues, social media contacts etc.

Fact is sometimes we  outgrow some relationships. When a relationship takes up an inordinate amount of time and energy to maintain without giving back any, it becomes like a black-hole sucking away all good things. When it comes to these toxic relationships, the question is not whether or not to break the connection all together, but how soon can you break it off. In cases like these, I fully support the burning of bridges. 

Burn the bridge. Trust your intuition. Continue to grow and prosper in other more supportive relationships. Some things can be fixed when they are broken. In case of toxic relationships, it’s better to leave it alone all together. 

So what do you think – should you or shouldn’t you burn bridges? 


Posted on December 19, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Nice article, I enjoy reading and feel you are very diverse individual. I wrote on the same similar article and trying to expand my writing so more peoples will read it. Good luck


  2. Great food for thought here. When and if we end relationships is one of life’s dilemmas. Sometimes we risk burning bridges in the emotion of a moment or a situation. This is when careful thought along with one’s intuition must come into play.


    • So true! While most women never get around to burning bridges because of the inherent insecurity that comes with losing any particular relationship. You are right that the decision should never be taken lightly, in the heat of the moment. IF and When the decision is made, it should be after much thought is given on the reasons of why such a drastic measure may be necessary.

      Thank you for pointing that out 🙂


  3. Very interesting about spreading ourselves thin with too many relationships. I am with Dunbar on this one – that I would prefer to keep the number smaller and nurture them more deeply. Even thinking of 100 makes by head spin.
    However, I am not sure whether I would actually have to burn bridges to achieve that and maybe I could achieve the same thing just by keeping a lower profile in their lives.

    As for toxic people ….. GREAT idea.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Personally .. I like fewer, deeper relationships then many, shallow ones. I find that I am happier and more content with my life and myself when I devote my time and energy to nurture the deep connections 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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