5 Signs It’s Time To Break Up With Your Mentor

A break up with your mentor may sound harsh, but it isn’t. Mentor relationships aren’t meant to be forever. If you are developing purposeful mentor relationships and giving a bit of structure to them, there should also be a structure in place for knowing when it is time to wrap up the ‘formal’ part of your agreement. We know this person has become important to you over time and they certainly shouldn’t drop out of your life, but it’s important to move on from mentorships as you grow.

There is indeed much to learn from the counsel of someone who has worked for many years in a field where you hope to distinguish yourself. However, as knowledgeable as a teacher can be, no one is omnipotent. Once you are able to extract the value you were looking for from a mentor, it’s absolutely okay to move on.

Here are 5 signs it’s time to break up with your mentor:

1. Each Time You Talk, You End Up Feeling Worse Than When You Started

When you look for a new company, you pay attention to cultural fit. When taking with a mentor, you should be doing the same in terms of finding a relational fit. We all need people to push us, tell us how it is and to aid our weaknesses with their own strengths. Of course, this is going to create a bit of discomfort, but if you aren’t able to communicate in a way that motivates you, you may not have found the right person to mentor you. Tough love only works if it lights a fire under you, not puts one out.

2. You’ve Surpassed Them In Knowledge

For every great teacher, there is an even greater student. The circumstances might just hold that you’re the expert now and there’s not much more your mentor can offer. If this happens, it is the ripe time to let go of your mentor and start mentoring others yourself. When you become an expert in a field, it might be time for you to give back.

3. Your Mentor Does All The Talking And No Listening From Your End

Mentors share guidance based on their experience in similar roles and situations. However, the mentee is not the only one who must take the time to listen. Advice is only useful when crafted to suit a situation. It is rare for a problem to arise that follows the exact parameters of those before it, making it necessary to craft individual solutions.  If your mentor offers the same advice to you in different situations or insists that the way they proceeded in the past is the only route to consider, this is limiting and unhelpful.

4. You Or Your Mentor Has Already Checked Out

You may have passed the point of a mutually-beneficial relationship months ago but haven’t known exactly how to communicate that to your mentor. It can be uncomfortable. But if you, or they have already moved on, you’re not doing anyone any favors by pretending. You might end up giving each other busy work and causing resent. That time can be channeled more productively into letting your mentor know how much you appreciate the investment they have made in you. Just remember, a nice note or a parting lunch can go a long way to show how thankful you are.

5. Technology Has Evolved But Not Your Mentor

Technology plays an increasingly important role in all of our lives, both on and off the job. There is an ongoing quest to increase efficiency and productivity and these goals often rely on technological advances to succeed. It isn’t the smartest or the strongest that survive, but instead the ones most willing to adapt to change. It’s important that even your mentor is adapting to changing times.


We know that your mentor has been a huge part of your life, making you feel calm in times of crisis and challenging you in times of stagnation. Remember, that a break up with your mentor doesn’t mean the end of any relationship. Unlike most breakups in life, you really can stay friends with your mentor. In this post, I shared with you 5 signs it’s time to break up with your mentor.

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