Classic Breakup Excuses And What They Actually Mean

This article marks my tragicomic tribute to the five most common breakup excuses I commonly come across, and what (statistically at least — judging by my readers and real world acquaintances) they pan out meaning in the long-run.

“I Want To Feel Single Again”

Or, I’m only single when it comes to you.

Granted, this may strike a chord with many as a plausible and righteous reason for breaking up with someone. On the surface it is. However, just about everyone who has reported this breakup line has also gone on to witness the inevitable sooner rather than later.

It’s rarely about being single, per se, it’s about being done with this relationship. The risk here is that while it is often used by the dumper as a soft letdown (it doesn’t bruise the ego as much initially) it instills in the dumpee the notion that it is only a temporary phase that may pass. This false-expectation can cause far more harm than a blunter breakup line in the long-term. And because of this, we’re better off assuming that it is, in fact, over.

“It’s not about you, it’s about me”

Or, it’s not about me, it’s about you.

Moving on requires a measure of clarity. And nothing, nothing, jeopardizes a dumpee’s chances of introspectively “tying loose ends” as much as this cryptic and deceiving break up line.

The not-so-subtle deception here follows the same line as my first point. An attempt by the dumper to go for a softer letdown in order to dodge confrontation or coax the dumpee’s feelings. Once again, we simply can’t allow the fragility of our traumatized subconscious mind convince us this is a temporary affliction.

“I Need Some Space”

Or, I’m being suffocated.

This isn’t necessarily a reflection on you as a partner. Nor is it always a sign that a breakup is imminent (but keep it in mind). But is it a warning sign that — no matter what the specified reason is — it’s time to back off.

It could be stress unrelated to emotional matters, or it could be a sign you’ve become an insecurity anchor. Either way, the symptom, cause and cure are the same. Accept the need — because it is a need, not a want.

Sure, it is a timeless breakup line, but flipping out and demanding relationship security (in response to the insecurity it can understandably cause) will only serve to stab the camel’s back with a box of straws.

“I’m Not Ready To Commit”

Or, thanks for all the fun.

commitment issuesFor some people, the birth of a relationship is already a commitment that will involve long-term compromise. For others, it may merely be a landslide of fun that has an expiry date (once the fun ends).

Regardless, I do believe this is a distinction to be made here. Backing out of commitment isn’t always a sign they never intended to go all the way, it can obviously also be a genuine and reasonable objection to a situation which may not be sustainable.

How can you tell? My personal rule of thumb is as follows:

  • If they back out only once the prospect of actionable commitment looms they may never have seriously entertained you as a life-long partner (it they have a chronic fear of cold-feet, trauma and poor self-esteem may also be likely candidates).
  • If they spontaneously opt-out of compromise it is usually a genuine excuse (they don’t ditch you on the eve of your wedding), and not camouflage for their enduring poor intentions.

The majority of the time we’ll never really end up knowing what was going on in there. However, whatever the case may be, and as tough as it is, it will ultimately be their problem to haggle with– and not yours.

“You’re Too Good/Special For Me”

Or, I’m no longer attracted to you (I’m bored).

How do you explain to someone you deeply care about that the fires of attraction are a luke-warm collection of ashes? You don’t. Instead, you string together a paragraph of compliments which end in a cryptic and implicit but…

In short, it happens. It happens a lot. Once again, it isn’t necessarily a reflection of what we’ve done, or who we are. It is the inescapable and common side-effect of transitioning from one stage of love (usually attraction to attachment) to the next.

Can the tides of romance be turned once more in our favor? Possibly. But don’t count on it. Unfortunately, attraction is notoriously difficult to reason with, but if attraction was the only real issue that plagued the relationship there is a good chance that separation and time will rekindle some of the lost romantic kindling.

Think of it this way: They love you but they’re not in love with you.

2 Comments Classic Breakup Excuses And What They Actually Mean

  1. Shaughn

    Hey Unknown,

    I don’t have feelings for you any more. That’s the one I got.
    I was dumped recently by a woman after a year and a half. I hadn’t seen it coming at all. The thing she said was that she basically fell out of love three months ago and she stayed in it to see if the feelings would return. They hadn’t so she broke us up for my sake.

    What’s your interpretation of ‘I don’t have feelings?’

    Thanks. Shaughn

    1. James Nelmondo

      It could be one of many reasons. Although my impression is usually that relationships tend to be a three step process (both chemically and emotionally — check this article to find out why a year and half or thereabouts is a very common timeframe for breakups), and it failed to transition from romance into attachment.

      The fact that she specificed three months might mean that something specific happened, but realistically, sometimes it is a subtle downward spiral that will happen independently of what you do. Of course, I’ve also been on the receiving end of the end of feelings, but she was right in waiting it out as they do tend to ebb and flow, so I wouldn’t burn your bridges just yet!

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