Ever said, “It’s not you, it’s me” to someone? It may be the worst breakup cliche. Which is a shame. Because sometimes… sometimes it is you. Or me. (It’s always me. It’s literally always me.) Sometimes it has nothing to do with the other person doing anything wrong. But there’s not really a way to say that without sounding like an idiot. So how do you break up with someone? Because when it’s over, you need to just get out.
As Psychology Today warns: “Far too many men and women stay in relationships well past the point that they know they don’t want to be in the relationship any longer.” The idea is that you don’t want to hurt the other person, so you linger, which ultimately ends up hurting them more in the long run. So you need to do something. I find that it’s a weird balance on focusing on how you’re feeling without looking self absorbed, while at the same time trying to be considerate of their feelings without being condescending.
Honestly, it’s a tricky business. And nothing you say is going to sound quite right or make it easy. But there are some thing you can say to make it (hopefully) less terrible. So here are five ways of saying “It’s not you, it’s me.” without looking like a total idiot.
1. “I Need To Focus On…”
NOT “me”. Don’t ever say “I need to focus on me”, you’ll sound like an ass. But if you have something not vague to need to focus on, that’s completely fair. It sounds less self-absorbed and more concrete if you say what it is. One guy and I stopped seeing each other because his family was exploding— which I totally understood and I wasn’t angry at all. I opted out of seeing people when my dad was dying. One relationship broke down because we both were moving for work and that took priority. Life happens, and if you explain that (and they’re not a dick) they’ll understand. Sometimes in those cases breaking up is actually good thing.
2. “I Don’t Know What I Want Right Now, And That’s Not Fair To You”
People may disagree with me on the jerk-level of this one. But I think it’s totally cool. If you don’t know what you want it’s better to remove yourself before someone gets hurt. Remind them that you’re concerned about their feelings, but also don’t act like you’re making their world fall apart, or that you think they’re just completely enthralled by you. It’s really patronizing. But someone can’t be angry with you for not knowing what you want. Frustrated, maybe, but not angry.
3. “I Think We’ve Been Moving Too Fast”
Sometimes things get out of hand before you’ve actually gotten to know each other. While this may not be a problem for everyone, if you’re not comfortable with it you every right to get out. Or at least take a step back. They might not like to hear it, as their an implication they’ve been moving it forward and wanting more than you do. So be clear that you’ve been caught up in things and part of things moving so quickly too, just now things need to change.
4. “We Want Different Things”
It’s just the way things go sometimes. Instead of saying “I want this, I want that”, you need to emphasize the discrepancy between what you’re both looking for. It’s less obnoxious than banging on about your own needs all the time. That seems self-absorbed. Pointing out the difference between the two of you is just a fact.
5. “I’m Not Happy”
No one can argue with this. If you’re not happy, you’re just not. Sometimes you’ve just checked out. If the argue, remind them no one can tell you how you feel, and that you wouldn’t want them to change themselves for you.
Originally posted on Bustle