Having just recently been dumped, I found Sam Brett’s article about non-lame ways to end a relationship thought-provoking (and the comments too!). I was fed the good ol’ “it’s not you, it’s me” line. He probably thought he was doing the kind thing by sparing my feelings of inadequacy. (And does hearing that line make anyone else think of that episode of Seinfeld?)
This was my first time as a dumpee, and it really was horrific to feel like “you’ve been gutted, the knife’s been turned around a few times and your heart’s been ripped out, to never be replaced unless the dumper takes back their painful words”. And I might add that it feels like your ripped out heart has then been thrown on the floor and walked all over by the dumper.
The “it’s not you, it’s me” line is probably the least humane way of breaking up with someone, probably right up there with the “I want you…just not right now” line (sorry ‘em’!) and the “I’m not sure what I’m looking for” line. Firstly, you have doubts about whether it’s true in the first place, and you can’t help but have suspicions that they are hiding something. Secondly, it throws up so many unanswered questions if things were going really well and you thought that you are a perfectly suited. Why would he say that he could see us getting married, but then turn 180 degrees a couple of months later?
Finally, it puts in your mind the idea that if it’s not you, then maybe when he finally sorts himself out then he’ll come running back and leaves you living in false hope. And this is the least humane part of the line. It prolongs the denial phase of grief and makes it a lot harder to reach the acceptance phase.
At least with other breakup lines, there are good ways to rationalise the end of the relationship:
“I’m seeing someone else” – this means that the dumper was cavorting around with floozies behind your back, so who wants to be with such an insensitive man-slut anyway?
“I’m just not attracted to you anymore” – hey, if you’ve put on a little bit of weight and he can’t see past that then he’s a shallow chauvinist that doesn’t deserve you.
“You’re too emotional/clingy” – there’s no winning with this one, since most men are emotionally barren. They think that because you need to cry occasionally to express your feelings that this is a problem with you? Or because you like spending time with him alone, away from his mates, that this means you’re clingy? Give me a break. Remember, emotionally barren!
“We want different things in life/I don’t think we’re compatible” – sometimes you do get blinded by love and caught up in the whole relationship that you don’t rationally assess your future together. He’s probably right and it’s a good thing. Go find someone who wants to share your dreams and destinations, and the journey there.
Being able to rationalise the end of the relationship is just much cleaner and better off for the dumpee. It allows them to move on sooner because they can more easily detach themselves emotionally from that relationship. I can’t remember how I dumped my previous boyfriends, but I hope I didn’t use the “it’s not you, it’s me” line. I suspect I may have, being young and emotionally immature as I was. I guess it takes being on the other side to realise how damaging it can be.