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How To Survive a Breakup

Updated on July 9, 2007

Written by: Jaclyn Popola

"It's not's me." "I just can't do this anymore." "I can't give you what you need." "The timing is all wrong." "Maybe in another life, we could have been very happy together." Break-up excuses; we've all heard them. Whether it's on television, in the movies or in real life, there are certain cliches that people use to end a relationship. According to DonnaMete from, although there are dozens of excuses people use when ending a relationship, there are 4 major ones that people use in lieu pf telling the truth. Some relationships, of course, really are meant to end. Either you're not compatible, or you've learned everything you can from one another or it's just not meant to be. If your partner is honest and open about his or her reasons for leaving, and handles your reaction and emotions with grace and respect, you can amicably go your separate ways. However, if you've already been dumped and are seeking closure, or are in the process of being dumped and feel that you are being handed an excuse, the following will help you understand the madness behind the dumper's methods.

1. Gaslighting -- Gaslighting is essentially a form of brainwashing where the dumper attempts to confuse the dumpee by contorting reality. This applies particularly well in the case of infidelity or addiction. Let's say your intuition tells you that your partner is cheating on you. Maybe you have tangible proof, maybe you don't. It doesn't matter, because after a while you can't take it anymore and you confront him. He reacts by either getting defensive or becoming overly nurturing and borderline patronizing. He freaks out and accuses you of being paranoid or insecure, and you begin to wonder if you're wrong. Maybe you really are paranoid? Maybe your gut feeling is whacked out? Your partner will then use this to his advantage. Days, weeks or months later, he breaks up with you because he "can't be with someone who doesn't trust him." When it's over, you'll probably find out that you were in fact right about your suspicions--he really was seeing someone else! You may feel disgusted and manipulated upon discovering the truth, but remember that YOU did not do anything wrong. He chose to lie, and he chose to cheat. The fact that he made you think you were crazy was all part of his master manipulation.

2. The No-Win Situation -- After several years together, your partner all of a sudden drops a bomb and says, "We don't want the same things anymore", or some other equally vague statement that is complete news to you. Rest assured that this is a giant excuse. A lot of dumpers have an aversion to telling the truth, so instead of saying "I'm sick of you" or "I just don't feel like being together any longer" they'll attempt to sugarcoat the truth with a cut and dry statement that leaves you feeling helpless and out of the loop. You begin to worry. Shouldn't you have seen this coming? Can't we discuss this further? Can't we come to a compromise? The answer is no, you cannot. Your partner in this case is not willing to negotiate, probably because she lacks the motivation required to work out your differences. Instead, she'll focus on a secondary issue and make it seem like it's not up for discussion (after all, you can't change your core desires). She doesn't want to work anything out. There are no answers or alternatives, she just wants to leave. Do not let this rattle your self-esteem, and don't start second-guessing your beliefs. It is not up to you to change so your partner will like you more or want to stay. You are perfect just the way you are, and one day soon you'll meet someone who sees that and appreciates you for all of you.

3. The 'Victim' Excuse -- When your partner begins to victimize herself, it is done in order to make you think differently of her, hopefully in a negative light. She wants you to think that her problems are out of control, and nothing you can do will fix that so you might as well break up. This is expressed in terms of "I can't." For example, "I can't give you what you need. I want to, but I can't. I can't be in a monogamous relationship, I can't stop doing drugs, I can't do long-distance, etc." In this case, "I can't" means "I don't want to." If she really wanted to be with you, she would find a way to make it happen. There are always options, and as human beings we are able to exercise our free will--but only if we choose to do so. Whether that free will is exercised in the form of making sacrifices and making a relationship work, or by parting ways, if up to your partner. However, a mature partner will tell you the truth and allow you to feel as though you have some choice in the matter, rather than feeling isolated and helpless. If this is happening to you, try explaining to your partner that it would be much more helpful if she were to be totally honest with you, and to detail her real reasons for wanting to leave the relationship. This will give you some autocracy in the matter, and the break will feel more like a mutual decision than a one-sided declaration.

4. The 'Manipulative' Excuse -- People who use this excuse are extremely deceitful. I'm sure there's a psychological term used to describe this behavior, but I don't know what it is. Basically, your partner will try to manipulate your emotions by pretending that the reason she's leaving is to spare you the pain that would inevitably result should she stay. Oh and she just loves you too much to do that to you! Instead of being honest, she'll cry as though this is so hard and say things like, "I can't give you what you need. I wish I could be the one to make you happy, but I can't. You deserve so much better, I love you too much to keep you in a relationship where your needs aren't being met." Playing the martyr is just her way of making you think that she's doing this for you rather than for herself. Don't believe it for a second. I don't think anyone is truly that selfless. A mature individual will use the word "don't" instead of "can't", and would say something like, "I don't want to give you what you need, and you deserve someone who does." She would take responsibility for her feelings rather than pinning it on you. Don't allow her to make you feel as though your needs are unrealistic, or that they are so lofty she could never dream of reaching them. Because manipulators usually try to soften the blow by telling you how great you are, it is easy to start thinking, "Well, if I'm so perfect, why is she leaving? There must be something wrong with me, right?" Do not let her make you feel like you are flawed in some way, and do not start criticizing your wants and needs. Have the dignity to not grovel, and don't make any promises to change. You shouldn't have to conform yourself to her ideals, especially since she's just using it as an excuse in the first place! Just let her go and remember that when one door closes another one always opens.

The only thing excuses do is avoid the truth. Honesty really is the best policy. You may think that sugar-coating the truth will spare your partner pain, but it won't--it only serves to spare you the pain of having to admit your shortcomings, especially if you've been cheating on her. Break-ups hurt no matter what, that's a given. If you're the one doing the breaking, you'll fare much better by being honest. The truth may hurt, but at least it's real, and in the end your partner will respect you for it. By throwing an excuse at her, you may cause her to start questioning her self-worth instead of explaining to her that it's you who has the doubts or the conflicting desires. Although dissolutions are rarely enjoyable, communication is the key to a healthy break-up. Talk openly and honestly with your partner, expressing your viewpoint and allowing her to articulate hers. And if you're the one who has been broken up with, always remember that you are beautiful just the way you are, and deserving of a love that fulfills your every need. What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger, and as you go from relationship to relationship you'll learn a little more each time. When one relationship ends, you become more knowledgable about what you want, and now you'll know enough to look for that next time. Because there will ALWAYS be a next time; you will survive and life will go on, time will heal all your wounds, and you'll be a better, happier, stronger person because of it.


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