How to decide whether to break up? : LUSENET : Xeney : One Thread

How do you decide when it's time to go? What do you base your decision on? What's your breaking point? Are you the one to leave or be left? What's the best speech you've given, or gotten?

-- Anonymous, March 20, 2000


Me- You mean the pink lace teddy isn't for me? Then who the hell IS it for??

Him- It's for me. Do you think it's my color?

Me- I'm outta here.

-- Anonymous, March 21, 2000

I honestly don't know -- so many times I think I have hit my breaking point and then realize that I haven't.

I've dumped twice and been the dumpee once. The first time I was 13 and I wrote him a letter -- this was a long-distance romance after a summer camp romance -- to end it because I just couldn't take being that far away from him anymore. Somewhere in my head it seemed better to be completely alone, than always wondering.

The second time, I let down gently the boy I was dating between the guy who broke my heart and Sabs. I was graduating from college and heading off to the Real World, he was only nineteen and had a good two years left at school. Furthermore, Sabs had begun to express interest, so it just seemed like the right time to move on.

The time that I was left nearly did me in. I was sure he was it, the one for me, despite a year's worth of difficulties and the shock of betrayal followed by the shock of being dumped threw me for a loop for a long time.

I keep looking back and wondering if there was a point at which I could have ended it, that would have preserved our friendship and let things down just a bit more easily for both of us.

-- Anonymous, March 21, 2000

I never do this right. I always stay about 30% longer than I should have. What I mean is, if the relationship lasts a year, it started to go bad at 9 months. If it lasts a month, it went bad at three weeks. If it lasts a day, it went bad after an hour.

I wish I could figure out how to recognize the point when things go bad, but I just can't. However, I always based my decision on what I need to be happy. Unfortunately, I have the habit of delivering this as an ultimatum -- "you do x, or we split." He never does x, and we always break up, but I end up feeling dumped when really it was my decision to end things. I wish I could learn the grace and self- confidence to just end it. My way is far less powerful than it should be, and at the end of a relationship, I should be more concerned with myself than with him anyway.

-- Anonymous, March 21, 2000

In my case, it's usually when they stop returning my calls or tell me as they walk out of our front door, "I can't be with you anymore, sorry. Bye"

Don't ya just love it when they can't be bothered to tell you they're unhappy before they decide to leave? Cowards, ya gotta love 'em.

At least the one time I did the dumping I sat down with my boyfriend and talked to him, telling him why I didn't feel it was working out.

-- Anonymous, March 21, 2000

In my whole life I have never been dumped, not even once. It is only in the last two boyfriends that I have been hurt by one leaving, but I never get the balance right, even though I've had so much practice. I always end up suggesting a 'break'. Always avoid these, all they do is cause a whole lot of hurt, so you forget all the reasons you want to go and end up staying. It's the situation I'm in at the moment. I knoe its only going to cause more hurt in the longrun. But as it says in the song, Breaking up is hard to do. If it was easy to break up, then the relationship probably wasn't worth having.

-- Anonymous, March 21, 2000

When you're lying in your boyfriend's bed, basking in post-coital bliss, and he asks you if there's anything you can do about your acne, it's time to leave.

Too bad it took me three more months to figure that out.

-- Anonymous, March 21, 2000

Hmm, the serious relationships I have had I have gotten dumped from. OThers that were not so serious I just sort of walked away from. I hear a lot of the standardsuff... "I'm confused, I dont know where my life is going, I can't deal with a relationship right now." etc. When my last girlfriend and I broke up I told her I didn't mind her dumping me but if she said the words "It's not you, it's me" I'd have to knock her teeth in.

I'm such a sweet guy.

At least I never go through the long, drawn out crappy relationship thing. I've never understood friends of mine who are with someone for months or years yet they constnatly fight, break up, get back together, fight, break up, get back together. I generally go into relationships knowing it is going to end sometime, and possibly end quite painfully, but I'll have such a good time with that person up until that point that it'll be worth it. If I go on more than one or two dates with someone, we usually hit it off really well and have a great relationship for months. Then there is suddenly this wierd "confusion" in her life and we split up.

-- Anonymous, March 21, 2000

The minute you asked yourself if you should break up, it's usually time to move on.

-- Anonymous, March 21, 2000

I agree with Nance. I can remember many times when dating this loser Russell, I stopped in the middle of whatever I was doing and said "What am I doing with this asshole?" We broke up not too long after that.

When the other person gets on your last nerve is a great indicator. Like when they "click" the spoon in their mouth when they eat soup. Or pick their nose in public and you shudder... love is blind, so if you still care you tend to overlook the weirdness of the person you're with.

I think the best way to see if it's over is ask yourself if you want to be in the same relationship in 1 month, 6 months, 1 year, 5 years, 10 years and so on. Longevity is where it's at as far as I'm concerned.

-- Anonymous, March 21, 2000

I don't know that I agree with that ... I mean, I did break up with someone for good because his habit of chewing with his mouth open was driving me bonkers, but over time there will always be things that annoy the heck out of you about your loved one. Annoyance comes and goes, especially if you're someone who needs a lot of space. That doesn't mean it's time to end the relationship; if it did, no one would ever stay together for more than three years.

-- Anonymous, March 21, 2000

When I realized that I was spending most of my time with him muttering "I hate you" under my breath. I'm a slow learner.

I've left him before, but *this* time, I made the change as a rational decision, not an emotional one. He is emotionally abusive, not out of malice, but because he has no other way to behave, since he doesn't even realize that he's doing it. Even when I point it out to him, he can't see it. When I could see that, then I could say, "It's not my fault, I can't change it, and I can't live with it." He's convinced that I will regret this decision someday soon, and come back on my knees begging forgiveness. (If I do, I deputize you all -- please find me and shoot me. Thanks, you're real pals.)

I moved last Friday. It's great to be alone.

-- Anonymous, March 21, 2000

When a nice boy comes along and spends more time wooing you than the current bf....

-- Anonymous, March 21, 2000

I've done the thing of staying in a relationship too long. But I've also given up too soon.

I don't think breaking up the first time you think of the possibility makes sense, unless you don't think that until you're at the end of your rope. I'm the kind of person who is always getting annoyed, then getting over being annoyed, so that doesn't work for me.

What works for me is trying to figure out the pros and cons of the relationship. If there are way more cons, that's a clue. Also, what are the chances that things will change? Is he willing to try? Am I?

The relatinship I'm in now is great, but there were times when I thought about breaking up with him because I was so frustrated by various things. We both have made some changes, though.

-- Anonymous, March 21, 2000

Troy and I just broke up about a month or so ago. Looking back on it, I should have turned tail and ran a long time ago, because once I finally did, all these realizations began to come to me that should have been obvious...

Other guys, even other less-good-looking guys, began to look much more appealing to me. My eyes began wandering, and I didn't feel guilty. When Troy and I were happy and all birds and flowers, I didn't even so much as glance in another male's direction. Then slowly, all these guys started appearing. Nice guys. Cute guys. Funny guys. Guys I wanted to hang out with. Guys I wanted to kiss. Guys, guys, guys...

It became a chore for me to go and see him. I spent more time making excuses as to why I couldn't come by than I did actually spending time with him. I rolled my eyes a lot when he called. I suddenly wanted to spend a lot of time by myself. Not really by myself... just not with him.

I know all this sounds very harsh, but I don't feel bad about saying it because he gave back everything I got for him EXCEPT the neon sign I got him for his birthday. He could, he informed me, "separate that from his memories." That's horseshit, plain and simple.

-- Anonymous, March 21, 2000

I think as soon as you start to think, even just to yourself, that maybe you should break up with him, it's going to end. The natural tendency is to want to make things better, to try to smooth things out, but after you start feeling like maybe there's something better out there (whether it's another person or the relief of being by yourself for a change), it's only a matter of time until things fall apart completely.

Hindsight is so clear - my last boyfriend and I were together for three years, and by the end of two I had moved to a different state because we just couldn't communicate. Stayed together for another year, though; but the whole time I had this thought in the back of my head that I knew this really wasn't right, that we should break up. It's so hard to know when the time is right. I think you just have to take the time to listen very carefully to your heart and figure out what you really want and need.

-- Anonymous, March 22, 2000

For me it was pretty easy. The moment I found out my wife was hooking behind my back I called my lawyer. I got the kids too. After that, I steered clear of relationships. (This is, of course, the short version of the story. I left out all the hurt, most of which is still here after 12 years...)

-- Anonymous, March 22, 2000

P.S.: I realize that this all sounds extremely cynical. I am a cynic when it comes to this experience. It's a black page. But I have moved on since then, and nowadays I do lead a reasonably happy, fulfilling life. And the same goes for the kids.

-- Anonymous, March 22, 2000

I am a slow learner, too. Or maybe I am just really hopeful. Whatever, if the other party makes statements like, "I'm not happy because this isn't fun anymore" when you are going through some really serious emotional stuff, cut your losses. Relationships are serious and while they should be fun, there are times when they require work to continue. (My soon to be ex-husband made this statement while I was going through a custody suit with a previous ex - he actually made husband number 1 look like a nice guy).

-- Anonymous, March 22, 2000

Beth said: "...over time there will always be things that annoy the heck out of you about your loved one. Annoyance comes and goes, especially if you're someone who needs a lot of space. That doesn't mean it's time to end the relationship; if it did, no one would ever stay together for more than three years." -- So if you ARE one of these people who needs a lot of space in a relationship, what do you do to get it? (I've been married for 30 years and I need to know what some of you younger people are doing in your relationships these days -- I need more space!)

-- Anonymous, March 22, 2000

Okay, I'm really depressed now reading all this stuff. I've always been the one to break up, not the other way around. Now I feel like it's only a matter of time until current beau of 4 months does something to ruin the good time we're having. When will he show his true colors? When will the other shoe drop? Right now he seems too good to be true. But based on my friends' experiences as well as my own, that's how I think now. I know that's cynical. I dread the day when we are sick of each other and hope we don't run into each other around town. I guess its inevitable. Boy, that sounds negative.

I know this doesn't address the original question of how do you decide when it's time to break up, but does anyone else feel this way? Everyone I know is breaking up right now except me, so it kind of makes me feel that my (our) time is coming. I hope not, though.

-- Anonymous, March 22, 2000

Carol wrote:

"Don't ya just love it when they can't be bothered to tell you they're unhappy before they decide to leave? Cowards, ya gotta love 'em. "

Some differences really are irreconcilable. Some gaps can't be closed through compromise or counseling, and if you recognize that you're in a relationship with such a gap, sometimes the kindest thing you can do is just leave before you start making one another truly miserable. There is no hope for compromise, for example, in the following situations: He wants to have babies someday, and she doesn't. Her goal is a PhD and the only grad school she gets accepted to is in Boulder, and his entire life is in Cincinnati. She is reborn in Christ and centers her life around the church while he is an atheist. (Viz. recent Onion story Apartment Full Of Jesus Stuff Brings Date To Screeching Halt.) No amount of talking is going to help these couples. They need to just go their separate ways. Departure without discussion, in these cases, isn't cowardice, not when "bravery" means a confrontation which will be horrifically painful yet has no chance of rescuing the relationship.

Michael Drayton wrote a wonderful poem to this effect about 400 years ago called "Since there's no help, come let us kiss and part."

I don't consider it my place to remake someone if we're incompatible. If I'm not happy with who my lover is, then I need to either learn to overlook the places where I find fault or leave him behind. It is absolutely not my job, nor even within my rights, to turn slobs into neat freaks or workaholics into birdwatchers. If he dislikes aspects of his life and wants to change them, that's fine, but he must do it on his own and not at my bidding. Otherwise I might as well have a sock puppet for a boyfriend: I move my fingers and he mouths my words. I have a personality that I don't want tinkered with by someone trying to create his Galatea, and I grant my lovers the same respect and right to self-determination.

Relationships shouldn't be work. They shouldn't be stressful. Life is stressful, and love should be a respite from stress, not a contributor to it. I don't think good relationships require a lot of maintenance in the form of Serious Talks about Your Needs Getting Met. If my boyfriend is initiating these marathon confrontations a lot, I kiss him goodbye. I'd rather have a pap smear than a "We need to talk," talk that is going to involve raised voices and crying. I don't know what the fuck people are thinking when they repeat that old adage "Don't go to bed angry." Like it's really such a good idea to prolong a fight when you're tired and upset.

Is it time to end it? Playing off something that Mia said: gauge your reaction when you pick up the phone and find out it's him. This is a good emotional indicator because it's immediate: the phone rings, you pick it up, your gut reaction kicks in before you have time to ruminate over whether or not you love him enough. Does your heart rise or fall?


-- Anonymous, March 22, 2000

Getting more space in a relationship: uh, hook up with a morning person if you're a night person, or vice versa.

I have one thing to add to what Kim said about knowing whether it's over based on how you feel when the phone rings. If you're still a little thriled when you realize it's him on the phone (or that the e- mail is from him), but he gets an "oh, Jesus, you again" tone in his voice when you call, don't start naming the kids.


-- Anonymous, March 22, 2000

Joy: I am feeling the exact same way. And it seems like those around me who get into a lot of relationships apparently just assume they will inevitably break up, and they're just there to enjoy it for six months. An ex friend of mine has completely given up on ever finding the life partner she always wanted, and now just assumes that even if she finds a more long term relationship it'll just end after some years. Or like my friend who says "Rule#A1: NEVER TRUST A GUY." and to never ever believe that they will stay with you, even if they want to marry you. I was so surprised that even the most fervent "want a long-term" people that I know (i.e. all the ones mentioned above) just no longer believe that can even happen. And maybe they're right, and that's all I have to look forward to forever is a bunch of "practice" relationships until I'm no longer wanted.

To everyone else: Is this really true?

-- Anonymous, March 22, 2000

The key to getting more space is to find the partner something to do. Try to get them interested in a hobby, or get them hooked on computer games or the internet. ;-) Careful though, this plan of action can work too well.

Your partner may be smothering you because they are lonely. Encourage them to spend time with friends, or join a club.

If you take an active role in getting them to enjoy themselves doing other things you will find you have much more space.

-- Anonymous, March 22, 2000

"Relationships shouldn't be work. They shouldn't be stressful."

Kim, I agree that relationships shouldn't be stressful ... but don't _all_ relationships, at some point, require a little bit of maintenance work, if only at the most basic level?

I guess this sort of falls into how do you define "work"


-- Anonymous, March 22, 2000

Yeah, most relationships definitely require work, don't let anybody tell you differently. Many people spend their entire lives looking for a relationship that won't require work, and never find it.

I've always taken the old adage "don't go to bed angry" to mean a couple should just drop a heated argument that is obviously going nowhere and simply get into bed together. My wife is big on "don't go to bed angry," so that's what we've always done. Sometimes it's either drop it or don't go to bed at all! There is no reason a couple can't have a strong difference of opinion yet still love each other and demonstrate it. It's all about commitment to each other.

-- Anonymous, March 22, 2000

Beth: Well... what's "relationship maintenance" look like? The things I do to maintain my relationships (conversation, sex, reading to one another) are all pleasurable. If I didn't like talking to, having sex with, or reading to my lover, I wouldn't be with him. [How he would have gotten to be my lover in the first place is a riddle shrouded in mystery.] To me, "work" is defined as something that you do because it's necessary, not because it's enjoyable, and nothing about a healthy relationship fits that definition. My friends who have told me that "marriage is a lot of work" inevitably turn out to have married the wrong person. Why is it laborious to spend time with someone you love?

On the other sub-topic that's been brought up: I'm tired of people confining their definition of "successful" relationships to those that culminate in marriage and last until death, viewing everything else as a failed practice session. I've had many successful relationships, but that doesn't mean those suitors are still swarming about. They're guys who made me happy during the time we were together, even if we didn't end up with the ring, the house, the two point three children, and, eventually, matching rocking chairs on the porch of our Florida bungalow. If you look only at the terminus of each coupling, then yes, they were all failures, because we broke up. But each relationship as a whole was more good than bad, and thus can't be regarded as a waste or a shame.

One such guy wrote me a few months ago -- he's now an aeronautical engineer, lead guitarist for what he terms a "chick-rock" band, and father of three. He wanted me to know that he found my website and it reminded him of everything that he'd liked about me, that reading it was like the shit-shooting we'd done in the dim 8th-floor lounge of our old dorm. We haven't seen one another for eleven years, and due to distance may never do so again; but I know he's out there, and thinks of me fondly occasionally, and so we're tethered by this thread. I like that.

Doubtless if we hadn't parted ways the second we realized that we were circumstantially unsuited to one another [he was still hung up on an ex-fiancee; one of his best friends was in love with me, too, and even though the feeling wasn't mutual... well, this is running long] those thoughts might not be so fond. As it is I don't even remember the conversation where we decided to break up, although obviously we must have had one, but I do remember how quietly tender he was the night he drove me to the emergency room, and how happy I was to listen to him pick out the few chords he knew then, and how unexpectedly soft to the touch his up-and-down bristle of blond hair was. And this is untainted by the fights that would have been avoidable if we decided to stay together: "You're still awfully in love with Laurie -- you mention her five times an hour," (he did.) "I can't believe you were heartless enough to still come to my room -- you know Mike could see you knock on my door and that it was tearing his heart out." (it was.)

The dead don't stink if they're promptly embalmed.


-- Anonymous, March 22, 2000

one cannot know true love
until one has dared
to love another
more than one's own self

-- Anonymous, March 23, 2000

You know, I was thinking about what I'd said as I was driving home tonight, and I think I'd like to put a duvet cover on my blanket statement.

1) Occasionally your lover will, of course, bring more problems into your life. Losing his job, breaking his arm, borrowing your car -- obviously these inconvenient things do not fall under the umbrella of making you happier. However, in this case the stressors are coming from outside the relationship, not within. What I don't get is when people stay together when they call each other names, throw things, or violate one another's trust, and these are the kind of things I'm talking about -- things one partner does to another -- when I say that relationships aren't supposed to raise your stress level. I'm sorry I wasn't explicit about this earlier.

2) Having kids renders all of my flippancy about breaking up void. If you have babies, you will be obligated to listen and respond to all of your spouse's complaints about Meeting My Needs, even if you have to staple-gun yourself to your kitchen chair. The good news: it'll be one of your easier tasks in comparison with rearing children.


-- Anonymous, March 23, 2000

I was almost ready to disagree on the "relationships shouldn't be work" point, til that clarification. ;)

There have been times when I realize some funky aspect of my personality is going to run headfirst into someone else's personality--my dislike for hanging out up against their hankering for loud music and booze, something like that. As not-fun as it is, I do think that the best thing to do is to sit down and talk about it, so that everybody's on the same wavelength.

I won't convince them that a walk in the park is more fun, and they won't convince me to get drunk off my ass and play I Spy, but we at least aren't working on assumptions about the other person. It's all about communication, yep.

On the other hand, when all the conversations are disclaimers and you're only ever walking on eggshells with the person, it may well be time to say good-bye...

-- Anonymous, March 23, 2000

It's time to go when you realize that in order for things to work, it would have to be both partners of the couple meeting halfway, but instead you moved the whole way and in the process lost yourself. Whenever anyone represses who you are or your dreams, it's time to tell them goodbye. Once it becomes necessary to sacrifice your person to save the relationship it is no longer worth the effort. Nothing is greater than one's own individuality.

-- Anonymous, August 07, 2001

When you can't trust your partner anymore. You should Break up. But it hurts like hell to have that little hope that she will change. I'm in that situation right now. I can't even make a solid decision. I'm desperate.

-- Anonymous, August 08, 2001

I am always in a relationship way longer than I should be because I don't wanna' be one of those lonely, personal ad posting people. But, in your heart you know the moment that things have gone sour. Like when you seriously contemplate smothering him with your pillow and then remember that they put people in jail for things like that. Then you think for one split second that jail may not be so bad, but you come to your senses and put the pillow down.

-- Anonymous, August 08, 2001

Moderation questions? read the FAQ