View this post on Instagram
Relationships are hard, but breakups are even harder.
First, we have to find the words to express our emotions or lack thereof, and then the courage needed to deliver the hammer blow.
Some do it over a nice dinner, a text message, or through a third party (yes, people actually do that). But it doesn’t matter how it’s discharged. Nothing quite prepares us for the ensuing heartbreak.
“It’s not you, it’s me” is one of the go-to phrases often employed to smoothen the bumpy transition experienced during a breakup.
It’s debatable how this phrase gained its credibility. What is undeniable, however, is its popularity.
Once ingested, there’s a temptation to replay and analyze several incidents in the relationship that could have signalled a red flag we possibly missed or ignored. The deep dive can lead to anxiety and doubt.
It gets even worse when there’s no concrete evidence to soothe our broken hearts, which could leave us spiralling into a whirlwind of negative and unhealthy thoughts—some never really recover.
It’s a hard pill to swallow for anyone, and most of us would agree that there is more than meets the eyes with this phrase. But is this always the case? Could there be more behind the message, or could it be exactly what it says?
Here are three possible scenarios for the classic “It’s not you, it’s me” line:
1. “It actually is you, not me.”
This is probably the most common scenario. In short, it means, “It is you that’s the problem, not me.”
Many of us use this line when we want to break up with someone without really hurting their feelings. It’s perceived as a gentler way to break up, especially if avoiding conflict is the driving force behind the decision to break up.
So instead of confronting our partner about something that’s bothering us in the relationship, which could lead to a conflict we aren’t ready to have, we choose to end the relationship by lying to them.
In this scenario, taking the blame seems like the more convenient way to end things rather than to hurt the other person.
However, there is something cowardly and selfish about this method because people are not perfect, and relationships between two imperfect people should be about authenticity and honesty, and using this line is anything but that.
Ending the relationship this way denies the recipient the opportunity to reflect on or take accountability for their actions.
2. “It really is me…”
Sometimes we use the “It’s not you, it’s me” line, and there’s truth in it—it’s actually us.
There are various reasons for this. Sometimes, people realize they haven’t dealt with their traumas, and they are bleeding into the relationship. In this case, it might be completely fair to use the “It’s not you, it’s me” line, which is usually accompanied by the truth about why ending the relationship is the better option.
Humans are complicated, and emotions are even more complicated. Sometimes we enter relationships and then find out we still have feelings for an ex, for example. Or we feel as though we weren’t ready for a relationship in the first place.
It’s not uncommon for us to feel like we can’t provide our partners the love they deserve because of unresolved issues in our past or present. Ending the relationship with this line in this scenario can be of benefit.
3. “I don’t even know if it’s me or you—I just need an excuse to get out of this.”
This might be the worst scenario of all.
Sometimes we drop the dreaded line because we don’t know what we want and can’t decipher if the disconnect in the relationship is from our partner or ourselves. It’s often the case when at least one partner in a relationship is indifferent.
Humans can be indecisive and insensitive, so we use the line as an exit strategy whilst keeping the door open for future possibilities—in case we change our mind and decide to go back to the person again.
It’s another way of saying, “Thanks, I enjoyed the attention, but I don’t want to commit.”
Breakups are brutal, and it’s normal to want reasons for being dumped and hopefully closure so we can move on. But when we’re hit with the “It’s not you, it’s me” line, it’s unlikely we get either.
We can spend days, months, or even years trapped in a mental loop, replaying the relationship in our mind, wondering if it ended because of us or not, even when there’s a chance the problem was never us to begin with.
The truth is that we may never know because there’s no definite rule to understanding the complexities of human nature and behavior.
However, by employing self-awareness, self-reflection, and self-love, we can escape this torturous mental loop and not only give ourselves the peace we need to move on but earn the closure we need to make that happen.
For more from Nicole & James: