Breaking-Up Shame

Is he really “a total asshole” if he’s trying to do the right thing?


This piece was originally published on February 4, 2016.

This guy I know, Jeffrey, recently broke up with his girlfriend. They hadn’t been together too long — about a year, give or take some months — but it had been long enough to establish the kind of bond that really stings when it’s broken apart. She’d become a fixture in his family’s narrative and from what I understand, he was received as an extended member of her family, too.

The break up was elicited by nothing more or less than mediocrity. A looming sense of impartiality on the part of my friend Jeff. Nothing was especially wrong. She’s lovely and beautiful and inquisitive and therefore curious. Both involved parties are good people. He loved her and she loved him. I think I can actually say that in present tense.

The way he explains it, he woke up one morning and felt a little bit like things could go either way. They could stay together or they could break up. Que sera, sera. How he felt in the present, though, was seemingly stagnant. Like one of those dreams you have where everyone around you is moving and you want to take action too but your body just won’t let you.

Incidentally, she did not agree. Heart broken and shocked — as if forced to commit emotional vomit, she asked him over and over why he was doing it. And he didn’t really have an answer. The conversation ostensibly went like this: “You’re a wonderful girl, and I love you, but I don’t feel like I’m giving you what you deserve in a partner.”

When Jeff relayed the break up to me, although he’s my friend and she, a mere byproduct of that friendship, I felt intense empathy for her. If I’m being really honest, I even cried that night. Not because I felt bad for her, but because I felt bad with her. I had been there. When my husband broke up with me at a tender 18, he cited nothing but inactivity as the cause for our separation.

“It has run its course,” he told me of our relationship.

That tore me apart.

I thought about how my friends consoled me: He’s an asshole, you’ll forget about him in no time. He’s scum, he’s lame, you’re too good for him, etc. But were those things true? He was just doing what he believed was right: cutting me out of the equation of his own confusion and attempting to mitigate future romantic qualms between us. And ultimately, I did marry him, didn’t I? I wouldn’t have married scum. So I’ve been thinking about how Jeff’s ex-girlfriend’s friends are likely assuaging her heartbreak. They’ve no doubt called Jeff a piece of shit at least once. A bad boyfriend, a careless partner — an asshole. But why? What makes him an asshole? Doing the stand-up thing and ending a relationship because he didn’t feel as invested anymore?

We talk about shaming all the time — body-shaming, slut-shaming and so forth, but what about break-up-shaming? Is a guy really an asshole for doing what we, as women, would probably call The Noble Thing if we were in their positions, ending a relationship based on our feeling like were weren’t providing what the relationship deserved? I appreciate that often, the way to reconcile a broken heart (and bruised ego) is by placing all the fault in the grim demeanor of the opposite party, but I wonder: what if after we broke up with nice guys who just don’t want to be with us anymore, we confronted that reality head on?

Collage by Emily Zirimis.


Get more Postmodern Love ?
  • Having been broken up with on totally honest, amicable, and respectful terms, I have been lucky enough to experience this type of heart break. I say lucky enough, because I’ve watched my friends get non-broken-up-with for years and years as some jerk dragged them along while never really committing. I think it takes more guts and respect to truthfully admit what isn’t working and why, even if you love someone, than to just keep going with the flow until you do something stupid (like cheat for an excuse to get out)

    I had a very fast, intense fall into my first love- which my friends had a hard time grasping to begin with. When it ended, though NOTHING bad had transpired in anyones’ actions, he was labeled “a loser” and “not good enough anyway” etc… But he’ll always hold a special place in my heart for his display of respect towards me in our beginning, middle, and effectively, our end, and more men should follow that lead.

    • Kelly McGee

      ” My current salary is more than 4700 dollars each week..” Over a year ago I was in a horrible condition , jobless and no bank credit . Thanks to one of my friends who showed me a way where I was able to gather myself and making average of 58 d/h. So it can change your life as it has changed mine.

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    • 36

  • Leah

    It reminds me of a Louis CK skit where he overhears two female college students talking about this guy that one of the girls is dating who is bad at texting, and the other friend consoles her by calling him “a piece of shit,” and insisting to her friend that she’s “amazing.” Louis CK then jokes how that’s a bad way to go through life — thinking that you’re amazing and anyone who isn’t interested in you just doesn’t understand how amazing you are. “They’re fine!” he insists. And then my favorite line: “Self love is a good thing but self awareness is more important.” Essentially, its important to reflect on the situation objectively and introspectively.

    • Yvonne Dunlevie

      Such a relevant point, Leah. Thanks for including.

  • Cate

    This might be my personal experience, but when your friend is devastated by a breakup, you don’t go in with a “He was a really nice guy who did the right thing” to comfort her. Can you actually imagine doing that, when your friend is incredibly upset? That’s just not how breakups work. In the heat of the moment, you aren’t rational, and that is totally okay. You are allowed that, for a little while.

    I don’t think that “shaming’ is the right word here. In that moment, to you, yeah, that dude is an asshole because he upended your entire life. And that’s fine. That’s healthy to be sad and angry and think a little irrationally for a time.

    Most people I know, as time went on, looked back at their relationships maturely and could see them for what they actually were (mostly good experiences where they learned something). “Confronting reality’ sounds nice, but it’s not always feasible in the moments after your life has been ripped apart.

    • To build one person up doesn’t mean to tear the other person down. Supporting our friend doesn’t have to involve having an opinion about the other party whatsoever, to be honest.

      • queenbee9

        Humans take sides. We are wired like that. Is anything more sterile, surreal and off putting than an objective, non biased response to a super emotionally charged situation?

        My mom used to jokingly say there are 2 kinds of good friends..the one who uplifts and supports you no matter what (the cheerleader)and the brutally honest one when you desperately need the truth (the realist)

        I am known as a realist and am brutally honest…but when someone blindsided a person I care about and does so with seemingly no provocation.. you best believe he or she is a piece of a hit and anything else I can come up with because magnanimity has no place in comforting a broken heart. Whose side are we supposed to be on? Most of us are neither Vulcan or android.

        • Just because I have a friend who loves chocolate and finds out she’s allergic to chocolate doesn’t mean I have to hate chocolate and talk bad about it lol. Sometimes there’s no sides to be taken. Sometimes it just sucks. Having nothing bad to say about the ex doesn’t mean you’re emotionless or unsupportive. There’s more roads to take than one. While I don’t agree that it’s human nature to take sides, I do think it’s human nature to feel protective and supportive towards the ones we love or those we feel have been wronged. But I’ll never agree with bullying or putting down the other party. I 100% know can be an awesome friend by not taking a hit at the other guy.

          • Anna Thorpe

            My current salary is more than 4300 dollars each week. Over a year ago I was in a horrible condition,,,g jobless and no bank credit . Thanks to one of my friends who showed me a way where I was able to gather myself and making average of 59 d/h. So it can change your life as it has changed mine.

            Look here for details

          • queenbee9

            People are not chocolate or any other inanimate substance. They are imbued with emotion. EMPATHY is the ability to relate to others. You don’t have to trash the other person but you should show loyalty. I’m with God on this one..I’d rather my friends were hot or cold and not lukewarm and if the type of loyalty a friend of mine showed towards my pain was ho hum or noncommital or waffling between loyalty..I’d seek out a much more empathetic friend.

            Who said anything about bullying? Ostracization would be more appropriate.

            Different strokes for different folks. In my clique you would have to take several seats or move on because if you are not for us…you are against us. LOYALTY and the exhibiting of such is paramount.

          • Wasn’t trying to start an argument or anything so I apologize if I offended you. You’re entitled to your views as I am mine. I stand by my POV as I’m sure you do yours. And nobody said anybody was chocolate.

    • so true.

  • Erin Dear

    My only reservation and maybe paranoia with the whole “I’m not giving you the relationship you deserve” bit, is that it seems like a cop out. Because isn’t that up to the person receiving? The more honest statement, in my opinion, is that he does not want to continue the relationship, because his heart is not in it. He should not get the luxury of saying what she deserves or does not deserve. It actually makes me quite irritated. Though, I think he is right for breaking up with her in a respectful way, I think “letting someone down easy” in that way is not how closure works. Which again in my opinion, leaves the heart break to linger much longer.

    The idea of someone saying how wonderful you are and you deserve better is an easy way of saying I just don’t want to be with you anymore. Maybe that stings more, but at least then you’re not left confused about “why”.

    • Brittany Berckes


    • kduck

      I totally agree with you. We picked up on a lot of the same things while reading. The main reason these “disguised terms” were so obvious to me is because I’ve been the breaker-upper in this situation before. Though I didn’t say “I’m not giving you the relationship you deserve”, it was a struggle to find a way to say “I love you, you’re a good person, but I just don’t think we are eachothers’ ‘together-forever’ person “. When you’re that invested in someone, a simple truth like that can be extremely hard to wrap your head around. It basically blindsides you. Looking back, yes, I wish I had been a bit more upfront with specific thoughts (not leave him wondering “Why?”). But it was extremely hard for me to even mold those feelings into semi-conrete concepts. The “letting down easy”, though not ideal (I agree) does come from a place of love…I think.

    • queenbee9

      Yep. Make them admit that they are bored or incompatible. No fence sitting with the “noble put down”

      I have a brother who prided himself on the virtuosity and ingenuity of t he break up. He said the trick was to not only to get the woman to accept the break up but to love him all the more for it.

      i would push for the clean yet brutal break… not that “it’s not you…it’s me or sigh.. relationship ennui. Lol

    • pterridactyl

      I have been that person broken up with because I “deserve better” and while at the time I thought the shitty, unloving relationship was the best I was ever going to get, I now see that actually yeah I did and do deserve better than that.

      I totally understand how some see it as a cop out excuse and I don’t doubt there are some people who will use it as that but my personal experience taught me we don’t always see our own self worth for what it is!

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    • LadyLeo


  • Thank you so much for shedding this perspective Leandra. I recently (now that I think about it, November isn’t that recent!) went through a breakup and it hurt like hell. My S.O. told me, he loved me too much and reminded that when we first started seeing each other he did tell me that by the end of the 2015-2016 school year (I’m in college… first love oh gosh) he would be moving back to his home state and taking a job there. He’s graduating. He told me that he’d rather end things sooner with the idea that we love each other and have a good memory when we think of each other, rather than breaking up forcefully this coming May or earlier and leaving with bitter feelings due to pressure and stress for the inevitable end. My friends all said, “Did he think of you?!” “How could he say he loves you and then end it?!” “Asshole” “Pussy” “Bitch” etc etc. I realized that as mad as I was in the moment, he had every right to feel the way he does and he didn’t do anything malicious. He was looking out for both of our feelings. Though my friends and I wish I could have lead the conversation and we all tried to look for something to hate him for, in the end we couldn’t find a thing. Nobody’s perfect and it’s true that it’s easier to hate someone than deal with love and loss. There are 3 months left in the school year, my friends are still rooting for us to get back together for a few more weeks. -siiiighhhh- why can’t we freeze time and take away distance/time zones.

    • queenbee9

      Here I am hoping you continue on.. become this amazing gorgeous and boss babe and find an equally amazing guy and are incredibly in love.. then the old boyfriend *who developed a paunch by then and only rose to the level of lower management despite his degree) sees you..yearns for you and is as heartbroken as you were but can only gaze at you from afar.

      Sorry ..but damn.. living well is the best revenge and the bestest teacher is when what is dished out somehow boomerangs back.

  • casey

    this just happened to me recently and despite being a therapist and all the good sense I could muster, i got really upset.
    you’re onto something great here: that it’s harder to confront the reality head-on because it means dealing with our real emotion and issues rather than projecting negative feelings onto someone else. or perpetuating a fantasy of how you wish things could be. sitting with one’s own sadness is probably the most difficult thing someone can do, but it’s the only true path to healing and making things better for the future. i think the best response for a friend in this situation is really simple – “i’m so sorry. this is really hard.” rather than dragging a guy down, maybe validate your friend for being vulnerable and trying her best to make it work. a cool guy i know always congratulates people after breakups – it’s disarming, kinda funny, but also quietly empowering – a way of saying “you gave it your best shot and now you’re on to the next thing.”

    man repeller keeps getting better and better – you go, ladies.

    • Haha I love the idea of “congratulating” someone after a breakup. Gives it that empowering spin that you mentioned! 🙂

  • Samantha

    I wonder how Jeff’s x girlfriend feels about this post!

  • ValiantlyVarnished

    I have to say that I feel your friend is a bit of an a-hole. Not because he wasn’t emotionally invested but because he seemed to make the decision on a whim. it sounds to me more like he was unhappy with his life trajectory and blamed it on the relationship when in fact it may have absolutely zero to do with it. The relationship may not have been lOng term but considering that they were already ostensibly part of each other’s families, it was serious. To implode a relationship with no real issues because you woke up feeling funny about your life is immature at best.

    • jellymo

      I actually disagree. If someone wakes up one morning with the realization that they just feel “meh” about the person they’re dating, it’s probably more respectful of them to acknowledge this and let both parties move on rather than just staying because technically, on paper, nothing is “wrong.” Although getting broken up with is horrible and sad no matter the circumstances, in the long run I would personally not want to be in a relationship with someone that felt lukewarm about me.

      • ValiantlyVarnished

        Perhaps I’m interpreting was written differently. I got the sense from what he’d said that hew felt “meh” about where he was in life in general.

        “How he felt in the present, though, was seemingly stagnant. Like one of those dreams you have where everyone around you is moving and you want to take action too but your body just won’t let you.”

        That is what I took from the above statement. I WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree that you shouldn’t settle in any relationship – it’s why I am single myself. But as she stated above he was in love with her. So I find myself asking the same question his ex asked. Why??

        • jellymo

          I get what you’re saying. For Jeff it sounds like he decided, for whatever reason, to fix his general malaise by breaking up with his girlfriend, even though he loves her. Whether she is actually the source of his feelings is unclear, but the point is that he felt his relationship was an aspect of his life he needed to change to get out of his rut, and once that is decided the best thing he can do is act on it and spare her the grief of being with someone who would be so quick to blame her in the first place. Now she can find someone who, upon these feelings of “meh” with life, will look to her for comfort and support instead of breaking up with her in search of happiness.

          • ValiantlyVarnished

            Oh he most definitely did her a favor. He sounds rather undecided about life in general and I would never want to be with someone who was undecided about me and our relationship.

      • queenbee9

        So.. what is it when the person who felt “meh” changes their mind down the road and decides he can just waltz back into the person’s life?

        Is he an ass hole then or is he eternally cut a break? I agree with VV. The guy was inconsiderate and a casually callous dumper..and this magnanimous stuff is a throw back to when women were to suck up crap and take it..couched as nouveau enlightenment.

        I have had dozens of relationships but have been dumped only twice. Both tried to get back with me. Both paid for their actiond. My husband would argue that he paid the most ..because I make a very poor rug for walking on.

    • queenbee9

      VV. I love how you think..we believe in fierce loyalty.. when someone hurts one of us..we take it personally. Especially if they did not deserve such treatment.

      Trying to be magnanimous may be the reason there are so many jerks..too many people ready to be understanding and supporting both sides gives the green light to assholes who might have acted differently if they faced peer or social censure

  • Mjx

    Any long-term relationship will eventually hit a dead patch. Magic is gone, not in love, really, things are fine but somehow pointless, whatever.


    If you take care of a relationship when it has gone dormant, there’s a good chance that you will fall in love again. And out again. And back again. After my most recent breakup, it occurred to me that this is the reason for the ‘for better or worse’ thing in the marriage ceremony. This thing, this ‘magic is gone’ feeling. And as a society, we feel entitle to feel palpably in love with our partner, all the time. And it is just not possible, because we’re not magical, we’re human, and we get used to everything.

    I’m not talking about relationships that feel miserable, just ones where the couple aspect has gone pretty stale.

    The thing to do is to discuss this eventuality when the relationship is still in the initial, in-love phase.

    The thing is, possible exciting love affairs are everywhere, but meeting people you can form what scientists call a ‘pair bond’ are few. So, when you meet someone and form that bond, it’s worth investing in, and that includes being ready to carry it when it kind of passes out face down, and shows no signs of reviving. These are great periods to work on getting your own life in order, and to work on the friendship.

    I’ve never spoken to an elderly couple that did not admit that they went through periods, often multi-year periods, where their relationship just seemed pointless. But they come from generations that don’t take to divorce so easily, often felt a sense of duty to the relationship, so they accepted that they just needed to work through the situation.

    There are people who will always believe that if a relationship has stopped feeling special, it’s over. There’s no way to make them see a different point of view but sometimes, the communication works, you do a different dance for a while, and amazing things happen.


    • Lea Telivuo-Kupari

      If one is in a serious relationship with an idea that it’s for life like they’re with the type of person they want to grow old with, they don’t break up with that person just because they just woke up with a “meh” feeling. Especially if it isn’t about the other person or relationship. If they think about saving the other person’s feelings, they should just be honest and let that person decide for themselves whether or not THEY want to invest in that relationship.

      I feel like there must be something else in it, some what if somebody better comes along. And a will to leave things open. Great, that it worked out for Leandra and Abie and my parents, but I think that in most cases the less feeling of possibility of getting back together and what ifs, the better

    • queenbee9

      EXCELLENT OBSERVATION! I have been married over 20 years and if couples all stopped the relationship when it hit a dull patch there would be no long term marriages

      The facts are today’s youth have been misled by movies and video games and romance novels, and mass marketing to believe in happily ever afters and instant gratification and excitement. Relationships are HARD WORK AND CHARACTER BUILDING.

      The building is hard won….it comes from weathering emotional stagnation and learn patience and equanimity. Relationships can also teach enlightenment as you work through and learn the real meanings of consuderation..balance..sacrifice and investment.

      Note… the USA has one of the highest if not the highest divorce rate in the western world.

    • Tamika Nunley

      This comment is soooo full of wisdom!!! If I could meet and marry a man who thinks like this, it would be a satifying ’til death do us part’ situation.

  • This hit me in the feels. Being broken up with is never easy but I can say on account of how my friends were broken up with, it’s much much better than being cheated on when the other party isn’t happy with you but won’t do anything about it, or being split in two by the END OF THE LINE text message. At least he was honest. At least he wasn’t being deceitful behind her back. It still sucks, but he did it the way every person should.

    P.S never breakup with someone over text message and expect them to be ok with it, ok?

    www . werenotexclusive . com

    • Lea Telivuo-Kupari

      But was he honest? Isn’t that pretty much the it isn’t you, it’s me line? And with I love you, too? At the end of the day, if he didn’t want to be with her, why not just say so. It’s all about the honesty, she has the right to know about the process, why he was with her in the first place and why the sudden lack of interest.
      Also, a lot of what defines one’s a-hole-iness is what happens after the break up. Like if you say you’re just not ready to commit and marry the next one in a month..

      • Leandra Medine

        Would agree with you on that! I think he just felt like…if I could go either way (be in the relationship vs. not) that means I’m not being the best boyfriend I can be. Which I found curiously noble.

        • queenbee9

          Well…. kudos for finding the silver lining isn’t it just like women to try to be understanding and the bigger person or good sport even while being kicked?

          I am reading these comments with great interest because as a baby boomer I find it intriguing how many young ladies sound very much like my contemporaries pre 1973 when women were actually groomed to suck it up when dumped and soldier on.

  • Everybody is somebodies monster.

  • Johanna

    As in your case Leandra, feelings can change over time. I don’t think the guy should be shamed for honesty. Who knows where this could end up in six months…… and aren’t we all essentially somewhat alone anyway?

  • Kay

    I agree and disagree- obviously, the lie is wrong, but there are better times than others to face the cruel truth. long example: after my husbands father passed away, my mother in law was deeply grieving, and sometime during the year or two after that things started getting weird between her and me- in a nutshell, what it felt like to me was she either wanted me to agree with her about everything or completely not speak when we were all in family gatherings. It was super uncomfortable and I did a lot of thinking about it (stewing, tbh) and what I eventually hit on was that her loss made her desperately want her family back the way it was when she was married and she and her husband and kids were all together (without their kids’ spouses and separate households). But to force her to face that the clock couldn’t be turned back, I couldn’t even imagine it. She would have been shattered- more than shattered. She was too sad, too uncertain at that time to let go of trying to recreate the way her family used to be. I really think that if she needed an obvious lie to get to the next day and the one after that, it was the right and compassionate thing to do to support it.
    That was a really extreme example but I think a lot of the emotions are the same (different scale obviously) after a break up- that person has become your family, your status quo, part of your story, and suddenly not only are they gone, but they rejected you. You want things to go back, but they can’t. In the emotional aftermath when you are so uncertain and sad and alone, if you were forced to face the truth that this good, smart, reasonable person thinks their life is better without you, your self esteem could go waaaaaay too low for normal functioning and bad things could happen. Facing the truth later when you are less emotional and less uncertain won’t leave such a dent. For the amount of breakups a person has to go thru in life, it’s just not worth it to force yourself to face the full shittiness of life when you are already low. If you need a fake reason to get you thru the moment, I say great, save the awful truth for when you are feeling better.

  • Ellen

    I faced a similar situation last year when my roommate hit a rough patch in her long term relationship. She wasn’t sure if the break up would be forever, or if it was just a break. We all had our opinions on the matter (as roommates do), but ultimately it was her choice and we wanted to support her.

    As a friend you have to be careful of how you talk about your friend’s ex, because if they get back together, you don’t want to ‘on the wrong side of history’. And the way you talk about someone can influence someone else’s choices.

    In the end they worked it out and are back stronger than ever. Whenever I see how happy he makes her, I’m thankful that I wasn’t harsh on him during their ‘break’ period. I guess what I mean to say is: support her ability to make her own choices, and come to her own conclusions, instead of trying to lift her up by putting him down.

    and if he was a douche, don’t make her feel like she wasted time being with him – she at one point saw something in him!

  • Natalie

    I think this is an incredibly valid and overlooked point. However, I think making sure you go through all of the stages of grieving over a break-up, one of them being anger (even if slightly irrational), is healthy.
    I went through a breakup years ago where the guy did end things in a respectful manner, but it obviously wasn’t the outcome I had perceived or desired for the relationship. But I worked so hard to QUICKLY justify and respect his decision, that I missed that natural stage of hurt and anger. It didn’t catch up with me until several months later, which I think dragged out the healing process a bit longer than required.

  • Aubrey Green


    • lucyst0ner

      i first read your name as Aubrey Graham and thought to myself “DRAKE IS HERE?”

      • Aubrey Green

        haha – awesome!

  • Emma

    YES. As someone who has had to force breakups (ummm do you really want to date me if you’re avoiding ever seeing me?), been on the receiving end of the respectful breakup, and having most recently been the person doing the breaking up, I really appreciate this! I think it can be hard for people to accept that even when there’s nothing “wrong” with a relationship, it may not be totally right. It’s important to put in the work, of course, but part of how dating works is that it most often ends! It can be much more difficult to accept a breakup when neither party had done something shitty, but it’s better than doing something to blow it up, as Erin said earlier.

  • I’m a big believer in the right to break up. It’s part of the dating contract. If you haven’t agreed to spend the rest of your lives together (be it through a marriage contract or a ceremony or just a serious conversation or whatever), then you reserve the right to end it for whatever reason you want.
    Obviously it should always be done with compassion and respect, but breaking up with someone is not a crime.

    • queenbee9

      Yep. Sort of like the right to work ideology except for relationships and the idea behind no fault divorce and no fault car accidents too:” I hurt you for any reason or no reason..we each handle our own pain and move fault implied.” Lol

  • Alex

    Thank you for this post! I was with my ex boyfriend for five and a half years, and we had finally made the decision to move in together. After a month, I came home from work one day and he was sitting on the couch and just said “I can’t do this anymore. I can’t pretend to be happy.” We still had paintings to hang on the walls, we had bought matching bedside tables. But, in the past five months, I’ve come to accept it really wasn’t meant to be. Despite the years together, and how much I saw him as being part of my life, we really weren’t the best thing for each other. And the most valuable thing a friend has said to me is “you were very brave enough to recognise it wasn’t working and end it despite how hard it is.” As much as I have wanted to dismissively call him an asshole and hate him on the premise of being a bad guy, he’s not. We’re both better off, as painful as the end was.

  • Charlotte Dallin

    A thought provoking piece that has come at quite a weirdly appropriate time for me, so thanks for making the cogs whir Leandra!

  • Chloe Bruderer

    Yes Leandra! This is something I’ve been thinking about lately. I am late to work and unable to type all my thoughts, but I feel you nailed all my emotions.

  • Laura

    So what happened? Are they back long has it been.with these type of breakups the two parties wind up working on themselves then eventually meet again or not. Jeff should tell his x that if its right things will workout and if it’s not they won’t. Heart break and shock are also to different things. To feel that someone is in love with aNd them one morning to be told goodbye is shocking. Write more post like this!

  • queenbee9

    I think it all depends on how it was done.

    I have not had many men break up with me…I am usually the dumper or was before I hit the marriage circuit.

    I also am married to a man who dumped me and he was an ass. What outraged me and does so still is the almost cadual, and apathetic way a man can dump a girl and assume that later he has the right to pick up where he left off as if she is not a person with feelings but a a pair of kick them over in a corner because they are sooooo ‘yesterday’ then pick them back up for another try on when you feel like it.

    Because the dumping was casual, unlike a cheater the callousness is not in the dumping but in the return try on and the assumption that the woman is self less enough to take you back.

    I did take my husband back but only after I first remarried him then dumped him. My reasoning was that the best way to teach empathy is to put someone in the very same place they put you in and reciprocate treatment.

    I know a lot of people will think that was mean and it was but I also think it is necessary in some cases.

    if one side just forgives and the other side is brutal you can end up in a dysfunction, with one side acting as a long suffering martyr or dupe and the other side oblivious to the havoc they wreaked and devastation and just assuming their ex was made to be walked on.

    I dumped many guys BUT prior to entering any relationship I warn them it is just not fall in love or invest in me. I also tell them when it is not working, why it is not working and that the split is imminent. We both try to work on the issues and if not, we part. I never blindside the man.

    This may be why most of my exes say they would take me back in a heartbeat. The biggest problem with the casual dumper is not just in what they did but what you mean to them.

    I put my husband through hell when he tried to get back with took him YEARS..several hundred thousand dollars worth of mea culpas before I would consider him as a husband again AND before he dumped me, I warned him not to ever try to get back with me because I believe very strongly in pay back and would put him through hell.

    What arrogant, self centered male could ever pass up such a challenge? The ink had only cooled for about 6 months on the divorce decree before he was back..intent on proving he could make me eat my declarations.

    I ram my sentiments so deep and far down his throat that even after 23 years (almost) of marriage, he can still taste my ire.

    Someone once spoke about the banality of evil. It is always better to be hurt by passionate anger than apathetic indifference. A “casual dumper” appears indifferent and in my opinion deserves the title of being a piece of shit.

    Exiting stage right happens..but there should always be warning and good one likes a walk off or a no show.

    Please excuse my typos.. my phone auto correct is a beast.

  • Curious

    I am glad it was you that wrote this article Leandra for the simple fact that you are married. I was wondering if your parents have shared any advice with you for what to do so that this feeling doesn’t happen after years of marriage.

  • Living Paula Blog

    Some interesting points here!

  • On NPR Fresh Air with Terry Gross where Terry interviewed Jennifer Lawrence, Jen relayed a childhood anecdote where she was crying because her “friends” didn’t invite her to the movies. Her well-meaning mother consoled her by saying something along the lines of “Forget them, they’re just jealous” and her brother interjects “Don’t ever think someone hates you because they’re jealous, analyze yourself and see if you’re being an asshole”

    My point is, sometimes well-meaning loved ones think that they way to make us feel better is to shit on the offending party, but what we actually need to do is examine if there’s something we’re doing wrong–sometimes it’s not overtly obvious like being a jerk, sometimes it’s something like being insecure and not coming into your own yet…and sometimes it’s just being two really great people that might even have common interest but just don’t overlap in the most crucial core value-y ways

    And sometimes, you’re just in different places in your lives and you’re not aligned yet (which is related to the insecure thing). Just look at Kimye.

  • Sarah Ikenberry

    Seriously, this article is so what we as humans and partners in relationships/ex-relationships miss. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out and no one did anything wrong it just wasn’t right. You’re always blowin my mind Man Repeller. Thanks for doing it once again.

  • Juan Hidalgo Yañez Almonacid

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  • AryaChic

    If a man (or woman) really liked/loved you, they’d willingly give their all in a relationship. If they’re “just not that into you,” would you want to continue a relationship knowing it’s primarily one-sided? Cut your losses and take the break-up, it’s better to be alone and happy than be with someone and (eventually) miserable.

  • i’m agree with you, interesting post
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  • LadyLeo

    Nawww. He just took the easy way out for *him* because the speshel snowflake got antsy and bored. In long term marriages people get bored and antsy too, but if they both genuinely love each other and have the emotional maturity to understand that long term relationships go through phases, then they ride it out or figure out how to spice it up. It’s not about one person being amused and entertained all the time. It’s a relationship, not a circus.

    He did what he did because he’s immature and was never as invested as she was. Saying she deserves better is just a different version of the tired old “it’s not you, it’s me” cliche. He’s the type who’s looking for that holy grail relationship where HE never gets antsy and bored. He’s the type that thinks HE needs to feel entertained all the time in a relationship. Ugh. Nope.

    Btw: since you recently had a struggle with the concept of empathy, it really stood out to me that you described empathy perfectly (a year ago when this was piece was written), when you expressed you ‘didn’t feel bad for her, you felt bad with her.’ That’s it, exactly!

    • “It’s a relationship, not a circus.” Haha yes! I love it. I’m probably going to steal that.

      • LadyLeo


  • Senka

    Reading this again a year later, but it hit home. Few months ago I broke up with my boyfriend. I was going through some personal issues at the time, truth be told, but the main reason was I realised I wasn’t in love with him anymore. I wasn’t. I was pretty blunt about it, saying I wasn’t in love anymore. And he deserves someone who loves him fully. He blamed my depression caused by a loss of a very dear and very close family member, he blamed stress, my neuroticness, and many other issues, but the truth was, i wasn’t in love, and I had to break up. I turned out to be a monster in his eyes. He was also blaming himself for not being good enough boyfriend, but the truth was, there was no one to blame. I was broken up with before, so I know the feeling. Blaming anyone is pointless. People have no duty to love us. We can’t love on command. And from this point I’d be greatful to anyone who would break up with me, telling me straightforward what his real reasons are. It saves us a lot of sleepless nights and overthinking. As we grow older we have to mature into understanding, no one owes us anything but honesty and respect.

    • THIS is everything. So true. Same sort of thing with my last breakup, just the whole lack of respect and honesty that he couldn’t give to me, even when contacting me out of the blue at random 8 months later and still not taking into account how painful that was for me. Throwing in random “I kind of miss you” messages… with nothing else. I agreed with him it’s sad to eventually erase someone from your life completely, but when you can’t even build on honesty and respect, that’s not even a friendship, and selfish on his part, it brought up sleepless nights and overthinking I had long gotten over and made it all fresh again. Eventually and sadly, in my case erasing all contact was all I could do, and I’m all the better for it. The only important thing is honesty and respect, and we won’t always get it, but at least it helps with knowing who is worthy of your time and who isn’t.

      • Senka

        I think what helped me be that way about breaking up was my own unpleasent experience. Being ghosted by someone I cared for vey much, at the age of 30 ( he even a couple of years older, with blooming diplomatic career and aura of gentleman). After talking endlessly, making plans, even flying to distant place to spend time together, he decided it wasn’t it, but had no guts to tell me openly, or explain why. I promised to my self I will never do that to anyone, because honesty however painful is fine. It shows level of respect for another person u used to care for.

        • Exactly. Maybe at the time it’s just immaturity or not being able to empathise from the other side entirely. It’s never going to be easy, but if you truly care for someone and you have been in the same position, it shouldn’t be too difficult.

  • L

    So. I recently (two and a half weeks ago, to be correct) broke up with someone on this exact basis. That I felt that we weren’t enough. Like, I could live with this person and have a pretty decent life, a lot of laughs and a pretty happy home. Because he was (is?) my best friend. Just not a person I am in love with anymore. You know. We had built a friendship and a life together during almost five years. And leaving something as solid as that relationship scared the shit out of me. I thought long and hard about it, and I guess I processed the break up a lot before it even happened. And when I did it, when I broke up with him, all of those sad feelings disappeared. You know. All of that uncertainty about what was the right thing. I instantly knew. No matter how hard it is to hurt someone you love, it’s even harder hurting yourself with that uncertain feeling of “is this the right person for me?” and “are we going to live like this for the rest of our lives and will he change that stupid behaviour and will he ever start helping with cleaning the bathroom?”.

    Well, of course, this is a really new phase in my life and I will probably have a backlash and lay on my bed and cry and cry and look at old photos and do some more of that crying for hours. But for now I don’t feel like it. I feel like going on dates with dark-haired guys and drink tequila with my friends. I feel like being young, stupid, free, happy, excited, safe. And a man is not what should make me feel all of those things. I am.

    I really don’t know what I wanted with this wall of text. Maybe I just wanted to tell someone about my break up. Or maybe I wanted to tell someone that I skyped with my bff yesterday and she told me that I look more happy and beautiful than in a really long time. It’s true. WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE, huh?

  • I totally get this, although I also agree with Erin’s comment below, that “you deserve better” is a cop out excuse! I’ve never thought my exes bad for breaking up with me (one of them was bad cos he was abusive so the break up was a blessing in disguise). The next ex broke up with me by trying to say he didn’t feel the same way anymore which made no sense as he’d been acting the same until that day, and he was crying uncontrollably. I eventually got him to tell me the real reason which was that he didn’t think he could cope with a long-distance relationship when I went to uni. I was still heartbroken but I totally understood and respected him for telling me the truth and making the decision. It made moving on easier. Tell the truth, in a nice way, when you’re gonna break up with someone. They deserve to understand. Unless they’ve absued you, then run away and block all contact!

    Amber Love Blog