“I’m just bad at relationships.”
I used to use this one all the time, and I really believed it was true. If I didn’t like someone “enough” or if I didn’t like them the way they liked me, I believed it was a flaw in myself. I accepted as an undisputed truth that I was a person who failed at relationships. Then, someone came along who I actually wanted to make an effort toward and suddenly things I thought were just ingrained personality traits changed. I spent so much time beating myself up for not being a good partner when I was just trying to shoehorn people into relationships I didn’t want to be in. The person breaking up with you using this trope really believes they are telling you the truth, but honestly, they just didn’t feel strongly about you. They’ll suddenly be great at relationships when someone comes around who makes them want to be great. That person’s not you, and that’s okay. You can’t “fix” them. This one’s actually doing you a favor. Just move on from this mess. It’s something they need to come to terms with, and they’ll see the difference when they actually fall in love.
“It’s not you, it’s me.”
This is another one where the person might really believe they’re telling the truth. It’s a red herring. What they mean is, it’s both of you. They’re trying to protect your feelings by using a tired cliche, which is a nice try but ultimately this leaves the dumped with more questions than answers. What someone really means when they say this is, “I don’t like you as much as I think probably someone should like you. You’re great but not for me. I feel dumb about that and I’m sorry.”
“I just need to focus on myself and my career right now.”
A friend of mine once had someone say this and they meant as a clown. They wanted to take being a clown more seriously and there just wasn’t room for her in that big-top big picture. I don’t begrudge anyone their dream but I think in any case that this excuse is a lie. If you really like someone, you will make time for them. You would show up at their house after work and hobbies and meetings and other obligations at like 3 in the morning and you’ll be down to hang out. If you want to put your career first right now, totally, yes, you should do that. However, if you really think someone is worth it, you will make time for them. (Trust me. Busy people can have significant others. Consider that maybe you were more emotionally expressive and needy, which is not a judgement, and they are a bit more closed off and felt too much obligation. Being needy is not a bad thing, and for your own mental health, you want someone who wants to be around you just as much as you want to be around them, right?) And this does unfortunately mean that the person didn’t really care about you enough.
“You’re too good for me.”
This one’s a red flag. I’ve definitely used this before, but all it means is that I have very low self-esteem and like to sabotage things that are good for me. If you’re in it to win it, stick this one out, but I guarantee this person is trying to drop you because they hate themselves. Now, do you want to fight the good fight and try to be the one who makes them experience real love? (Not really possible, sorry.) Or do you know that the job of a significant other is not mold and fix their partner? Because when someone breaks up with you this way, you’ve got to decide if it’s your job to convince them otherwise. (Hint: it’s probably not.)
“I just think we’re better as friends.”
This one is actually true. This means the person really enjoys you but doesn’t have passionate romantic feelings for you. Sometimes friend love and boyfriend/girlfriend love can get confusing. The flip side to this is that they experimented at the expense of your feelings. They might be feeling super guilty about this fact and want to believe they are a “good person” who “wouldn’t do something like that.” They ask you to remain friends so they can feel better about hurting you. It’s selfish. If you’re not ready to just hop back on the buddy train, don’t pretend to be cool for their sake. Someone who uses this to break up is only thinking of themselves and how they perceive themselves as “nice.” If you don’t buy it, don’t coddle them. You’ll just end up crying in a bathroom after seeing them at a party with their new, hotter significant other. Or you know, something less specific that definitely didn’t happen to me.