8 Breakup Clichés And What They Really Mean (So You Can Stop Guessing And Move On)


1. “I’m not ready to commit to anyone right now.”

This one will drive you absolutely crazy, if you let it. The unfortunate truth that you have to look right in the face here is this: if they wanted to be with you, they would be with you. It has nothing to do with commitment, or with a fear of settling down. They may think that’s what it is, but the minute they meet the person who they feel in their gut is the one, they will make adjustments.

So if you hear them tell you this and then six months later they seem to suddenly be in the happiest relationship of their lives, don’t drive yourself crazy with thoughts like What did that other person do that I failed to do? or What did that other person say that I didn’t say? Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with what you did, or with one thing you could have said that would have made them change their minds about being with you. It’s not that they weren’t ready for commitment, it’s that they weren’t ready for commitment with you. The faster you can accept this truth, as painful as it is, the faster you’ll heal.

2. “I love you, I’m just not in love with you.”

They’re probably telling the truth. They wouldn’t say they loved you if they didn’t love you. The problem is just that it’s not the same kind of love that you feel for them, and the only thing that will really heal this is time. When you’re struggling to get through this one, when you’re struggling with the fact that it feels so close – they do love you, after all – but just not close enough for lasting love, try to focus on the silver lining of it: a lot of people do end up just being with people that they love, thinking that’s enough. And then years down the line, after ten years of marriage or fifteen years of a long-term relationship, they finally admit to themselves, and to you, that they never were truly in love with you. And then you have to start all over again, but you’re several years – even decades – older than you are now. Either way, you’re going to be heartbroken. So you might as well pick up the pieces now as opposed to later.

3. “I really just need to spend this time working on myself right now.”

Being in a healthy, loving relationship does not mean you have to give up your independence or your sense of self. On the contrary, the strongest and healthiest relationships are the ones in which both partners feel like they truly know who they are, outside of their relationship. So when someone tells you this, it may seem like a softer blow, like things will work out but that your partner just need a little bit of alone time. Maybe they genuinely believe this, or maybe they’re just trying to spare your feelings and let things fizzle out slowly, or maybe they are doing this because subconsciously, they know they need to move on.

What you need to do is understand that regardless of what the other person wants – just a small break or a full breakup or maybe just a little time to themselves to safely figure things out – this is your cue to move on. You can’t sit idly by while someone works on themselves, knowing you’re waiting safely in the wings.

If the relationship was truly right for you both, you would each feel comfortable ‘working on yourselves’ while still being together.

4. “This feels like it’s just moving way too fast for me.”

There’s no universal, correct pace at which a relationship should move. Why? Because every person falls in love at a different pace, and for each one of those people, there are plenty of others in the world running right around that same time. So why are you trying to force it with someone who thinks everything is going way too fast when there are other people out in the world who would have been ready to tell you they loved you yesterday? This person is not wrong for wanting to move at the pace that feels right to them, and you’re not wrong for wanting to move at the pace that feels right to you. But it’s wrong if you’re trying to force these two paces to magically match up.

You’re not weird or clingy or too aggressive for falling in love at this pace – you just have the wrong running partner.

5. “It’s not you, it’s me.”

If someone actually uses this one on you, if they truly couldn’t think of anything else to say, just know that you dodged a bullet.

6. “I don’t see a future with you.”

This is honestly just painful. It will hurt like a slap in the face, even if they try to say it as kindly and as respectfully as they possibly can. If you obsess over the why or the why not or the what could I have done differently, you’ll drive yourself to insanity, because there will never be an answer, other than, They just didn’t see a future with you. The best thing to do here is to keep your head above water as well as you can, while still letting yourself completely feel and work through this pain. It will hurt, and it will go slowly, and it will take a long time to recover. But in the end, they’re doing you a favor. Cling to this truth, as much as it stings you. Like rubbing alcohol on a wound, it helps as much as it hurts. But this truth will get you through to the other side of the breakup, and then you will look back fifty years later and feel so glad that you didn’t try to force your future with someone who never saw you in theirs.

7. “You deserve someone better than me.” 

Maybe it’s a cop out. Maybe they really do believe this. Maybe they don’t know how else to end things and this feels like the easiest way to break things off while still making themselves the victim. But the truth here is: if they truly wanted a life with you, they would rise to the occasion. They would do everything in their power to be as good to you and as supportive to you and as loving to you as you are to them. And if this was a healthy relationship, they wouldn’t be plagued with doubts of whether or not they are good enough. They would trust it, even through their insecurities, and they would put in the effort everyday to make this relationship last.

Don’t let them be the victim. Don’t try to change them. Don’t try to change yourself to make them feel more comfortable. Just let it go.

8. “I’m not emotionally ready for this.” 

Similar to “I’m not ready to commit to anyone right now,” what you really need to take from this, whether they realize it or not, is that they’re not emotionally ready for you. If they truly wanted this relationship, if they wanted love and they wanted it with you, they would find a way to make it work. It doesn’t mean that their emotional hangups or heartaches or wounds are not valid, it just means that they’re not willing to work on them, for and with you.

Love is never perfect or easy, and most of the time, you just end up stumbling your way through it – it’s a truth everyone learns, when they’re brave enough to take the leap with someone. There’s only so much you can do in this case, because you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to help themselves. Don’t cause yourself an unnecessary amount of pain by trying to force love with someone who’s not at all ready to get married right now or to try out exclusivity right now, or even just to open up a little bit to someone else right now.

It is okay to hear these words and then let yourself move on. You are not wrong for taking care of your own heart. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

I’m a staff writer for Thought Catalog. I like comedy and improv. I live in Chicago. My Uber rating is just okay.

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