One of my favorite comedians Aziz Ansari talks a lot about modern dating and romance in his writing, comedy, and stand-up. His observations and commentary are very much on point and he does a bit during his stand-up show that kills me every time.
He asks the audience to clap if they enjoy being broken up with by ghosting. No one claps, obviously. Then, he asks the audience to clap if they prefer someone to end a relationship in a straightforward and honest way. All of Madison Square Garden goes off. "So why do we do this to each other?" - Aziz asks.
Very good question. I often ask myself the same thing. This article isn't about ghosting, but it's about sugar coating the truth. Why do we feel the need to carefully dance around the truth, when we know very well that being honest is the best course of action.
Over the next few pages, we will look at all the classics breakup lines that have been used and abused. We will go over the tried and true direct approach lines as well. If you wish to read on we will look at some of the ways dumpers cop-out of being honest and give backhanded compliments to soften the blow. Read on for more!
For Overused Classics, click "NEXT"
"I love you, but i'm not in love with you"
If anyone has ever said this horrendous catch-all phrase to you, you have the right to never speak with them again. Because the soulless people that dare to utter this abused cliche actually have no conception of what it means to love or be loved.
These people are doomed to confuse infatuation for real love, and repeat the vicious cycle over and over until the grave. So - instead of getting angry and firing into a fit of rage, I would encourage anyone on the receiving end of this to take a deep breathe and walk down the empathetic path instead.
Because although it might seem incredibly difficult in the heat of the moment, the best way of getting over someone dropping this bomb on you is to feel bad and empathize with them.
This is because the one doing the dumping clearly has no clue how to have a real committed relationship that goes deeper than the honeymoon. In all their relationships down the line, as soon as passion starts to settle down into safety, comfort, and familiarity they will for sure jump ship, too.
"It's not you, it's me"
Anyone with half a brain knows what this obviously means - it's you, not them. For whatever reason they just don't have the guts to tell you to your face. Making this line one of the cruelest in the books.
On one hand, in my optimistic mind, I'd like to think that this means they still care about you in some shape or form. Because at least they are trying to be sensitive to your feelings - right?
But on the other hand, the ugly truth is probably that this cliche line is dropped in a twisted and selfish effort to sooth their own burning guilt over dumping you for no good reason at all.
If you are on the receiving end of this horribly ambiguous, confusing and frustrating breakup line, let me just say that - you my friend, have dodged a bullet. If someone doesn't have the courage and maturity to be honest and direct, then you definitely don't want a long-term commitment with them.
For The Direct Approach, click "NEXT"
"I think we should see other people"
Optimistically, this is probably the least frustrating and confusing of all the cliche lines out there because at the very least, it's direct. There isn't much room for reading between the lines or any interpretation.
The person dropping this bomb is - worst case scenario, already seeing someone else. And most definitely - 100% without a doubt - has another object of interest lined up and on the back burning waiting to jump to.
In my mind, if you hear this line and you've been dating for less than a year, I would feel thankful that they we're direct to my face. As clearly this is a verbal confirmation that two people are no longer exclusive. With no added frills.
On the other hand, if someone said this in an attempt to breakup a long-term relationship, then that would be pretty devastated. A lesson to keep in mind: cliche lines should be reserved ONLY for relationships that lasted less than a year. Don't be a monster.
"I need space"
Three little words that pierce deep. Take these three over used words as a opportunity to re-evaluate your relationships. Because when someone says that they "need space" this is can be a product of a few things.
Scenario one, they need space from YOU. Maybe you are being clingy, needy, or seeking reassurance from them. Or maybe it's a combination of all of the above. In any case, the result is that your behaviour is driving them away from you rather than towards. Take time to try and objectively evaluate things so as not to not repeat this in the future.
Scenario two, you are actually behaving perfectly normal. You are a confidence and self-assured person showing a reasonable and healthy level of interest in someone, but sorry to break it to you, it seems like the harsh truth is that they just aren't really that into you. Simple as that.
Although this cliche line does leave some room for interpretation - how long do they need space for? Will they eventually need less space? I believe that this line should always be heard as "I need space from you, for good".
For The Cop-Out, click "NEXT"
"I just really need to work on myself"
This cliche is a total cop-out because instead of owning up and admitting to their feelings - or lack thereof - directly to you, the dumper is trying to twist things around to make it seem like THEY are the ones with the issue. As if this mental gymnastic will soften the blow for the dumpee.
Although there may be a morsel of truth to this statement, don't fall for it. The harsh reality is that life is one continuous struggle of "working on yourself". I assure you that when a person meets someone that is truly special in their eyes, they won't be eager to toss them aside to watch Tony Robbins and "work on themselves".
In fact, I would argue that we are attracted to people that challenge us, those that push and motivate us to grow, evolve and explore our potential. That said, when someone drops this line, it's probably because you don't arouse that feeling in them. Simply said, you're not challenging them.
This is important to keep in mind going forward. How are you going to lead your life so that when you meet someone new, they will feel challenged by you. Think about it!
"My career is just super important to me right now"
This cliche phrase is also one of the biggest cop-outs in the book. You can feel free to fill in the blank where you see the word "career" to anything else that is supposedly more "important" than finding true love.
Once again, there is always a morsel of truth buried in this statement. Maybe the person doing the dumping is ACTUALLY trying to focus on their career, or their new business, masters thesis, gym bod, stamp collection - whatever the reason, this could very well be happening in their life.
The harsh truth still remains, though. When someone meets a person they find truly attractive and inspiring, they will stop at nothing to re-arrange their busy schedule to accommodate the budding romance.
So - if someone drops this cliche on you, as hard as it might be, try not to take it too personally. This person clearly doesn't have the ability to be straightforward and honest, so in my eyes, you're better off without them anyways.
For The Soften The Blow, click "NEXT"
"I think we're better as friends"
The soften the blow tactics of breaking up with someone are truly well-intentioned. The person doing the dumping is probably anxious and worried about hurting the dumpees feelings, so they try to make light of a tough situation by passively complimenting or saying something nice about the person they are cutting ties with.
They will often try to say something along the lines of "we're better off as friends" or "we should just be friends" this is simply code for "I don't find you physically attractive anymore". BUT - the good news is they still think your a good person. yay.
You can be a true optimist and take this cliche and walk away with your head held high. Because although unrequited feelings of attraction can be some of the most torturous and heartbreaking, the person doing the dumping is, once again, likely doomed to chase lustful physical attraction to the grave.
The ugly truth is, physical attraction will always fade over time. It's a biological rule. No one is immune to it. And the people that use these cliches to breakup live in a fantasy believing that they are eventually going to find "the one" person that transcends this biological truth.
"We're just on two different paths right now"
Nothing like a poetic metaphor to soften the blow of a breakup. Speaking in fluffy vague analogies to confuse and keep the the dumpee off balance is a classic breakup tactic used by people who are probably confused themselves about ending the relationship.
Pointing a finger to the universe and claiming that your breaking up because of some larger cosmic force outside of your control such as "bad timing" is the same as blaming your poor performance on a exam to the weather that day.
The reality is, the person doing the dumping in this scenario is listening to a deep emotional and gut instinct to pull-away from the relationship. Sometimes these feelings can be incredibly hard to put into words, so instead of trying to explain their feelings, they just blame the larger cosmic forces of the universe instead. Much simpler.
If you hear this line or a similar one, I encourage you to walk away with your head held high because this is probably one of the best-case-scenario cliche to be on the receiving end of.
For The Backhanded Compliment, click "NEXT"
"My feelings for you are so intense it scares me"
Similar to softening the blow, the backhanded compliment breakup cliche are a way of subtly paying a compliment or saying something positive about the dumpee in a effort to not totally slice their heart into a million little pieces in one shot.
Often times, the dumper will try to blame their own inadequacies or fears and anxieties of intimacy as the reason for ending a relationship. We all know, however, that in most cases when you meet someone truly special you're not going to run from them. You're much more likely to run towards them.
Making this cliche phrase particularly cruel and twisted. I would be very skeptical of spending time with someone who can outright say this to someones face without breaking a sweat.
Although there are some people out there who truly have deep issues with connecting emotionally with others, these people are outliers and will not likely breakup with someone in this way.
"You are going to make someone really happy someday"
The part that the dumper leaves out in this cliche breakup line is "it's just not going to be me" because that would just be rubbing salt into the wound. We all know what the person doing the breaking up is trying to achieve by laying down this line.
This line is often used during the breaking up of a longer-term relationship. So - if you hear these words during a breakup, try to imagine the enormous pressure of being the one to initiate the conversation in the context of ending a long partnership.
They want to make the dumpee feel good. But in doing so, actually end up making them feel worse. Go figure. This is the strange and twisted reality of trying to sugar coat the truth. It actually ends up hurting the person more.
In the end, there is a truth to this statement, and as a result is probably the nicest cliche breakup line someone can use. Because as much as heart break and rejection stings like hell, we all eventually move on, and find love again - and again, and again. You get the point.