On television soap operas, this is the mortally confusing line that relationship enders slip their heart-broken lover to undo a love-knot seamlessly. But, at least on the tube, you get to see what’s behind the statement. What are they really thinking – and what are they not – when you’re on the receiving end of this message? Here’s a guide to help you sort it out.
Whether it springs out of nowhere or has been a long time in coming, it is what it is. You’ve hit the final act of your relationship, and a few minutes into the dénouement they utter this ambiguous bit of dialogue:
“This isn’t about you.”
It’s over. And there’s nothing you can do to change my mind.
The truth is harsh – which is why they don’t want to talk about it – but the “it’s not you… it’s me” defense is hard to swallow. They don’t want to be in a relationship with you anymore. How could that not be about you?
If they say the explanation doesn’t involve you, they mean they don’t want to explain it to you. They may not fully understand their own reasoning, or they may realize the answers will make you angry, make you cry or make you sorry you ever laid eyes on them. However you spin it, they’re clamming up because break-ups are hard. They want out, but that doesn’t mean they want to hurt you.
How to play it:
First, ask yourself how much you really want the truth. Sometimes we think we want answers (women especially are prone to very active emotional processing), when we’re better off washing our hands of our former lover and their issues. Do you really want to hear that there’s another person? That they’re bored or they just don’t care about you as much as they thought they did? Don’t press for information that will only leave your mind churning with useless what-ifs. At this point, they are no longer invested in you enough to be worth your energy – if you can, leave it at that.
The last word:
Masochistic though it may be, for some of us, analysis and understanding of the event is integral to moving on. So, if you’re positive you’ll sleep better at night knowing why they’re not sleeping next to you, go ahead and ask… but be deliberate in how you proceed.
Explain to your ex that the truth, however harsh, is better than not knowing, and agree to receive anything they have to say calmly. If you prefer, suggest they write you an email. (Since what most people fear most is an emotional outburst, your ex will probably feel safer this way.) Then take what they have to say, and get back to your life and the emotional investments that will continue to reward you. Remember, this is only their version of reality, and their reasons represent what they believe they need at this point in life. In a very important way, they’re right – this isn’t about you.
Check back next week for more favorite lines in a relationship and what may loom behind them… or not!
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