Part Two | What not to do when you are planning to break up with someone

Part One

I looked him in the eye and said (not verbatim, and not a monologue):

I am confused and frustrated. I feel that you are not emotionally available. You are not ready to be someone’s boyfriend. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out why. I believe you feel about me the way you say. Perhaps you just aren’t ready – you have a lot of stuff to sort out. Perhaps you don’t know how. Perhaps you don’t realize that what we have is hard to find. The reasons, however, are irrelevant. 

New relationships need care and feeding. I don’t just know how you feel – you have to tell me. I get more “good morning beautiful” texts from exes than from you. My ex husband called me to see how I was doing with my job loss, yet I heard nothing from you. I feel as if you are here for me when it’s convenient, but if it really takes an effort, it’s too much for you.

I do understand the place you are in – I’ve been there as well. As I told you, I broke someone’s heart because I was in a place where it was all about me. I wasn’t ready to compromise anything. So I’m not angry with you. I understand it – but it doesn’t make it okay for me. 

I don’t want to be with someone all the time. I like my space and like my time with friends. I don’t want to be texting all day, every day. I’m pretty much a low-maintenance plant right now, a cactus, let’s say…and I’m dying from lack of care and feeding.

But here’s my problem. I really like you, and like being with you. I’ve met men before with whom I’ve been compatible relationship-wise, or physically we’ve had great chemistry. But both is very hard to find. I don’t want to say goodbye to you, but I need to find a way to not be constantly frustrated. I don’t want to bang my head against a wall any more.

I probably said a bit more than that, but those were the highlights.

To his credit, he was very honest and open with me. He heard everything I said, and didn’t get pissy or fake apologetic or make false promises. And while some of you may be yelling at your phones or computers “ANN IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT HE SAID”, here’s what he said:

  • There are times, Ann, when I think you are everything I’ve ever wanted.
  • I worry about going from one relationship to another. But I don’t want to date anyone else right now. What would that solve?
  • You are right, I’m not ready to emotionally commit.
  • I feel like I need to take five weeks and just be by myself and deal with my shit.
  • Perhaps I don’t know how to be in a relationship, as you say.
  • I don’t even know if my ex was serious about getting back together. She and I don’t talk. I don’t want it to be like it was before.
  • I’ve killed cacti before [this was a joke, a pretty damn funny one, in the moment]. I need reminders to ‘water my cactus’.
  • I was so miserable after coming back from my vacation, with the fight with my sibling, that even more than normal I wanted to just be alone. I know I’ve been more distant than normal since my return.
  • I don’t want to be kicked out / said goodbye to.
  • You are more than a convenience to me.

There was more, but these were the comments I remember. We laughed that sitting in a sports bar with crazy pumping dance music in the background was incongruous to our conversation.

As he was talking, all I could think was that I didn’t want to say goodbye to him. But if I didn’t want to say goodbye, I didn’t know what to do. I can’t continue the way things were.

Before you say it, I know that actions speak louder than words. And more importantly, we judge ourselves on our intentions, and others judge us on our actions. I’ve been forgiving of Tony because I know what his intentions are – but ultimately, what I feel are his actions.

I have also been forgiving of Tony because I see what’s possible. But sometimes, we don’t live up to our possibilities. I know that in the past, I’ve stuck with men because of what’s possible and ignore the reality staring me in the face. I can’t expect someone to change.

These are all things I know.

So what did I do? Not what was conductive to a breakup, that’s for sure.

[Part Three]

46 thoughts on “Part Two | What not to do when you are planning to break up with someone

  1. Ann:

    We can give all the advice in the world but ultimately you have to do what your heart tells you to do! Life is too short – sometimes a leap of faith is rewarded and sometimes you are punished. I think you need to look within and determine what you are willing to risk.

    Take care!


    • Thanks Vic. I recognize that this could go either way… I am certainly not fooling myself on the reward or the punishment that could happen here. I will only know the right answer farther down the road, which is an uncomfortable place to be.

  2. He’s being honest, that’s a good thing, but as you said it’s easy to blind ourselves and hold on past when it’s healthy to stay in a relationship. Taking it day by day can be best but if your needs aren’t getting met then you then will have to make the decision on what you’ll accept and compromise on, *hugs* I’m hoping things turn out for the best 🙂

  3. Well, I have probably left cacti to die too 😉
    I’m glad he didn’t try to dismiss your concerns. I would also give him the five weeks. At the end of them, you would know whether he cares about you, and whether you care about him. But I also know that it is hard to not keep hoping and move freely about when you expect that, maybe, just maybe, he’ll come back…
    I know about that because I do it right this minute. Not hope he’ll come back, but hope this could turn into more, even though he said the contrary… I see the possibilities, and think it deserves a chance.
    I’m waiting with bated breath to read about what happened next!

  4. So, I’m thinking you want to see where it goes and I think that’s good (of course I’ll see in part 3!) A thought I had when reading past posts: I think you were upset recently because you would send a text and wouldn’t hear from him in 3 hours or maybe not even that night. I have several friends who I might send a text to and I don’t hear from them until the next day. Life gets busy…things happen with work and home life and I understand why I might not hear from someone until the next day. And maybe consider that with Tony…I think it’s normal to feel ignored when someone doesn’t return a text, but just remind yourself he’s got a lot going on and it’s the time you spend together and what your heart says when you are together that is important (my 2 cents)

    • Thanks, Lisa. I absolutely know you are right, and that for many people (myself included, sometimes) it’s not possible to respond quickly.

      What I know about Tony, however, is he is always near his phone. Given the nature of his work, he is often checking it. So unless he’s in a yoga class or shooting that day, I know that he sees what I send rather quickly and chooses to not respond.

      Both my heart and my head love the time we spend together.

      • Yes, I think everyone is near their phone these days and everyone sees a text…but like I said, I just don’t think it’s fair to expect someone to return a text within a few hours because life gets in the way…

        • Absolutely. And normally it wouldn’t bug me – but it’s all about how secure I feel in a relationship. I don’t think twice when it’s friends or family… but someone who is otherwise not emotionally committed, all gaps in communication (not just hours, sometimes days or weeks) become untenable.

  5. I like his honesty, he gets loads of points for that. I think what it comes down to is “what can you live with?”. If you can give him five weeks more of what you recently been experiencing (lack of contact and essentially being put on the back burner for awhile) then go for it. It’s not an issue unless it’s an issue for you and we all have different thresholds of what we can tolerate. I know I am a very emotionally needy person so five more weeks would kill me…but I also know that feeling of “I am so going to end this…..oh look he is here and it makes me feel so good”…its qll that dopamine feeding our brains. Lol.

    I wish you the best of luck in your decision, I always dreaded this point in relationships.

    • I liked his honesty too. I’m glad he was straightforward. Anything else would not have gone over well with me. He didn’t make false promises or tell me what he thought I wanted to hear.

      But in some ways that would have at least made my decision a bit easier!

      • Lol. I don’t know that relationship decisions are ever easy..or easier…Especially with the ones we have amazing connections with! Understanding his position, and the timing of all this and where he is at right now doesn’t make it easier to tolerate less than we are worth. It’s a hard spot for you to be in for sure.

  6. I’m slamming my head against the computer screen but not for the reasons you think. This is a complete repeat of the conversation I had with CEO, only minus the cactus part :-). I said the same things to him, “I really don’t want to say goodbye to someone I genuinely care about.” Urgh, reading this just brings it all back. I totally get it Ann–unfortunately.

    It’s not a matter of “can this be saved”. It’s more, “When will you love yourself enough where you no longer accept this type of friendship, and try to repackage it as a deep, meaningful relationship?”

    Because I think you know and understand, he can not give you what you ultimately desire. However, you do care for him…and I think he does too, which only conflicts your heart even more.

    One day (maybe not yet), something will happen. And it will be the straw that broke the camels back kind of thing. You’ll finally have “enough” of this. But until then, you hold on…even if by a thread.

    • Thank you for this…and sorry you’ve been through it as well. I am absolutely holding on to what I get, and his intentions, and his potential. But none of that is enough, ultimately. I do know this. I know there’s unlikely to be much change… and I’m trying to sort out whether I’m an optimist or a pessimist. Really depends on the day.

  7. There’s so much I could say but ultimately is your life honey. Do what you feel is right.

    You’ve given it all you have, you can’t ask for more than that of yourself.


      • I know, but sometimes I think I’d rather sit you down over a bottle of smooth tequila so we can hash it out 😉

        All I really have to say is go with your gut. You obviously really like this guy and when things are going well they gel amazingly.

        So I guess it comes down to how long will you give him before you decide enough is enough? I don’t think he’s ready for you and he’s said so himself in his weird man that barely communicates way.

        Ultimately you need to decide how much more you want to put in for minimal get back. And I firmly believe that relationships are a give and take and when I broke up with my ex (who sounds like Tony’s twin in the communication stakes) I felt like I did the best thing possible. He wasn’t giving back, I was putting in extra to compensate and I couldn’t any more.

        I think it’s healthy having a time frame, if only for your own sanity, as to what you’ll accept from him behavior wise and relationship wise.

        • It would be great to sit down with you over a bottle of anything!!

          I do need to decide when it’s enough. I’ve certainly been clear with what I need, but I also haven’t given him a strong impetus to change, since I’m still seeing him 😐

          • Honey, asking him to give you these things is asking him to change.

            You shouldn’t need to do anything more!

            I have a bottle ready to go. Next time I’m over that side of the world. We’re totally having a drinking session.


  8. I can totally see myself doing what you’re doing! From what I can tell, he’s not a shit, he’s a decent guy – he’s not giving you everything you need but he’s giving you a lot of stuff that you don’t want to lose. If he was just in it for the sex or whatever, then he’d just walk away completely rather than deal with all this, so the fact that he still wants to hang in there, and seems to be very honest with you about where he’s at when you ask him, shows something. Waiting for part 3… 🙂

    • Thanks Vanessa-Jane… you are quite right, he’s not a douche. His honesty and openness just make it worse…it would be easier if he was just after sex or being a prick abou the whole thing.

  9. I love how thoughtful and mature his response was. I ended things in a relatively similar manner with a guy in the past and looking back, I still view him in such a positive light for being so honest with me. It hurt. It was hard. I wanted him to feel/act differently. Him and I were also very compatible. But at the end of the day, it was going to take a lot longer for him to be the person I needed him to be. We ended things and I am so glad. It is also nice to still view him positively rather than negatively. Not sure what the right answer is for your situation. Tony seems great. You’re own mentality seems great. It’s a toss up?

    • He got points for sure that he was honest and open. But he promised nothing – which I suppose would have been an empty promise. And yes, just like you say, I wanted him to respond somewhat differently. With plans, commitment, a path forward. But there was nothing – just acknowledgment. Better than nothing, but not enough.

    • I’m not sure a few weeks will do it. I think he wants me, but also wants to feel resolved with his marriage. Some of it is guilt, wondering if the right decision was made, etc. I can see it can take a while to sort that out.

      One thing I’ve realized is I don’t think a month is going to be all that he needs.

  10. I love the no contact for a month idea, I have a slightly similar conversation I need to have with someone (although we’re not in a relationship) I was reading the conversation you had with him where you were honest about how you felt and it gave me a few ideas of how to go about having my chat. Thanks I really enjoyed all 3 parts 😊

What do you think?