"It's Not You, It's Me" and Other Breakup Clichés

While relationships are always a uniquely personal experience, for some reason the breakups almost always seem to follow the same script, right down to the tears, the protestations ("You're so great, really, but...") and the promises ("You're better off finding someone who will appreciate you").


If you've been on the receiving end of any of these bad breakup clichés, it's time to know the truth.

They Say: "It's not you, it's me."
They Mean: "It's you."

You suspected it all along - it really is you. But that's not really your fault; you're just not quite what he or she was looking for. And even though it's the most annoying breakup cliché of all time, it's actually a pretty flattering one. If he or she is taking all the blame in the split, it's a show of respect.

They Say: "I'm just so busy these days."
They Mean: "I don't care about you enough."

This is a perfect example of the now-classic "he's just not into you." Yes, he or she may, in fact, be crazy-busy, but the simple truth is that if you were important enough, they'd find a way to fit you into their schedule.

They Say: "I can't give you what you need."
They Mean: "I don't want to."

Here's a variation on the previous cliché, with a little extra "I'm the victim here!" thrown in for good measure. If this person really wanted to be with you, there'd probably be a way to make it happen. Rather than make the necessary sacrifices, this 'fraidy-cat would let you think their problems are so unfixable that you should just move on.

They Say: "I need space."
They Mean: "I am freaking out."

This is the one you'll hear if you're spending a little too much time together or if things seem to be moving a little fast, sexually or emotionally. Sometimes, though, that smothered feeling has nothing at all to do with you. The sudden need for space usually happens right around the time the relationship starts getting a little serious. Because falling in love means losing a little control, some folks freak out a little bit at the loss of autonomy.

They Say: "We should see other people."
They Mean: "I want to see other people...naked."

This one is as slimy as it sounds. Basically, this person wants to continue sleeping with you, but also have your permission to sleep around. He or she is still into you - otherwise the relationship would be over completely - but wants to keep fishing for a better offer.

They Say: "I love you, but I'm not in love with you."
They Mean: "I am so not attracted to you anymore."

Why precisely do people think that making the distinction between "loving" and being "in love" will make getting dumped feel less painful? We have no idea. But if you can overlook the hypocrisy of this cliché, maybe you can take a little comfort in the fact that the person who issues it is genuinely - if poorly! - trying to avoid hurting your feelings.

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