Pseudo-compassion is a classic tactic wherein a statement looks very compassionate but in reality, it’s not. For example, “You deserve better” often translates to “I have fallen out of love with you/I definitely deserve better” or “God, I wish the timing was right” translates as “Long distance is such a pain/I just want to explore drugs and casual sex, in peace.”
So, when people say “It’s not you, it’s me”, what do they actually mean? Let’s find out with the help of counseling psychologist Kranti Momin (Masters in Psychology), who is an experienced CBT practitioner and specializes in various domains of relationship counseling.
It’s Not You, It’s Me: What It Really Means
Author Caroline Hanson has rightly stated, “I know when someone tells you they are doing ‘what’s best for you’, you’re screwed. Those are not words you want to hear. It’s right up there with ‘it’s not you, it’s me’.”
There, she said it. “It’s not you, it’s me” – those are not the words you want to hear! But then, why would someone opt for such a cliché, vague, mysterious and confusing way to end a relationship? “It’s me, not you” – let’s find out what these words really mean:
1. It’s not you, it’s me = I don’t have the courage to be honest
“Sorry, it’s not you, it’s me” is a defense mechanism where a person tries to rationalize the thought of a breakup, according to Kranti Momin. She says, “Since people feel bad about hurting their partners, they find ways to make themselves feel better about it. They project.”
You feel strongly for your partner and you don’t want to hurt him/ her by being honest. You don’t want to be that guy/ girl who’s called a “heart-breaker”. So what do you do? You fake niceties and take all the blame so that you feel less guilty about dumping your partner.
Related Reading: 8 Ways To Make Him Regret Not Choosing You
You may think you’re saying “it’s me, it’s not you” because you want to cause less pain to your loved one but the truth is that you do it for your peace of mind – so that you feel less of a sinner and so that you can sleep better at night. So, when a girl says “it’s not you, it’s me” it may look like it comes from a place of selflessness but it’s actually coming from a place of ego.
2. It is you, after all
Kranti points out, “There are two people in a relationship and it is not possible that only one person is responsible for all the problems. During counseling sessions, I’ve seen people come up with such lame excuses for breakups.”
“For example, not liking the body type of a person (even when the person has all the other qualities like being super caring and loving). People feel ashamed of telling the truth in such cases as their conscience doesn’t allow them.” So, to not sound rude, they instead say “it’s not you, it’s me.”
Related Reading: 20 Free Examples Of Breakup Letters And Tips
3. It’s not you, it’s me meaning: I have found someone else
On the question of why a man says “it’s not you, it’s me,” Kranti Momin responds, “He is probably cheating on you. It could be one of the cheating guilt signs you need to watch out for. In such a case, you are not going to get the real reasons for the breakup, no matter how much you try. Obviously, they won’t tell you that there is someone new. They will just conveniently say it’s not you, it’s me.”
4. I am going through something major
Sometimes “it’s not you, it’s me” means exactly as it sounds. What if they are going through depression? Or just lost a parent. Or quit their job to start something from scratch. Maybe they are going through a midlife crisis.
Such a major change may be making them push you away. Perhaps, they need some alone time to figure it all out. Whatever that change is, it needs to be communicated effectively. Just saying “it’s not you, it’s me” doesn’t suffice. Ending a relationship on good terms can actually save a lot of post-breakup damage.
5. I constantly feel I will never be good enough for you
In such cases, “it’s not you, it’s me” is more of a cry for help. Maybe, they are genuinely going down the hole of self-hatred because they have put you on a pedestal and think that they don’t match up to you.
If your partner is going through something like this, you need to ask yourself – Are you doing something to constantly trigger their inferiority complex? Do you consistently make them feel that they are unworthy and that you can do better?
Related Reading: Why Do Some People Take Breakups Harder Than Others?
It’s Not You, It’s Me- The Right Way To Break Up?
It’s very difficult to respond to “it’s not you, it’s me”. You might want to ask them, “Why are you letting me go if there is nothing wrong with me?”
“It all depends on how well you take it. Some see it coming because they can notice things going haywire in the relationship. You might try to ask them the real reasons for the breakup,” says Kranti.
Since people are left confused when their partners break up with them without any reason, being honest is the ideal way to end a relationship. So, however tempting it seems, “it’s not you, it’s me” is not the right way to break up with someone as moving on without closure is very difficult.
“It doesn’t bring closure to your partner and he or she is kept hanging. Every person deserves closure, otherwise it leads to trust issues for life. If you don’t tell your partner the real reasons for ending the relationship, they may develop a fear of commitment and trust issues in the future.”
“Don’t sound demeaning, rude or hurtful, but please tell your partner the real reasons for the breakup. Don’t leave them guessing these reasons. If you have drifted apart, tell them you have. If you don’t want anything serious, tell them. Do communicate,” adds Kranti.
Likewise, if you don’t like the way they look or speak or behave, don’t go into specifics. Just say something along the lines of “I am overanalyzing you and picking on all details. It’s unfair to you and I need to figure out what I really want from a partner.”
Or, if you have a “type” in your mind and they are not able to tick the boxes of your high standards, say, “I am looking for too many things in one person. Maybe I will never find the idealistic relationship I have in my mind. But I want to do justice to myself and give it a try.”
A very famous saying goes, “The way they leave tells you everything.” So, make sure you leave with dignity, integrity and grace. Of course, to break up with someone is a difficult thing to do and to cope with breaking up, even more difficult. But make sure you are thoughtful about it, instead of leaving them with an “it’s not you, it’s me”.
It is a person that you once loved very much, the least they deserve is proper closure. Whatever your reasons are, make sure you don’t leave them questioning their self-worth. Don’t trigger their complexes, be kind but honest, always.
Most of the time, no. It is just a coping mechanism to avoid sharing the real reasons for a breakup. Either the person who’s breaking up is too ashamed of those reasons or doesn’t want to be remembered as a villain. Either way, when things go bad in a relationship, it’s rarely a single person’s fault. Even if it’s true, you deserve more of an explanation as to why they are saying that.
It is a very vague statement and you might actually not know what to say to it. You can try asking them the real reasons for the breakup. And if they don’t give it, the last thing you want to do is beg them or plead them for closure. Close this chapter and move on.
She is not taking accountability at all. Blaming you for everything is also unfair. She is just not brave enough to admit that she was at fault too. It takes two to tango. Both messed up, that’s why it couldn’t work out. Admit what you did wrong. Don’t internalize the blame for anything that you didn’t do and move on.