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Monday, February 13, 2006

Break-up Etiquette

I read a newspaper article this evening written by an associate professor psychology about how to break up with someone in an honest way rather than resorting to lies as to why you are dumping the other person. This professor listed five common lies used to express the reason for the break up and one of them, she said, was telling the other person "I love you but I am not in love with you."


Why is that a lie? I was quite surprised to see this listed as being considered untrue. Those of us who are single and date will go out with someone for a few months and realize that we are attracted as friends but not romance. The two things are very different. It's hard to explain but I believe most people who have been in relationships understand the difference of loving someone and being in love.

This point of the professor's essay struck home with me because told a man I had dated for four months that I loved being with him doing things but I was not in love with him. I wasn't lying. He was great fun to be around but the strong sexual component of being in love with someone (when you need them emotionally and physically) simply wasn't there. I wish I could have made it be there, believe me, as he was a great guy and I really wanted him in my life as a friend. However, that also sounds like a false line you say when breaking up with someone but, again, I was not lying. I did want him in my life as friend.

So, oh Dr.-this-is-how-you-dump-someone-the-right-way what you discovered to be untrue in your own private dealings doesn't hold true for everyone else. What you call lies were painful things some of us had to speak to someone we cared about very much, just not in the way he was looking for.


Anonymous said...

Not having the article I can only guess, but it's not an uncommon thing for people to use that reason when really they don't even love the person to begin with--in any way. Unfortunate, but true.

Annie Ruth said...

I completely get what you are saying, Nancy. There *is* a difference, a huge one I think, between loving someone and being 'in love with' someone.

The first happens a lot, and thank god for that - otherwise we'd have no friends, right? whereas the latter only happens once in a lifetime, or if you're really really lucky, twice maybe, or so I hear.

And you don't have to wonder which it is - you just know when you find that "in love with" person.

so..... topic?

it is totally possible, if not to say probable, that most of the people we meet, get to know, and feel attracted to are people we may ultimately come to love, but do not 'fall in love with'.

where it gets awkward is when the other person is feeling along the lines of 'in love with' one, and one senses this, but knows that one does not reciprocate the intensity of feeling. (okay, why do I sound like an editorial by William F Buckley all of a sudden...????)

anyhooo, that's when it becomes necessary to have "the talk", and unfortunately the parting of the ways all too often follows.

But, I think it's not only honest to tell someone that one loves him/her, but does not feel the romantic 'in love' feeling, but also it is the only honorable thing to do if one suspects that one's friend/partner/date is moving along those "in love" emotional lines.

Now, as to Anonymous' comment, I agree there too. It's totally b#llsh*t to pretend to feelings that aren't there in order to "let someone down easy". Why is it so difficult to just say:
" You know, you are a wonderful person with many gifts, but I'm just not feeling it...."

(for guidance on how to do this, may I suggest watching "The Bachelor" on television, ABC, monday nights at's a lame reality 'dating' show in which some guy breaks up with one or more women every week....and cheesy melodrama ensues.....
sadly, I never miss it and, OKAY IT'S OFFICIAL, I'm a MORON.......)