Early in your relationship you both promised that if there was ever anything that bothered one of you so much to consider breaking up, that one would have the respect and courtesy to share this in person or at least on the phone, not in an email, text, IM or voice mail. Having been broken up with in each of these virtual vehicles by midlife men you’d dated for a while, you felt it was disrespectful.
Several months into your current relationship, your man went AWOL, not returning your calls, emails or texts. You had no idea where he was, or if he was OK. He had promised to make daily contact to check in, so after four days of silence you’d had it. You were ready to break up with him for his inconsideration and breaking his agreement — something that happened too frequently for your taste. You take your promises seriously and consider keeping or renegotiating commitments to be a sign of maturity, responsibility, and integrity.
But believe it or not, integrity can be a problem. Because you made the commitment to not break up without actually talking to him, you can’t send him an “I’ve had it. We’re done.” email, text, IM or voice mail. You are hamstrung by your own integrity. You have to wait until you speak to him to tell him your feelings.
Friends say you shouldn’t feel beholden to your promise because he isn’t holding up his agreement to connect daily — and this isn’t the first time he’s broken an agreement. So that releases you from your vow. But you know that you need to act in accordance with your values no matter how badly someone else acts. You want to be able to live with yourself knowing you act in integrity even if someone else does not.
Then he texts you after several days with a plausible reason for his silence, even though you think any reasonable man who cared about you would have reached out sooner. His texts sweet talk you into releasing your ire.
Eventually it is he who ignores your mutual pledge and breaks up with you via text. This cements your observation that his promises to you meant little. So while you are sad because you liked him a lot despite the clear mismatch in values, you are also relieved because you know a relationship is doomed with someone who doesn’t put integrity as a priority.