When breaking up is taking a stand

You’ve stayed with him because it is magical when you are with him. He treats you like a queen. You have interesting conversations. He makes you laugh. And when you touch — electricity. You know this combination is rare, so you’ve put up with the parts that aren’t great.

But your needs aren’t being met. You’ve shared with him several times the specifics of what you need in a relationship. You know he heard you as he’s repeated them back to you and you occasionally see attempts at his giving you what you want. But there’s not consistent effort. So you feel frustrated at not getting what is important to you.

You’ve talked to him about it and he promises to do better. Which he does for a day or so. He doesn’t seem to be willing or able to consistently give you what you need, even though your needs seem pretty basic to you. How onerous is connecting daily, seeing each other at least once a week, making plans to see each other at least a day in advance? For him, apparently, Herculean.

You’ve given him 95% of what he says he needs, and told him you are uncomfortable with the remaining 5%, which he said he’s willing to live with. You asked if he has any yet unspoken needs. He said no.

You decide you need to release this man, although giving up the yummy parts is hard. But you know if you continue to see him, you won’t experience someone who consistently shows he wants to make you happy, just as you want to make your partner happy.

You are taking a stand. Not only for how you want to be treated, but for your future with a man who understands you and clearly wants to be with you.

For some women it is hard to take a stand — to say, “This isn’t working for me.” Then to take action to remedy the situation. Sometimes the act of taking a stand will help him see that he needs to do something dramatic if he wants to be in your life. Or perhaps he will agree that it isn’t working for him, either. And you’ll both make adjustments or decide to part ways.

If you’ve given concerted effort to express your needs, and he doesn’t say he can provide them or seems uninterested in helping you get your needs met, then it isn’t a match. Unless he said he would absolutely give you what you said you need then doesn’t, there’s no need to be angry. It’s just a mismatch. And the earlier you see that and extricate yourself, the happier both of you will be.

I’ve struggled with this myself, as the good times can overshadow what’s missing. So I delude myself it’s working and stay in the relationship longer than I should. Often it is he who pulls the plug and while it can hurt, after that pain has subsided, it is easier to see it is really for the best. And in an odd way I’m grateful he had the courage to do something that I was unable to do — at least at the time.

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8 responses to “When breaking up is taking a stand”

  1. Loving Annie Avatar

    Very wise post and something to really pay attention to. Letting go when it isn’t working for me actually is good for my self-esteem. It says I know I deserve better.

    Having been the one dumped most often, I find it far easier to be the dumpee – then I can let go and move forward so much easier and quicker.

  2. Devon Avatar

    I agree that letting go when things aren’t working is good for self-esteem. So much better than accommodating and hoping things will improve. I have released a few really good men over the last 2 years – because I felt intuitively that they just weren’t right for me. It’s important to listen to that inner voice.

  3. Ellen Avatar

    Oh, girlfriend, is it ever tought to give up a guy who gives us something we like!!! Listen, we need to keep our eyes and ears open, enjoy what we get, but not get attached to a guy who doesn’t treat us like a goddess. I know that sounds cheesy, but we deserve to be adored by someone who believes we are the best thing to ever happen to him. Of course, we need to give him what he needs in a big way, too. I am a bold independent woman of the millenium, but this doesn’t preclude being adored. I vote we NEVER settle for a guy who doesn’t treat us like a queen. Never.

    xo Ellen

  4. Carl Avatar

    I’m 23, kind of shy and inexperienced in the dating scene. I happened to find this blog doing a google image search for broken dishes… After reading a few entries I can’t help but wonder if I’ll ever have a girlfriend or if it’s even worth trying. Granted there are plenty of fish in the sea and lots of types of people. But man, I could never cut the mustard if these are the standards I’m up against. Got any advice? (if the advice is to get a cat, I’m way ahead of you)

  5. Barb Avatar

    Amazing how the post is so appropriate for what’s going on in my life right.this.very.minute. It helps to remind myself that while we both may have tried to make the other happy, we may just be a mismatch. Thanks!

  6. David Avatar


    don’t worry. Not all women are like this. There are reasons why some of us past 40 are still dating. If we were better at relationships we’d have been coupled up long ago.

    Still, dating past 40 is not bad, it’s just not the best time to look for a happily-ever-after relationship.

    In your mid to late 20s odds are better. Don’t wait too long.

  7. Sherri Avatar

    Dear DG,

    The biggest challenge for me in knowing when to end a relationship has been learning to define my needs versus the needs and expectations of those around me. I tended to look to other relationships that were working in the past, and try to imitate those. Once I was able to figure out what I (nobody else!) needed in a union, it made it easier to work through the exhortations and advice of others and my own fear of being alone.

    My divorce was long, ugly and painful. But when I finally did decide to leave, I exited with a clear heart because I’d learned enough about myself to know quite clearly that I could no longer stay in the marriage and expect to thrive. That knowledge has been key to my navigating the divorce’s aftermath and building a rich and rewarding life as a single mom.

  8. Tanya Avatar

    This post was right on the money. I was in this type of relationship when I realized it was not working for me. I ended the relationship and relocated to another state. Two years later, he claimed I was the one he wanted to marry and stated he would do better, so I gave it another try. I really though we were going to make it, but within months it was the same issues. I ended the relationship. This time for good. Now I am left wondering would I ever fine someone that could be truly commited to me.