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And nine times out of ten, what they re asking for is permission to break up with their significant other because they can t manage to convince themselves that they need to. One of the most perverse aspects of being human is how hard we fight against our own best interests. Our brains are prone to a host of psychological effects and fallacies that convince us that we  shouldn t  finally pull the trigger and, even though it s making us miserable. Maybe you ve had a friend who knows he   needed to dump their toxic girlfriend. Maybe you got tired of slamming your head into the brick wall of their obstinacy as you watched their drama and misery unfold in real time on Facebook,   stunned that they didn t realize how miserable they are. Maybe  you were the one who needed to break up with your partner. God knows  I  was. The good news is that once you recognize these stalling tactics for what they are, you can learn to overcome them.

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Here are some of the ways you make it so much harder to break up with someone even when you know you need to. Feeling trapped probably means I should end it, but, I m feeling pretty conflicted about a lot of things. Like many nerdy people, my hobbies don t bring me in to social circles which contain a lot of women, so, dating has always been an uphill battle. Repeated rejection really wore down my sense of self-worth, and had me totally convinced that I was totally undateable. When I finally met someone (online) who seemed to really like and appreciate me, it completely blew my mind, and I felt on top of the world. So, we chat for ages, find lots of similar interests, have all kinds of interesting conversations, things seem to be going great behind the sanitizing curtain of the internet. There are some issues that come up that I m sure I can handle. She smokes, I don t. She drinks, I don t. She s pretty overweight, but, hell, I could lose a few pounds too. I like to go out with friends and play games, she s more a quiet, stay-at-home type. That s cool! I can deal with all that. Except when we meet in person, I find out I can t. The smell of cigarettes  gets in to everything and makes me nauseous. I really dislike dealing with her when she s drunk. I thought I didn t mind her weight but it turns me off and I don t really enjoy sex with her. I want to go out and do things, and she doesn t, so I feel guilty for leaving and doing things without her. Every visit, I d leave not sure if I wanted to be with this person but as soon as I d come home loneliness and nostalgia set in and suddenly I m thinking Well, it s probably not as bad as all that. I can deal with this.

Even though I KNOW THIS IS TOTALLY INSANE. I KNOW it will be just as bad when I go back. I KNOW it s not going to get better. As much as I m a non-confrontational person, I ve tried to do some prodding about these issues, and I ve been met with firm resistance. She does NOT think she should have to change for my sake. After all, I said I could handle all this. I KNEW about these problems. So here we are. The prospect of moving in together is rapidly approaching, and I m totally lost. I don t enjoy our time together in person, but maybe I just need to get used to it? There s still that person I ve been talking to on the internet, right? The one I fell in love with, but can t seem to find while we re visiting? What are my other choices? I m pathetic and undateable, right? There s nobody else out there for me. Staying with her is easier, and safer, and better (so I tell myself). Then there s the real kicker: It s been years. If I break things off now, I will have been wasting her time, for years. She ll feel betrayed, furious, devastated, and the thought of that makes me feel physically ill.

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The actual prospect of breaking up simply terrifies me, inflicting that on another person. And yet, by staying with her, even though I m not sure I want to, isn t that kind of a being a jerk to her as well? Either way, she wants to go forward with this. She seems committed, and I only feel it when I m not physically near her. Should I break things off? How do people cope with doing that to someone? Is there a chance things will actually get better if we move forward with this? I m not even sure I ll want to get out there and try the nightmare that is dating again if I break things off. In short, help! AMU s case is fairly common a attraction that started exclusively online didn t survive the transition into the real world. Just having chemistry with somebody online doesn t guarantee chemistry in person. Even now, it s a fairly open and shut case: he needs to break up with his girlfriend already. The problem is making that break up happen. What makes this letter interesting is that AMU is a classic example of why it s so hard to break up with someone, even when you know it needs to happen, laid out in pure text. From an outside perspective, it can seem glaringly obvious what you need to do. But when you re  in  it things aren t so clear. One of the first problems we deal with is that our brains will flat out lie to us and we very rarely realize it. Most of us have a misguided idea of how our memories work that they re perfect snapshots of a moment in time, recording and replaying everything with perfect clarity and accuracy. We believe  so firmly in the inerrancy of memory that we tend to miss the way that our brains rewrite our memories  as we re remembering them.

Little things can change how we remember things, including people just  making shit up andOne of the memory tricks that screw us over is the fact that. Positive memories tend to stick with us in greater detail, while negative memories fade quicker. Even memories of abusive or coercive behavior grow faint enough that we can excuse them as being not that bad in comparison with all the good times. And since we re often  already conflicted about actually pulling the break up lever, we let those nostalgic memories overwhelm our better judgement. If things were good once, they can be good  again, right? Break ups hurt, no matter which side of the equation you re on. On the one hand, it totally sucks to get dumped but it also sucks to be the dump er. On the whole,  people  hate  having to break up with someone we re naturally loathe to hurt somebody we care (or cared) for, even when it s necessary. Sure, every once in a while you ll run into a thundering assbeast who casts people aside like used Kleenex, but most of us aren t cartoon villains who feast on tears of despair. However necessary the break up may be, years of experience and pop culture have taught us that the person doing the dumping is the bad guy. They re the ones who aren t invested enough, who break promises, who don t care enough to make it work or aren t strong enough to make it through the rough patches. It s tantamount to admitting that you re simply  not good enough and that stings our egos enough that we ll frequently put up with  any  amount of bullshit, drama and abuse to prove it. But as the man said: that s just pride fucking with you. Pride doesn t help in times like this, it only hurts. The thing is, just sticking around doesn t mean you re a better person. In fact, it can often make things worse all around for them  and for you. Some people try to avoid the break up because they don t want to hurt their partner. It s a a lovely idea after all, who  doesn t want a painless breakup? But then the hobnailed boot of reality swings in and stomps all over those idyll daydreams  when the break up  does  come and it always does it becomes pretty obvious that someone s been sticking around despite desperately wanting to leave.

There s nothing that can ensure a swift, decisive kick to your soul s nuts like finding out your snugglebunny has been dying inside for the last two months, four months, year, what-have you. The fact that you were willing to overlook an issue they smoke, they drink, you have different values, etc. In the beginning doesn t mean you re not allowed to break up with them over it later. It just means that you made a mistake. The fact that you promised to love someone until you died isn t the same as the Unbreakable Vow, no matter how much your ex harps on it afterwards. Unless you straight-up deceived to them, realizing that you couldn t keep a promise you made isn t the same as lying. All it means is that you were wrong. Being the person to initiate the break up can suck but sometimes. Another shockingly common reason why people are averse to breaking up, even when they know it s what they need to do? Because they ve been dating for  so long now that they can t just give up now. A good friend of mine took over a year to finally decide divorce her deadbeat husband because it would mean that those ten years of marriage (not even counting how long they d been dating beforehand) would have been wasted. Other people are loath to initiate the break up because they feel like it would be tantamount to giving up. It doesn t matter that they re abjectly miserable they d rather suffer than deal with the social approbrium of being a quitter. That s the same feeling that keeps you from breaking up with somebody because it would mean you would have wasted all that time you spent dating them. That s going to sting and there s no getting around it. Losing your investment hurts and there s no getting it back. But by getting out  now you can stop yourself from losing even more. The last reason for avoiding a necessary break up is, in many ways, the hardest to overcome. For a lot of people, the prospect of being single is scarier than being with the wrong person. It s a  based out of a the idea that there are only so many women in the world who could possibly be into you.

Under this self-imposed belief, every rejection and every break up brings you one step closer to dying alone, unloved and forgotten.

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