Only in a few rare scenarios do relationships end on an amicable note. Most of the time, the breakupee didn't know that the breakupper was unhappy. Then, when you analyze the words that were used during their departure, you find yourself playing a dangerous game. No matter what they say, heartache is torture regardless, but there is one classic breakup line that gets under mostly everybody's skin: "It's not you, it's me." Am I the only one who doesn't think it's such a crappy excuse?
Here's the story: You're living in a warm, peaceful bubble of love when your significant other comes home one day. The first thing they say to you is, "We need to talk." Next, "This isn't working out," crosses their lips, and when you say whatever the pain and shock forces out of your mouth, they follow up with a puppy-eyed "It's not you, it's me." At this point, your heart hits the floor, and you hate this person as if they killed your dog. Then, you still love them and want to beg them to stay. You're feeling 1,000 emotions at this point, and none of it is pretty, we've all been there. Be honest with yourself: Could this person have broken your heart in a nicer way? Is it really possible for them to make you smile after the fact? No.
What Does it Really Mean?
The "It's not you, it's me" routine got its bad reputation after it fell into the wrong hands and was eventually overworked and clichéd. In the beginning, it wasn't so much of a line, but more of the person breaking up lacking communication skills. The person saying these words is taking responsibility for their inability to please you. They are letting you know that you are not the problem, and that they are. The puppy-eyed look that follows this line isn't all for show. It hurts them to hurt you.
Why will someone break up when they are in pain too? Sometimes a person will sacrifice their happiness to make a better future for the both of you. This is called bravery. This usually happens when a couple has grown apart and it cannot be controlled. We often get stuck in a comfort zone that we mislabel as love or happiness. The breakupper is the stronger link. The words "It's not you, it's me" always hold a deeper meaning, but it is up to you to decide what that meaning is. If you were dating a jackass, you should know that by now, and it was definitely a copout. If your S.O. truly is a sweetheart, allow yourself a cooling off period before contacting them.
How to Find the Truth
Assuming that the breakupper is a kind-hearted person who just doesn't express their feelings very well, you should be able to get some information. The guilt and missing you will be killing them when you call a few days after the breakup. It's best to have the conversation in person, but a phone call will do too. There aren't any magic words, there's no skill needed here. In a calm voice ask, "What happened?" you will find everything you're looking for from there, even if they say something you don't like.
Don't expect an explanation to bring you closure. More often than not, the explanation will piss you off when you first hear it. You might feel the need to defend yourself, but don't. Just listen; this is an opportunity to learn. Don't scheme to get back together, let them have their space. You will need to do some growing up of your own before you fully understand that the breakup protected you. In the end, don't let this experience haunt you. Mourn, learn, keep it moving and remember, it's not you, it's them.