A friend was six weeks away from her wedding when her fiance abruptly announced, with no prior warning, that he wanted out. Two weeks before, he wrote ‘I love you’ in the condensation of the kitchen window and then, in one fell swoop, the wedding was off. He refused to explain, speak with or see her and cut her and all of their mutual friends out of his life.
The out-of-the-blue breakup devastated her. She could accept that he didn’t want to get married. What she couldn’t fathom was how he could cut her off so cruelly and offer no explanation. Around their wedding date, he forced himself to call… to tell her that he was seeing someone else. And that was only because he’d been seen all over town.
Reader Anne reconnected with an old flame from ten years ago. They’d always kept in touch, and they got together when she visited her home country. Emails, calls, texts, and plans (he said he wanted to get married “next year”) and promises followed. He booked a flight to visit her. They spoke right up to the night before. The big day arrived; he went dark, refused to speak to her and cut her off. During their one brief conversation, he said, “Life will go on with or without me”. When she called another time, he hung up.
These are just two examples of a story I’ve heard many times:
When somebody abruptly ends a relationship and cuts you off. There’s no explanation, nothing, and you wonder what you did and have to process the loss and closure alone. You feel duped, play the relationship back and search for the signs, but ultimately blame yourself. It’s the relationship equivalent of your boss telling you what a great job you’re doing and then sacking you or making you redundant out of the blue with little or no explanation.
So here’s what I told my friend Anne and others in the same boat:
People that break up by abruptly and rather aggressively cutting you off with little or no explanation and pretty much act like you never existed do so to avoid any responsibility for the consequences of their actions and their impact on you so they can press the Reset Button.
Acknowledging even a fraction of their actions would draw them into acknowledging themselves and your feelings. Instead, by chopping you out of your life to break up, they can pretend like you didn’t exist. They can tell themselves anything they like. It’s like, ‘Get the consequences of my actions as far away from me as possible’.
People who break up with zero explanation fear that if they discuss their reasons, they’ll get talked into committing themselves to something they don’t want.
They might even feel bad or, heaven forbid, remorseful.
They want out so badly they have to sabotage your relationship in such an abominable way that it would make it difficult for them to go back (unless very brazen) or for you to believe there was a chance of reconciling. Their actions are about safeguarding themselves and avoiding the commitments they’ve made by sabotaging their way out. And, if they’re ‘lucky’, they’ll get a 2-for-1 deal and you’ll think it’s your fault.
The overwhelming likelihood is that your ex didn’t feel that there was a strong enough reason to pin on you. Rather than admit they’re scared or they want out, they announce they’re out and cut you off. That’s if they bother to say anything before leaving.
Sometimes people become stifled by a situation often of their own making, triggering anxiety and fears about being vulnerable, intimate and committed.
Some like the idea of doing stuff more than the reality. When the future they’ve often billy-bullshitted you and Future-Faked about starts getting too close for comfort, they extricate themselves in a big way. They may have genuinely believed that they were going to be and do as they’d committed themselves to. However, if they were honest, they’d acknowledge that going out with a bang was always a ticking time bomb.
People who blindside you with a breakup often say and do what they think they should; they’re going through the motions. My friend’s ex likely thought that he had to take ‘logical’ next steps without his heart being in it. She had enough pride to know that she wouldn’t have wanted to marry a reluctant groom. Still, she did see his treatment as a reflection of her. Anne feels the same but also recognises she had a lucky escape even though she’s hurting a lot now.
Many years ago, I worked with a girl from Australia. One Thursday, I listened to her boyfriend spend the entire evening professing his love. The following Tuesday, he took her ice skating and talked about marriage. Two days after, he told her he didn’t love her and he’d met someone else. He added nothing further other than to tell her to get out and go back to Oz. Three days later, she left.
People, especially dishonest, deluded, scared, and fickle people, are changeable.
Some folks aren’t the type to engage in an open and honest dialogue with you in the relationship. When they experience anxiety, their feelings change, there are problems, etc., they may not say anything and then erupt out of the relationship like they have a hot poker up their bum.
You might wonder what you could have done differently. Unfortunately, if someone’s in way over their head, you’re not going to know about it until they say or do something. Or you ask. Even then, they might not tell you.
When someone can rip you out of your relationship and their life from one day to the next and go all Jekyll and Hyde on you, they’re not the love of your life. While it’ll hurt like crazy now as it feels like there is no closure, you can’t decipher what was real and what wasn’t, and you don’t get why you don’t even deserve an explanation, you’ll eventually come to be thankful that you were spared from spending even a minute more in the company of someone that doesn’t play decent, never mind fair.
They’ve got all switchy on you because they’re afraid of commitment and/or want out but don’t know how to handle these situations with integrity. The pressure and the fear mount and they panic. Or they’re someone that doesn’t voice concerns and problems or solves their problems by lining up a new partner, which then creates the urgency to get shot of you.
Being scared doesn’t excuse your ex’s behaviour.
However, it does, along with their subsequent actions, tell you why a relationship with them isn’t an option. There’s no easy way to broach fears or endings; with them, you would get hurt anyway.
It would be great if they could respect you and the time you shared by dignifying you with an explanation and decent treatment. They wouldn’t, though, have ended the relationship in this manner if that were ever going to be on offer. That, and they would have to explain themselves, and as they don’t want to know themselves and have that level of honesty, you’ll either be in for a long wait or a distorted version of events that will leave you with more questions than answers.
Don’t envy the next person because who knows what kind of switcheroo stuff they’ll be pulling there. They may have left a big hole in your life, but you can fill it with a happier self, a better relationship, and new hopes, dreams, and plans.