On Whether to Break Up With Your Girlfriend
Five steps to make a life-changing decision.
(this post was previously attempted as a twitter thread)
If you’re thinking of breaking up with your girlfriend, even if she hasn’t done anything wrong, this isn’t a bad thing. Dissatisfaction with girls is like teenage rebellion in that it’s a sign of strength, an attribute that must be recognized and channeled to become a successful adult. So let’s recognize and channel your rebellion against your relationship and use that energy to make it even better or find a new one.
Here are the five, definite steps to do just that. Read through them all if you wish, but you won’t be psychologically prepared to face a step until you complete the previous one.
1. Work on yourself
First things first: manage your own issues. Look at what you avoid, look at what you need, and look at where you accept low-class behavior from yourself. If you haven’t taken your emotions seriously, probably because you’ve equated emotions with girl stuff, now’s the time to get heart-attack serious about them. Decisions are emotional by their nature—the only question is whether you’re aware of the emotions. And, as a general rule, the less you’re aware, the worse your decision.
If you’re stuck in a career that you only got started in to make your mom happy, it’s going to be difficult to make a nuanced decision like whether to end a relationship. You’ve avoided self-evaluation your entire life yet now you’re going to evaluate someone else with any sort of accuracy? To channel Last Action Hero: Big mistake.
Of course, both you and especially her are on the clock, so take six months to learn how emotions work and immerse yourself in therapy. There is a superior approach.
2. Look at shared values
After you figure out how your unconscious has been in control, then it’s easier to look outside of yourself with a semblance of objectivity. If you’re still considering a break up, reexamine whether you two share key values—you know, in case the only reason you wanted to first date her is because she has great boobs. Here are a few key values to consider: whether you want children and how many, general outlook on life and worldview, whether she supports your mission (realized and articulated through completion of the previous step). And hey, if great boobs are a value to you, then be open about that too.
It’s also helpful to agree on roles in the relationship and to make them as separate yet complementary as possible. This step requires more communication than you’ve probably ever experienced, but unless painful levels of talking precede a break-up, then I can guarantee it was done as an unhealthy, avoidance strategy.
3. Communicate resentments
Let her know everything that you don’t like about her. Try to do this in a nice way, but what’s more important is you do it. If she’s fat, let her know. If she’s lazy and on her phone too much, let her know. If you resent the fact that you’ve sacrificed having sex with other girls to be with her, then let her know. This may seem harsh but this is a secure attachment.
Then communicate how you’re responsible for your own resentments. Maybe you’ve been ignoring her, maybe you’re getting fat too, maybe the amount of time you spend on WWE forums has shaken her faith in mankind.
If you’re able to have a decent conversation about these issues—without too many plates being thrown—and your annoyance with her diminishes, then move on to the next step. Also, get ready to hear what she doesn’t like about you.
Sit alone, without distraction, for 30 minutes every day until the decision—and preferably after. This is not to be done in the robotic, Sam Harris way, but in the organic way. While meditating, ask what you should do. Ask aloud if you have to. Who or what you’re asking depends on your views on theology, but it doesn’t matter if you’re asking Yahweh, your own soul, or an English muffin. Simply ask the question.
Reliance on intuition may seem silly but when contemplating a break up, you’re by definition venturing into new psychic territory, so all we have to go on is a vague premonition.
To stay with your girlfriend is a decision. To break up with her is a decision. If you do go through this process honestly and intently, and you decide to stay with her, then marry her (if you’re older than 27). The point is to make a decision and stick with it—even the wrong decision is a thousand times more healthy than vacillating for the next 30 years. More importantly, it reveals the truth about love, that it follows commitment and not the other way around.
Bonus: Fill up your calendar
Unless you fill up your calendar with definite actions that move you closer to your chosen goals every day, then you will inevitably begin to nitpick your girlfriend. White space on your calendar is relationship kryptonite.
Confusion about a decision—any decision—is ultimately confusion about who you are, your values, and what you want. Repair and tune the instrument so it’s more likely to play honest notes.