When did you know it was time to break up?

My girlfriend and I recently had a conversation about marriages and breakups recently, and it got me thinking about how and why people decide to throw in the towel. I’ve only been in one serious relationship (I was the dumpee) prior to my current one, so I don’t have any clue how it feels to break up with someone. Since I don’t particularly feel like dumping my girlfriend strictly in the name of science, I’m turning to you.

So, for all the heartbreakers out there, when did you know it was time? Were you the unfortunate victim of infidelity? Did you fall for someone else? Was there perhaps a gradual buildup of minor, tolerable offenses that were collectively too much? In the latter case, what finally pushed you over the edge?

I’m pretty sure I can pinpoint when my ex decided to kick me to the curb. I was visiting her university for the weekend, and we were laying in bed late at night. She had fallen asleep on me, and I was trying to doze off when I heard the Band of Brothers score on a TV ad. I immediately shot up, full of excitement, thinking that they were finally going to announce the as-yet-unfinished Pacific theater miniseries*. Girlfriend woke up and asked what the freak-out was all about. I explained, and then she went back to sleep. The next day, I drove her to our hometown, and she delivered the bad news. I’m pretty certain that, to her, these events confirmed that the passion that I used to have for herself had been displaced and projected onto some meaningless (to her) miniseries. In any case, we were through. I think I came out ahead in the end.

*This was four years ago. Are they ever gonna finish that thing?

My dad said, “Your relationship gives me the willies. Instead of almost getting married, you keep almost breaking up.”

Then he told me the story I didn’t know about the woman he dated before he met my mother. Since then, his sister told me that she met this woman at the time, and thought, “Really?”

At that time, I really realized that people don’t just meet the perfect person and get married, like tv. Even my very churchified Dad had dated before he met his lifelong wife. So I didn’t feel the need to stick with something that wasn’t working.

For me, it was when the ex had his hands around my throat over the arm of the couch. That kinda clinched it for me.

One cheated on me. I stuck with her for an embarrassingly long amount of time before deciding I wasn’t getting over it.

The other was a great girl, but we were just fundamentally too different for us to make it work. I’m all for compromise, but if we’d have stayed together we both would have compromised so much it would have destroyed our lives. We called it day.

When I realized the relationship was causing me more pain than joy and that she wasn’t interested in changing. (I was trying to make it work.)


There was this guy I started seeing in July. I was never as “into it” as he was, but by the end of September I knew without a doubt I needed to dump him. And started trying. But he was completely clueless and just kept showing up (and I lacked backbone). I tried “we need to see other people.” I tried “we need space” His grandmother passed on and he got a reprieve for that, and another around his birthday, and another at Christmas and another when he showed up with flowers - all, in retrospect, stupid - I should have dumped him the moment I knew and made it clear.

It was the following July that I dumped him. His response “its our one year anniversary, you can’t dump me!?” Also “I don’t think you understand what’s best for you” It took me another three months of hanging up the phone, sending his mail back unopened, not being around my own hour, and threatening restraining orders to get rid of him.

So when did I know? When he decided to do something on my birthday that not only didn’t enjoy but wasn’t very approving of his doing. Not only was this “too important for him to give up for my sake” totally (his business, though it did mean it wasn’t likely to work between us long term), he wasn’t even willing to give it up on my birthday.

I knew exactly when.

My first relationship was a turbulent storm; lots of love and passion, and lots of fighting - from our parents. My parents hated him, but mainly blamed me, and his parents hated me, and mainly blamed me. I was the whore who had corrupted their precious son, after all. His mom left some nasty nasty messages on our answering machine. Horrible, embarrassing messages. She made it clear that I was nothing but trouble.

And then one day in December he and I were talking about our future together, and he comes out with this gem. “When we get married, my parents will live with us.” Um, dude, what the fuck? You know your mother can’t stand me. You know the horrible things she said about me. And you think I could live in the same house with her, and serve her like a daughter-in-law?

That was the beginning of the end. We were together a bit longer, but that was a rude awakening from a lovely dream.

It had been fairly obvious for a while that we were headed for the end. She was out of control, paranoid and completely sociopathic. Physically abusing me while telling everyone else that I was abusing her. She had just decided to take her fourth trip away from me in less than four months. One of the trips had been to bail out on me over my birthday while the house was being remodeled, after promising me repeatedly that she would stick around until it was done and be present for my birthday (which she had pissed all over the year before by bailing out on to visit the same friend).

She asked me to leave the house on 5 minutes notice. Pack a bag and go to a hotel until I could find an apartment. I wasn’t to be allowed to return until SHE wasn’t afraid of me anymore. I had to go to anger management and anything else she decided to cook up. I couldn’t take anything else. None of my property, not my computer, not my 17 year old cat (which she had tried to convince me to have put to sleep only 5 months previous). Nothing. I asked about visiting my cat. She said “any time”. I said no, I’m not leaving.

The next day she repeated her request and when I asked about coming back to see my cats, she said “IF I feel like it, and IF I can find someone else to supervise you, and IF you are making progress, then I MIGHT let you come back once every month or two to see your cats.”

I said FUCK NO.

Then she started calling everyone in her phone book in alphabetical order, telling them the most outrageous lies about me. She got to my sister. My sister flew over as fast as she could get there. They sat on the porch and talked. My ex told her that I was physically abusing her. My sister said “I know my brother better than that, you’d better come up with examples”. Ex said “Well, two years ago he shoved me into a wall.” (not true, btw). My sister was furious. “I ask for examples and your first and best example is two years old??? You’d better have more!”. Ex says “The other day, he slammed a door in my face” (not mentioning that I did this after she had slammed that same door in my face three times, once hitting my arms). Sister asks “Did it hit you?” Ex says “No.” Any more examples? “No, but he’s been abusing me!”

Sister took me to the County Domestic Violence Center the next morning and I filed for an Order For Protection. Ex was removed from the house three days later. She responded by filing a buttload of false charges against me and filing for divorce. When we met in court, she tried to have me removed from the house. Fortunately, the judge said “No, you’ve been removed, I’m not about to reverse the situation just yet.”

I moved out of the house (it had been hers and was a complete shithole) and accepted the divorce filing, trying to move forward to a fast settlement.

I think that shocked the shit out of her. She refused to negotiate, continued to pile on outrageous charges, told everyone that I had abandoned her, filed for divorce against her, defrauded her (a poor woman on disability) of tens thousands of dollars and was attempting to steal her house.

Then she invoked Attorney-Client Priviledge to stop the attorney - her Step-father’s, paid for by him - from telling anyone the truth. When I finally made an end run around him and told her mother and step-father the truth, providing copies of documents and cancelled checks to show that SHE had filed all these charges, that it was SHE who had filed for divorce and that I had paid off roughly $40,000 of HER DEBTS…they threatened to disown her.

At which point she tried to run straight back to me, begging for sympathy, patience and compassion, because her step-father “the great white shark” was trying to destroy her and steal her house (they held the mortgage on it).

Didn’t work.

What a fantastic sister you have. :slight_smile:

When my Mom and I rented Fatal Attraction and it felt like my autobiography.

When I finally saw how the abuse was affecting my son - seeing his mother being beaten up. :frowning:

ETA - I put the frown in because I still have a lot of guilt over it.

When she called me up to talk about her new boyfriend.

Sound like I was clueless, right?

Not really. After dating for close to three years and a failed engagement we had been breaking up, dating others, getting back together, breaking up etc. for about 8 months. I just got tired of it. Our previous breakups had been very amicable and we still considered each other to be best friends, hung out together, etc but it became too easy to fall back into a familiar rut.

I told her no hard feelings but please go away. Hadn’t seen her since.
That was 25 years ago.

I’ve since consoled myself by finding the love of my life, marrying her and having a bunch of kids.

We had been together for almost 4 years and had been having major problems for quite a while. But the event that made me realize it was time to call it quits was when he went to a friends house on sunday afternoon and didn’t come home until wednesday evening. No phone calls, no emails or anything in the interim. Then he came in and started going through the mail like nothing was wrong. Not even the barest hint of an apology for basically disappearing for 4 days.

I threw him out that same evening.