I’ve Had More Than 30 Partners And I’ve Never Been Dumped
A lot of people are surprised when I share that I’ve never had a partner finish things with me. I suppose I’m a little surprised about it too. For whatever reason, no partner has ever told me that they didn’t want to be with me anymore, whether we were in a casual friends-with-benefits arrangement, or co-habiting with joint bank accounts. Some people say I’m lucky to have never gone through the heartache of being dumped, and perhaps that is true.
Just because I’ve never been dumped, it doesn’t mean that all relationships have ended on my terms; far from it. In a couple of cases that come to mind, I’m fairly sure that I was actually more upset about the break up than my partner was. There are lots of misconceptions about serial dumpers. Here’s the truth about what it’s really like to always be the one to break up.
It’s not easy being the one to pull the trigger to kill a failed relationship.
I’d love to think that the reason that I’ve found myself in this situation is that all of my partners have been blissfully happy with me during every single moment of our relationship, but I don’t really think that’s true. I imagine that in some cases, especially when the relationship was in a lull that was mutually felt by both of us, they were just waiting for me to do the inevitable. A friend of mine had a similar experience with a partner of five years, who eventually left her for a friend of theirs. “Even when it was so clear that it was over, I had to practically bait him into ending it,” she said. “I think the exact phrase I used was ‘do you still want to be with me?’ It took me asking that outright for him to admit to himself that he didn’t.”
This kind of story is sadly common, and it can often seem that people who NEVER break up with anyone are overly tolerant of stagnated relationships, biding their time until someone better comes along, or simply nonplussed. I agonize long and hard before ending a relationship to make sure that it is the right decision, and I don’t doubt that on some occasions, I gave more thought to whether a partner and I could be a viable couple than they ever did before, during, or after we dated.
I’ve given partners too many chances.
I’m a flexible person, especially when I’m in love. At times, I allowed myself to remain optimistic and see the good in my partner even when they badly let me down. In some of my relationships, the rose-tinted glasses took over, and I made excuses for a partner’s poor behavior right up until the moment that I simply couldn’t take one more day of it.
Looking back, I can see that I failed to draw enough red lines early in relationships about what I could and couldn’t tolerate. If I had built stronger boundaries for myself and enforced them accordingly, then I think it may have been possible to create a situation where a partner had the gumption to admit that they couldn’t see a future for us.
I’ve lost out on friendships I valued.
In some cases, I’ve had partners tell me that they don’t want to stay friends, which hurts like hell every time. I get it, I really do. Rejection doesn’t feel great to anyone, and it would be utopian for me to expect to be able to change the nature of a relationship according to my whims and yet not lose any of the aspects of it which I most value. That doesn’t mean that it ever gets any easier to know that every time I end a romantic or sexual connection, I will likely lose the person as an intellectual connection too.
Here’s what I’ve learned about how to keep things as kind and compassionate as possible when breaking up.
Clearly, there’s no ‘good’ way to have someone break up with you, but there are definitely some things to avoid. Crowded and inescapable spaces such as busy restaurants are definitely a no-no, so pick a public but serene place if you need to have a difficult conversation with your partner.
If you’re open to discussing what went wrong, then let them know, and if you want to put a lid on the whole thing then say that too. It will be easier for them to find the closure that they need once they know exactly what is and isn’t on the table, in terms of an explanation of why things are ending.
If there are any logistics that need to be taken care of, like wrapping up projects together, returning belongings, or payments of joint bills, have a plan in mind of how those things could be seamlessly handled. Be prepared to take point on the ‘administrative’ aspects of the breakup, given that you are the one who has had the time to think things over.
Should you wish to stay friends, tell them so, but don’t expect it to happen overnight. Any friendship that is formed from the ashes of the old relationship will be its own new — and hopefully beautiful — relationship in its own right.