Sometimes, even when we know a relationship has reached its expiration date, pulling the trigger and ending things isn't always easy. Strangely enough, this can be especially true when the person you're with isn't treating you well. Knowing how to break up with someone when you feel like they never really appreciated — or worse — even cared about you can make some people hold on longer than they should.
The urge to not lose faith in the hopes that a disinterested partner will eventually come around and start living up to your exceptions is strong. Sadly, if the person you love doesn't love you, then any attempt to keep things going is not only a waste of your time, but is also subjecting your heart to unnecessary pain and rejection. The longer this cycle of neglect continues, the harder it can be to break, which is why you shouldn't stay with someone who is either unequipped to meet your needs or simply isn't concerned with your happiness and wellbeing.
Of course, this doesn't necessarily mean the person you're with is a bad person. Depending on the situation, they may not have ever done something to actively hurt you. But if their words or actions have lead you to believe you aren't a priority, then it may be time to call it quits.
1. First, Make Sure They Actually Don't Care
As I pointed out, if you're already certain that your significant other has either checked out of the relationship or was never checked in to begin with, then I don't think there is really anything that can be done to change them. If, however, their aloofness, distance, or unreliability is a new development, then perhaps there is something going on with them that they haven't told you about.
Instead of providing an ultimatum, which almost never ends well, try sitting them down and telling them why exactly you aren't satisfied with how they treat you. Anyone who cares about you will not only apologize for having hurt you, but will immediately take what you said to heart and start making concrete adjustments.
If it turns out there is something deeper going on with them (i.e., depression, stress at work, family drama, etc.), then it's up to you to decide how to proceed. If you were at one point really happy together, then there's no saying you can't get back to that place. Just know you also shouldn't feel pressured to stay with someone — even if they are struggling — when you aren't happy.
2. Take Some Time To Gather Your Thoughts
Before you have any serious conversations with someone, I am a firm believer in having a discussion "game plan." That is not to say having a spontaneous heart-to-heart isn't valuable, but if you're planning on ending things with your significant other, you're gonna need a battle plan. This is especially true in a situation where you feel like they wronged you or never really cared about you.
If there was ever a time to be "selfish," breaking up with someone who constantly let you down may very well be that time. If you never forgave them for forgetting your birthday, then now is the time to get it off your chest. Or maybe you never got over that time they flaked on being your plus one to a work event and you where totally humiliated. Feel free to bring that up, too.
Although you shouldn't be unnecessarily harsh, you owe it to yourself to lay the groundwork for another successful partnership in the future — which will be so much easier if you can walk away from this relationship with closure.
3. Don't Be Surprised If They Put Up A Fight
Even if they weren't willing to make any of the sacrifices or compromises needed to make things work, being dumped is a huge blow to the ego. If you are still together, then it is safe to assume that you were fulfilling something for them. Don't be shocked if they suddenly try to turn it around on you and make it somehow your fault that they couldn't be there for you.
It may be tempting to let their passionate words change your mind in the heat of the moment — and if they do, this isn't the worse thing — but chances are they will be back to their self-absorbed behavior in no time.
4. Let Go Of How Things Could Have Been
When we fall in love with someone, usually we are also falling in love with all of the hopes and dreams we project onto them. Sometimes, these projections aren't far off from the real them, and you are able to come together to create a really awesome partnership. Sometimes, once you begin to see the real them, even though they are different from how you thought, you both are willing to put in the effort to make it work. Sadly, though, most of the time, at some point we realize that the person we fell in love with was only in our head.
Letting go of a relationship that seemed so promising, only to turn out to be an utter disappointment, can be really devastating. It's so hard to not get caught up in how things could have been if they were as committed as you were to them. But the truth is they weren't, and as hard as it can be to accept, it's not your issue; it's theirs.
Building up the strength to walk away from someone who isn't giving you what you need can be really scary. And for some people, it can take a couple of breakups before the person walking away from the relationship can remain firm — and that is totally OK. Just know that the longer you put it off, the longer you are deferring your own happiness and you deserve so much better.