Signs He’s Trying To Break Up With You

Name: Rachelngs0_8146

Comment: I’ve been dating a guy now for a few months, and a couple of weeks ago the conversation of “where do you see this going” got brought up by him not me.  Ultimately we agreed that eventually we wanted this to be exclusive with the whole bf/gf label.  2 weeks ago he went completely MIA, but then returned and hasn’t quite been the same since then.  Last night while talking on the phone he asks me if I have ever dated anyone with a child & if it is hard. When I responded yes I had and it is hard why. His response was I’ve been talking to this woman with a kid and I don’t think I could date someone with a kid.  First off we are not exclusive so I don’t care if he is dating other people but WHY would he even bring that up to me in conversation?  When I asked him that suddenly I had an attitude problem.  Do I let this play out, or do I say sh*t or get off the pot tell me what you really want.
Age: 31
City: Washington
State: DC

I’m going to kick start this post with a broad generalization.

For the most part, guys aren’t really anxious to have the “where is this going” conversation unless they are on the marriage/baby track. That’s the first red flag here. He opened the door to this conversation.  The majority of time when men bring this subject up it’s because they’re trying to break up with a woman or slow things down. He’s broaching the topic in a way so that you will be honest. Then he can lower the boom. So, in the future, when a guy asks this question, be wary. If he’s shown no signs of wanting to settle down, he’s probably using that issue as a way to tell you he wants out.

The fact that he asked you about whether or not you’ve ever dated someone with kids further cements my previous thought. He’s bringing it up in hopes of picking a fight. He’s trying to offend you by talking about dating other women. You’ll get upset, and then he’ll use that argument to say he doesn’t think things are working.  Which is exactly what he did. He was trying to piss you off so that he can use that reaction against you to justify ending things. That way he can convince himself that he did the right thing. He’ll make it about you and your attitude and your investment in the relationship and get all, “Whoa. Slow down there , Missy!” Things like this are done to create an opportunity, a window.  If a guy “innocently” brings up what he’s doing with other women when not with you, leave. First of all, it’s disrespectful. Second of all, it’s passive aggressive. People like this are toxic.

A lot of people use tactics like this encourage a certain dialogue.  He’s trying to break up with you. He is telling you what he wants. He’s just not telling you directly


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20 Responses to “Signs He’s Trying To Break Up With You”

  1. fuzzilla Says:

    Yep, it’s Gaslighting 101. Make that passive aggressive bullshit a deal breaker and lose him like a sombrero in a parking lot (sorry, school has fried my brains).

    • GI_JANE Says:

      One of the first and most impactful lessons Moxie’s blog has taught me (although it doesn’t come automatic to me and I have to remind myself to exercise it) is to not let someone shame you.

      I don’t care how tall, handsome, smart, or successful he is.

      I don’t care how lonely you are, how long it’s been since your last bf, what you look like or your age.

      Talking about another woman in the form of “asking for your opinion/advice” is a baseball bat bitch slap to the face. Don’t walk, run.

  2. AnnieNonymous Says:

    Classic guy move: he’ll create obvious distance and force the woman to do the work of initiating the break-up.

  3. Speedy Says:

    I don’t agree he has done anything wrong.

    I don’t think he was trying to ditch her principally because ditching someone isn’t an activity you can fail at. Because men aren’t women with penises, well, none of the rest of this makes sense. Men don’t by and large have this idea there is an audience for their dating decisions, primarily because there isn’t one interested in hearing about it. Pure chick logic Kremlinology. Ironically the person looking for cover here is of course someone else… If its “passive aggression” its remarkably active and verbal. Unlike OP who has apparently lost all agency because of a single remark, which seems a little strange.

    After all, she had the bourgeoise liberated non-couple discussion. If you can’t really date like a Parisienne, don’t agree to it. You’ve got to ask yourself why you are bothered about something you claim you aren’t bothered about.

    • AnnieNonymous Says:

      He actually did do something wrong. He agreed to be her boyfriend and then, presumably, cheated on her with another woman. The LW, for her part, is reacting with confusion instead of dumping him on the spot. That’s just weird.

      • Howard Says:

        He went MIA after the “Where this is going” conversation So obviously what came out of that conversation was not to his liking. That’s the end of that! Everything else is smoke.

        Hate to say it, but OP needs to start looking for a replacement. Don’t even waste your time with all the things women seem to like to do at the end of relationships. Save your energy for the next guy!

        • AnnieNonymous Says:

          No one’s saying that it wasn’t a dick move. I think what’s being lost in our responses is that, at that point, he was her boyfriend. He DID cheat on her after agreeing to commit. He’s allowed to break up with her for someone else, but it’s weird and, yes, almost gaslighting to present his “I’ve been seeing someone else” as a normal matter of course and to treat his gf like she’s wrong for being upset. The guy’s a nut and possibly has other issues going on. That’s not a normal way to act.

    • fuzzilla Says:

      He didn’t technically *do* anything wrong by chatting up Gal With Kids if he’s not exclusive with the OP, but it’s incredibly tacky and, yes, passive-aggressive to *tell* OP about it as if he’s seeking advice from OP on how to date other women.

    • DrivingMeNutes Says:

      “Men don’t by and large have this idea there is an audience for their dating decisions, primarily because there isn’t one interested in hearing about it.”

      Ha, I was thinking the exact same thing. The explanation that he’s trying to “justify” his decision to break up with her misses the mark. There’s no audience. I’m not even sure women do that, to be honest.

      However, what I think, he IS doing is trying to get HER to do the act of breaking up. Not because it makes him the “good guy” in some imaginary romantic comedy or television drama, but because dirty work is better done by someone else. In this case, her. Basic conflict avoidance.

      • fuzzilla Says:

        “Men don’t by and large have this idea there is an audience for their dating decisions, primarily because there isn’t one interested in hearing about it.”

        You had the exact same thought? I honestly don’t understand what the sentence even means w/r/t OP’s letter (really; not being snarky). He was surprised that she acted like an audience for his dating decisions when he treated her like one..? If the argument is that he didn’t intentionally try to provoke a fight or stage some kind of “scene” to get out of dating OP, I can get down with that. It was still clueless and tacky (and cowardly and indirect), whatever the intention.

        • DrivingMeNutes Says:

          Moxie’s explanation was that he was trying to create am elaborate scene in which he became justified in breaking up with her, and he can say it’s her fault. I disagree with that. That explanation presumes that there is some audience out there evaluating whether or not you are right or wrong, as if you are a literary character, or have to explain your behavior to a third party. Simpler explanation is he is just acting like a dick so she’ll do the work of dumping. I don’t know if it’s exclusively a guy thing, but I do it all the time.

    • meh Says:

      no, moxie is 100% right here.

      i don’t know where you got this audience idea from but it doesn’t apply here, whatever it is. this guy is a wuss & instead of telling her the real reason why he doesn’t want to see her anymore he is doing exactly what moxie said he is doing.

      he could have just kept away but he came back to pretend he isn’t doing anything wrong. this guy is being manipulative & she needs to dump him.

  4. LostSailor Says:

    I agree generally with Moxie’s take on this one. It’s not “gaslighting,” that’s something else entirely.

    But I will point out that a guy bringing up the “where do you see this going” chat isn’t necessarily looking to get out of the relationship, especially after only dating for a few months. It’s that he’s on the fence and sounding out how she feels to learn if she is more invested in the relationship than he is.

    I do agree that his bringing up the whole “dating single moms” thing is either shady or clueless. If guys are actually seeing–or thinking of seeing–other women while still dating, they’re not going to mention it unless they are socially inept (doubtful if they’re multi-dating) or playing games and doing it badly.

    Since they weren’t exclusive, it’s not really cheating, but since they had the talk and were supposedly heading that way, it’s definitely shady, even if nothing happened with SingleMom.

    But Rachel’s phrasing of her final question is interesting. It tells me that she’s still interested in this guy, since just cutting things off weren’t one of her options. My advice would be to not be passive here: confront him and find out what he wants. If he’s still evasive and shady, walk. If not, then it’s time for him to show some real commitment.

    My bet is on shady/walking, but you never know. It’s withing the realm of possibility that he’s just fearing the commitment and needs a prod…

    • fuzzilla Says:

      “Gaslighting” was really more in reference to Moxie’s comments: “He’s trying to offend you by talking about dating other women. You’ll get upset, and then he’ll use that argument to say he doesn’t think things are working.” Well, bad news, whatever it is.

      • LostSailor Says:

        Well, I still don’t think it fits. Gaslighting refers to trying to convince someone that something they know is true isn’t true, usually by subterfuge. In Moxie’s scenario, which may be true for all I know, is that he’s trying to engineer a situation where she reacts to something, allowing him to break up without any “guilt” that it’s his fault, placing the blame on her. There’s definitely a corollary, but it’s not quite the same thing…

        • fuzzilla Says:

          If Moxie’s interpretation is correct and things play out the way she predicts, he’ll try to get her to believe her annoyed response to him is her “being difficult”/driving him away/doing in the relationship, rather than him driving her away with his disrespectful behavior and lack of ownership of said behavior. Close enough for me, but whatevs. Whatever it is, it drives me batshit when guys pull it. Don’t play the game and let him drive you batshit, OP.

  5. Ashley Says:

    When I first read the story, I didn’t immediately think that he’s trying to get out. I take it as he’s trying to figure out for himself who he wants more. He might feel trapped and unsure of what to do or who to choose. I think that him bring up that conversation was a way of trying to rock the boat so it can sway either way. He doesn’t want to have to choose. He wants to force a situation in which fate will choose for him. It seems he likes her but sees her kid as a flaw. He likes you but there’s something in your relationship that he sees as a drawback, otherwise he’d be more committed to you already. It doesn’t seem that he’s as into either one of you as much as he should be.

    • Crotch Rocket Says:

      I didn’t immediately think that he’s trying to get out. I take it as he’s trying to figure out for himself who he wants more.
      That naïvete is exactly why this strategy works so well.

  6. Ashley Says:

    Additionally, I bet he he’s a bit more involved with the other woman than he’s leading on. When he went MIA, he was with her a good deal of the time. Now, if he is trying to break up with her, he’s doing it in a way in which he won’t feel guilty about it, like someone else said “like he’s doing the right thing.” He doesn’t want to regret the decision later so he’s trying to do what he can now for that not to happen.

  7. The Other Brad Says:

    Is this guy, like, 22 years old or something? Or is he just that stupid and that disrespectful? Passive-aggressive tendencies usually worsen over time, so even if this was going to last, it’d be uglier down the line. And yep, like someone else noted, he’s pulling that classic guy move of making the woman do the hard work of ending the relationship. Real men don’t do that.

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