You know it’s over, but you can’t bring yourself to end your relationship. Here’s why breaking up is hard to do, plus several ideas for moving forward in freedom and faith.
In the song “Breaking Up is Hard to Do”, Neil Sedaka says “Remember when you held me tight; And you kissed me all through the night; Think of all that we’ve been through; Breaking up is hard to do…”
Holding on to the past – and all the things you’ve been through with your boyfriend or husband – is one of the biggest reasons breaking up is hard to do. You may have kids together, survived family problems and deaths together, made huge and life-changing decisions together. You love each other, and letting go of that bond isn’t easy. In this post, I share the most common reasons breaking up is hard to do. This might help you see what’s holding you back and why you can’t move on from an unhealthy relationship. Perhaps you’ll even decide you need to learn how to solve relationship problems without breaking up.
I love blogging, but I’m extremely uncomfortable when readers ask me for advice about their relationship. I have a hard time making decisions in my own life, much less in other people’s! So my articles are more and more often leaning towards encouraging readers to listen to that still, small voice.
One of the reasons breaking up is hard to do because we don’t want to listen to the still small voice inside of us. We know deep down what we need to do in our relationship but we’re scared. So, we ask for advice from others. We ignore our own wisdom.
This article will help you see why breaking up is hard to do. This might help you make a decision about your relationship – and heal from the wounds that will result from the choice you make.
10 Reasons It’s Hard to Break Up
To kick us off, here’s one more stanza from Neil Sedaka’s song “Breaking Up is Hard to Do”: “Don’t take your love away from me; Don’t you leave my heart in misery; If you go then I’ll be blue; ‘Cause breaking up is hard to do.”
1. It’s hard to make changes in our lives
We’re hardwired to resist change. Our lizard brains love the familiar because it’s easy and safe. We gravitate towards people we’re used to being with, jobs we know how to do, roles we’re secure in. We avoid new situations because they’re scary and unpredictable.
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And, we especially resist changes that make us sad! Breaking up is hard to do because we feel blue when we lose someone we love. Even when we know the relationship isn’t healthy or good for us, we resist changes that take people away from us.
2. Fear of being alone
This may be one of the biggest reasons we ignore the signs of bad relationships: we fear facing life alone. Many of my readers feel financially dependent on their husbands (even though the truth is they CAN make it on their own). They say they’re stuck, helpless, and powerless.
Are you afraid of being alone? Take small steps. Learn how to trust yourself that you can handle life on your own. Go to a coffee shop and have a cup of hot chocolate by yourself. Go to the library or book store, grab a book, and sit still for 15 minutes. Go for a walk in a crowded mall by yourself. Practice being alone.
3. Sincere love for the person you’re breaking up with
Back to Sedaka’s second stanza of “Breaking Up is Hard to Do”: “Remember when you held me tight; And you kissed me all through the night; Think of all that we’ve been through; Breaking up is hard to do…”
You love your boyfriend or husband. You’ve been through all sorts of intimate ups and downs together. You’ve had sex. You did things together you probably can’t even talk about. You’re connected to him in ways you’ll never connect to anyone else. Is it any wonder it’s so hard to break up?
4. Fear of not being loved by anybody else
I once dated a guy who got ice cream all over his mouth, nose, and chin whenever we indulged in cool treats at Dairy Queen. Yes, he used a serviette to wipe his lips…but somehow he managed to smear melted ice cream all over the lower half of his face and not mop up a drop. Unfortunately we dated all summer, so we had lots of ice cream. And we were both in our 30s! We weren’t five years old.
Worse, he was mean to me. He insulted and criticized me under his breath all the time. When I asked him what he said – I could barely hear him – he’d say “nothing.” Then he’d whisper something like, “you should get your hearing checked, dumbo.”
Why was breaking up hard to do? I couldn’t leave that unhealthy relationship because I was scared nobody else would love me. I didn’t realize that he didn’t love me.
5. It’s risky to detach from a relationship
Safety in numbers, right? Leaving a marriage is risky because we become vulnerable and exposed. We feel like easy prey. Flying solo is romantic and adventurous in books in movies, not in real life.
Emotionally detaching from someone you care about is one of the biggest reasons breaking up is hard to do. A breakup or divorce puts you at risk emotionally, physically, socially, and even professionally.
6. Too much has already been invested
Ah, the “sunk costs fallacy.” In business decision-making, a sunk cost is an investment that has already been made and can’t be recovered. For instance, an investor might not want to sell her stocks because she’s already invested $10,000 over a period of 10 years and doesn’t want to lose more money. The stocks may be declining, but she doesn’t sell because she’s already invested too much time, energy, and money.
We do in our personal lives all the time. We hold on to jobs even though we’re bored, clothes even though they don’t fit us anymore, and relationships even thought they’re unhealthy. Breaking up is hard to do when we’ve been married for 35 years and have four kids together.
7. Fear of the unknown
If you decided to leave your relationship, where would you go? How would you support yourself? Who would you be without your husband or boyfriend? What would you do with your life?
This reason why breaking up is hard to do is similar to the “fear of change” one…but it’s a bit riskier. We may know what the consequences of making a change are (eg, moving out of our marital home is a big change), but we have no idea what the unknown future is.
8. Fear of upsetting loved ones
How will your children react to a breakup? What about your family members, in-laws, and closest friends? Your coworkers and even your pets will also be affected by a divorce or separation.
It’s hard to make a decision that negatively impacts people we love. Breaking up is hard to do because it affects the people closest to us. (Sometimes, however, this is just an excuse to stay in an unhealthy relationship because we’re too comfortable to make changes).
9. Fear of OPO (Other People’s Opinions)
What will your relatives and friends and yoga buddies and children’s parents and in-laws and coworkers and babysitters and neighbors say about your breakup? You may be ignoring all types of signs you should break up with your boyfriend because of fear of other people’s opinions.
This is why it’s CRUCIAL to listen to the still small voice inside of you! In your heart, you know what’s best for you. You know if you’re living the life you’re meant to live. You know if you’re blossoming into the woman God created you to be. You know breaking up is hard to do and you know that other people will be affected by it…but you need to do what’s right for you. You need to listen to your still small voice and follow your heart.
10. Longing for the past
It’s almost impossible to heal from a breakup if you’re focused on the past. Do you wish you could go back to the way things were? Are you longing for the relationship you had when you first fell in love with your husband?
Wishing won’t do you any good. Wishing will only make breaking even harder.
Here’s another stanza from Neil Sedaka’s song “Breaking Up is Hard to Do”:
“They say that breaking up is hard to do;
Now I know, I know that it’s true
Don’t say that this is the end
Instead of breaking up I wish that we were making up again.”
Your relationship is different than it was before. Don’t waste your time wishing that you weren’t breaking up. Instead, focus your time and energy on being in this moment, and hearing from the still small voice that is telling you where to take your life.
In How to Let Go of Someone You Love, I share three secrets and 75 tips for letting go of a relationship. Breaking up will still be hard to do, but healing will be easier with this ebook. I wrote it after dealing with the worst “breakup” of my life: the loss of my sister.
“Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” ~ Marilyn Monroe.
A question for you
Which of these 10 reasons is most relevant to you? If you have another reason why breaking up is hard to do, please do share your thoughts below.
While I can’t offer advice, I do read every comment. I encourage you to respond to other readers’ comments if you feel led, and to share your experience of breaking up. Writing often brings clarity and insight, and can help you process your feelings.