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Advice on whether to explain why I broke up with my ex bf

Community Member

I broke up with my ex three months ago, and at the time I didn't fully explain why. The main reasons I didn't were that (1) I wasn't (and still am not) fully understanding of what my reasons for ending it were, and (2) any reasons I did have I perceived as hurtful if I were to tell him. We had been together for just under 2 years for reference.

Upon reflection, I feel one of the biggest reasons I ended it is that I was losing trust in him and felt drained by the strains of the relationship. Since the beginning of the relationship, he has been dealing with an addiction and also hasn't achieved much for himself - he wouldn't study or work or progress himself, and every time he started something that was along these lines (i.e. start studying a course), he would eventually drop out after a few months and end up just spending his time playing computer games and staying home. Meanwhile, I was studying full time and trying to keep balance in my life, and found that I would often feel guilty for not spending as much time as possible with him because "he felt he was at the bottom of my priority list". In his eyes, and as he would tell me often in the last few months of the relationship that I was "the only good thing in his life" and that he wanted to stay with me because there was nothing objectively wrong with our relationship.

For me though, feeling the pressure to give him so much of my time made me feel like I was achieving less for myself. Several times throughout the relationship I felt like I couldn't take on new opportunities because it meant that I wouldn't be able to spend as much time with him as he needed and it would just create more conflict. When we had conversations about things like this, he would always state how he was happy for me to do things for myself and that it was important, but would still often jump immediately to the bad things that could happen if I did it - like me getting really stressed, or him again being at the bottom of my priority list.

His addiction was also another major issue in the relationship, as he would often break my trust regarding the use of drugs. He is addicted to weed, and we'd agreed that he wouldn't smoke when I was over at his place (which was practically every time we saw each other because he never travelled to my place). I'd found out one day that he had been waiting for me to go to sleep before going outside to smoke, which I was really upset about.

There's more to it, but should I tell him why I ended it?

9 Replies 9

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi chilloice,

Its really up to you but I suppose it depends on why you feel as though you want to tell him these things? If it was me, I probably wouldn’t bother for a few reasons: 1) three months have passed and it likely will just dredge up more unpleasant feelings for him 2) in reality, he knows he’s a pot smoker etc and knew you were going to university to better yourself (so can probably have a fair idea of why it ended) 3) people are generally unlikely to change their behaviour even if confronted with reasons as to why their behavior is problematic, particularly if they have a tendency towards laziness/apathy. Just be prepared that it may also open back up the lines of communication and you may have to be prepared that he will get defensive or retaliate by telling you some home truths in return. So I suppose I see a lot more potential negatives that can come out of the situation than positives. That being said, if you think that he is really struggling with closure and the lack of reasons surrounding your breakup, then you can always let him know.

Community Member

I suppose I should clarify that he has asked to talk about it, and has mentioned that it's harder for him to find closure without knowing.

However, I feel like it is entirely possible for him to come to his own conclusions about why the relationship wasn't working, which is one of the reasons why I am apprehensive to tell him my reasons. I feel my reasons won't be all that helpful for him as he doesn't have and hasn't had a particularly high self esteem.

Hi chilloice

I’m a mum in my fifties with young adult children. For what it’s worth, here are my thoughts.

In your first post you cited two reasons for not providing him with a full explanation— (1) I wasn't (and still am not) fully understanding of what my reasons for ending it were, and (2) any reasons I did have I perceived as hurtful if I were to tell him.

Totally valid reasons that still hold true. My view is that you should back yourself.

If you decide to speak with him perhaps you could tell him your two reasons for not providing a full answer. At least he would know why you can’t elaborate and that might help him to move on.

Or perhaps just speak very generally. For example, it’s much kinder to say “we broke up because we’re very different people, with different life goals and long term it’s not going to work” than it is to say”we broke up because you’re unmotivated, addicted to weed and holding me back in life”. I’m not suggesting you would say the latter, but trust you can see the point.

Break-ups are never easy but it sounds like you’ve got a good head on your shoulders and I’m confident you’ll get through this.

Kind thoughts to you

Community Member

G'day chilloice,

Thanks for posting up your story here on beyondblue.

From the distance I have I'm leaning towards saying you should let him have it all as nicely as you can.

Using the "I" words, saying how you feel clearly, showing him what might have actually worked for you. If he knows what to do, he might come back in 2 years and become what you aimed him at, so don't burn the bridge I reckon, instead aim the relationship forward.

good luck.

G'day Summer Rose, I like most of your post and I'm hoping not to be impolite or disrespectful here, as I disagree with some of it.

chilloice, I hope you don't mind me being thorough with my posting in your thread. Please use the report post on any post I write if you need to thanks. It's your thread I cede to you.

There's two quotations in Summer Rose's post, neither would work for me in "his" situation, but may for chilloice.

The first quote, for me is too vague, it's the kind of stuff that would make me ask more questions or make more statements. Those examples would be... If we're different so what, opposites attract. Our life goals are different, how's that matter? How do we know it won't work long term? Lets try. The vagueness might lead him into not moving forward.

The second quote is nearly great but in my honest opinion needs all "I" statements about chilloice moving forward, rather than "you" statements about his past.

Not "you are unmotivated" but instead, "I am motivated." The I statement shows the valuable thing is her motivation, it models motivation rather than punishes un-motivation.

Not "you're addicted to weed", but instead "I don't want weed any where near me." We aren't pointing at him, instead saying what chilloice has already implied about her own needs.

I think by being peacefully clear about the specific issues and needs that chilloice brings up in her OP and using "I" statements things will be better for everyone concerned going forward.

Thanks for listening.

Hello Chilloice, and a warm welcome to the forums.

All the replies above me have made great points and I understand both sides of the story.

Someone who has an agenda of playing video games, wanting to stay at home while smoking weed doesn't have any inspiration to progress in life and may expect someone like you to everything, a relationship can not work like this, it requires two people to be able to contribute and no matter what you say to him, he is still going to have his own thoughts, whether they are positive or negative, and if within the few minutes you start to explain that don't favour him, then what's said may lead on to having an argument.

Whether '"you're addicted to weed", or "I don't want weed anywhere near me' is said, both are viable comments and could be a reason why he wants to stay at home, that's all you need to say to him, and if he says he's going to stop, the proof is in the pudding, he has to show that he's capable of stopping to promote any r/lationship.

When two people break up, they normally know why because of previous conversations they've had between themselves, it's not something extra you fabricate and the only reason why someone might ask is a chance for them to come to terms and reconcile, but if that's not what you want, then you don't have to explain any further.

Take care.


Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi and if you get a chance to read this...

there are clear benefits in using "I" style communication vs "you".

It sounds like you have already broken up so any chance in moving forward with him seems slim. I suspect there was a little frustration in you in what you saw? And/or did this have any effect on your own mental health?

You also mentioned only fully understanding the reason yourself. Between what you have said and ... if you were to reflect and write down a list of the issues? There are times when for myself when it seems like there are 100s of thoughts that don't make sense, but when written down I can get some clarity. And the find that many of the thoughts are really the same but in a different arrangement.

Two ways to look at the issues are (i) if this happened to you, would you want any closure? (ii) what advice would you give a friend in this situation?

Closure is important for many people. For the other person, it is termination of a relationship that is significant to them, holding particular value and meaning. If you did explain some of the issues, it is a chance for him to improve himself. Perhaps. And sometimes, things just don't work out and there is nothing you or your partner could have done. It may not be fair, and it may hurt, but you are okay.

Hi david’n’goliath

We all have different thoughts and opinions and the right to express them here in a respectful manner which causes no harm. Which is exactly what you’ve done, it’s all good.

I would just like to clarify that, I used the two quotes to demonstrate how one could essentially say the same thing without being unkind and hurtful, as chilloice was concerned about hurting his feelings.

I specifically said I wasn’t suggesting she would ever say the second quote, so as not to offend her, as I didn’t think from her post she would ever be that unkind. I wasn’t ever advocating that she use the second quote.

Kind thoughts to you

G'day Summer Rose, Thanks for your reply to me. I respect your position.

For me the first quote is less kind than the second quote, and I believe much less kind than an "I" version of the second quote. I feel that the first quote offers no explicit way forward for "him", and is thus uncaring of his needs. I appreciate the spirit of your point about saying essentially similar things differently and totally agree with that aim.

Thanks for listening, I hope our discussion helps chilloice.