When George Costanza’s girlfriend breaks up with him in this hilarious Seinfeld clip, George challenges her cliché breakup line, “It’s not you, it’s me” by insisting, “If it’s anybody, it’s ME!”
Most of us can probably identify with George, having heard that line at least once or twice during our dating years. Whether we were on the receiving end or it or the one saying it to someone else, there’s no denying it…the words sting. Someone is getting blamed for the demise of the relationship.
I was reminded of those words a few weeks ago while having lunch with a friend. After telling her about my relationship, she looked at me and said, “Listen…it’s not him, it’s YOU.” Wow. Her candor shook me. I let her words sink in and I realized that she was right. I had been too focused on myself and too concerned about his reactions to me to see the situation clearly. “Work on yourself,” my friend told me. “Concentrate on what you need to do.”
I had heard this before. So why was it so hard? The things that I so desperately wanted to blame my boyfriend for (e.g., not expressing his emotions, not spending enough time with me) were actually all about my ME and my ego.
As Dr. Joyce Brothers says:
“Love comes when manipulation stops; when you think more about the other person than about his or her reactions to you. When you dare to reveal yourself fully. When you dare to be vulnerable.”
I was grateful to my friend for having the courage to give it to me straight. Somehow her words made me realize that I had been subconsciously manipulating my boyfriend by putting all of the responsibility of our relationship on him. What was my role in all of this? Rather than having the awareness to see past my own ego, I was playing the all too familiar role of the “relationship victim.” Ring any bells?
When I finally shook off that heavy cloak of anger and resentment hanging around my shoulders, I eventually uncovered the fact that I needed to start thinking more about my own self-care and less about his reactions (or non-reactions) to me. Now when I repeat the words, “It’s not you, it’s me,” I remember that it doesn’t indicate an end to my relationship but rather a new beginning.