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You Asked: How Do I Listen to My Instincts?

Dear Sugar,

For some time now, my instincts have been telling me to break up with my boyfriend of one year. For the most part I've been happy, but a couple of months ago it seemed like something changed. And while I'm not sure if he's become different, or if I'm just not willing to tolerate certain things anymore — he can be very harsh and unkind — I know that something in my gut is telling me it's time to get away.

Every time I work up my courage to end things, he says something that convinces me I'm wrong and makes me feel incredibly guilty. He always promises to try harder and work on whatever it is that's hurting me but nothing ever changes. How do I fight through the guilt and break up once and for all?

— Calling It Quits Callie

To see DearSugar's answer,


Dear Calling It Quits Callie,

I'm glad that you're listening to your instincts enough to know that it's time for you to leave your relationship, now it's just a matter of following through. I understand why you feel torn; your boyfriend sounds very convincing, but a promise to change is only worth something if the person follows through. And if your boyfriend didn't change the first time around, I guarantee he's not about to suddenly do it now. Eventually things will have to come to an end, so you can either put it off and continue to let it weigh on your mind or call it quits now and start moving on with your life.

While guilt is a normal feeling during a breakup, you don't owe it to your boyfriend to stay. As long as you're respectful and kind, you have nothing to feel guilty about. So next time you work up your courage, don't give time for negotiations. Get up and leave or hang up the phone, just get yourself away from the situation before he can start spouting false promises. Be clear that this time you're not willing to try to work things out. As always, call on your friends and family members for support; I'm sure they can remind you why you're making the right choice. I know it's hard, but trust me, you'll feel so much better once it's done.


Join The Conversation
leenie leenie 8 years
Thank you for this. It's helped me a lot too. Especially LibbyEAW. I'm in a similar situation now, I think. Good on paper, but something doesn't feel right to me. I haven't been very good at sticking with my instinct, even though it nags at me. I need to have more faith in myself.
LibbyEAW LibbyEAW 8 years
You are right to listen to your gut. I went through the SAME situation a few years ago. On paper, it was a good relationship, but I knew that it wasn't the RIGHT relationship for me. I didn't feel I was my best self. I did it quick and then I completely cut off all contact. I broke up, I said "It's not up for negotiation," when he tried to convince me. I said "You're going to make someone very happy some day, but I know in my heart you're not the right guy for me." And then I left while he was still talking (and yelling), and went to my friends house and turned off my phone. I never listend to the messages and I never returned the calls. FYI- It was the right decision. I stayed single for quite a while, had some flings, and ultimately met a nice guy who I think TRULY bring out the best in me.
RaCheer RaCheer 8 years
You should check out this link: It gives you all the warning signs of an abusive relationship. I was so shocked when I realized that my ex was exhibiting almost all of these characteristics on a reoccurring basis.
JeannieGrrl JeannieGrrl 8 years
"he says something that convinces me I'm wrong and makes me feel incredibly guilty. He always promises to try harder and work on whatever it is that's hurting me but nothing ever changes." Think about what you just said in that statement alone. Pretend that your best friend in the whole world just said that to you, what would you tell her? My own experiences tell me that guilt trips like that are indicative of possibly abusive patterns later on. Do not let this continue, you're getting these gut feelings for a reason.
RaCheer RaCheer 8 years
I just went through a similar situation last week when my b/f of 4 1/2 years and I broke up. He cheated on me several times in the beginning and again towards the end and I took him back every time. This only caused me to be bitter, angry, and distant and we were no longer the people we fell in love with. A woman's intuition is very strong and usually need to listen to your gut. It will save you SO much pain the long run. I wish I had been strong enough to end it and not wait for gut was right all along. Trust me...I'm a mess right now and I'm going to have to see a therapist b/c of what he did to my self esteem and self worth. GET OUT NOW!
bella85 bella85 8 years
I can't believe it, I went through EXACTLY the same thing. I broke up with him on monday. There was so much that I couldn't tolerate and he always promised to work things out, but he never really did. It even got worse. The only thing (besides the love for him which is still there - the circumstances of our relationship and his behavior were unbearable for me)that is bothering me is the feeling of guilt, that I left him alone because he is a very dear and caring person and he had big problems. But trust me, it would be the best things you can do to break up. DearSugar said it all, don't feel guilty, you're the person that comes first!
gooniette gooniette 8 years
I know it's going to be difficult, but you can do it! Just think of the relief you'll feel when it's all over. Good luck!
MissJules5x MissJules5x 8 years
he's manipulating you... its definitely time to get away from him.. he's proven already that he won't change and a year isn't a whole lot of time in the big picture, especially when most of it wasn't all that great to begin with. the more time you hold on waiting for him to realize what he's doing and really change the harder it will be to get away from him. leave him now. don't listen to the "I'm Sorrys and I love yous. he only means it when you're leaving otherwise he doesnt care. he should care all the time and he clearly does not. move on.
Muirnea Muirnea 8 years
itsme3683's idea is a good one. If you have to don't meet him in person, just make a call and then hang up when you need to (before he starts in on how he is going to really change this time). And like dear said, he is not suddenly going to change now. Or if you really have to, just send him an email, that way he doesn't even get a chance to talk you out of it, yeah it might be a little harsh for him, "but ya gotta do what ya gotta do" sometimes.
AyrtonSenna AyrtonSenna 8 years
Where have I seen this movie before? My sister and girl friends (no, not girlfriends!)all have been here before and it seemed they invariably stayed far too long in relationships they should have ended - and they knew it too. They allowed themselves to get snowed by false promises or their belief that they could "change" the guy. Or that he was "trying" and "making an effort". It never worked out. After several iterations of this dynamic you just know it will invariably not work out. Your gut instinct is telling you something important. If a guy is "harsh and unkind" it is a major red flag (and, yes, I'm a guy so I know these kinds of jerks well). Just pull the plug - do what itsme3683, allourregrets, and Dear suggested. A cafe is a good place (neutral, easy to get up and leave) to do the deed. Tell him its over, be nice, tell him your basic reasons, wish him well, say you are sorry it didn't work out, and leave. Then go meet up with your girl friends. Yeah, it's not fun, but it will save you a lot more grief down the road.
itsme3683 itsme3683 8 years
Good for you for knowing! I agree with Dear, and my tip for making sure you don't stick around for negotiations is to make sure it's not at your place. If you do it at his place then you can leave when the time is right (aka, right after you break the news). If you're concerned, have a friend drop you off and wait outside, and have her call you after ten minutes or so so you have a guaranteed way to get out in case you're tempted to hear him out again. Just a tip! Good luck!!!
CoMMember13630786602261 CoMMember13630786602261 8 years
Just do it! Ive had two relationships in the past that ended HORRIBLY because I didnt get out when I knew I should have. Both times, I knew that it wasnt right and that I should not be with this person anymore, but like you said, everytime they would convince me that things would change and I naivly believed them. Both times it got to the point where we would have screaming matches for days and/or weeks on end. Finally ending in a huge knock down drag out fight (literally) which forced me to immediatly pack up my things and leave. Dont let it go there. You can save yourself alot of hurt and anger and resentment if you just get out now. There are better things out there (I know its so cliche, but thats the thing about cliches, they are true!) Im now dating a guy who treats me how I was always trying to get those other guys to treat me. Good luck to you.
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