"It Was Like a Big, Huge Dumping"

You know what I’m sick of in books? Well, actually, you know a lot of things I’m tired of reading, since I complain about them pretty regularly. Today I have another one:

Breaking up with someone for their own benefit
This happens ALL the time in books and pop culture. Edward does it in Twilight, sending Bella into a spiral of depression that sadly doesn’t end by death in a motorcycle accident. Stefan pushes Elena away in The Vampire Diaries show after he becomes the Ripper, even though he secretly still lovers her. In the kdrama I’m currently watching, What’s Up?, Jang Jae Hun breaks up with Park Tae Yi when he realizes that he accidentally played a role in the death of her father. In Broken at Love, Quinn tries to scare Emilie out of his life because he thinks he doesn’t deserve her. That’s just a few examples of a really prevalent trope.
I’m willing to admit that these guys do have good intentions. They want to protect their lady loves from themselves. They’re dumping these women in hopes that their ladies will live better lives without them. For a whole range of reasons, each one feels like he will make her life worse.
Of course, if he really wanted to protect her, he wouldn’t date her in the first place. In most cases, he knows about his issues before he begins the relationship. It’s not like Edward and Stefan suddenly realized “Oh shit, I’m a vampire,” nor was Quinn surprised to learn how fucked up he was. They knew and got involved anyway, because they couldn’t resist. Well, damn, boys, if you couldn’t resist before, why can you now? Am I the only one who doesn’t think this makes sense?
Fine, though, your hormones got out of control and here you are. You’re dating this girl and, as expected, shit has hit the fan. Her life is endangered because of your presence in it. Obvious solution: dump the dummy for her own good. It’s the noble thing to do!
Let me just tell you this, fictional guys, because you obviously don’t get it: there’s no such thing as a benevolent dumping. See, you’re doing this out of the blue. From her perspective, you’re crazy in love one moment and then the next you’re telling her you have no feelings for her and never want to see her ugly mug again. There are two major problems with your plan.
Problem 1: She still loves you.
You’ve left this girl at the height of your relationship. She didn’t do anything wrong and you’ve just abandoned her, which will inevitably lead to a spiral of depression, booze and ice cream. Since you didn’t tell her why you left, she thinks she must have done something wrong or that you realized that she is actually unlovable. Likely, she’ll need many years of therapy to recover from this.
Problem 2: She’s even more vulnerable.
In some cases, Mr. Noble left to protect her physically. His logic: The evil paranormals found out about my wimpy human girlfriend and they’re going to kill her, so I’ll leave and she can be safe. My affection for her makes her a target for attack, so once I’m gone she’ll be safe. Flaw: They already know about your girlfriend, so she’s still a target, buddy. Only now you’re not there to help fight off the evil paranormals. Smooth move.
Other times, though, he leaves to protect her emotional state from his dark past. His logic: Someday, she will learn the dark truth about me and have to walk away from me, since I’m such a monster. Instead, I’ll save her the trouble, spare her the inevitable heartbreak. Flaw: You’re going to spare her emotional turmoil and heartbreak by DUMPING her? Dude, have you been dumped? It sucks even if you don’t like the person much. If she really likes or loves you, her emotions are now fucked for months. She’s going to be haunted by the mystery of why you dumped her, since, of course, you didn’t give her any reasons.
What should these guys do instead? Fucking communicate! Use your words, gents. Tell her what’s up and trust her to be able to make the choice about her own life. Once you entered into this ill-advised relationship, you added her into the equation and, as long as you have feelings for her, she has a say. Never do something in someone else’s benefit with out ensuring that it actually is in their best interest.
However, feelings are scary and brooding male heroes can’t handle it. So, fine, you want to end things so that she can be safe from you. Here’s how you do it: get her to dump you. Of course, there are easy ways, like cheating on her or just telling her you cheated. That will probably do it. I would recommend, if you really love her, taking your time and slowly becoming more of a dick until she has no remaining feelings for you and dumps your ass. That way, she’s already over you by the end of the relationship and can move on to someone less misguided.
All of you fictional characters that do this, know this: we see through you. In no way did you dump this person for their benefit. It was all for your own, because you’re too much of a coward to talk to your significant other. You’re pathetic and you need to grow right the hell up.

45 responses to “"It Was Like a Big, Huge Dumping"”

  1. Did I ever mention that you are awesome?You are.You are SO frigging awesome.

    The whole ‘Breaking up with someone for their own good’ thingy is on it’s way to becoming a YA trend like those nasty love triangles!And THAT would suck big time.
    Lovin’ that last GIF!Great post BTW. 😀

  2. Hahahahaha! Love this. I get so tired of seeing this in many of the romances now, too. It never made much sense to me either. Smh.

    Great post. ^^


    • Christina says:

      It probably happens some in real life, but it just seems so freaking contrived in books. If you leave in real life, it’s probably because you don’t love them enough to work on the relationship, not because your love is so strong like in fiction.

  3. I hate this so much! It doesn’t bother quite as much in paranormal books (but then, I rarely read paranormal romances, so I hardly come across it there. Though it did piss me off in Twilight.) But it never made any sense to me, to prevent heartbreak by causing heartbreak. I think it’s really disrespectful, to be making decisions like that for someone else, and it shows the lack of trust in the relationship. The broody, mysterious man doesn’t think she’s smart enough to make the right decision for herself, and that’s disgusting to me.

    • Christina says:

      It annoys me in paranormal too. Dude, she already knows you’re a vampire/werewolf/gremlin/whatever and she’s accepted that without freaking out, so she probably will take anything else you’ll dish out.

      The whole preventing heartbreak by causing it thing is like the war against terror. Wars cause terror. You win by definition.

      That definitely shows he doesn’t trust her to be able to handle his issues. Have more faith in her if you love her like you claim to. Don’t make choices for her.

  4. Ashley says:

    This just happened in a book I’m currently reading (although it’s the girl who dumps the guy for his own good). Doesn’t make it any less annoying though. It just happens all. the. time. So frustrating.

    As a side note, the Emma Stone gif is pretty great.

  5. Ha, love this post! It’s ridiculous for every single reason you mentioned, and really, how often does this happen in real life? Everyone knows that if the guy uses the whole “It’s not you, it’s me” excuse, that it is really you and there is no noble or personal cause behind it. Why would it work for books? I mean, it’s great that all these guys can be so selfless to attempt to protect the ones they love, but find me one person who is honestly that selfless in real life. I don’t believe it! And they always end up doing more bad than good.
    I think you provided the best advice. Either communicate, or force her to break up with you. Ha!

    • Christina says:

      I’m really not sure. I don’t think any of my friends have done this, but that’s not a big sample.

      Well, worse, the guys in fiction don’t even say “it’s not you, it’s me.” They just suddenly turn on her and go cold, saying they’re sick of seeing her, when like twenty minutes before he was saying how perfect she was. It totally blindsides her.

  6. Ashley says:

    AWESOME post!! I agree completely. It drives me nuts when it happens. And now actually thinking about it, I usually end up picking/rooting for the other guy who doesn’t pull this move. Like Jacob and Damien.

    Ashley @ The Quiet Concert

    • Christina says:

      Haha, same here. I immediately think the main guy is incredibly lame and obnoxious. The supporting guy has so much more respect for her ability to make her own choices. Though on TVD, it’s weird because Stefan will comment about how overprotective Damon is, but then STEFAN made the choice to leave for her own good, so….what?

    I don’t even have something productive to say, but you don’t have a like option, so I’m forced to write:

    The jerk option is probably not used because they’re not selfless enough to want her opinion of them to change.

    • Christina says:

      Sorry about that. A Reader of Fictions is a simple blog, without such fancy features as liking.

      Nope, but if they’re actually being noble, that’s what they have to do. They want to be able to leave, but have the door open to come back. Not happening, hot stuff.

  8. Molli Moran says:

    I hate this trend; I GET it, sure, but it doesn’t make it any easier to read, any more palatable. I just, GRR. I agree with this post, Christina. I think it’s a really overly done trope, and one I’ve angsted over in the past, and as a younger adult, written several times. But it’s lazy, I think, and a cop-out. It’s HARDER to write the couple staying together through obstacles, so most writers take the easy way out, and split them up for whatever reason, thinking that’s the best conflict, when IMHO it really isn’t.

    • Christina says:

      I would DEARLY love to read more books about couples who stay strong in the face of obstacles. ESPECIALLY internal obstacles, like her fear of commitment, his hesitance to move the relationship to the next level sexually, her inferiority complex with regards to academics…whatever.

  9. Haha! Yes! That is a huge pet peeve of mine as well. It makes me want to reach up and slap the character almost every time it comes up. There may be some exceptions but I can’t think of a single time that I haven’t been seriously peeved at an I’m breaking up with you for your own good situation. Ugh.

    • Christina says:

      I always end up shaking the book going “HOW ABOUT YOU JUST ASK THEM IF THEY WANT TO BREAK UP?” but they never do. Any respect I had for that character dissipates pretty much immediately.

  10. Amy says:

    Lol!!! I loved this post. OMG that seriously does drive me crazy though. It’s like, where is the other persons say? Don’t they get an opinion at all in the matter since, you know, relationships are two sided. You nailed this one chick!!

    • Christina says:

      Nope, why should they get an opinion on what’s best for them. Just like politicians should tell people what to do with their sex lives. It’s the only logical option.


  11. Heather says:

    OMG, cosigned! I, too, am tired of seeing this in books and in the real world (minus the superpowers, of course…and no, I’m not referring to the show, smartypants) 🙂 haha.

    “In no way did you dump this person for their benefit. It was all for your own, because you’re too much of a coward to talk to your significant other. You’re pathetic and you need to grow right the hell up.” A-freaking-men!

  12. Brandy says:

    Every time you write one of your complainy posts it’s like you crawled into my head and pulled my own thoughts out. Kind of creepy actually.

    And this: “All of you fictional characters that do this, know this: we see through you. In no way did you dump this person for their benefit. It was all for your own, because you’re too much of a coward to talk to your significant other. You’re pathetic and you need to grow right the hell up.” YES!!!!!!

  13. Renae M. says:

    Merherheher! I saw this title’s post in my reader and started laughing in class. Very awkward moment. Love that movie so much.

    But yes, I couldn’t agree with you more. Even if it *is* a legitimate plotpoint and works well for the story, I can’t help but roll my eyes when this trop makes an appearance. So…annoying. Like that scene in Paper Valentine where Finny tries to tell Hannah they shouldn’t see each other any more and she tells him off? Basically, I wanted to slap him, give her a huge hug, and the shake some sense into Brenna Yovanoff.

    • Christina says:

      Yes! I know it’s a good day when I make you laugh in class. How have you not gotten busted? She’s the Man is AMAZING. There are so many reasons it shouldn’t be, but it just comes together perfectly.

      Agreed! In no circumstance do I not roll my eyes at that. Though I do like that scene because Hannah handles it perfectly. Like, bitch please that’s a dumb reason.

  14. Kelly says:

    You know the other big problem with this ridiculous trope? The guy breaks up with the girl, and then keeps finding reasons to see her!

    Him – “Oh, I just wanted to make sure you were ok.”
    Her – “I knew it! You do still love me!”
    Him – “No. I uhh…just needed my shirt back.”

    (This completely fictitious situation is how I imagine most of these stupid guys handling their dumping).

    Ugh. I mean, if you’re going to do it, at least have the balls to do it properly!

  15. Lynn K. says:

    So, so, so TRUE! Love this post.
    If only they would just talk things out but no, they think they know what’s best for the girl. I’d really love to see more books about couples facing the situation together.

  16. Tara says:

    This post legitimately cracks me up. I’ll be honest – this trope doesn’t really bother me much on its own, unless it’s combined with other fuckery. But I don’t read a ton of paranormal, so I don’t see much of it.

    But you, Christina, are hilarious and this post is perfect. Major bonus points for using both an Emma Stone and a Thor GIF.

  17. FINALLY! I have been saying this forever, and it’s nice to see I’m not alone in thinking that these male “heroes” need to grow a pair and talk it out.

  18. I completely agree with you on this one. In real life, if someone tells you that line, you know they are bs you and it’s the other way around.

    Now when I am over thirty (good god I am old), I am usually irritated when I read something like this in books and think in myself ‘Don’t give up, you big wuss’, but I remember that I thought that was soooo romantic and noble when I was a teen. In fact, my favorite series was a historical series in 12 parts (500+ pages each) where the two of them constantly sacrifice and do not court each other because of some greater purpose/good/not-to-hurt-someone. (I didn’t mention series name/writer since they are from my country and hardly know to you, but if you are curious it’s ‘Gordana’ by Marija Juric Zagorka.) 🙂

    • Christina says:

      Truth. This is actually a bad message to send to those poor girls who get the “it’s not you, it’s me” line. Surely he’s just protecting me. No, honey, he’s not.

      I didn’t read stuff like this much as a teen. I think I was frustrated then too probably. Sort of like the gifs now that say NOW KISS.

    • Christina says:

      Also, I’m going to stay away from that series. OY.

  19. “Use your words” – THIS. This is what I want to say to SO MANY YA guys. And YA heroines, come to that. And both points are so true, and so obvious – it makes no sense at all when the characters don’t seem to see this. “My ultra-klutzy, lacking-in-self-defence-skills girlfriend’s in terrible danger? I’d better leave her ALL BY HERSELF.”
    I think you nailed it – it’s so… disrespectful, and disempowering when the guy just assumes he knows best.

    • Christina says:

      Leaving her alone is the obvious choice! *rolls eyes*

    • I think quite often, it’s the author sacrificing their characters for the sake of plot, using a flimsy chain of “if THIS, then THAT”s. Like, they want a showdown between Team Good and Team Evil, so the easiest way to do that is to get the heroine kidnapped so they have boyfriend take off so girlfriend’s all alone and incapacitated by her broken heart.
      And so on. But… such a chain gets no points for good writing, no points for originality, and no points for characterisation.
      However, if I ever date a vampire/werewolf/fallen angel/[insert creature here], at least I will now be prepared! I will know that the moment boyfriend dumps me, that’s when I hire me some bodyguards and start polishing my throwing stars. Or whatever badass weapon I feel like.

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