Matt Groening said, “Love is a perky elf dancing a merry little jig and then suddenly he turns on you with a miniature machine-gun.”

Feelings are fleeting. Relationships continually evolve and change. Sometimes they flat fall apart. When you hear a statement like, “We need to talk,” you know what’s going to follow. It’s often a string of cliché break-up lines. But you often don’t know what the person exactly means when they use them. Each sound very different, but all say “goodbye” faster than you can click “sign off” on your AOL account.

To help you decipher the complex code of break-up speak, here are the real meanings behind a handful of commonly used (and abused) break-up lines.

[“It’s not you, it’s me.”]

Downside: This means it’s you. It’s all you. Either your idiosyncrasies (like the way you smack when you eat) have finally gotten to your boyfriend/girlfriend, or your mate has found a new date.

Upside: You need someone who will be patient and understanding of your flaws, and who will overlook insignificant things (like the way you part your hair in the same fashion as a bad toupee) and see what you truly have to offer. Who needs a restless, commitment phobic anyway?

[“I just have some things to work out.”]

Downside: This line wins the Most Selfish Breakup award of the year. It sounds like he or she’s doing you a big favor by not burdening you with his or her problems, but this is a cop-out. But it’s not you—it’s him or her.

Upside: It’s a good thing he or she is trying to focus on working out their problems because any relationship with too much emotional baggage is bound to fail. The carry-on luggage should only be a certain size; all oversized baggage must be checked at the commitment counter.

[“I have been praying about our relationship…”]

Downside: This phrase is often used by those who want to appear righteous. Who can argue with a decision that comes directly from the heavenly throne room? Exactly. Using this line is a sure-fire way for the breaker-uper to come out looking like a saint.

Upside: If this statement is indeed truthful, it does not even need to be said. Both parties will feel confident that the Lord has other plans.

[“Let’s take a break.”]

Downside: This pretty clearly suggests you’re getting dumped. The only break he/she is talking about is “break up,” which is a little more significant than a five-minute potty break in the middle of a movie.

Upside: This could legitimately mean your friend wants to cool things off. Perhaps you became too exclusive as a couple, or have been spending too much time together. Some of the most romantic love stories are about a budding relationship that survived this “break.”

[“I hate you.”]

Downside: Yeah, this line is a good indicator that you and your boyfriend/girlfriend might be having some problems. You should probably be prepared for a pretty permanent break-up after hearing those words.

Upside: Chances are the feeling is mutual. Don’t feel the need to echo the sentiments though. Be the bigger man/woman and show the love of Jesus even though your human nature wants to put that little elf’s miniature machine gun to good use.

RELATED LINKS:

DATING FOR DUMMIES

SURVIVING THE FIRST DATE

THE DATING ‘YES’ LIST

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