I Asked My Guy Friends What Men Really Mean When They Say “It’s Not You, It’s Me” And The Answers May Shock You

Urban Dictionary called “it’s not you, it’s me” the biggest lie ever, but in all honestly, it might actually be him.

By Andrea Mew3 min read
shutterstock 2094446005 (1)

You’d think after all this time co-existing that men and women would be able to communicate without a hitch, but alas, our communication styles (and listening styles) can be such polar opposites that it sometimes feels like we’re speaking different languages. In the case of men, that language can often seem minimal, infrequent, or even deflective because they tend to guard their feelings.

Women, on the other hand, are often accused of doublespeak (how often do you tell him “I’m fine” when you’re really not), but even with men’s more indifferent approach to communicating with us, sometimes it also sounds like they’re saying one thing while meaning something totally different. These easily avoided communication errors are the cause behind countless fights, but when they elevate to breakup territory, wounds may be harder to heal.

Breakups already suck, so getting served an “it’s not you, it’s me” line feels like a major gut punch. Come on, what does something so cryptic and vague like that actually mean? Did he overhear it in a CW drama you were watching and think it was the best line to use when breaking things off? I enlisted the help of my guy friends and my girl friends’ boyfriends, husbands, and brothers alike to decode this infamous one-liner once and for all.

He’s Trying To Avoid Any Extra Drama

This one is a no-brainer to me. Either he doesn’t want to bother with explaining his feelings, or he feels like he’s walking on eggshells if he tries to give reasons why he’s breaking up with you. 

One of my guy friends shared that he thinks this phrase is used as a “protective coping mechanism” for conflict avoidance. “In other words, if I take the blame, I can dodge a tense conversation,” he said.

matrix dodge bullet

Appearing passive and emotionally disengaged may seem like the path of least resistance, but women just don’t settle for statements like that. We’ll create elaborate tales in our mind and overanalyze his line delivery until we’ve exhausted ourselves. Let’s not forget that there will always be a segment of women who might feel more inclined to start drama over being told “it’s not you, it’s me,” because of how many unanswered questions they have.

One of the spicier answers I received was: “He's telling the truth, but not in the way he thinks he is. All he's doing is proving his immaturity and likely cowardice, further proof that you're better off without him.”

If you’re constantly avoiding conflict in a relationship, you’re just letting emotions build up that are bound to burst. As we know, couples on the brink of divorce are actually less likely to communicate than healthy ones.

He’s Actually Not That into You

One of the guys shared that, plain and simple, “It’s a nice way to say they’re just not that into you. Sometimes there’s nothing wrong with the girl, it’s literally just that they don’t like the girl that much, but they don’t want the girl to feel like they’ve done anything wrong.”

Another guy shared that “it’s not you, it’s me” means “I genuinely am no longer attracted to you sexually and/or mentally, or I’ve come the realization you are not the one and I do not love you.”

havent felt spark

If a man doesn’t feel compatible with you or attracted to you and wants to break things off, then that’s perfectly respectable. But he should still give you the time of day instead of parroting a quote that’s been attributed to the sitcom Seinfeld.

He’s Interested in Someone Else Entirely

You always want what you can’t have, right? In this case, one guy said that he thinks it really doesn’t mean “it’s not you, it’s me,” it means, “It’s actually you because I’ve got the hots for another girl.”

im in love with someone else

He Might Not Be Over His Ex

This one takes being interested in someone else to a totally different level. I guess it’s good in a sense that he’s breaking things off instead of continuing to see you while keeping his ex close to his heart, but no one wants to be the girl that gets overlooked for an old flame. 

notebook-tyler-and-hannah not over

He’s Working on Himself 

One communication strength that men certainly hold over women is how direct and to the point they usually are with their thoughts. So when you get served an “it’s not you, it’s me,” your female brain might start wandering, but take a deep breath…he might literally mean those exact words. He might genuinely feel like he needs to do some growing to be in a healthy, functioning relationship.


He’s Too Busy 

“It’s not you, it’s me…I’m too busy.” Honestly, this is a poor excuse. No one is ever too busy to provide love. Either they’re using it as an excuse to not invest in the relationship, or their priorities need adjusting. 

full-house-olsen-twins too busy

He’s Not Ready To Commit

Maybe he wasn’t putting in continued effort, maybe he wasn’t being exclusive with you, or maybe he wasn’t willing to go public. Whatever the reasoning was, he might be having commitment issues. 


One of the men I interviewed admitted that he regretfully ended a relationship quickly with a line similar to the dreaded “it’s not you, it’s me.” He explained that he was raised in a broken family and didn’t feel properly equipped to handle commitment.

“The model I grew up with was someone always walking out,” he shared. “I don’t feel proud of it, but at least now I understand where I went wrong.”

Closing Thoughts

Though it’s easy to assume that women’s communication style is more submissive or indirect, there are certainly times that men drop the ball on getting the point across (like the other infamous breakup line “You’re too good for me”). When intimate feelings are involved, the last thing you want is a guy to sound wishy-washy about what he means! 

Even if he’s not going about it in a socially graceful manner, look on the bright side: By breaking things off and moving on he might be doing you a favor. After all, the relationship that will make you and your beau feel the best is the one based on honest and clear communication, so you shouldn’t settle for anything less.

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