What She Really Means, When She Needs To Take A Break
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Hi Dating Nerd,
I’m desperate here. My girlfriend of a year wants to take “a break.” She’s been pretty vague about why this is happening. She says she just wants to “think about some things.” I’m confused, and I’m hurt, and I want to pull this relationship back from the edge. What can I do? Is there any way I can stop her? Is this the end?
– Distraught Danny
Oh, the dreaded break. It’s so awful, because it’s so ambiguous. It can mean any one of a number of things, some of them benign, some of them horrible. Sometimes, “I want to take a break” means “I just want some space to myself, because you’re irritating me, during which I’ll stare out the window and remember how much I love your smile and how much I want to blow you every day.” But sometimes, it means “I’m going to break up with you but I don’t have the guts yet, so I’m going to draw things out in a maximally painful way, during which you’ll find out that I’m sleeping with three guys, or taking a fun vacation to Cartagena without you.” These are both legitimate possibilities. I’ve experienced both of them.
Being that this is the case, if you want to deal with this, the first step is to figure out what the hell is going on. And there’s an easy way to approach that. Like basically every situation in every romantic relationship where you don’t know what’s going on with your partner, you should just ask them. Say that you want to be absolutely clear about why this break is happening, so you can see whether there’s some underlying relationship problem you were aware of that you could improve — whether that involves expressing more gratitude, showering more, not wearing Crocs, or whatever.
There’s a trick here, though. Which is that you actually have to want to know what’s going on. You can’t be a baby and object to every criticism she raises, whining defensively about how you’re perfect. You can’t go in there with a fighting stance, ready to instantly argue with her perspective. That kind of attitude will instantly shut down any productive dialogue whatsoever. If you’re having the discussion, your first goal isn’t to prove to her that you’re perfect and you’re always right and she’s crazy. It’s not your second or third goal either. It should be totally off your list of priorities.
That requires a lot of patience. And it requires a real willingness to hear things you don’t want to. But if you can manage to have a productive, adult dialogue about the source of her irritation, that will help in and of itself. One of the best things you can do for your partner is make her feel heard. So much of the time, in a relationship, we wander around with these caged feelings — all of this steaming emotional garbage we’d like to express to our significant other, but that we don’t, because we feel that we can’t. Which is a really lonely place to be; it’s awful to have to hide your feelings from the person you’re supposedly closest to in the world.
If you relieve that pressure, things will probably get better, or at least clearer. And that might even make her completely reconsider the whole break thing. On the other hand, she might still want to get away from you for a bit. In fact, she probably will. Okay, so, what do you do then?
Unfortunately, the answer is that you let her take a break from your relationship. There’s not much you can do at that point. Trying to talk her out of it is really not a good idea. If somebody needs space, the worst thing you can do is insist that they shouldn’t have any. That kind of behavior screams “immature” and “desperate.” People are generally attracted to emotional stability and confidence, and you’re really not doing yourself any favors by insisting that you’ll die if your relationship takes a two-week hiatus.
Also, please, please don’t try and take revenge. I know that hearing “I want to take a break” is a bit bruising to the ego, and you might have the urge to tell her that you won’t miss her, or that this is going to be a good opportunity to hook up with the gaggle of women you’ve been wanting to sleep with, or whatever. This might be tempting, and it might feel like a way to restore the balance of power in the relationship, but it will definitely wreck your chances of improving this relationship, instantly.
If you’ve done what I’ve said — had a productive conversation about what’s wrong — you’ll have at least a vague idea of why she needs to take time off, and what you’ll do when she comes back. And that could be really positive. The fact is that a lot of relationships sort of degrade over time. You meet an enchanting woman, and you want to impress her, so you become your best self. You pull out all the stops in bed, you act like you’re interested in every single detail of her emotional life (even though you’re absolutely not) and you don’t scratch yourself when she’s around. But then you get comfortable. You don’t need to seduce her, so you let your inner slob come out. Slowly, you become more irritating and less attractive. This isn’t what you should aspire to as a man. This crisis could be the wake-up call you need.
But, on the other hand, she might not come back. This situation might be completely out of your control. Unfortunately, romantic relationships are conducted with human beings, with their own complicated minds and motives. Unless you’re interested in dating a silicone doll, when you initiate an intimate bond, you’re basically giving someone the ability to hurt you. Sometimes, a romantic relationship is beyond repair, and you’re going to have to sign up for a slew of online dating sites, after a few weeks of screaming into the void. That’s a possibility, and I can’t help you with it. The only consolation I can offer is that if someone dumps you, they’re kind of doing you a favor. The sooner you get out of a doomed relationship, the sooner you can move onto finding love that lasts, or at least a good lay.
Think you could use some dating help, too? Email the Dating Nerd at email@example.com.
Source : AskMen.com