Dealing With A Breakup
One of the hardest things that can happen in a relationship is your partner taking a break – and not telling you why. Here is our advice to Alberto on how to handle this challenging situation.
Alberto from Los Angeles, CA writes:
My girlfriend of over a year and a half told me today that she needs a break to figure things out. Our relationship has had ups and downs just like any other relationship but overall, it has been excellent. We don’t live in the same state but we see each other often, I just went to see her last week. I love her so much and I’m in love with her. She tells me she loves me too and at one point during the relationship she said she was in love with me. Recently, she told me something was not the same as before. I told her that I was ready for the next step in our relationship and I was ready to move into the same city as her. She wanted me to move closer to her for the longest time and now that I said I would she had the opposite reaction that I expected. She knew the day would come when one of us would take the next step; otherwise she would not have stayed with me for so long. I don’t know if she is afraid or what. She’s expressed to me that she had many issues with men in her past such as her father not being around and past boyfriends that have not treated her well. I’d move heaven and earth for this girl. I’m there emotionally, physically, financially, mentally, in any way imaginable. I don’t know what to make of her decision to take a break. She said she needs to figure out what she wants. In December, I was planning of asking her to marry me. What exactly can I make out of all this? Please I need some advice on what to do. It is so difficult not being able to text or call her. She is on my mind all day and I don’t know what to do.
This is a tough situation, but here are some of my impressions. You’ve mentioned two main factors which could have something to do with what’s going on with your girlfriend. The first is your decision to move, the second is actually your visit. Did you tell her that you were planning to move before or after you visited her? That might help you figure out which it was that might have prompted her reaction—though it could have been a combination.
As to why she wants a break, you could be right about her having cold feet about the move, or it could be something else entirely—which may or may not ultimately be because of you. You say your relationship overall has been excellent; what this would seem to indicate to me is that you don’t necessarily have the full story from her—or perhaps, excellent as it may be, there is some other aspect of her life which you don’t know about that is troubling her. Sometimes for reasons we don’t understand (sometimes even reasons the other person doesn’t understand), a person we love feels the need to take a sabbatical and spend some time alone seriously contemplating something. It may be that given some time and space to clear her head, she will be able to communicate with you about whatever issue she’s trying to resolve, or she may resolve it on her own.
I do think her indication that she “needs to figure out what she wants” implies that there is some particular issue that she has probably not confided in you, and perhaps not even admitted to herself until recently, that she thinks will interfere with the growth of your relationship. You mentioned marriage; had you mentioned that idea to her? It isn’t unusual for people to worry that marriage will box them in socially or in some other way; it could be there is something specific she wants from life she’s afraid she’ll lose if your relationship heads in that direction. This could be an unfounded concern, but if it is, you’ll both need to talk it out to reassure her. That means finding a way to let her know that you accept her as she is and that whatever she wants (not just you) is important to you.
The other thing I would think about again is the visit. Was there any indication that anything was wrong? Was there any feeling of awkwardness or coldness that you aren’t used to? Think of subtle contextual clues, and try to think if something you said or did while you were with her might have put her off in some way.
I know she doesn’t want you to text or call, but if I were you I’d seriously think about doing so after you’ve thought all this through and know what to say. Or better yet, send her a handwritten letter. Writing by hand shows effort and care, and helps to show that you want to go above and beyond to get this resolved, but still gives her distance and space to respond on her own time. Good luck, and please let us know how it goes.