She Needs A Break

The Dating Nerd is really a shadowy figure whose whereabouts and identifying details remain unknown. What we can say for certain is that he is actually, excellent at dating. He’s been on more dates than it is possible to shake an extended bar tab at, and he’s here to greatly help the common guy step his dating game up a notch – or several.
The Question
Hi Dating Nerd,
I’m desperate here. My girlfriend of per year really wants to take “a rest.” She’s been pretty vague about why that is happening. She says she just really wants to “consider some things.” I’m confused, and I’m hurt, and I wish to pull this relationship back from the edge. So what can I do? Will there be any way I could stop her? Is this the finish?
– Distraught Danny
The Answer
Hi 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 need to want to know what’s happening. You can’t be a child and object to every criticism she raises, whining defensively about how exactly you’re perfect. You can’t go within with a fighting stance, prepared to instantly argue with her perspective. That sort of attitude will instantly turn off any productive dialogue whatsoever. If you are getting the discussion, your first goal isn’t to persuade her you are perfect and you’re always right and she’s crazy. It isn’t your next or third goal either. It must be totally off your set of priorities.
That requires a great deal of patience. And it takes 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.” Folks are generally drawn to emotional stability and confidence, and you’re really not doing yourself any favors by insisting that you will die if your relationship requires a two-week hiatus.
Also, please, do not try to take revenge. I understand that hearing “I would like to take a break” is really a bit bruising to the ego, and you also may have the urge to inform her that you will not miss her, or that will probably be a good possibility to attach with the gaggle of women you’ve been attempting to sleep with, or whatever. This may be tempting, also it might feel like ways to restore the total amount of power in the partnership, but it will certainly wreck your likelihood of improving this relationship, instantly.
If you have done what I’ve said – had a productive conversation about what’s wrong – you should have at the very least a vague notion of why she must devote some time off, and what you’ll do when she comes home. And that might 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.

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