Editor’s Note: A little while back, I was having a conversation online with a close guy friend of mine about “breaks.” As we learned from Ross on Friends, the rules of being on a break can get murky and may wind up costing you your entire relationship. Being on a break is different for men and women because men and women are very different when it comes to relationships in general… a fact any ANM reader knows well by now. The conversation I was having with my friend got so interesting and enlightening, I asked him to elaborate further on the subject and took our exchange and turned it into an entire article. Let the enlightening begin…
Whenever a guy says he wants a “break” or some time to just “chill for a bit,” it usually means he’s feeling stressed of overwhelmed by the relationship and needs time to work things out on his own. Even if the problems aren’t overt, he may be feeling unhinged about some aspect of the relationship, oftentimes it’s by the fact that the relationship is getting more serious.
Whether he officially says he needs space or he just disappears, this situation usually causes problems in the relationship because a guy and a girl will see it in two totally different ways.
The guy just sees it as him needing time to work through some issues he’s having. The girl will usually see it as some kind of rejection or abandonment and will go into crisis mode. She’ll obsess over what she might have done to push him away and will try to devise some plan to get him back.
In my opinion, breaks are usually a big sign of trouble. However, it is possible for things to go back to normal as long as both people use the break time properly. The point of it should be to figure out why certain problems are arising in the relationship and to decide if they’re fixable. It’s also a good chance for both people in the relationship to focus on themselves for a bit. In a relationship it’s easy to let other areas of your life slip away and a break is a good time to re-build those areas.
A guy will usually spend this time trying to get back on his A-game. Maybe he’ll go to the gym, maybe he’ll go out with his friends, maybe he’ll devote himself to his job, anything to make him feel like he’s back on top. While he’s working on putting himself back together, the worst thing his girl can do is fall apart and burden him with constant texts and questions. This will only make him feel pressured and he’ll pull away even more.
I did the break thing with a girlfriend and she accused me of being cold because I didn’t want to get into deep emotional discussions about the relationship. I wasn’t trying to be cold, I just wanted to focus on me. We had already had the sad emotional conversation when we decided to go on the break… what’s the point of having it over and over again?
If a guy seems cold and aloof during break time, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t care. Guys are just wired differently and handle stressful situations differently, this does not include talking about the problem for most men.
So what should a girl do when her guy wants to take a break?
First off, let it be. Just give him the space he needs to deal with his issue and focus on other things in the meantime. Even if he is going through a hard time, just leave it alone and let him handle it on his own. It’s not that
You also can’t bug him for reassurance that he’s gonna come back and the relationship will resume. Instead, use that time to focus on other areas of your life.
Just make sure you keep your confidence in check. Confidence is a huge turn on for a guy and whether you’re a guy or a girl, you always want what you can’t have. Have confidence that even if this relationship doesn’t work out, you will find another that will. And don’t cling to this guy like a life-raft.
If he feels sure that you’ll be there whenever he’s ready to come back, he can take all the time he needs. Don’t let yourself get walked on and don’t let him string you along…he wants that…it makes him feel secure…and it does nothing but prolong your hurt in the process. This is especially true if you stay in touch over this break and continue to see each-other, and maybe even hook up, from time to time. The best thing to do is quit cold turkey.
If it’s meant to be, he’ll come back on his own. In the meantime, go about your life and try to enjoy it without him in it. Keep your options open (you don’t necessarily have to go on dates with other guys, but stay open to the possibility of another guy being the right one for you) and don’t make the break all about him, you are an equal in the relationship and also deserve to take time to figure out what you want and need.
If either you or he decide to pull the plug for good, try and make it a clean break. Even though you probably have his number memorized, delete it. Not seeing it when you’re flipping through your phone will help initiate the healing process. Even though you may not want to, if you pretend long enough to be cold-hearted and distant with him, you’ll slowly find yourself getting over it. It’s okay to be hurt, but at a certain point you need to get mad…that’s normal too…and at that point you’ll realize the juice just isn’t worth the squeeze.
So tell us readers, what do you think about breaks? Can they save a relationship, or are they a sign that a break-up is a right around the bend? Tell us in comments.