A reader wonders what to do with her boyfriend who wants to take a break from their relationship.
My boyfriend and I have been together for 10 months and we both really love each other. But lately, we’ve been arguing a lot. We’re together literally 24/7 and are always doing stuff together, so we very rarely spend time to ourselves.
The other day, he said he wants to take a break, become friends again, and start our relationship over. But with him working second shift 7 days a week and me going back to school, we still wouldn’t see each other much so taking a break wouldn’t make a difference. He said we both need time to think and clear our heads.
My question is, how long should we go without communicating and how can I get him to text me first?
I’m really sorry you’re going through that. I’m going to talk breakup strategy now, so please trust that none of this is meant to hurt your feelings.
First, here’s what you do when your boyfriend wants to take a break from your relationship:
Immediately agree with him that you need to take a break from your relationship— then enjoy your time and space. Stay away from him during that time.
Worrying about getting him to text you first right now is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
Since taking a break from your relationship was his idea, so it’s up to him to get in touch with you if he wants to talk.
You don’t (and shouldn’t) do or say much of anything else– except logistical stuff like, “here’s your iguana” or “come get the tuba you left in the corner of the apartment.” You get the picture.
Since this man has told you that he wants LESS of your company right now, joyfully and graciously give him less of your company. It’s so very simple. Go with his momentum and give him what he wants.
As far as how long should you go without communicating— as long as it takes.
Let him go do his thing while you do yours. Seriously. Thats all.
If you still want to talk and potentially work toward a mutually satisfying relationship, then talk. If not— then let him ride out into the great beyond while you continue to make yourself deliriously happy.
When you really love someone who wants something different than you want, your fate with them is no longer up to you. If they don’t want to claim a place in your life right now— then you have to trust that they are doing the right thing for themselves and you.
Even if it hurts like hell.
Even if you really love them would crawl over burning coals to be around them.
Even if you think they’re “The One” and have secretly erected a shrine in their honor.
You don’t let someone go and agree with their decision to take a break because you don’t love them or something is “wrong” with them or the relationship— you let them go because you trust that real love can never be lost and if they are happier somewhere else, supporting them to get that is priority number one.
This isn’t being selfless– it’s being smart. Trying to stay with someone whose heart is elsewhere is excruciating. I don’t want you to go through that.
What you think you want— fixing or repairing the relationship with him has to take a back seat to what HE wants.
From the conflict you described, it sounds mostly like he’s trying to get away from someone who disagrees with him. If you think about it, that isn’t too shocking or unreasonable. Human ego likes agreement. It supports our pride and makes us feel understood.
That’s why genuinely agreeing with someone at every opportunity turns the whole relationship around.
Agreement removes all resistance for him to run away from the woman who is attacking his pride with constant disagreement. That’s why disagreeing with someone about their decision to take space or break up ALWAYS blows up in your face— making the other person want to run further away.
Here’s a secret about relationships that no one talks about.
The more you try to exert control over someone else, the more out of control you become. Needing anything from someone puts you at their mercy.
You can negotiate and discuss your shared goals with a love, but you will never succeed at having a good relationship if you try to force or manipulate or nag anyone into doing ANYTHING. You have to set your standards, make them clear and then reject someone completely if they can’t meet them.
If taking a break with your boyfriend and enjoying your freedom in the meantime is genuinely beneath your standards— to you he’s either IN or OUT, tell him so and then see where the chips fall.
Negotiating this way is being true to yourself if you are 100% genuinely stating your standards. You can’t tell him you won’t take him back if he leaves and then take him back later on. He’ll know you aren’t a woman of your word, and more importantly, so will you.
If that is truly your standard, then be loyal to yourself.
If you’re trying to manipulate him into staying with you by giving him an ultimatum or playing “Invent A Standard” because you’re understandably hurt and upset, then you’ll likely end up driving him away for good.
He will most likely pick the nuclear option instead of feeling trapped with you. Or, you’ll emasculate him and “win” temporarily but nothing is less romantic than hanging out with a man who doesn’t really want to be with you.
Trying to get someone else to do your vision of life by manipulating, changing or dominating them only makes everyone miserable— since people naturally resist any and all outside efforts to reduce their freedom.
It hurts and it’s painful, but your ex has to decide he wants to be in a relationship with you because deep down he still loves you and really wants you in his life.
That’s why logic and rational discussions about the “future of your relationship” do NOT make anyone want to be around you.
You’re essentially telling your partner that you know better than they do about what THEY want. See the problem?
Telling your boyfriend that you don’t want to take a break from the relationship or by holding the simple mindset of wanting to make him to get in touch with you first— means that he’s the one in charge of your feelings and the relationship.
If you need anything from him, that automatically puts him in control. And by doing this “taking a break” thing, he immediately gained control over your whole relationship.
That means he’s willing to lose you to re-exert control over his life.
That really says a lot about where he’s at emotionally, especially since “taking a break” usually means that everyone is free to do whatever they want sexually and he knows damn well that another man could snap you up.
I know that probably sounds awful and devastating, and it really is.
Even the simple fact that you want to know how to get him to text you and gain control over the communication between you tells me that you want to do anything you can to get that control back. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, I’m just pointing it out.
I want to impress upon you the idea that if you take control over your own feelings and perspective, you’ll grow and cultivate more self love rather than trying to wrestle control over this situation with your boyfriend. Arguing about his decisions, trying to manipulate him and trying to add an imaginary timeline for when you should talk will only wreck this thing further.
It might seem like you will feel better if he works on the relationship and does what you want, but it won’t unless it’s his idea.
If you talk him into staying with you, you’ll always wonder if he really wants to be there or if he caved to your negotiating pressure. At this point the only way you’ll really know for sure if he wants to be there is if you wait and let him decide on his own.
If you joyfully accept whatever he wants and go out and make yourself happy, that’s the path to both feeling better and potentially putting your relationship back together in the future. This is working with your boyfriend, instead of arguing with him and making yourself the problem even more than you have already.
Disagreeing with his decisions only gives him someone to fight with— which has been happening up until now— and during your life together so far.
The more you affirm that he’s right to take a break from your relationship while you both take care of yourself— the happier and less pressured you’ll both feel.
And.. the side effect is that people naturally want to be around happy people who aren’t pressuring them. See how that works?
I hope that helps some. You’ve got this!