The “B” Word
No relationship is consistently perfect. You aren’t always beaming over the very thought of your significant other, or even always happy with everything he or she does. During these “down periods,” a lot of people begin to question whether or not they want to stay in the relationship. Sometimes it’s good to have these thoughts because you should always keep in check with yourself about how you’re feeling. Any serious doubts, and it’s time to move on. But what happens when you’re in a relationship, love the person, but just need ‘space’? What does space even mean?
I’ve told a guy I needed to go on a “break” before. While most people say it’s a really shitty way of saying “I’m breaking up with you, and this is the easiest way to put it,” I actually meant that I just wanted a short time apart because I was confused about what I wanted because college was just around the corner. I loved him a lot, but questioned whether or not I needed to get a few things out of my system, and vice versa, first. You could call it selfish; it was like I was putting him on hold and, by no means, was it fair.
Hannah Boehm*, a junior, said she told her boyfriend she needed a break because he was too controlling. “He would ask me hundreds of questions about who I was with, if any other guys were there, look through my phone. I loved him a lot and wanted to be with him, but he needed to realize I would leave if it kept up, so I thought going on a break was the best option for us,” she said. Boehm and her boyfriend are no longer together because the time apart became “too comfortable.”
When most people think about taking a break, they instantly think it’s the start of a downward spiral to a breakup. Out of 34 respondents—14 male and 20 female—about 94 percent said they believe this to be true. Is it the time apart, or is it what happens during that time apart that can lead to a breakup?
If you’re going on a break, for the sake of yours and your partner’s sanity, set rules. Talk to your boyfriend or girlfriend and negotiate what are appropriate and inappropriate actions during the break. Define what you both consider cheating. There is no right or wrong answer, and it’s never universal among all couples. Some cut off all contact with one another, others hook up without a label, and some say it’s okay to hook up with other people. It all varies.
Matt Stewart*, a senior, said that during the time he and his girlfriend were on a break, she took it as “I can hook up with whoever I want; I’m single,” while he took it as “We’re getting back together; we just aren’t physically in each other’s lives right now.”
Bringing up the B-word offsets a relationship no matter what and is taken even more seriously when it’s out of the blue. You be the judge. You might need the break, but is it worth losing someone you love or want to be with eventually? If you’re questioning things, maybe the time just isn’t right for now and you should go on a break. Time apart could actually do your relationship good. Meet different people. Experience different relationships. Decide for yourself what you want and don’t want.
But please do not expect anyone to wait for you. You can’t make someone do that, and you shouldn’t want him or her to do that either. Getting back together too soon, without letting some things out of your system, isn’t fair for either of you. The worst that could happen is you don’t end up together, but keep in mind he or she isn’t the only person in this world.
*Names are changed for anonymity