After trying to solve our problems with an open relationship (and failing miserably at that), my former partner and I decided to make things even more complicated by taking a “break.” Undecided about our future, we entered that limbo between not-done-yet and done-for-good. We wanted different things at that moment (specifically, he wanted to see other people), but we both hoped to want the same things in the near future.
I have heard the, “I just need to be single right now” spiel before. It came off in an offensive way those times, uttered more by the guys’ imposing egos than by them. I had dated several men who felt that I was desperate to be in a relationship with them now simply because I texted them first or expressed interest in going on another date. But that was not the case this time.
We had been dating for several months before the commitment-phobia came out. Even when it did happen, it was different. We both fought to make things work it wasn’t just me doing the fighting. So when he eventually proposed we just put us on hold, I was quick to agree without really taking into account that I am the worst person to be vague with. I’m highly impatient, and extremely stubborn, while he is the kind of guy who revels in taking things as they come, handling life on a day-by-day basis. Not me. I fixate. Uncertainty is my biggest pet peeve.
Some people take a short, temporary break and agree not to date anyone else, while others take a break that’s essentially a break-up with the acknowledgement that you might get back together. We chose the latter.
The first thing I did after agreeing to the break was to write him a letter. I found it to be the perfect send-off into Breakville. It was an even more perfect way to sum up the entirety of my feelings as well as how I was going to move forward, without having to look him in his stupid attractive face while doing so (but, you know, in a nicer way). I wrote to him that no matter what happened, I would think positively of him. I addressed the ways in which I needed him to behave differently if we did decide to get back together. No more open relationship. If we decided to get back together, it would be monogamous. I also warned him that I might send a few angry, drunk texts (which I did), and I ended my letter by telling him that I was going to try and move on because I couldn’t necessarily wait for him as much as I wanted to. Putting everything I was thinking and feeling into words was not just for him. It was highly cathartic for me. Like crying, but less messy.
At that point, it was back to the grind. Back to swiping endlessly on Tinder and checking new Ok Cupid messages only to find that it’s some guy in Bolivia who calls me “cutie” and wants to talk to me on Kik (social media), whatever that is. For the first two weeks of the break, I did what I always do when I end things with someone: I scheduled as many dates as possible with a whole new batch of men. I viewed it as the perfect distraction. Find a new guy to take your mind off the old one. However, just going on dates for a date’s sake often made me feel worse. The more incompatible and disappointing my date was, the more I found myself missing what I had just given up.
So I learned quickly to be more selective with who I agreed to go out with. And I changed my focus from scheduling dates to a focus on scheduling things for myself instead. I’ve given myself new projects to work on (getting rid of old clothes is a good one), and put more of my attention toward strengthening my friendships and the other relationships I had. I stopped thinking of our break as a competition to see who can move on the fastest. It’s really a test to see if you should be trying to move on in the first place.
The hardest part of a break is, by far, cutting off communication with each other. It’s hard not to reach out to someone in all the various ways the digital age has made possible. I wanted to text him about something funny that just happened, or send him a Snapchat, or peek at what he was posting on Instagram. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t do any of that without my mind wandering to dark places and my jealousy creeping in. He found it hard as well. He kept reaching out to me, texting that he missed me and wanted to see me. In the beginning of the break, I broke down. I let us hang out, under the foolish assumption we could realistically do so as friends. That was very wrong.
After that, I cut off communication completely. It took time, but it became slightly easier to be apart from him, all the while still missing him, as I pressed on. I sent him one last message, reminding him that before we ended things I had reserved tickets for us to visit the new Broad museum in downtown Los Angeles. I decided to emulate every romantic comedy ever by telling him that if we both decide to get back together, we’ll meet each other that day, at the front entrance of the museum, and reunite. If one of us feels hesitant, we simply won’t show up. He agreed, and for now, this is the plan.
As it gets closer to that date, I’m still not entirely sure what my move will be. The longer we stay apart, the less sure I am about whether we’re meant to be. If this break has taught me anything, it’s to embrace uncertainty.