Dear Ms. Behavior:
My girlfriend of two years has told me she needs space to think about how things are going between us.
I have committed some infractions—invasions of privacy. I found out that she was going to see this girl she apparently likes while I was out of the country.
I was shocked, because I never noticed anything that would suggest she is interested in someone else. I could not understand how she could risk our relationship for someone she barely knows.
I am head-over-heels in love with her. But ever since I found out about her interest in that girl, I have been suspicious and overly possessive.
I could understand why she would want a “breather.” I am ready to give her the time and space she needs, but I am scared that the breather means ending the relationship, not fixing it. I asked her, and she says she doesn’t know.
I am afraid she is stringing me along to find a way to let me know gently she’s leaving. I love her, and want to make this work. I also want to stop feeling rejected, and don’t wish to be a fool who blindly gives love to someone who doesn’t want it.
Maybe your girlfriend has been dishonest, or maybe you’ve been paranoid. But more likely, you are in a dynamic cycle, fed by one another’s behavior.
You’re in a tough position, because you’re waiting to see whether your girlfriend wants to stay in the relationship, but you suspect she already may have decided to go.
You’re right that your girlfriend’s “breather” could be a prelude to breaking up. But it still can be an opportunity to gain perspective, and evaluate how you feel, while decreasing your panic over the possibility of being rejected.
Now’s a good time to step back, and take care of yourself. Gather extra support, so that you know you’ll be OK regardless of whether this relationship works out.
Build physical and emotional muscle. Whiten your teeth. Work on creative projects. Cut your hair. Meditate. Spend time with your friends. Help out someone who needs help.
Then, if your girlfriend stays or not, you’ll be in a better place than you are now.
© 2008 Meryl Cohen. Address questions and correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org. She is the author of Do What I Say: Ms. Behavior’s Guide to Gay and Lesbian Etiquette (Houghton Mifflin). Signed copies are available directly from the author.