Please send letters -- and updates for Labor Day -- to firstname.lastname@example.org.
My girlfriend and I have been dating for close to nine years. I'm ready to take the next step, marriage, but she isn't. She recently decided she needs time on her own to figure out what she wants, so we'll soon be packing up our apartment and going our separate ways. What's odd is that apart from the small detail that we're splitting up, we still get along great and are very much in love. What we're struggling with is what this separation means. Is it permanent or just a temporary break? I hope we end up back together, but so much feels uncertain at this point. Do "breaks" ever work? How long do you give them before you decide it's time to move on? Also, do we see other people in the meantime? The thought makes me pretty unhappy. I'm willing to give her some time and space, but only so she can figure out what's important to her, not so that she can be with other people. I have a hard time imagining getting back together if she takes that step. Is that fair or totally unreasonable?
– Wishing Things Were Different
A: I know some couples who took a break, dated other people, and got back together. It's possible. Not probable but possible. Usually when it worked those couples labeled their break as a breakup. They did whatever they wanted on their own until they came to the conclusion that they were happier together.
I know you don't want to hear this, but your best bet is to give yourselves as much freedom as possible. Don't set rules about dating. Call this a real separation and then take it day by day.
I believe it was Sting who once said, on the album "The Dream of the Blue Turtles," “If you love someone, set them free." So do that. She's given you no other choice. It might feel terrible, but better now than later.
Readers? Will she come back? Should he talk to her while she's gone? What can he expect from this break?