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Cher
Cher, Relationship Enthusiast
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 18742
Experience:  Extensive experience as Educator/Teacher, M.A., Counselor, Spouse, Parent, Psychic Advisor
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Taking a break in a relationship

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My beau and I have been dating for a little over a year. He is healing from a divorce caused by the wife's infidelity. We met only a year after they separated. The divorce was final in December. Now they've been apart 2 years. He has two children with whom I am also involved. I love them, and they reciprocate. Last week, he told me that he needed to take a break from our relationship. I've been devastated ever since. He says he needs some space to really figure out what he wants: says he is not ready for the level of commitment we've developed; says that his heart is not 100% available to give to me & that's not fair to me; also says that he loves me (said that for the 1st time during this conversation); he wants me in his life, & he doesn't want to lose me. He just feels "lost" because of the divorce and the pain. We are still texting & calling but not daily. I'm lost about how to handle this. I'd like some Christian advice.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Cher replied 5 years ago.
HelloCustomer and thank you for your question.

I'm sorry to hear you find yourself in this upsetting situation; I know you're hurting and would like to help.

It would help me to know a few more details before sending you a complete answer:

Did his request to take a break from your relationship just come completely out of the blue; had he not hinted about this or said anything in the recent past that could have implied he was leading up to this?

How often were you seeing each other before, and were you communicating daily with texting, calling, email, etc.?

Had you discussed advancing your level of commitment re: engagement or marriage, before he told you this, or was the 'level of commitment' he referred to, related to your dating schedule and feelings for each other?

Does he give any indication he might be interested in someone else, and that's why he's asking you to take a break at this time? Has he dated you exclusively since his separation/divorce?

Has he had contact with his ex-wife since the divorce became final in December?

Do he and his ex-wife share custody of the children? If not, what is the custody arrangement?

Thanks for all your additional detail.

Cher

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Cher,

Thanks for your response. Here are the answers to the questions:

Did his request to take a break from your relationship just come completely out of the blue; had he not hinted about this or said anything in the recent past that could have implied he was leading up to this? It was not a complete surprise. Over the last 5 months, he's talked to me about the intensity of our relationship and how he preferred to not feel obligated to spend so much of our free time together, to not feel so obligated to call every night, etc. We've discussed this in the past, although the first four months of our relationship he was eager and consistently desiring time together.

How often were you seeing each other before, and were you communicating daily with texting, calling, email, etc.? We generally saw each other at least once/week, sometimes twice a week. We communicated daily via texts and phone calls.

Had you discussed advancing your level of commitment re: engagement or marriage, before he told you this, or was the 'level of commitment' he referred to, related to your dating schedule and feelings for each other? We had discussed just being boyfriend/girlfriend. No "I love you" had been exchanged until the night we had the "take a break" conversation. He then confessed that he'd been wanting to tell me he loved me for quite a while, but that he was trying to be reserved as his heart hasn't healed from the divorce. Before we parted, he told me that he loved me, didn't want to lose me, wanted to keep me in his life, but just needed some space to find himself and figure out what he really wants. Says he feels lost in his life and that every day is a struggle. We had not discussed engagement or marriage.

Does he give any indication he might be interested in someone else, and that's why he's asking you to take a break at this time? Has he dated you exclusively since his separation/divorce? I asked him if he was doing this, but he swears "that's not what this is about." I asked him if he was trying to reconcile with his ex-wife, and he said absolutely not. He explained several reasons why that would never be. I asked him about dating during the break, and he said that he had no plans to do that. We promised each other that if that variable changed, that we would tell the other. Not sure that I totally trust that, but that's all I have to go on.

Has he had contact with his ex-wife since the divorce became final in December? He and his ex-wife are in daily contact. They still live in the same gated community and exchange the kids or information about the kids daily. It's a hot/cold relationship. They have horrible fights and periods of great harmony. She has a great deal of control over his moods, and he gets furious if her boyfriend is at her house when he drops the kids. I feel it's a very unhealthy relationship they maintain, and I know there are instances where she's toyed with him about being sorry about her infidelity and wishing she was with them on family vacations, etc. She's called him crying about me int he past, etc. He says that he wishes he could "carve" her out of his life, but she still has much control.

Do he and his ex-wife share custody of the children? If not, what is the custody arrangement? Custody is shared. One week on, one week off, with Tuesdays alternating. He gets the kids every afternoon from the bus/babysitter regardless, and they get dropped/picked up accordingly.

Thanks for you help. I'm just not sure how much contact to maintain. How long I should wait. IF I should wait. If there's hope. I'm devastated and I miss the kids terribly. Right now, we are just "playing it by ear" regarding communication. He sent me a doz. roses for my birthday with a "love" note. He and the kids each mailed a birthday card with LOVE, so I had three card. He called and they all sang to my on speaker phone, etc. We are still texting every other day or so and talking via phone every few days. I'm very, very confused. Help?
Expert:  Cher replied 5 years ago.
Hi again, and thanks for your detailed and helpful reply.

Initially, after reading your question, and before receiving your reply, I had thought I would advise you to forget about this relationship, move on with your life and start seeing other people.

After reading your responses, I think you should give him a chance to sort out whatever is bothering him and/or causing him to come to this decision of a 'break', but put a time limit on it.

His actions and words do sound like he is sincere, and cares for you deeply. The fact that the kids love you and you all get along so well, is wonderful. Very often in divorce situations, the children will resent the father's girlfriend/mother's boyfriend, become sullen, difficult, and shout things like 'you're not my mother', etc., when discipline is warranted, or an argument occurs. They also usually play one end against the other, getting 'extra' perks from each parent, due to the divorce situation. It's just so nice to hear that the kids and you get along so well.

I believe, for now, you would do well to keep up the contact via phone, text, email and continue to play it by ear, but as I mentioned above, set a time limit for yourself; perhaps a month, if you feel that is fair. The break will give him time to figure out what he wants, or if he wants to continue his relationship with you, and it will give you the same chance, with time apart, even though you miss him, to decide what you feel will be best for you.

If after a month, he doesn't tell you anything has changed, and doesn't ask you to be part of his life, again, you may want to start seeing other people. A relationship involves two people, two personalities, two sets of feelings; his request for a 'break' was not done in a malicious manner, he obviously cares about you and you said you sort of saw it coming. That's HIS decision. Compromise is key in a relationship, so you're granting him what he so nicely requested, after he explained to you why he felt you should take a break at this time, and that was very good of you. You don't want to lose sight of what YOU want and need, and if the break he wants, expands to months, you might feel you want to see other people and be in another relationship.

If you agree that about a month is a good amount of time to be fair to him, and allow him to sort out what he needs to do, then stick to that timeline. Don't tell him that, just make it a timeline in your own mind, and see how things go.

Continue communicating, and maybe if he sees you less, he'll 'talk' more, and share some of his concerns with you, so you better understand his need for the 'break' and/or his feelings for you. If you've been with him for this long, and he does sound like a decent, caring guy, give him 4 weeks and then make a decision about where you'd like to be in YOUR life at that time, and present it to him. Let him know how you feel, but don't hang your heart on your sleeve, as that is not necessary while you're apart.

I hope things work out the way you want them to, and please let me know if you would like to discuss this further.

Cher
Cher, Relationship Enthusiast
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 18742
Experience: Extensive experience as Educator/Teacher, M.A., Counselor, Spouse, Parent, Psychic Advisor
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