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Taking a break - What does it mean?


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Hello ENA,


My girlfriend of 2 years has become quite a workaholic lately, volunteering to take on additional assignments left and right, and leaving no time at the end of the week for us. She's only 21, and still figuring out exactly who she wants to be, mostly by committing every waking moment to saving the world through her hospital and army jobs. I can respect that, but I've definitely been feeling for a while now that we're heading in two separate directions with our lives. We sometimes go months without doing the things we used to enjoy several times a week. (Hiking, climbing, watching movies... sex) She's just been so committed to work that she doesn't have any passion or energy left over to invest in me, or to an extent, her own well-being. She used to be very committed to running, and we'd sign up for races together all the time, but I don't think she's been out running on her own even once this summer. Her apartment is a mess, and the potted flowers I bought her a while back ended up wilted and sitting on top of the refrigerator. (I haven't mentioned it to her, but they seem to be pretty symbolic of our relationship.) She just seems hellbent on establishing a career for herself. It's very adult of her, but she's only 21 for crying out loud! What's wrong with having a fun, balanced life!? Anyway, it feels like we need to take a break for now, if for no other reason than we just don't have any time for each other. I'm a busy guy too, with school, work, volunteering, and numerous hobbies of my own (none of which she seems particularly interested in anymore). Like she's told me herself, I really don't deserve to have to wait around for her so much.


We had a very mature conversation about all of this recently, and she brought up the possibility of taking a break before I could mention it myself. The only problem is, while it sounds good, neither of us really know what that means. Are we just friends now? Is a "break" really just a euphemism for a "break up"? Can we still hug and kiss each other if/when we do have time for each other in the future? How exactly do these things work?


A separate issue I'd like to think I'm okay with things just ending as they are, but it's been bringing up some pretty painful emotions for me as well. Before I was with her, I spent a solid year or two asking girls out and trying to get dates. I was single my entire life, right up until I met her at age 25. I just had no luck whatsoever. While people tell me I'm good looking, smart, tall, funny, friendly, whatever, after so much failure I still don't fully trust I'm eligible in the eyes of most women, especially the ones I find myself attracted to. I have a dreadful fear of falling back into that horrible abyss of loneliness. Just the fact that I have a girlfriend, even though I rarely see her anymore, has been a source of constant assurance in my life. Knowing that there's somebody out there who, at least in theory, cares about who I am and how my day went. I'm hardly dependent on her, but I'm not sure I can handle losing that. I feel like I'll be completely alone until I've graduated from school, gotten a nice car, maybe a house, and established myself financially the way most women seem to expect a 30 year old man to be before they'll consider seriously dating him. I'm already behind the curve. I don't know if I can make myself wait that long to get the basic relationship experiences (aside from the last 2 years) that most people already seem to have had at this point. I'll still be learning the ropes while everybody else is looking for a father for their children. This scares me beyond words. Does anybody have some sort of advice or reassurance?


Thanks for your time,


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If you can't make time for each other despite the busy schedules you really don't have much of a relationship to begin with. People that really care make time. And there really is no such thing as a break, it's a breakup with the chance that you or your former partner may meet someone else.


And fear of loneliness is never a reason to stay with someone. That reeks of desperation and will doom any relationship. Be confident in who you are and you'll do fine.

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