Psych Central

Girlfriend of 8 years wants “break”

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

I’m a 23 year old male living in TX.

I wish I was writing to you on better terms but I, like so many others, have recently had my heart broken. Okay, it wasn’t broken, it was completely destroyed/crushed/shattered; I could go on but you get the idea. You might be thinking, “You’re only 23. What’s the worst that could have happened?” Well, in order for you to fully feel my experience I’d like to explain as much as possible.

I met her when I was a freshman in high school, she a junior. We began dating after two weeks of getting to know each other. We spent a lot of time together – more than our parents knowingly allowed. We soon fell in love and were deeply infatuated with each other. This was the first real relationship for the both of us; even our first kiss with the opposite sex. Things were great…until the inevitable day when she graduated from high school and left to college. We BOTH wanted the relationship to work so we stuck it out. We were several hours away and didn’t see each other for weeks or even months at a time but we hung in there. There was a period when we argued often on the phone, but I think we both knew it was because we actually wanted to see each other and as we all know, absence makes the heart grow fonder. I saw her whenever she could make it down (holidays, breaks, etc.) and I went up whenever anyone I knew was traveling within range of her college. The day came when I graduated from high school and I don’t think either of us could have been happier. I was no longer 7 hours away from her – I was within a one hour drive to Austin, TX. Lauren drove to San Antonio to see me every weekend and boy was it GREAT to be on our own. When I eventually got a car we would trade driving weekends. This was the routine for years up until recent events.

We took a few vacations – one to Las Vegas two years ago and one to New York last August. It was great to share these moments with her. I graduated from college last year and Lauren just graduated from Law School in Austin this past May. Lauren was offered a job at a law firm in Houston, where we were planning on moving, so we went to look at apartments just last March. We hadn’t lived in the same city since high school. You can only imagine how great things were looking. We were also planning a trip to England, Scotland, and Ireland this summer.

Knowing I was moving soon, I gave my two weeks notice at my job in San Antonio and was saving up money for the vacation and for the move.

At the end of April, Lauren began studying for her last final exams. She always became extremely stressed/depressed when studying for finals; enough to make her physically sick. It was something she had always done. She is the smartest person I know and if she wants something bad enough, she’ll get what she wants. I always supported her by telling her she had nothing to worry about and that I believed in her. She usually answered with, “But this one is different. It’s REALLY going to be difficult.”

When she was studying for her last exam she had about a week off to study for it. I asked if I could go over for a day on the weekend and she said she would probably just sleep since she had been studying so long and lost many hours of sleep. I later found out she slept for a while and then went out with friends in the evening. These were relatively new friends. Friends she had class with but never got to hang out with due to the rigorous demands of law school. I was upset and I let her know. I felt like she didn’t want me to be there. I wanted her to be with me during the week she was studying but she said she didn’t want to risk getting a lower grade because she would be distracted. I could tell she was stressed and I left her alone. We didn’t talk/text/chat/anything for a week. We had never gone that long without talking. After that week she told me she didn’t want to talk because I had been picking fights.

On May 16 she finished her last final exam and I was excited I could finally talk to her and see her. I asked her to come over that night and she said she was going to get some sleep. I was fine with that. I knew she was tired. So, Tuesday came (5/17) and I finally got to see her. She drove from Austin that night. She said she had been tubing earlier that day with friends from school.

I could tell something was different.

We went to a local restaurant where she told me she wanted to take a break. My heart was pounding extremely hard. I couldn’t eat anything on my plate. I was dead inside. She said she had been together with me since she was 16 and needed some space. I asked if there was someone else or if she had lost interest in me and she quickly shut that idea down. She swore she really wanted some time to be by herself. I didn’t get emotional at the restaurant but I did when I got home as she was standing in front of me. I wasn’t upset, I was completely miserable. I just didn’t understand. I told her things were about to get so good. We were so close to finally starting our life together. I had been waiting for this moment for so long. I guess I was the only one that wanted that. She told me she was still really attracted to me. She told me she still loved me and that this wasn’t “officially” the end. I looked her in the eyes and told her she had broken my heart.

She needed space. We hugged for minutes, she kissed me on the cheek several times, and drove away, watching me as she disappeared into the night.

It’s been close to a month after the breakup and three weeks since we last communicated (a few texts – I sent, she responded). She said I could call any time but I can’t seem to gather the strength to and I’m trying the no contact rule. I briefly talked to her at her graduation on May 21. Things were extremely awkward when talking. I could tell she didn’t really want to converse with only me. I was invited to her grad dinner but decided not to go – it was for the best, I’m sure. Her mother said Lauren felt like she was at a crossroad in her life.

So, she’s taking some classes in Austin until mid July when she’ll take the state bar exam. After that, she’ll move to Houston and there’s a chance I won’t be joining her. I never thought I would be in this position. This is a horrible, horrible feeling. How can one person just turn off like that from one month to the next? I have been running many different scenarios over and over in my mind and I just don’t want to feel like I didn’t do the absolute most to get her back into my life. I’ve never wanted something so bad.

I’m truly sorry about writing so much but I didn’t think I could summarize 8 beautiful years into a few paragraphs. I really want this to work. I’m not a vengeful guy, I truly want this girl as much as I did when I asked her to be my girlfriend not so long ago. I don’t know where things went wrong. I know she didn’t want to get married right away (at times we talked about our wedding song and how many kids we would have) but I never pressured her into it – her relatives sure did though. Is it this weight off of her shoulders from graduating? Does she just want to be able to let her hair down and hang out with friends for a while?

I’m now currently unemployed and am considering going back to school, possibly far away. I don’t have any motivation to design…or eat. If you want to lose weight, try the heartbreak diet. I think about this literally every other second for the entire day and I have yet to sleep a solid 7 hours.

This has been the most difficult month of my life.

Please give it all you got. I have.

Wholeheartedly,

A: “What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.”
~Richard Bach

Your heartfelt letter is certainly touching. While it may seem catastrophic, there is actually some good news here.

This is perhaps the most natural time in your lives to make a break. Your girlfriend has now forfeited her right to be privy to your life. She has made a decision that has fundamentally changed the nature of the relationship. I would honor that if I were you. I think you have done exceptionally well with the non-contact rule, and should now make plans for your life without her. The work that needs to be done here on the couples side of the equation is on her side. For you — you must pick up the pieces of your life and move on.

The good news is that it happened now, and not after a few more years of plans and promises and hope. Take her at her word. You want a full and equal partnership, not one where you will wonder how committed your partner will be.

Start investing in yourself, and if she does want to reconnect with you, take your time in deciding if you are willing to be with her again. It must be a joint decision, not just that she wants back in.

Finally, the good news is that she seems to have dealt with her feelings directly and has been very upfront with you. This is precious. I hear from people all the time how their partner has not been direct. Take this as a blessing in your life, and use it to take stock in your own.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 22 Jun 2011

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2011). Girlfriend of 8 years wants “break”. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 18, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/06/22/girlfriend-of-8-years-wants-break/

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