Ask Lynn-He Wanted To Take A Break…

She thinks the relationship is still worth fighting for. Is she in denial?

By Lynn Harris

ear Lynn,
I was in a relationship off and on for two years. We lived together for a year, then suddenly he was gone and I really don’t know what happened. He said he needed time to get his head straight. But we were still seeing each other about once a week
Time and space are perfectly legitimate things to need and/or take.
and talking a few times a week. I am trying to give him time and see what happens, but I don’t know if I should. We were happy together and something’s happened that made him move out but I thought it was temporary. I am so confused, because when we are together, it is so good and feels so right. Should I just give up, or give him the time he needs to “get his head straight”? It has been five months since he left. How much time is enough?
– Sad and Confused

Dear Sad and Confused,
Under the circumstances, I’d say five months is enough. Way more than enough. At this point, Mr. Mystery doesn’t need to get his head straight. He needs to get his story straight, and he needs to get his butt straight to you for an honest, mature talk about what the heck is going on.

But that’s not happening. The honest talk didn’t happen five months ago when it should have, and it’s sure as heck not happening on your weekly dates at Chez Getting Strung Along. I don’t have a lot of data to work with here (neither do you, apparently), but it seems to me that the reason things feel so good and right when you’re together is that (1) you are gazing at him through hope-colored glasses, and (2) he’s at ease because (he thinks) since you’re technically not in A Relationship, you don’t have any of those cumbersome relationship things to worry or talk about.

Alas, he thinks wrong. That’s not how “taking time” or “needing space” or whatever you call it works. Time and space are perfectly legitimate things to need and/or take. The question is how you do it—how you do it in a way that is respectful of both your needs, in a way that moves things forward instead of keeping you stuck. So it’s not too late now to have the conversation you should have had five months ago. Basically, he needs to answer this three-part essay question—and you need to ask it: Why do you need time, what questions about the relationship do you think this time apart will help you answer, and on what date can we check in to evaluate how things are going? Not living together but still hanging out accomplishes nothing except your tearing your hair out and his avoiding difficult conversations and decisions.

I know you are sad and confused. And scared that if you rock the boat at all, then he’ll really leave. But this limbo is only making things worse for you. The longer you let it last, the longer it will eat at your soul and, possibly, break your heart. You deserve an honest conversation at least, to say nothing of an actual boyfriend. That’s one thing I hope you will get straight.

Lynn Harris ( is co-creator, with Chris Kalb (, of the award-winning website — you can visit BG's blog to discuss this letter! A longtime journalist, Lynn has written about dating, gender, and culture high and low for Glamour, Marie Claire, The New York Times,,, and many others. She is currently the communications strategist for Breakthrough, a transnational organization that creates pop culture to promote human rights. Submit your own dating questions for Ask Lynn via Your question may be answered in a future column.
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