Relationship is on a break - now what?

Hi,

About a year and a half ago, I met a girl. We had been becoming closer and closer as friends, and eventually in June of this year we began a romantic relationship. But about a month ago she decided that we should go on a break. I didn’t agree, but I had to respect her decision. Basically we aren’t together, but we have not foreclosed the possibility of getting together again. We are still friends and see each other often in various places.

Nothing bad had been happening in our relationship. We were chaste, we spent time with friends and with each other, we prayed and went to Mass together every day, and we had fun together. I’m not going to say it was perfect, but we didn’t have any significant issues I can think of. Of course, I am aware that I could just have ignored them.

She rather suddenly decided that our relationship was not leading to marriage, and she said that it was because her parents talked to her and told her that we were wrong for each other. I asked her why, and generally they did not seem to have a reason or think that I was a bad person in any way, but just said that we were not right for each other. Eventually she said some reasons they had, and then she added some reasons why she agreed with them. Although she said she agreed, most of what she said sounded like she was obeying them, not agreeing with them, and her reasons seemed to come out of nowhere.

Anyway, their reasons were: She doesn’t lead the relationship as much as I do, I don’t have a good work ethic, and both of us are spiritually immature. Her reasons were: She thinks I have not fully overcome my pornography addiction, she thinks we fight too much and that I easily anger, she thinks she needs to fix me, and she thinks I am not ready to be a husband or father.

I believe them all to be valid reasons not to get married. But we weren’t about to get married. I’m 25, she is 26, and both of us have two years left on graduate school (her) and law school (me). Furthermore, I think they are exaggerated or invented. She was leading too, just not as much as me. I do struggle with work ethic as a law student, but I actually have two part time jobs in addition to my full time student work despite my mentality. I certainly think I am not able to provide for a family right now, but I don’t think that means that I never will be able to. I don’t know what is spiritually immature about us, considering how much we pray, read books, and attend Mass; it may be because they are Protestant and she and I are Catholic. We don’t fight, we debate and it never got out of hand. I got angry one time at one of our friends, and I believe that since then I have not even come close to it because I am making efforts to not be as critical (it was over a theological point). She never said anything about me that she needed to fix, so I don’t know why she said that, and she actually repeatedly said that I would make a good husband and father, so I don’t know why she said that suddenly either.

I have struggled with porn. Five months ago, I finally admit that I was unable to stop, and I threw myself at the Lord to help me overcome the addiction, as opposed to simply “white-knuckling.” About two months ago I relapsed, but though I stumbled, I did not fall back into the addictive mindset. I have increasingly developed strategies to avoid the temptation (avoiding R-rated movies, putting the computer in an open area, talking to my roommate, exercising) and I have prayed about it a lot. She knows all of this. I’m not saying that it is not a problem because it is. I know that I am vulnerable and she is right to worry about that. I don’t feel like lust has impacted our relationship, though - I really have worked to change how I view women and now I am more gentlemanly and respectful than I’ve ever been. I would tell her right away when something was tempting me and we would immediately deal with it. I did not hide anything from her.

Honestly, I don’t think it’s fair to ask people without first-hand knowledge to judge the merits of our relationship, although I will accept given advice. I feel very strongly that the Holy Spirit has been, and still is, calling both of us to eventually marry each other. I have researched priesthood but I do not think it is right for me. I have tried to force myself to get over her but I can’t deny what I feel deep down is right, and what prayer constantly leads me to. I also know that I have to accept that we are not together right now.

What I would like to know is when I should try to talk to her about getting back into the relationship. I know that I need to put my efforts to overcome porn, be less critical, and plan for my working future into overdrive. I know that if I don’t work on myself I don’t deserve her anyway. What I don’t know is how long it is appropriate to wait. Should I wait until I have good plans in practice? Should I wait until we are nearly ready to marry? Should I just wait until she feels the same way I do? Should I try to convince her parents that they are wrong? Or, after all, should I try to force myself to take some time away from her so that I can truly stabilize myself?

I know I’m asking a lot of advice with little information, but thanks to those who are willing to respond. I am perfectly aware that I might be infatuated, delusional, or silly, but I definitely am not right about everything, and only by getting other, detached perspectives can I understand my follies.

Thanks and God bless you.

The pupose of dating is find a mate. Along the way, we all get hurt by people who break off a relationship or take a rest. I say, move on and date others. Ask God teach you wisdom from this experience and be thankful for the experience.

I say keep working on avoiding porn and the other areas where you see you need growth. Do not be hard on yourself as we all have areas where we need growth - growth is part of life.

If you are meant to resume the relationship it will happen, so do not worry about it. Meet other women, date and enjoy the people God brings into your life. You will know when you meet the right person and they will also know. Just move on and be happy with the gift of life and allow God to mold and fashion you into his image.

I would tend to agree with your former girlfriend that porn is a problem, and if she is right about problems with work ethic and anger problems those also would be very big problems in marriage.

Dating is the road to marriage; it is courtship. When you are dating you are essentially analyzing a prospective spouse. You should strive to eliminate your varying problems and perhaps chase after her once more after your problems are solved.

I think your girlfriend and her parents are very prudent, and if you manage to marry her in the future, you’ll be very lucky indeed.

If you have to take a break from a relationship there is no relationship. :wink:

She rather suddenly decided that our relationship was not leading to marriage,

This is all you need to know, everything else is just clouding things up for you.

I’m sorry if this sounds harsh, I tend to speak frankly, but I mean this in the kindest way possible. Your relationship is not “on a break”, that’s just her way of trying to let you down gently. It doesn’t matter whether she came to this decision herself or if her parents talked her into it, she decided your relationship together wasn’t right for her. You need to accept this. You also need to (as you said) work on becoming the person you know God is calling you to be, so that you’ll be truly ready for the person you are really supposed to marry, whoever that might be.

Blessings to you.

If I were you I would probably ask her how long she needs to decide whether to “break up or make up”. So you’ll know the status of your relationship. Her parents might advice her, but at the end it is her decision how to continue her relationship with you. Her concerns of porn addiction, controlling and anger managment issues are valid if they are true. So continue to work on these if you feel you need to, but not for her, instead, for your own benefit. God works in misterious ways. If she is the one for you she’ll come back. Or God may have someone else in mind for you. You’ll find out when it is the right time for that.

I agree that pornography is a problem and you have to work on that. I am a little shocked by the statement of your having problems with “work ethics,” what do you mean by that? I may get a little out of the main subject but you say you are a law student. Do you realize that as a lawyer your life is ruled by the rules of ethics and you can be disbarred for not.following work ethics? You can’t even take the bar if you don’t pass the MPRE! There is a massive problem if you are not following the rules of ethics and as a law student you are bound by them too. So of it true that you are not following the ethics rule, she is totally right and my advice is to stop fooling with that, and either start taking the work ethics seriously and realizing how important they are, or go to another career. I am sorry but if you can’t follow ethics you can’t be a lawyer.

Having said that I am a lawyer (and my fiancee is a lawyer too) and I want to bring up something very important for lawyers when it comes to relationships. What you see as a simple debate that doesn’t get out of hands, for others who are not lawyers and haven’t been through a law school, it is not a “debate” it is a fight and anger problems. The way lawyers are trained in an adversarial system gets so ingrained in you, that you see it as very normal but the rest of the world doesn’t see it as normal. (Have you ever heard that nobody likes lawyers, well there is a reason for that). Now I am not saying to go and just date lawyers, but you need to be clear that if she is not a lawyer, what you see as a simple debate to her is dominance and a desire just to fight, and in your case she already complained about it, so you have right there a serious issue. Also, no I don’t think it is her parents, I do think is her. What probably happens is that she was afraid to bring it up to you because whether we like it, a lawyer’s personality is intimidating for many. I think that maybe her parents convinced her of telling you how she felt, but I am sure that what she says is a real problem in the relationship and it is a very common one between lawyers dating non lawyers.and even with relatives. When she says she doesn’t lead the relationship I can bet anything that she feels you are dominant, again you may not realize it, but you need to understand that the way you see thing is not the same as she does, so no her reasons are not exaggerated at all.

Another point is that the reason we date is precisely so we can discern over marriage. Don’t forget that attorneys have one of the highest rates of divorce from all professions. You don’t want to be a statistic so you do need to use dating as discernment. I don’t think you should talk her into getting back as her concerns are very reasonable and are the reason why so many attorneys end up divorcing. You need to tone it down when it comes to relationships with non lawyers and that takes quite a practice. Convince yourself that she is right (because yes the odds are that she is right) and yes, I think you need some time to work more on yourself and your goals, get over the need for debates, pray and try to become.your best. And please, please don’t take the ethics matter slightly because that is one thing that has the potential to destroy tour entire career.

Pornography addiction is usually accompanied by other addictive behaviors one may not be aware of like anger, control, alcohol, TV, gluttony, and many others. These are all symptoms of other problems the lay dormant deep down within us. You are on the right track by avoiding pornography and praying but you also need to find out the cause of this behavior. If you do not treat the cause you will move from one addiction to another. Sometimes it takes a stall relationship with someone we love to awaken us to how much progress we have made in healing our brokenness. By focusing on the relationship status you may be overlooking the lesson this situation holds for you.

Peace be with you

Thank you for all the responses. I did not expect so many.

I agree that courtship (that’s what we called it) is a process of discerning marriage. I am not interested in seeking out a relationship. I am open to the possibility of meeting someone else who I think I might marry, but I am not going to try to be in a relationship just for the sake of being in a relationship. I have very high standards for a relationship, that’s why I waited so long to be in this one. I think that trying to find someone else to be the object of my affection as a way of getting myself to move on would just lead me down a path of being dependent on relationships. I know that right now we are not in a relationship. I know I need to accept that (I nearly have).

I appreciate the idea of moving on, but I’ve tried to do that intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually and it doesn’t work. It has been about a month. I agree that generally one should move on when a relationship has a problem, but I am not going to spend any more of my time trying to convince myself that everything I think about her is wrong. If she looks like she has moved on, or finds some other happiness, or simply is out of my life, then I can tell myself that I must move on also. But that hasn’t happened. She has been alternately friendly and mean to me, and arguably our actions have a few times in the last month been those of a couple, despite our agreement. She looks like she might even wish that I ask to be together again. And we see each other at daily Mass, pro-life meetings, and bible study meetings. I do not think it is wise for me to pretend that it is clearly over when it is very much not clear.

As for “you will know when you meet the right person and they will also know,” I have evidence to the contrary. I have talked to an old couple who married after taking a break because one of them thought they would never get married. I have read similar stories. I think it’s not likely, but it definitely happens.

She actually debates with me more than I with her. I use the present tense because she has done that since I met her, irrespective of our relationship status. I actually have always been a person who does not mind conflict, but it’s not our arguments that she was referring to anyway. She was referring to the way that I am susceptible to shouting and being blunt. Some of that is how I was raised and my personality. But sometimes I just get too passionate about little things, and for other people that is abnormal. For me it is normal. She loves arguing, only she is gentler about it. So I’ve worked on quieting myself, humbling myself, and speaking very calmly and gently. I have improved on it a lot, and our relationship actually was virtually free of argument (except for friendly ones) for about a month before she told me all this. In fact, I recently did apologetics training where I learned how to ask questions instead of telling people things. So I don’t see that as a current problem, except in being vigilant not to revert to my weaknesses.

I have an addictive personality. Recognizing that I was addicted to porn for about ten years of my life made me realize that I had dabbled in other addictions, to video games, poker, statistics, books, and tv shows. Having balanced my life with prayer, social activities, and work I no longer struggle with temporary addictions like I used to. As for the cause, it is probably because my mother is a paranoid perfectionist, and my dad never was around when I was young. Also because as someone with Asperger’s, not analyzing things has never been an option, so the only way to stop thinking so much was to find something else to obsess over. My family has a history of addiction, and that is why I avoid casinos, alcohol, and generally any place where people do stuff in excess.

Honestly, I think that, while I can never eliminate my problems, I have been successful at moderating anger and laziness (what I meant by lack of work ethic, not lack of ethics). I think that I have more to go for pornography, which is why I think that one is a legitimate concern, especially for a potential wife.

I appreciate the advice about my relationship, but I really am asking to what extent I need to focus on myself before I talk to her again. Part of me thinks that I would have to tell her if I decide that I still want to be with her, so that she can tell me where I stand. Part of me thinks that I should wait until I am sure that she would want to be with me, either because she hinted at it or said so. Part of me thinks that I should avoid doing anything about it until I am certain that I don’t have other parts of my life to improve on (as in, I’m ready to be married). I’ve heard all three of these.

Thanks!

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