We’re taking a break – on his terms

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My boyfriend and I have been on a break for three weeks now. He was the one who decided this, saying we both need to work on ourselves, and to work out the accumulation of frustrations in the relationship. At first I didn't agree because I was in shock, but now I understand and think we both have made strides to be better.

We’ve been FaceTiming and texting daily. I think our communication is 10 times better, however we are at an impasse on how to move forward. I talked about how it is important to keep taking steps forward to keep the momentum going. He expressed that he is not ready to take steps (for example, I suggested zooming to watch one of our favorite shows together, which he shot down), doesn't know when he'd be ready, and that he feels pressured when I ask what we can do to meet each other in the middle. He said we are still together (ie. boyfriend and girlfriend), but not dating (ie. not doing couple-y things). He said he is committed and a lot more optimistic about the trajectory of this relationship, but I am really confused by these parameters.

Admittedly, I get disheartened from time to time when our progress stays stagnant. What is some general advice for how to navigate this? I want this relationship to be a priority for both of us, but the situation is so delicate that I don't want to push him too hard. I fear he'll change his mind and want to break up with me. I don't like this power dynamic and wish I could help him understand why. I want to explain the urgency of meeting each other halfway as we work our way back together. Thank you so much for your advice with this!

– Disheartened

"I don't like this power dynamic."

I don't either. If he doesn't want to see you, and you feel like you're running in circles to become worthy of his company, it's bad for you. This creates new resentment.

If you're FaceTiming and texting every day because that's what works for him, he not thinking much about what's best for you. Or he thinks he always knows best, which is just as frustrating.

I know you fear a breakup more than anything, but the relationship isn't going to work if it's on his terms, at your expense. Tell him that talking to him daily, without any promise of growing together in person, is making you focus less on self-improvement and more on meeting whatever goals he has for you. That's not healthy.

He might feel more optimism right now, but you feel like you're trying to prove you can follow the rules. It's like some test. It doesn’t feel like you're working together.

A breakup would be difficult, of course, but maybe a real break – like, no talking – would make it easier for you to focus on yourself. If he won’t meet you halfway with clear intentions, tell him it would be healthier for you to be on your own. I know you don't want to lose him – I get that – but you don't want to lose yourself either. If it's too difficult to explain over a FaceTime, put it in writing. Let him know how being back together might look. Maybe offer alternatives to this break, like therapy.

Because if you're not together, you're not together.

– Meredith

Readers? Time to walk away? How about the power dynamic?