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L.A. Affairs: Sometimes, the best way to reboot a relationship is to take a break

L.A. Affairs
(Joseph Daniel Fiedler / For The Times)

I went to my girlfriend’s home one Saturday to hang out, a typical weekend. We went into her room, and I expected her to put on her copy of “Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” and show me all the things she figured out in her obsession with the game while I congratulated her passion with kisses. To me, I had just grown comfortable with that; I was happy with the way things were.

Instead, she blindsided me.

“Where do you see our relationship going?”

Totally clueless about where this came from, I did my best to keep my cool and responded with, “Well, I see us starting our college education soon and getting jobs. We’ll elope and get that free honeymoon that your parents said they’d do, and then with time we’ll adopt a couple kids.”

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She looked at me and said, “Honestly, with the way things are right now, I don’t see any of that happening.”

Hearing that from the person you love is absolutely devastating. She continued.

Past L.A. Affairs columns

“Look, you aren’t sweet or romantic anymore. All we do is just stay inside, and that’s just not who I am.”

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“But I’ve been doing all of this planning for our anniversary.” I was going to take her to a rock festival in Sacramento.

“But, Ian, you’re missing the point. You don’t do little romantic things anymore. You don’t rub my arm or buy me chocolates or anything that’s just a little sweet thing. So I don’t think that this is working out right now.”

The panic in my mind felt like volts of electricity, not just that I felt like I was buzzing but that my innards felt like they were being cooked.

“Ian, we might have to take a break.”

Crush.

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I told myself, “No, it can’t be over like this.” I closed up; felt like I had failed. I didn’t get all emotional or anything; no tears welled up. I shut down.

“Maybe,” she continued, “if we just don’t act like a couple for like a month, we can see if that spark is there still or not. Maybe then we can see if we can work things out or decide if we should just end it.”

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I was like a computer that had just been rebooted; I was shut down but then almost immediately brought out of it, but I couldn’t process anything just yet.

“Wait, so, we wouldn’t be breaking up?”

“Not really. We’d just have to lay out some ground rules about how we’re going to behave for a set amount of time.”

“OK. So what are you asking for?”

“Let’s just no longer be physically affectionate. No hand holding, no kissing, etc., for like a month. But we’ll still be a couple.”

“Well, what about our anniversary? That’s less than a month away? Would we really pretend that the two years didn’t mean anything?”

“No, we’ll still celebrate, but no promises about letting you get anything, though.”

I rolled my eyes and smiled, “All right, let’s try it.”

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“Wait, really?” she seemed surprised now that I was all booted up.

“Yeah, I mean, if you think it might work out better for us, then of course I’m willing to try it out.”

She returned my smile and met my gaze. “OK, let’s do it.”

Now, in the usual romantic comedy there’s some sort of time jump to a scene where they’re already out on the town, but those kinds of movies seem to forget to show the weird planning phase that happens between any couple. We planned out an entire platonic date.

Step 1: Go on a walk toward the nearest plaza.

Step 2: Get something to eat.

Step 3: Go see a movie.

And afterward, we decided to call it a night. We began by walking and talking together with no hand holding and no arms around each other. It was late August, so the summer heat had just began to ebb, but it would not have been raining as it might have been up north, or even on the other coast. It was the perfect weather for a pleasant walk and talk between two teenagers trying to figure things out.

“Dang, Jennifer Aniston is so hot,” my girlfriend said.

I laughed and retorted, “Yeah, I’d definitely go to more strip clubs if Jennifer Aniston was a stripper like in the movie.”

We laughed and quoted the movie, laughed some more and even talked about the food.

“Oh, man, could you believe all that food we got?” I said.

“Yeah, 20 bucks for all that disgusting Chinese food.”

“Yeah, with your stomach problems and that food, I was surprised we could even get through the movie without you getting sick.”

We laughed again, thinking about how we had to throw most of the food away and how the egg rolls dripped with grease when we bit into them.

We continued to talk about the incredible night we’d had for the rest of the walk to her home.

“Well, it looks like I better get goi-"

In front of her door, she had wrapped her arms around me and gave me a deep, gentle kiss.

The break didn’t even last a day, but it was definitely what we needed.

Ian Tash is an industrial technology student and a poet from Bakersfield.

L.A. Affairs chronicles the current dating scene in and around Los Angeles. If you have comments or a true story to tell, email us at home@latimes.com. We pay $300 a column.

MORE L.A. AFFAIRS:

What began as Tinder moments turned to ashes after Burning Man

When a relationship is all wrong, but you still want to hear those three little words...

How she plans to manifest Mr. Right -- and get off the dating merry-go-round for good


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