I have almost three associate degrees from the local Junior College.
Almost, because I am one of the world’s greatest procrastinators.
Along with being a procrastinator, I’m a perfectionist.
Ask Chris. I am always riding my deadlines down to the last minute, sometimes past that.
(Edit From Chris: It’s true, I had to email her to see when she was going to finish this article.)
I am one class short of my third degree, a Business Degree.
One of the most interesting and stressful classes I ever took was one on creative writing. And one of the most fun and most interesting conversations I have ever had was when I ran into my teacher. We sat down and had a glass of wine and talked about the millions of extension requests that she gets every semester.
There were people that gave her the old, “my dog ate it” routine. But the one she said she almost always would give extensions for was open writing assignments
“I didn’t know where to start. I didn’t know what I wanted to write.”
She said that she could always tell when people were lying.
Human nature responds to the collision of emotions and rational thought with something that is called cognitive dissonance.
Cognitive dissonance is the reason I found myself interested in psychology in the first place.
If you don’t know what that is let me educate you.
Every single person on this planet has experienced this feeling. It’s that feeling when you hate someone but you still kind of understand the reasons behind their actions.
As I said, EVERY single person on this planet, that means you too.
Common sense says that you just thought about a time when you had conflicting emotions.
Why is it so common?
Every single person who has ever gone through puberty knows the feeling.
All of those things your parents tell you not to do as a child, that you danced along the edges when deciding what to do as an adult.
If a man has made a decision to call off a relationship with you, you can bet that, unless you are a horrible person that you know of, at some point he has questioned that decision.
So, think back to a time when you had to ask for more time.
Go ahead, I’ll give you a minute.
I bet it didn’t even take you twenty seconds to remember one of the times you had to ask for a reprieve.
Why? Because even the most brown-nosing straight A student has her off days and needs some more time.
There are few words more daunting after a breakup when you are hoping for an explanation and instead you get “I just need some time.”
I mean generally when a woman would say that it would have a hundred different meanings.
We are so complicated, us women.
men are so much more likely to be straightforward.
When a man asks for time, he usually means he wants time, space, and distance.
Most men want straight forward. Most men want black and white. Most men want to be as far away from drama even if they are the ones that caused it.
So, what does it mean when he says he needs time to… and… something else. Generally, when anyone makes a declarative statement and then follows it up with a qualifier, the qualifier usually holds a bit of truth to it.
Everyone has a set of basic human needs. It isn’t as big on the scale as physical needs, like food, water, sleep, and safety, but self-actualization is important. Feeling like you have some semblance of control over the things that happen to you falls somewhere in between esteem and safety. Sometimes that means taking a moment to yourself and taking a step back to look at your life.
Men back away from things for various reasons, because they are stressed, either because of something within the relationship or outside of it.
In every relationship, there is a dominant partner and a submissive partner.
Don’t get excited. I’m not talking Fifty Shades type stuff.
I’m saying that one person gives in a little more than the other, makes sacrifices to keep the relationship going. In turn, they lose things. The power shifts to one side of the relationship.
There is a reason I spend so much time repeating myself when I say that a relationship is a partnership… a partnership… a PARTNERSHIP!!
If you can’t tell I believe in this.
There’s always truth to the things we say, even the lies, at least some truth.
So, when your boyfriend says he needs to take some time to himself, you can bet your butt that any reason he gives after that has SOME truth to it and you can tell by WHAT he says.
Most people don’t know what they want in a relationship.
In my experience, feeling that unbalanced weight of the relationship shifts to one side triggers a fight or flight response.
So, in the interest of staying positive about things, we are going to assume that your ex actually needs time and it wasn’t just an excuse to break things off.
What did his reason he gave mean? And what does it mean for you?
He Needs Time To “Figure Himself Out”
If he says he needs time to “figure himself out” then it’s likely that, on some level, he has let his autonomy escape him. Feeling like you aren’t living up to your potential is scary! When we are on our own, it is easy to give your full focus to your goals and achieving them, becoming the person you want to be.
If your ex needs time to figure himself out, it likely means that he feels like he has lost sight of his goals and ideals. It isn’t uncommon for the line between couples’ goals to become a little blurred after the weight of decision making begins to shift back and forth.
My guess is that your ex has realized how out of focus the views he had before the relationship have become and he is trying to remedy that feeling.
In every relationship, making the other person happy starts to take precedent over the things we see as important. Then keeping the relationship from derailing takes precedent. No one wants to be the reason things didn’t work out, so focus shifts to efforts not to rock the boat.
Did your ex put in a lot of effort into making you happy at the beginning, possibly over his own desires?
Did he give in when tensions rose later in the relationship in order to keep the peace?
If you see similarities in this scenario and your ex said he needs to figure himself out, then your next move should be to focus on how you can establish a more healthy relationship that takes into consideration what he wants.
He Needs Time To “Get His Life In Order”
If he says he needs time to “get his life in order” then it’s likely that he lost control of something in his life. Tell me you haven’t ever been in a situation in which your world felt like it was spiraling out of control. I bet you can’t.
They say time flies when you’re having fun. But being in a relationship kind of turns the rest of your life into a funnel.
Everything that happens, every choice that you make goes through a filter of, “How will this affect my relationship?”
I understand that line of thinking.
It’s what happens when you feel comfortable with someone. You think of the two of you as one unit.
But, suddenly it dawns on you that you are an us and you realize that if you ever weren’t an “us” your solo life would be out of control.
Realizing this makes a man feel like he needs to pull the things in his life into a pile and jump in the middle of it and flail around until he feels like it is his again.
If you find yourself in this situation. Your best bet is to get your own life in order. Why?
Well… the best part about this is that you have some serious power here.
Power you say?
Well, if he is truly struggling to feel like he didn’t lose a grasp on his life completely, then seeing that you were okay with not being in a codependent relationship will give him a reason to drop the fear that coming back will strip him of having his own life.
Dig in. Make your life your own. And when you get through No Contact and get the opportunity talk with your ex to rebuild even a casual relationship, show him that you have no intention of letting him sacrifice his interests.
He Needs Time To “Sort Things Out”
If he says he needs time to “sort things out” then it’s likely that he doesn’t even know what needs sorting. Usually, this means he has choices and he’s not sure what he wants to do about it.
Most men are afraid to be tied down. Having options means he has a way out if he wants one.
When someone says they need to sort things out, it is likely that they have found that they have options and they’re testing the waters.
Maybe he got an ego boost because girls were flirting with him.
Maybe someone else showed interest.
Maybe he got a taste of the single life.
And maybe he just saw other people who were happier or doing the couple thing differently.
Whatever triggered his decision, if you find yourself in this type of situation, your only option is to rise above it all. Do not give into the emotional drivers that make you want to jump up and down and say,
“I can be better! I can be whatever you want! I can make you happy!”
You don’t need to grovel. Besides… it wouldn’t work.
Every man needs to know that a woman who is PERFECTLY FINE on her own CHOOSES to be with him.
You have to be strong during No Contact.
Put every effort into being better at being solo.
It has the double perks of making him a little jealous and also making him feel like getting back together is in his best interest, like being with you is a privilege.
He Needs Time To “Work On Himself”
If he says he needs time to “work on himself” then it’s likely that he feels like he has let himself go on one if not all fronts.
If a man admits that he needs to work on himself, it is obvious that he finds something about himself unsatisfactory. But all men feel that way in some manner of speaking. All people do.
No one is 100% happy with themselves.
I have a friend who is a beautiful specimen of a man. Sure his face is not the American standard of beautiful, but he is a gorgeous and smart man.
You know what he asks me regularly?
He asks me if he should dye his hair.
He asks me if he should get a tan.
He asks me if he should focus on getting down to 4% body fat.
This beautiful and smart man doesn’t see how gorgeous he is… all he sees is his flaws.
I’m telling you… my friend isn’t just a 10 he’s a 14, and he will never see it.
This one, this situation, your only response is to move forward in your life.
Build yourself up. Read this article on getting on the right track and building confidence.
And then, when you get done with no contact, maintain your stature.
Don’t beg for him back. Compliment him on any progress he’s made, but the key is to not lay it on thick. And then withdraw.
Do you know what stakes a man puts on a woman?
What value he places on her?
I mean sure most of them look at women and find them attractive or not attractive, hot or not.
That’s at the beginning when they aren’t sure if they want to jump in just yet.
But when it comes to a relationship and whether or not to keep it, that decision doesn’t hang solely on whether or not he loves her.
It also balances on how having her in his life affects his life.
Chris calls this “becoming the Ungettable Girl.”
I am saying that every man wants to become someone they shouldn’t have access to.
Someone that’s cooler, hotter, and out of their league.
I think that if your ex is feeling like he’s lost control of any aspect of his life, then he is going over every decision he’s ever made. That means at some point he WILL review his decision to call things off. Usually, this will be after he’s had a moment to get a few of his other ducks in a row.
If, when he does, he sees that you are better than he thought you were, better that YOU thought you were, he’ll realize he made a mistake.
So, what I am I telling you to do?
Be a baddass.
Be the most baddass version of yourself that you can be, 100%, full-tilt.
Now, some of you are picturing the women you look up to.
But, check out this article, about women who grasped at their full potential. Some of them just did small things that had a large impact.
All I am saying is that you shouldn’t wait around or chase after him.
Be great and awesome on your own. He’ll see it, and he’ll realize that letting you go was the biggest mistake he’s ever made.