Teen Talk: Breaking up provides lessons for next time

03/20/2012 12:00 AM

03/20/2012 10:27 AM

DEAR KELLY: I've been going with a girl for about four months. Recently she stopped texting me as much. She never seems to have time to hang out and has stopped calling me "babe."

Anytime I ask what she is doing she says, "I don't know." She doesn't ask what I'm doing or how I'm doing or say anything else.

When I asked her if anything was wrong, she said no. But I can tell she is pulling away from me. We saw each other at the movies and she said hi but hung out with her friends instead of sitting with me or even talking much to me.

I really like her. So I don't want to break up, but I guess I feel like she may be breaking up soon.

Do girls go through phases like this or is this just my girlfriend? Do you think she is going to break up? Should I break up first so she isn't the one to do it?

– M.M.

DEAR M.M.: Good job trusting your intuition.

It seems like she might be breaking up soon. Either that or she is staying in a relationship but really doesn't want to be in one.

People like to label things they don't understand as a "phase" so they're easy to accept. This isn't a phase. It seems more like a choice to slow things down with you and pull away.

For a teenager, relationships are lessons. You learn what you want in a relationship, how you want to be treated, what the deal-breakers are, what you want in a partner and what the signs are that things aren't going so well.

Dating helps you develop self-awareness, and there's a lot you can learn from this relationship. You know what it feels like when the relationship is right and when something has changed. You're aware now that the vibe someone gives off may be different from what they say. You have learned that open communication is important – that when a partner doesn't talk to you or ask what you are doing or how you are, you feel unimportant and hurt.

The decision to break up should come because you no longer want to be in the relationship, not because you want to beat her to the punch. Break up because she has pulled away and no longer spends time with you. Break up because you are tired of feeling that something is wrong and that she never tells you what it is. Break up because you want someone who talks to you and treats you nicely. Break up because the relationship has run its course and it's time to move on. Break up for the right reasons.

Remember this the next time you decide you want to break it off with someone. It is better to be honest and tell them the truth than pull away and ignore them or be mean to them.

Treat them the way you want to be treated. Breaking up is never easy to do, but if you treat the other person with respect and kindness it can make the sting go away much faster.

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