Let Me Explain: Breaking up and breaking out

I’m not sure that I buy in to this “break” thing. Let me explain.

Some couples stay together even when the passion dies because it’s easy. Some break up because one or both of them had a wandering eye. And still others, the indecisive ones, take a break in hopes that when they reunite, their problems will have disappeared. But isn’t taking a break just a layover en route to Splitsville?

Your relationship is supposed to be a safe place. When that safe place becomes unstable, life is at a standstill. The commute to school miraculously bends the space-time continuum, friends move their mouths with no audible sound and classes begin and end before you can say Indiana Jones.

We spend more time thinking and talking about our relationships than constructively working on them. Life is all about relationships, after all: you and your parents, you and your friends, you and whoever is making your Subway sandwich. When a relationship becomes unsatisfying, you must decide to either work on the problem or sever the relationship.

But romantic relationships are tricky, especially when you’re best friends, sharing everything from fried rice to the flu. Yet, there is no clause that says your partner in crime must always love you, and there’s no guarantee that a break will renew a once thriving bond. In fact, a couple on a break may find that they quite like all of the free time they happen upon and decide to break up completely. Breaks are never complete, however. There’s always a forgotten sweatshirt, a restaurant of memories and undeleted e-mails. There are mutual friends and lingering feelings.

Love is not unconditional; it is selfless, and it is dependent upon this. I don’t believe that true love always finds a way or that people can be 100 percent compatible. You must decide how much love is present and if you are committed to saving what once was.

There must be a reason for the break, not just “She doesn’t let me watch SportsCenter” or “He doesn’t like when I hang out with my friends.” Some college relationships began in high school with a note in a locker, a movie before curfew and then suddenly it’s four years later and you’re picking out names for your future kids. A person who leaves notes in lockers is not the same person who is paying off student loans four years later, nor should they be.

There’s a catalyst for every feeling, and a break cannot be successful if it isn’t clearly defined by the couple. Will you have contact with each other during the break? How long will the break last? Are you open to dating other people? And, for Pete’s sake, do you change your relationship status on Facebook?

At some point, everyone must come to the realization that they cannot be enough for their partner. Before someone can function in a relationship, they must first be able to create their own happiness as a singleton. An important part of life is that, at some point, you will be alone, and you must be prepared for this. Couples break up and lovers disappear, but you and your thoughts will remain, obsessively reviewing the bad times and wondering what could have been done differently.

Is taking a break a good idea? Who the hell knows? None of us is an expert, but we all have the scars of past relationships that were too broken to repair. If enough love exists between two people, they will do whatever it takes to keep afloat. And, if they are very lucky, they will figure out a way to fly.

Katie Lewis is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences.