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You Asked: Is a Break Just Guilt-Free Cheating?

Dear Sugar,

I have been going out with the most perfect man for almost two years. I’m 21 and he’s 23. He tells me he loves me constantly, he compliments me nonstop, and whatever I need or want he does. We haven’t had a single fight until a few days ago when he accidentally read a message addressed to me from my best friend. In the note, my friend wondered if I had ever asked for a break like I wanted. Although there's nothing wrong with our relationship, I feel like I’m too young to be so serious, but I knew that asking for a break would be extremely painful for him. I feel conflicted because although I've never loved anyone more than him, I still get curious when other guys show interested in me, and on occasions I want to act on it. I feel this way very rarely and I wish I didn’t feel it at all, but I do.

When my boyfriend asked about the message he had found, I told him I wanted a break to get some things out of my system. He was really upset and I felt horrible for putting him through the pain that I did. I then thought that the sooner I got these feelings out of my system, the sooner we could get back together. When he called me the next night, he was upset to find out that the reason why I didn’t pick up the phone was because I was with some one else. He told me that he felt sick the entire day; he couldn’t eat or sleep. He also seemed convinced that I couldn’t really love him if I could so quickly be with another man. He considers my definition of a break to be “guilt-free cheating” and seemed unsure if he can trust me now. I guess I just need to know if taking a break was a good idea after all and if we'll be able to make it.
— Needing My Space Sally

To see DearSugar's answer,


Dear Needing My Space Sally,

Being so young in such a committed relationship can be hard sometimes, but if you're having a wandering eye, and thinking about acting on it, I think taking a break was a good idea. The fact that your boyfriend found out the way he did is most definitely adding insult to injury — it sounds like this completely blindsided him. The sense you feel when other men look at you and find you attractive is unbeatable, sure, but it doesn't mean you can't enjoy the confidence boost just because you're in a relationship with someone — it's all about how you react to other people's advances.

I'm glad you asked for alone time instead of cheating on him, but before you get back together, be sure you've gotten whatever it is out of your system. Make sure you're going to be 100 percent committed to your boyfriend since it's very clear that he loves you. As for his definition of taking a break, yes, you can look at it as guilt-free cheating, but that will only create more tension when and if you get back together. Breaks mean something different for every couple. Sometimes they make them, sometimes they break them, but at the end of the day, if you both love each other and make the effort to make the relationship work, a break can be irrelevant. I wish you luck.


evenxstarx evenxstarx 9 years
It's totally normal to feel this way at age 21 .. but if you feel like you can't ignore these feelings then you need to break up with him. Putting your relationship "on hold" so to speak is unfair to him, especially since you're using the time apart to meet other people. It sounds like you have a wonderful guy, so if I were you I'd seriously think about how necessary this is before you go through with it and lose him. Best of luck.
Janine22 Janine22 9 years
Think about how you would feel if you knew that he was dating or having sex with another women, right now. Try to imagine how you have made him feel. I never have understood the whole taking a break thing. If you really love someone and want to be with them, you will. If you are not ready for a relationship then you should really break up with him and allow him to try to move on from you. Either he is not the right guy for you, or you are not ready for a relationship. It is not fair to keep him waiting and wondering what the hell you are doing. I think that is really cruel.
Silverlining10 Silverlining10 9 years
strong** not song...
Silverlining10 Silverlining10 9 years
A break is guilt-free cheating. You're probably turned-off by him because he's being too serious/ too song. He's practically obsessed with you. You don't want a man that loves you more than you love him. It seems like you're not very into him, anyway, so of course you want to date other guys. Let him go. Some girl out there wants a guy like him!
RockAndRepublic RockAndRepublic 9 years
Id have had more respect for you if you'd just broken up with him and not place any expectation on what you think should happen afterwards. It's unfair and not very mature to just want to envelope yourself in a relationship again after you're done finding yourself with whoever...Do what you want, just not at his expense.
richandfamous10 richandfamous10 9 years
I don't think you don't love him because you are scared of being too young. You can love someone a lot but still feel really scared about being in a serious, committed relationship at a very young age. It could potentially lead to marriage, meaning you will never "date" in your 20's. Some people are okay with it and accept it. But it is normal to want to experience dating. I think the biggest thing you did wrong was move on so quickly...from your post, it seems you dated someone immediately afterward. Break/break-up/whatever you call it, that is so hurtful to do to someone you love(d). Good luck.
MissChita MissChita 9 years
Hello, Everyone else's comments in one way or another have summed up what it is that you need to do. Anyhow, if you want to date, that's cool. No one is faulting you for that. You are pretty young, and sometimes us young folks want to see the 'world' or do some 'things' before we settle down. But dont hurt anyone else in the process. I have been there before, and have unfortunately broke some hearts doing this. And I wasnt truthful. I pulled that 'I want a break' crap, knowing I didnt want to be in a relationship anymore. You may very well love this guy. But you are not wanting a relationhip. Just be honest with him and tell him that. And honey, dont expect him or even want him to wait on you while you do your thing. Let him find a nice lady who is on the same level as him. You are just not there, and that's ok. Once again, just be honest. And yes, he will be hurt, but later on down the line, he will thank you for not holding him down in vain (even if he doesnt talk to you ever again, it'll come to him later). Let him go, do your thing, please be safe (too much going on out there), and stay honest. You'll appreciate it too!!! --Best of luck to you!!
sparklestar sparklestar 9 years
I don't do breaks. I don't see how getting with another man is figuring out how you feel about the last one. You are messing with his emotions and it's not fair.
platinum89 platinum89 9 years
i was in the position your boyfriend was in.... my ex at the time wanted a break and that night that the break was established, did things with another girl (at least hooked up). it hurt a lot. a break to me means that you're still together, but you can see other people... as in date... but you fill the other person in on every single thing that is going on. this never happened to me and i concidered it cheating... and still do because you are not fully broken up. just let him go. from my experience after getting back together, i couldnt fully trust him because he did more with that girl in one night than we ever did in our entire relationship. if you do end up staying with him, its going to be a lot harder on him to not think of what ifs; you'll have to do some serious convincing. if you felt that you needed to see what else was out there, the moment you felt that you shouldve said something to your guy. he has a right to know. being 100% honest is crucial in a relationship, because when the truth isnt always told, it hurts more than if the honest fact was just stated. if i were you i'd sit down and think about things then sit him down and talk to him.
happiness80 happiness80 9 years
Some nice girl with an open heart in this guy's near future will then wonder endlessly why he just doesnt want to settle down and is scared of commitment. In case you still havent got it yet - let him GO NOW!
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
I don't do breaks, never have and never will.
avettafawna avettafawna 9 years
Wow, not to judge, but you were with another guy the NEXT DAY? Yes, this doesn't seem like a break or even cheating, but simply trying to keep a guy you're no longer in love with around as a back up in the case that none of these new relationships work. Seems pretty cowardly to me. Be a real woman and let the poor guy go.
kurniakasih kurniakasih 9 years
P.S. Like Tidal Wave, I had a very serious relationship starting when I was 17 to 22 yrs old with my ex-fiancee, and never once I dated anyone else or asked for a break, because I was THAT IN LOVE with my ex. And yeah, get tested for STI, for the love of God. After experiencing other men, if your bf still wants you back, you need to be 'clean' and disease free.
kurniakasih kurniakasih 9 years
Since you've already had all this interest mounting--guys wanting to date you--BEFORE you ask for a break, the least you can do is give him like...EXTRA time to get interested in someone enough to ask her out. You're already playing UNFAIRLY to begin with so I don't feel badly for you, I feel badly for your 'bf.' In your case, I agree that this is definitely in the scenario of 'guilt-free cheating' although not all breaks are like that. But you're young and you want to see other options, just be honorable and break up with him, sweetie. You're NOT that in love with him to begin with (if you are, you'd be more intent in keeping/maintaining your relationship) and he's not the MOST perfect guy in the world (obviously NOT for YOU). Let him find a girl who wants to keep him, don't be selfish about it. Break up with him PERMANENTLY. Really.
forestrygal forestrygal 9 years
Newsflash, you don't actually love him. You're 21 so it's possible you don't have a lot of self-awareness as of yet, but it sounds like you love the fact that he is so devoted to you and how that makes you feel more than you actually love the person. You mention wanting to "get this out of your system" so you two can get back together as quickly as possible. Think about that statement, does it even really make sense? No it doesn't, because love is a choice. It's about choosing the person that you want to be with over and above the other opportunities who may present themselves. We're human beings and even when in relationships I think it's natural to have a crush every once in a while or be flattered when someone else expresses interest, but usually if you are actually in love then you don't truly want to act on it. It sounds to me like this guy is really good to you and so you think you can go date around and he'll be waiting in the wings. I can't even express to you how messed up that sentiment actually is. If he does wait around then I feel sorry for him too, he clearly needs more self-esteem. Either way I think it's clear that you want to see other people because you don't love him enough to be with him and only him. It makes sense, you're young and we are all told these days that we need to have space and time and be free and young and get "experience." If that's what you really want then fine, but be up front about it and break up with this guy. You're probably ruining him for some nice girl down the road who's going to wonder why he's so afraid of commitment. I know that sounds harsh, but, well, you're kind of acting like a jerk here. I think deep down you know that too, otherwise you wouldn't have posted to this board asking for people to basically absolve you of this charge of "guilt-free cheating." Maybe calling it a break makes you feel better, but I really hope you let this guy go and have your fun so you can both be better off in the long run.
miriah15 miriah15 9 years
A break is the first step in breaking up.
7kimba7 7kimba7 9 years
I can totally understand how you've been together for a few years and you're still young so you want to know what's out there, BUT... it isn't fair for him to wait around for you. how would you feel if your boyfriend told you that he needed space and wanted to see other people? you would probably feel hurt and very rejected. Don't assume that a break will end and you'll get back together.. some couples do, many couples don't. With how hard your boyfriend is taking this, I think you need to end the break or break up with him officially.
thatsjoanna thatsjoanna 9 years
I always saw a *brake* as a long extended brake one is happy at that time and if you guys do get back together and did something while *on the break* then its just not going to be the same between you too. it confuses me a brake that involves seeing other people suppose to let you guys see if thats the best you can do with each other? I think its all a bad idea....if you get to that point...just END IT
Sun_Sun Sun_Sun 9 years
ok a break can be a good idea and stuff, BUT the next day girl??? really? thats a bit much. u shoulda bee upfront and told him, "i want a break to see other guys". cuz the way he found out is just hurtful. if i was him i'd never get back with u. i think u just wanna have ur fun and then go back to whats safe for u (ur boyfriend). im sorry but ur using him.
nina24 nina24 9 years
If you wanted to be with other guys you should have broken up with your boyfriend, but instead you took a break, which forces him to sit on the sidelines unfairly waiting for you while you mess around with other men. The fact that you would do this tells me that you don't truly love him, you may care about him more than any guy you've ever been with and you may love the way he treats you, but it seems to me you've taken him for granted. The fact that you were with another guy the very next day is shocking. If I did that to my boyfriend we would be over. If he did that to me we would be over. You cannot have a healthy relationship following something like that, plus, it would be incredibly selfish of you to expect him to come back to you and love you the same way he did. I feel sorry for him, it sounds like you guys had it all. You never fought, he would do anything for you, he always complimented you, and he always told you he loved you. What you did to him was really messed up.
happiness80 happiness80 9 years
A "break" to you means hooking up and having fun with other guy - while he waits on you to have your fun. Break up with him so you can have your fun as a SINGLE girl. Dont let him wait on you. That is just not fair.
j2e1n9 j2e1n9 9 years
Aw, I feel bad for him but I can understand your dilemma. I feel like a lot of people are too young to be in such serious relationships and it could just cause problems down the road. Poor guy. But you did the right thing. I think its only natural to be curious about other people's interest in you because hey, its nice to be wanted right? However I dont know how to respond to you in regards to will you guys be able to make it. You prob wont find that out until you get back together with him (for good, dont keep doing this back and forth thing or you'll screw things up permanently). There's nothing wrong with wanting to have your cake and eat it too, except on his end of course, and you're lucky because you can go experience things and still have the security that your dude loves you and can come back to him. But just know that you can only push it so far, before this whole thing will change him and he will become a different person and realize he wants someone who knows for sure that she wants to be with him. If that hasnt already happend.
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
I totally agree with duck duck goose on this.
sugarbritches sugarbritches 9 years
Honey, you didn't take a broke up with him! Phrase it however you want, but you should consider it permanent. I'm glad you did what you did for you because it sounds to me that you haven't found love yet and you're young. Live your life, by all means. BUT I feel really bad for him because you handled that really poorly. If he was my brother I would probably kick your a$$ for that because that was cruel to hook up with a new guy the very next night and still call it a temporary break. I think you have a few lessons to learn and they will probably be painful. Always try to treat people how you want to be treated. Then you can hold your head high. Good Luck
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