Why do people separate instead of working through their issues?

Maybe I am just jaded, but I wonder why people who claim to love each other but are having problems in their relationship decide to separate. They say, “Maybe we can resolve this in X months.” I’m wondering, why not now? Why perform what is the equivalent of breaking up but staying friends with benefits, rather than sitting down and facing your problems?

I once was in a relationship where things were not working out. He lived over an hour away, did not have a job or any motivation (he couldn’t even hold a job for more than two months), was beginning to get into hardcore drugs as opposed to just smoking pot, and I was having second thoughts. I cannot count how many times we took a break. Looking back, I can clearly see that things were never going to work out, and that instead of wasting time taking breaks, I should have just broken up with him and moved on. I had tried discussing our problems with him, but it did no good. These problems were unfixable, and I see now that I did not love him in the right way; the way I felt toward him was more like the way a sixteen-year-old party animal loves someone else’s child that is thrust upon them permanently. (This analogy might suck. Bear with me, or I will sic the spambots on you.) I spent more time taking care of him than actually being in a relationship.

I am now in a true love kind of relationship, the kind where I know down to the marrow in my bones and the little teeny atoms in my heart that we are meant to be. This is the kind of relationship where, five years or so from now, we will be married. Eventually we will have kids. We will constantly be working together and sharing a life with each other. It may sound naive and absurdly romantic in true Virgo fashion, but it’s true.

That being said, I cannot imagine taking a separation. To me, when you love someone deeply but have problems that do not involve cheating, physical/sexual abuse, drug/alcohol abuse, or a few other Get Out Of This Relationship Now issues, you need to face them now — not six, eight, nineteen months from now. If you truly love each other, it is worth working through those issues and facing the demons that come with them.

For example, it drives me absofuckinglutely insane when I ask Mike if he wants to watch a movie and he immediately says no, or when we actually do go to watch a movie and I get no vote in which movie we should watch. There are many fights over this. I say things like, “You never want to do what I want to do,” and he says things like, “That’s not true,” even though we go through this at least once a month. I’ve come to accept that this is one of our quirks, trivial things that we will probably argue about until the day we die. (Or until he either kills me for nagging or I kill him for being a movie vote hog.)

I also tend to be a bit of a brat when I want to do something and he doesn’t. I drive him apeshit. I think he sometimes wonders what he got himself into. If I want to hang out and he doesn’t because he is tired, it is too late, or he is sick, I say things like, “Why don’t you want to hang out with me?” He says things like, “I never said I didn’t want to hang out with you,” in a completely tired, “Why do we keep having this discussion?” tone (similar to the tone I use when I say, “You never want to do anything I want to do!”).

We may go around and around and around this, but we face it. I don’t say, “Listen, Mike, we need a break. Maybe two months from now we can resolve this.” No, it needs to be resolved now! Or else, resentment builds up and the relationship becomes more and more strained.

I’m not trying to make anyone feel bad. I just feel like I’m seeing a lot of people giving up rather than fighting. Don’t get me wrong, some people out there are facing their problems. It might take a lot more work than you ever thought would be necessary, but it’s worth it, I promise you. There have been a couple of times where I almost didn’t continue to fight for what Mike and I have. Looking back, the problems at hand were so small compared to the bonds between us. Had I let those little things break those bonds, I would be cheapening what we’ve worked so hard for throughout our time together.

So, if you are in a relationship and are having second thoughts, please think about it before doing something drastic. Please don’t give up fighting (unless, again, it’s a Get the Fuck Out Of This Relationship Now kind of problem). Don’t take a break. Don’t separate. Sit down and talk.