Sometimes in romantic relationships, partners may feel the need to take a break. Whether the long-distance is tough, you need to re-evaluate the relationship, or want more time for self-care, sometimes taking a break in a relationship is necessary.
Here are some Do’s and Don’ts you should consider for taking a break in a relationship:
Do discuss the break in person
Taking a break in a relationship is a huge decision that should be discussed in person. It can be really hard to have potentially difficult conversations in person, especially when texting and talking on the phone is so easy and less intimidating. As tempting as it can be, talking about it face to face will make sure that there are no misunderstandings.
Do set ground rules
Breaks will look different for different couples, so it’s important that you and your partner discuss ground rules so that you are both on the same page. Will you stay in communication or go cold turkey? Will you have routine check-ins to see how your partner is feeling? Does the break mean that you are also opening up the relationship? Is your partner allowed to sleep with other people? Establishing these rules from the beginning and following the rules will help maintain trust in your relationship, even when you are on a break.
Do take time to explore the causes of the break
If you are taking a break in a relationship, make time to explore why. Are life events preventing you from prioritizing your relationship? Will those external pressures change any time soon? Do you have the power to shift your priorities? Or do you need time to focus on yourself? Identifying the stressors in your relationship that led to the break will help the relationship if you decide to get back together.
Do make the time away count
If you do decide to take some time apart, it’s important to make that time count. Do you need to finish a project up and work and then focus on shifting your priorities to your relationship? Are you feeling sexually frustrated in your relationship and need time to explore your sexuality? Do you need to see a therapist in order to sort out your personal mental health before focusing more on your relationship? Make sure that you are taking your time apart to do something productive that can positively impact your relationship after the break is over.
Do consider what you want the relationship to look like if you get back together
While you are on a break, it’s important to think about what you want the future of your relationship to look like, and how it will be different from things before the break. What kind of changes will inspire you to continue to commit to the partner and the relationship? A break doesn’t just end for things to go back to normal, so it’s important to consider what needs to happen to make the relationship work.
Don’t set a definitive time frame
If you’re taking a break in a relationship, it’s important to set ground rules but leave the time frame more open. If you are taking space from the relationship to work through specific things, it’s hard to know exactly how much time you will need. Creating a definitive time frame might create added pressure during the break, which can cause stress and make it more difficult to reconcile differences when it’s over.
Don’t have unrealistic expectations
Don’t be like Ross and Rachel!!! Many relationships can recover from taking a break and actually turn out to be stronger than before. That said, if you and your partner are unable to set clear boundaries and rules in the beginning or stick to them during the break, then your relationship might not make it. Taking a break is not going to fix underlying problems in your relationship unless you put some serious work in during your time apart.
Don’t use this time vindictively
Sometimes a huge fight or some sort of breach of trust will lead couples to take a break. If this is the case for you, it’s important not to try and get back at your partner while you are on the break. If they cheated on you, a break is not the time to sleep around, unless you have okayed that in your ground rules. Breaks should be a period of healing that can lead to reconciliation, not a period of retribution.
Don’t take a break to avoid a breakup
Sometimes people are tempted to take a break from the relationship when they should actually just end the relationship. Some issues boil down to irreconcilable differences that cannot be solved with a break, which ends up creating a vicious cycle of making up and breaking up again and again.
Don’t force getting back together
Sometimes breaks end if you and your partner decide not to get back together. While it’s never good to take a break to avoid a breakup, sometimes breaks naturally lead to breakups, even if that’s not the direction you saw it going. If your time and space away from the relationship offers clarity and reveals that it was not a sustainable relationship, then you should end things.
Taking a break in a relationship isn’t an easy decision, but if you and your partner are both committed to using the time constructively, you can come out stronger on the other side.