Taking a Break: What Does It Mean and Is It Right for Your Relationship?

Time apart

Credit: miodrag ignjatovic. Getty Images 

When you hear someone say, “We were on a break,” you may immediately think of Ross and Rachel on Friends, and the fact that their relationship seemingly unraveled once and for all after they decided to spend time apart. Not all breaks will result in a breakup, though; a big part of the reason why Ross and Rachel's break failed was that they didn't align on what the time apart would look like. If you're thinking about temporarily taking a step back from your significant other, it's key that you understand what taking a break means for you, your partner, and your relationship as a whole. 

What Is "Taking a Break"?

In the most fundamental sense, taking a break means that you and your partner haven't officially broken up, but you've decided to take some time off from each other and your relationship.

It's also key to keep in mind that taking a break doesn't have to equal a breakup. Instead, taking a break enables both you and your partner to use the time away from one another as an opportunity to reflect on your relationship, reassess your feelings for one another, and either resolve to be with each other going forward or not.

When Should Couples Take a Break? 

Many couples decide to take a break because they’re facing some relationship challenges, difficulties, and/or doubts, but they don’t want to break up or give up on the relationship just yet. In some cases, partners might care about each other deeply, but they just can’t seem to stop fighting over every single thing. In other cases, one partner might be unsure about their long-term feelings towards their partner, but they're still hopeful that there could be a future together. Taking time off gives bother partners the space they need to reevaluate what’s best for them, their partner, and the relationship as a whole.

The Pros of Taking a Break in Your Relationship

There are many different benefits of taking a break from your relationship, and while it may seem counterintuitive, taking a break can actually be a way to strengthen your connection and bring you and your partner closer together. First, it can allow you to get a fresh perspective regarding your relationship as well as enable you to reexamine your own wants, needs, and desires. Further, it can help you to better appreciate and understand your partner’s role in your life as well as how their presence affects you and your well-being. And with this refreshed point of view, you can return to your relationship post-break and be able to articulate what you’d like going forward and what you both can work on together as a couple.

The Cons of Taking a Break in Your Relationship

When looking more closely at the different downsides of taking a break, one major drawback is that it can simply act as a way of postponing a looming breakup. And by going on a break, you’re both merely delaying the inevitable dissolution of your relationship and prolonging any pain, sadness and/or guilt associated with it. Along these lines, taking a break can also be a major source of stress and anxiety in your life, as you may find yourself constantly wondering and worrying about your partner and their whereabouts as well as fixating on what kind of decision your partner will reach regarding the future of your relationship. 

If you’re wondering if taking a break is the right decision for you, it’s important that you and your partner communicate openly and honestly about it and establish some necessary ground rules.

Is Taking a Break Right for Your Relationship?

It’s imperative that you jointly determine a specific timeframe regarding how long the break will last. If you head into the break wanting it to last a week, but your partner believes that it’ll last at least a month, this lack of accord will likely create problems down the road.

Next, you should mutually agree upon what’s acceptable behavior (and what’s not) while you’re on the break. For instance, is it okay if you both date other people while you’re apart from one another? And lastly, you and your partner should be on the same page regarding the reasons behind the break as well as what you hope to accomplish out of it. That way, you’re more likely to have a successful break that allows you both to find yourselves as well as find out what you really want as a couple going forward.

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