Relationships take hard work and a lot of compromise. Sometimes you reach the point where you really can’t take much more. When this happens, you have two choices. You either walk away for good, or you take a break and see what a little time does for the two of you. So, what is a break in a relationship exactly?
If you’re currently going through a difficult patch, you might be unsure what to do. In that case, you might be considering taking a break, and does it really mean the end, or just a hiatus?
For many couples a little time apart actually turns out to be a good thing. A fresh perspective is gained, a new appreciation is developed, and everything causing the rift to begin with is seen through clearer eyes.
Of course, sometimes a break turns out to be a precursor to an actual break up too. In some cases, the couple find that they enjoy spending time away from each other, to the point where spending time together is a drag. In this case, you’ve really reached the end of the road.
[Read: How to give someone space without losing them]
There’s no way to know beforehand how a break will affect your relationship. All you can do is reach that point and figure out whether attempting to take a break is something you both want. Of course, it might be that one of you wants it but the other doesn’t. In that case, what do you do?
Talk about it. That’s the only answer. Discuss the problem maturely and with open eyes. See if there is any way to compromise. If not, you really can’t force someone to stay in a relationship, temporary or permanent, when they’re keen for a little time alone. In that case, see where the land lies once a little time has passed. [Read: Time apart in a relationship – 15 reasons why people want it and how to give it]
What is a break in a relationship in reality? What does it actually mean?
It simply means that you need some time to process what is going on, how you feel, and where to go from this point. It doesn’t always mean the end. In some cases it can simply mean a quick pitstop to breathe a little.
Relationships can be overwhelming from time to time, especially when intense feelings are involved. If something has happened, e.g. one partner has cheated, there are constant arguments, or another issue has arisen, time away to gain a new perspective and really see things for what they are is best. When you’re around your partner 24/7, it can be difficult to see things clearly.
[Read: 18 emotions you shouldn’t feel in a healthy relationship]
Of course, that doesn’t make the idea of a break any less worrying. If you’re the partner who doesn’t necessarily want the break, simply trust the process and see what happens. If you’re not willing to do so, really explore in your own mind where you think the relationship is going to go.
The key point to remember is that if you’re really thinking ‘what is a break in a relationship and how might it work for us?’ then you have reached a point where time is probably the only thing that could save the relationship.
In this case, you both must be very clear about what you’re doing and reassure each other that this doesn’t mean you’re splitting up. It doesn’t mean the end of the relationship. [Read: How to pull back and reignite the sparks in a smothered relationship]
In reality, it simply means that you’re taking a little vacation from each other, some time to spend on yourselves and to really think about what you want. Of course, it also gives you the time to think about anything that has happened during your relationship which you might not be sure how you really feel about in the heat of the moment, or when you’re so close to your partner.
Should there be rules in place during a break?
Firstly, both partners should agree. While one might be reluctant, there must be an agreement. Otherwise, it’s just one partner going off on their own and leaving the other one confused.
Once the agreement has been made, sit down together and specify how long the break is going to last. What is a break in a relationship and what it isn’t really comes down to what you do during the break and how long it goes.
Set a time limit, perhaps a few weeks or maybe even a month or two. Then agree to come back together to see where you’re both at when that time arrives. You might be keen and eager to start things up again and ready to overcome your problems by that time, or you might be quite sure that the break was a good way to understand that you’re not meant to be together.
Next, specify what is and isn’t allowed during the break. Sure, you’re not actually with your partner during this time, but you’re not apart either. There is a grey area which should be respected. Think about Ross and Rachel in Friends. They were on a break! Yes, but did it stop Rachel from being hurt when Ross slept with someone else? No, and it would hurt you the same.
So, are you going to see other people during this time? If so, you both need to be okay with it. If one person isn’t okay with it, it’s not allowed. Or, more likely, are you not going to see other people and simply spend time on reflection and indulging in a little ‘me’ time?
Decide between yourselves. Agree on what is and isn’t allowed during this time, then respect those rules. Yes, you’re not actually actively dating or in a relationship, but you’re not single. Stay keenly aware of it at all times. [Read: How taking a break in a relationship actually works]
What if the break signals the end?
If so, face up to the fact that your relationship just wasn’t meant to last the test of time.
It’s sad, but many relationships just don’t last. You can choose to stay friends with your ex-partner or you can cut all ties. Remember, it doesn’t stop it hurting any less simply because you were on a break before deciding to call the whole thing off. [Read: The 9 relationship stages all couples must go through]
However, being on a break doesn’t mean that the end is near. It actually means that you’re placing importance on your relationship because you can see that action must be taken before something drastic happens. When we simply stay in unhappy relationships for the hell of it, it’s bound to come to a rather messy end. When we think about what might actually help, you could actually divert your path and find long-lasting happiness together.
The ironic thing about a break is that they actually show you what you’re missing, when you might have taken it for granted. In that case, the time you spend apart could be the best *and most difficult* thing you ever do.
[Read: The rules you should follow if you’re taking a relationship break]
Still wondering, what is a break in a relationship really and if that’s for you? If you’re seriously thinking about spending a little time away from your partner, clearly communicate your reasons for doing so to avoid hurt and confusion.
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