Is “Taking a Break” In a Relationship Ever the Right Thing to do?
“Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted…no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.”
- Dr. Maya Angelou
We’ve all been there. Stuck in a relationship that you’re not sure you want to continue but maybe don’t have a solid reason to leave just yet. Maybe your partner cheated but immediately came clean and is begging for another chance. Maybe you bicker for no reason because you let the little things pile up and now they nag at the very core of your relationship. Maybe the sex just isn’t that great. While all of these may be good reasons to leave, if you are invested in the relationship, you may want to reconsider but don’t know how to get over the hump. What do you do?
Years ago, I found myself in this very situation. Admittedly, I was in a relationship that I was terribly unsatisfied in but couldn’t bring myself to break it off because the guy I was dating was a genuinely good person. I didn’t want to hurt him. Truth be told, we had no business being more than friends. We had a great friendship but crossed a line that never should have been crossed. It was cool in the beginning but things soured quickly…we’ll save the details of that story for another day.
Long story short, I didn’t want to break his heart but my heart was no longer in it. That’s when I thought I could ease him into a break-up by suggesting that we take a little “break.” He shot me down and said he didn’t do breaks, either we were together or we weren’t. A few days later, we weren’t.
More often than not, that’s how breaks are used, as a way to ease into a full-on break-up, giving those involved time to wrap their heads, and their hearts, around the impending split. But apparently, there’s another way to use this break to your advantage.
I recently read an article on Refinery 29 that talked about how taking a break can actually strengthen your relationship rather than be one of the final nails in the coffin (who knew?). In it Jasmine Diaz, a dating expert in Los Angeles, makes the case that since relationships can be all-consuming, sometimes what you need is separation to gain perspective. Needing time to yourself doesn't mean that you and your partner are incompatible or inevitably doomed, either. That being said, if you plan to use a break to fix a broken relationship, it’s important to follow three specific rules:
1. Be clear about the reason why you feel you need a break.
2. Set and agree on expectations during the break so you both know what is and isn’t acceptable.
3. Set a date to check back in with one another and reassess the break you're on and where you feel the relationship stands.
This got me thinking. a separation with the intention to mend, rather than end, a relationship can have several real benefits when it’s done right. It gives you space, a chance to miss one another, an opportunity to focus inward, and can help realign yourself with your emotional independence. This proves that the old adage, “all good things come to an end,” isn’t necessarily true, though they may take a break from time to time, and that’s okay.
On the flip side, some couples may decide to go their separate ways after taking time away from a relationship because their break helped them realize that there’s no use in taking it any further. That realization, though upsetting, is necessary for the wellbeing of both people involved. Whether you’re with the right person or not may not always be clear, but separating yourself from the pressures of your situation in an effort, to glean perspective, may just be what the doctor ordered.