How to Make the Most of Taking a Break in Your Relationship



Everyone has heard that iconic Friends line from Ross. If you haven’t, spoilers ahead. Ross was dating Rachel, but they decided to take a break and Ross slept with another girl and for the rest of the show, no one forgave Ross. Even all the real-life Friends fans think Ross was in the wrong. I, however, never did.

This is the most popular “break” I’ve seen portrayed in the media and it’s not even a proper break. They didn’t set boundaries so Rachel felt like Ross had betrayed her. It has given breaks in relationships a bad rap.

Almost everyone I know would think their partner wants to break up with them if they asked for a break. But if you’re using breaks right, they’ll actually make you stronger individuals and an even stronger couple. That is if you decide you’re still right for each other in the end.

girl sits by edge of water looking off into distance

How do I know? I asked my boyfriend for a two-month break back in February and it was one of the most prominent self-discovery periods of my life. And now? Now I’m happier than I have been in months, maybe even years.

When should you consider taking a break from your partner?

There are many different reasons that could make you think taking a break would be a good idea. Some of the most common ones I’ve heard are:

  • ~ When you fight more often than not
  • ~ When you start to feel like you are a totally different person than you were before you started dating and not in a good way
  • ~ When you have doubts that your partner is the one for you
  • ~ When you feel like you and your partner have lost your connection

In My Experience:

Personally, I had asked for a break because I felt like we were no longer getting along. Him or I was always upset with the other, we never saw each other anymore, and we were both going through some personal things that made it hard to support one other. In the end, we decided to take a break until the beginning of April.

Related: Starting Therapy: A No Question Left Behind Therapy Q&A

How do you have a successful break?

First off, let me say that a successful break does not mean you end up getting back with your partner at the end of it. While yes that is one of two possibilities, during the break you may realize the relationship is actually not what you want or plain toxic and want to leave. Therefore, in that situation, a successful break would be leaving your partner in the end.

girl smiling sitting near water

Related: Does Your Significant Other Do These Seven Things?

Now we have that definition straightened away, let’s talk about ways to set yourself up for success.

  • ~ Set rules. Can you be romantic with other people? Maybe a certain amount of people? Will you talk a lot but just not romantically? Will you cut off all contact?
  • ~ Tell each other why you are taking this break. What do you think it will fix?
  • ~ What will you do during your time apart to make your relationship better if you get back together?
  • ~ What will you do during your time apart to make your relationship with yourself better no matter if you get back together?

In My Experience:

The only explicit rule we set is that we could see other people during the break. But we had implied we wouldn’t talk to each other during the time either. Which we mostly followed except for when I needed someone to talk to during a family emergency and one night when I had a few too many Truly’s. Oopsie daisy.

What good will a break do for you?

It a common misconception that taking a break is just a pre-cursor for a breakup. Which maybe it is but it could also be the prologue to an even stronger bond.

There are two notable benefits of taking a break in a relationship: 

1. You will be able to distance your identity from your partner and focus more on yourself
2. You will also be able to zoom out to see the bigger picture and how your relationship fits into it

Some relationships run into issues when one partner attaches themselves to the other and becomes co-dependent. They forget who they were before the relationship. Now their only identity is their partner and they can’t imagine doing anything without them. Taking a break would allow this partner to extract their identity from the other and realize who they are again. This would possibly make them recognize they don’t need the other person, but rather they want them in their life. Or that they don’t want the other person in their life at all.

girl smiling sitting near water

Other relationships run into issues when the two partners seem to fight over a myriad of little things repeatedly. It seems like you’re always telling them to do this, to not do that, why did you do this instead of that, etc. These little things were never an issue in the beginning but now they have caused a massive rift. Taking a break would allow you both to step back and have time to analyze why you were really getting into these disagreements over and over again.

In My Experience:

I had slowly become clingy and co-dependent on my boyfriend to the point that if he did something without me I would feel left out. Every time he chose something over seeing me I took it personally. I can’t count the number of times I cried over my boyfriend hanging out with someone who wasn’t me. By taking our time apart I realized I had changed so much from the start of our relationship because of how insecure I was at the time.

Being apart for several weeks made me realize I had completely lost track of who I was. Before him, I had been independent, done everything alone, clingy people pissed me off, and I smiled all the time. Somewhere over the course of our relationship, I became the complete opposite.

Related: Why I Enjoy Taking Myself on Dates

It had happened so slowly I forgot who I used to be and had taken on this new persona. Being alone for two months allowed me to get back to my roots and be happy again. And made me realize why I had become a different person: I was trying so hard to be happy in a relationship with someone who just didn’t mesh with me. I never would have realized that without our break. Without the break, I believe we would have crashed and burned.

What if we break up?

Taking a break from your partner may lead you to realize they are no longer the right person for you. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. People grow and not always in the same direction.

girl smiling with eyes closed

At the end of the break, you’ll have a stronger relationship with yourself whether you get back with your partner or not. And if you and your partner decide not to get back together, then you’re already on like step three of getting over a breakup.

During the break you would have already gone through the anger you felt toward your partner and the sadness you would feel from being away from your partner for so long. 

Related: How to Finally Get Over that Boy

If you’ve already been on a break for two months and then you decide to break up, you’ll no longer miss them as much as you would if you were always together and then randomly broke up. You’ll already be used to being apart and have learned how to be happy alone.

In My Experience:

In the end, my boyfriend and I decided to break things off. But because of the two-month break we had taken, the break-up didn’t hit me hard at all.

I had spent the first two or three weeks of our break crying and being angry at him. Just as if we had broken up. So over the next five to six weeks, I had moved from sad and angry to accepting and calm. I had basically gone through every stage of grief and was already “over” him by the time we actually ended things.

So while our break did make us break things off, it also made it less painless to end things.

My hope is that after reading this you no longer think breaks are such a scary thing. Yes, they can cause major upsets to your life, but no matter what there is always a good outcome: you learn that you can be happy alone.

What are your opinions on taking breaks in a relationship?

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How to make the most of taking a break in your relationship | Life with Caitlyn
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