If you’re a fan of the classic sitcom, F.R.I.E.N.D.S, you must be familiar with the famous scene where Ross screams: “We were on a Break!” in an argument with Rachel. While the show made us familiar with the challenges of taking breaks in relationship with humour, the reality is far from it and a lot more complex.
In a long-term relationship, it’s natural that your dynamics evolve. However, if this change starts to cause trouble in the relationship, you need to address it with your partner, and if repeated discussions fail to bring positive changes, it can eventually become overwhelming and exhausting. In such situations, taking a break from each other can be a beneficial step to regain perspective and potentially find a way to address these challenges more effectively.
So here are 10 valuable tips for couples planning to take a break in their relationship and the potential effectiveness of this process.
Effective communication is the key to any relationship. Both of you need to be clear about why you are considering the break. Having an open conversation about what’s working for you and what isn’t and addressing issues and repetitive patterns in the relationship will help you both to understand the areas that need deliberation and introspection during this time. Despite the differences, it’s important to hear each other out without arguing, as it will help you to understand if you are seeking the same output from the time off.
Set ground rules
When taking a break in a relationship, setting ground rules is extremely important. First and foremost, decide the duration of the break, and how long you want to take time away from each other for self-reflection and relationship assessment. Another fundamental point to address is whether seeing other people is allowed or not during this period. Eliminate any room for ambiguity by setting clear rules and committing to follow through.
It’s a break, not a breakup
Keep in mind that taking a relationship break is a temporary pause, not a permanent break-up. There’s potential for things to improve, so avoid overthinking and stay rational and optimistic. Having said that, don’t set high expectations either as it can be disappointing if the outcome isn’t positive. Just take it easy and use this time to reflect on your relationship and find ways to make it better.
Remember, distance can give some clarity
The idea of taking some time off your partner often has a negative connotation to it. However, it can actually offer an opportunity to get some clarity on various aspects of the relationship. It allows you to take a step back and gain a broader perspective on the matter, and helps you notice certain things that you would have missed otherwise. During this time, you can consider journaling as a method to list all the positives and negatives of your relationship. Work on narrowing down the issues and evaluate whether they’re solvable or not. Also, try to understand the patterns in your relationship. The time during the break will help you make an informed decision, ultimately providing the clarity you need.
Be ready for the outcome
When considering a relationship break, it’s important to mentally prepare yourself for the potential outcome. You and your partner may resolve the issues and resume the relationship with fresh perspectives, but it is essential to acknowledge that there’s an equal chance you might choose different paths. In such cases, holding onto something that causes you pain and suffering isn’t helpful, so it’s better to let go. It’s best to prepare yourself for any outcome and recognise that it’s ultimately for the best.
Use this time for yourself
While your relationship will mostly be the only thing on your mind during this time, it is important to focus on your well-being, too. Understandably, the break can take a toll on your mental health, leaving you emotionally exhausted, but make the most of this opportunity by prioritising self-care. Consider taking up a new hobby or going on a solo trip. Whether it is going on solo dates, meeting friends, exercising or meditating, there are numerous activities to engage in during this time. These activities might not only offer a different perspective on the relationship but also on your personal growth.
Keep it private
When taking a relationship break, try to maintain privacy around the situation. Given the complexity of the dynamics between you and your partner, the last thing you’d want is unsolicited opinions from others. It’s completely alright to temporarily disconnect from the world and allow space for personal growth and resolving matters within your relationship.
Set communication boundaries
For a break to be effective, it should involve both physical and emotional distancing, providing the necessary space for introspection and self-reflection for both you and your partner.
Avoid making promises
It’s advisable not to make any promises during a relationship break. Promises can create unrealistic expectations and potentially add pressure to already sensitive situations. It is a time for self-reflection and evaluation without the pressure of commitments. The dynamics of the relationship may change during this time. So try to keep things open and flexible for an honest outcome when the break concludes.
Don’t delay break-up with the break
While taking a relationship break can be a good idea to get clarity on certain aspects, follow your gut about the relationship then work towards salvaging it. In cases where problems are beyond repair, delaying an inevitable break-up with a temporary break might be counterproductive. Try to understand your relationship dynamics and then decide whether a relationship break will fix things for you or if a more permanent solution is necessary.
Navigating a relationship break can be overwhelming, but it can provide much-needed clarity and growth for both individuals. The question of whether a break truly works largely depends on the commitment, effort, and willingness of both partners. The most important aspect is that taking a break should be a step towards improving the relationship; it’s a chance for rediscovery and potentially re-building a stronger and more resilient bond.