When we think of taking a break, we usually think of unhealthy couples going back and forth not being able to commit or stay broken up. However, that does not have to be the case! There are many benefits of taking a break, as long as you and your partner are aligned with the goals and expectations of the break.
What does it Mean to “Take a Break”?
In the simplest sense, taking a break means that you are changing the dynamics of the relationship for a period of time, usually taking some time away from each other but not fully breaking up.
Taking a break can range from having no contact with your partner for 6 months, being able to fully engage in other romantic and sexual relationships. To reducing expectations to seeing each other once a month and not being open to other relationships. How you and your partner decide to take a break depends on your relationship and the purpose of the break.
Benefits Of Taking a Break
Taking a break can strengthen your relationship and connection with your partner. Allowing yourself the time to be “without” your partner can make you appreciate your partner more as well as understand what relationship dynamics were working or not working for you. Having a refreshed point of view during the break makes it easier to come back into the relationship with clearer priorities and needs you have in the relationship.
Some people take a break because they tend to get overly involved in relationship and lose their sense of self. Taking a break in these instances can allow you to reconnect with yourself and feel more assured in your choices. You may need time away from the relationship to more clearly see your needs and wants in the relationship.
Disadvantages of Taking a Break
Breaks do not help every relationship. Sometimes during a break one partner will recognize that they no longer want to be in the relationship. Other times, clear expectations are not communicated about the break and this may lead to damaging the relationship when reunited. That is why being intentional and clearly planning your relationship break is essential.
Overall, a break will go poorly every time if it is just an attempt to prolong the relationship ending. This causes you to grieve the relationship twice and lengthens the amount of time it takes to heal from the relationship ending.
How Do I Plan For A Break?
1. Define the purpose of the break.
What’s your goal for the break? What’s your partner’s goal for the break?
2. Agree on a timeframe of when you will come together to discuss next steps of the break.
One month? Six months? A year? Set a date on your calendar!
3. Discuss what communication looks like during the break (will there be communication at all, communication around family issues, communication around finances).
No texting? Only in emergencies? (If so, define emergencies!)
4. Discuss rules and expectations around fidelity during the break.
Can we engage in romantic and/or sexual relationships?
If so, do we tell the other partner after? What is allowed and what is not allowed?
5. Have agreements and intentions around attending individual therapy during the break.
If you are taking a break, make the most out of it! Talk to a relationship therapist that can help you understand what your individual needs in the relationship.
6. Have agreements around who knows about the break and how it is discussed with others outside of the relationship.
Who can know? Are we telling everyone we know or just close friends? Will our parents or other family members know?
If something in you is telling you that you want a break, listen to it! If you take a break with intentionally by creating a plan and being on the same page as your partner, good things can come out of it! Even if that means realizing that you and your partner are not aligning anymore. On the other hand, it could also lead to more appreciation for your partner!