If you really care about making your relationship stronger, sometimes you have to step into uncharted territory. That may mean getting really honest with each other, or going to couples therapy, or perhaps even taking a break from your relationship. Not sure how to deal with taking a break in a relationship (or how to reconnect after a relationship break is over)? The key to successfully taking a break is making sure to communicate your rules and expectations during the break. (Take notes, Ross Geller.)
The silver lining to finding yourself in this heartbreaking situation is that a break doesn’t mean the relationship is over — it just means it’s stalled for a moment. As dating expert and profile writer Eric Resnick previously explained to Elite Daily, the point of a break is to take some time and space away from each other in order to put work on yourselves as individuals. “Take this time to do that work,” Resnick suggested. “Explore yourself. Reconnect with friends and interests that you let drift during your relationship.” And to make sure you and your partner are able to come back together once that break is over, experts recommend following these relationship break tips.
Understand Why You’re Taking A Break
If you know you want to get back together down the road, it is important to communicate that with your significant other early on. Maybe you don't know when or how you are going to make it work, but the important thing is, you both want to. Instead of deciding when you will reconvene — which can make things feel restricted — it’s better to openly discuss the terms of why you are taking space from each other and what you want to do in the time apart.
According to NYC-based relationship expert Susan Winter, a break can only be helpful to a relationship if both parties understand why it’s necessary. When you agree to take a break without really understanding your partner's objectives, then it’s impossible to know whether your goals for your future together are aligned. "If you're confused as to why your partner needs a break (and they're vague on the reasons), watch out," she previously explained to Elite Daily. "Their choice to backpedal has nothing to do with bettering the partnership."
Be Clear About The Terms Of The Break
Once you’ve determined why you wish to take a break and what you hope to accomplish during your break, then it’s time to set the rules. Can you talk to each other during your break? Can you date other people? Can you do more than date other people? There’s no right way to take a break, but the best way to avoid hurt feelings (and potentially relationship-ending mistakes) is to be upfront about what you expect to happen while you’re taking time apart.
"Needing space and taking space can be really healthy if it's not being used as manipulation in a relationship," Diana Dorell, intuitive dating coach and author of The Dating Mirror: Trust Again, Love Again, previously told Elite Daily. And as she emphasized, "There is a difference between taking space within a relationship, saying, 'I'd like to spend this weekend with myself' [versus] 'I need to take space away from the relationship for like one month to see other people.’” Decide together what the rules of your break are, and then stick to them. Betraying your partner’s trust will only make things worse.
Give Each Other Space
You will undoubtedly feel sad, lonely, and curious about what your partner is doing while you’re on a break, but it’s important to remember you are taking a break for a reason. It won’t do you any good to stalk them on social media or show up at their house to unexpectedly say, "OK, the break is over, so you can take me back now." Instead, cutting off all interaction and communication until you are both ready to talk is usually the best way to go.
"If you and your partner are taking a break from the relationship, it should be exactly that — a break," Trina Leckie, breakup coach and host of the Breakup BOOST podcast, previously explained. According to her, not texting your partner during a break is as much for your own benefit as it is for theirs, because sometimes, giving each other space can be the only way to know whether the relationship is worth saving. “You need a full break to enable you to get fully in touch with your emotions and discover what life is like without the other person,” she added.
Use Your Time Apart For Growth
A break isn’t an opportunity to hook up with as many people as you want outside of your relationship (unless, of course, that’s what you and your partner decided). If you two agreed to take a break rather than break up, then you should be using that time to reflect on why your relationship isn’t working, and what you can do — both as an individual and a couple — to make your bond stronger than ever.
As Winter previously pointed out, “The purpose of a break is to make the relationship better. And if this is the real purpose for the temporary separation, then both individuals need to be working to become better versions of themselves for the partnership.” While a break won’t solve your problems, it should allow both you and your SO to gather your thoughts and get fully in touch with your emotions before coming together to work through your problems as a team.
Reach Out Only When You’re Ready
The best thing you can do during a break is keep yourself busy. Hang out with friends, see your family, rediscover old hobbies, and get honest with yourself about what is and is not working in your relationship. According to dating coach and licensed marriage and family therapist Pella Weisman, it’s possible you only need a week or two before you’re feeling ready to face your partner and hash out your issues.
"[A break] can help you regain your perspective and get a chance to see what life feels like without the other person," Weisman previously explained. "Either you come to appreciate them more deeply and return to the relationship willing to do the work to help things go better, or you realize that it's time to move on.” And if you find that a week or two isn’t a long enough break, then make sure to let you partner know you need more time. Likewise, if you’re ready to talk and they aren’t, then resist the temptation to keep contacting them. You’ll only succeed in pushing them away.
Breaks aren’t easy, but they’re certainly easier than breakups. And if you don’t want your relationship break to lead to a breakup, then taking these steps will definitely help.
Eric Resnick, dating expert and profile writer
Susan Winter, relationship expert
Trina Leckie, breakup coach and host of the Breakup BOOST podcast
Pella Weisman, dating coach and licensed marriage and family therapist
Editor's Note: This story has been updated by Elite Daily staff.
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