Taking a break from your relationship can be a way to test out being single without having to make a decision about whether or not you want a permanent end. But breaks are not without their perils, and there's a good chance that taking a break is a breakup or will become one soon. Breaks are one of the most controversial relationship issues that people ask April Masini, founder of Relationship Advice Forum, about because they can be so fraught.
"Typically, one person wants a break and the other agrees because they feel it's the only way to maintain a chance at staying together," she says. If only one person wants the break, it can create a power imbalance that leads to even more issues within the relationship, unless the couple sets some ground rules — and both parties stick to them.
Another issue, of course, is not knowing whether the break is going to turn into a permanent breakup or not. Having uncertainty within a relationship can be a major stressor. Sometimes a break can be just what you need to get your priorities in line. In other instances, a break can draw out the inevitable parting for twice as long, and increase the length of time it takes you to heal.
Here are the signs that show you that your break might become the breakup you're dreading:
1. The Problem Is Internal
"If the problem is external, meaning it's something outside of your relationship, then there's a chance you guys can make it work out," says Kali Rogers of Blush Online Life Coaching. She says that tension and frustration within the relationship can all be triggered by outside factors such as in-laws, living situations, or stressors at work. "Most external factors can ideally be changed through setting clear and firm boundaries, altering your environment, and effective communication," she explains.
Internal issues will not be resolved by a break. "Whenever you two come back to talk it out, the problem is still going to exist between the two of you, and together you two are going to have to figure out a way to solve it," says Rogers.
Working problems out within a relationship is an easier way to keep a relationship together and strengthen it," adds Masini. She says that a break can create an opportunity to avoid problems in the relationship that created the desire to temporarily part.
Unless you need the break to clear your head before finding a solution, a break might have been the first step towards a more permanent ending.
2. The Break Weakens Your Bond
According to Masini, violating the terms of the break can cause you to break up. "If people date or sleep with others while on a break, there can be feelings of betrayal that weaken the relationship," she says.
She says that even in the cases where people don't find out about their partners dating or sleeping with other people until after the break is over, the experience will still weaken the relationship.
If either you or your partner are adamant about sleeping with other people while you are on break, you ought to consider whether it's worth the lasting repercussions it might have on your partnership. If you decide that you don't care, then that's probably another sign that you are going on break when you actually would be better off breaking up.
3. You Enjoyed Taking The Break
Experts say that if you liked being on the break, then chances are you're going to realize that you're better off being single. "Breaks are for gathering your thoughts and testing the waters of being single," Rogers elaborates. She says that if you are happy being apart from your significant other, then it is possibly because the relationship wasn't bringing out your best. Sometimes, taking a break from a relationship allows you to reconnect with yourself, and makes you remember how much you thrive when you are alone.
4. The Break Makes You Feel More Confident
Sometimes, you won't even know how insecure you were within a relationship until you go on break — and your confidence soars you over the moon. If that is the case, then you probably will find you need to make the break permanent.
"Relationships are supposed to boost our confidence and make us feel stronger and supported — they aren't mean to tear down our resiliency or make us question our strengths," says Rogers.
If your confidence is on the rise after the break, stay away from your ex to allow it to flower fully. No relationship is worth sacrificing your confidence or your sense of self.
Part of the reason that deciding whether to breakup is so difficult is because people don't like to confront one another or to hurt themselves or one another. A break is sometimes the catalyst that a couple needs to face a hard fact — but it can hurt you more in the meantime.
"Usually, [when a couple goes on a break] the breakup isn’t far behind, but it’s prolonged, as is the pain," Masini says.
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