If you're at all familiar with any of the 236 episodes of Friends, you probably know one of the most notorious running gags of the show: "We were on a break!" Basically, Ross slept with someone when he and Rachel were on a break — she considers it cheating, while he doesn't — and it comes up over and over again throughout the show. While it was funny on Friends, real-life breaks aren't quite as comical. If you're ready to take a break in your relationship, rarely is it an easy decision, and there's a lot to factor in.
But, first things first — what even is a break? Well, it's what you make of it, and what you expect to get out of it. "A 'break' in the relationship can be defined and deployed in so many different ways," Dr. Joshua Klapow, a clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, previously told Elite Daily. "What is most important is to understand what the break actually means, why you all are putting [it] in place, and what you hope to accomplish from the break." But before you can establish any of these things, you have to make sure a break really is what you want. If you notice any of these four things about yourself when it comes to your relationship, then a break may be your best bet.
There may come a time in your relationship where "you feel like you are giving more to the relationship than you are getting," Dr. Amy Vigliotti, Head of SelfWorks, a group private therapy practice, tells Elite Daily. "Or alternatively you don't feel like giving to the relationship in the ways you used to." You may feel like you want more from this relationship than your partner can give you, or you want something else entirely. Any sense of uncertainty about your relationship can be a sign that you need to take a break.
When you think about intimacy, sex might be the first thing that comes to mind, but there are so many ways to be intimate with your partner that have nothing to do with doing the deed, like holding hands or giving hugs. If you need to take a break from your relationship, you may "feel like intimacy is a chore," Dr. Vigliotti says. "Or you avoid it, or you feel like you are just going through the motions."
Chances are there was a point in your relationship where your boo was your go-to for everything and anything. You wanted candy? You asked them to pick some up on their way home. You needed to vent about your boss? You talked your partner's ear off, and they listened to every last word you said. If you're thinking about taking a break from your relationship, you may "turn to others, e.g., friends, before you turn to your partner for comfort, love, or conversation," Dr. Vigliotti points out. You may not even notice that you've started to talk to your partner less and your friends more.
Before you decide to sit your partner down to talk about taking a break, it's important to make sure this is absolutely what you want. "If you’re not sure, and you bring it up, the bell has been rung, and your partner now has this idea of a break in his or her head," relationship and etiquette expert April Masini tells Elite Daily. "It’s going to be the elephant in the room from that moment on."
If you're seriously considering a break, also make sure that you understand the risk of what this could do to your relationship. "Know that a break means your partner is going to date other people, sleep with other people, and maybe find someone new — this isn’t just about you," Masini explains. "There’s risk in involved in taking a break, so know that a break means things could change for the better or the worse." Though, hopefully, it's the former.
And finally, if a break is what you believe is best for you, it's important to understand why you feel that way. "Has resentment built up? Are the two of you spending more time arguing than getting along?" Dr. Michael asks. "Have you found out things about the person that perhaps you do not like?" She suggests using the break to work on yourself in order to have a healthier outlook when you and your partner get back together.
Now, it's time to sit bae down and talk things through with them. Tell them how you're feeling and why you're feeling that way. "Consider how you would want to be approached about such a sensitive topic and talk to your partner in the way you hope he/she would talk to you," Dr. Vigliotti advises. "Anger makes others defensive and either go on the attack or retreat." So, instead of approaching them aggressively, try doing it compassionately — really listen to them, and understand they may have a lot of questions.
Even though it may be an emotionally draining conversation, at the end of the day, your emotional needs should come first. If you were considering a break, and you didn't take it because your partner didn't want to, it could end up doing more harm to your relationship than good. "The rule of thumb is that it takes two people to make a relationship work," Masini says. "So, if you are committed to a break, be true to yourself and take the break."