Should You Take A Break From Your Relationship? Here’s How To Tell
Relationship slipping through your fingers? Well, before you start trying to desperately save it by handcuffing yourself to your partner and willing stability by proximity, consider ditching the entire relationship…at least for a while. No, seriously.
According to Ann Rosen Spector, a clinical psychologist in Philadelphia, one of the best ways to repair a relationship is to put some distance between you and your partner by taking a break. “Separation can be very healing,” she says. “When a situation is complicated, having distance to get clarity is important.” And a break is the way to get it.
What is a break?
Taking a break is a chance for people in a relationship to explore what not being together feels like, take time for personal growth, and look at their relationship from a distance. “So many couples think a healthy relationship means being together all the time, but that’s not true,” says Spector. Attaching yourself to another person—while it might work for some—can be the perfect setup for disaster down the road, especially if there are disagreements you can’t seem to let go of.
Breaks are for partners who care about each other but can’t see eye-to-eye. They require you and your partner take a significant amount of time to weigh how you feel being separated versus how you feel together. Then—and only then—you can determine which is better.
And though separation is much easier said than done, it’s essential to what Spector calls a “relationship renovation”—a chance to break toxic patterns. Breaks allow couples to see the partnership from a new perspective, acknowledge personal doubts and wrongdoings, determine changes that need to be made, and then decide if the relationship is even worth continuing. In Spector’s experience, couples usually realize it is.
But remember: breaks are not one-size-fits-all (because that would just be too easy). The way you carve out time away from your partner totally depends on the kind of the relationship you’re in. Does one person depend on the other financially? Are there children in the picture? Is this a long-distance relationship? The nitty-gritty makes all the difference and must be **seriously** considered beforehand or else the break might just turn into a breakup.
Gotcha. But how do I plan a break?
“Breaks must be done with clear rules and for the right reasons,” says Spector. A break is not the answer if you’re too afraid to end the relationship, want to see other people, or are seeking to punish your partner.
It is the move, however, if your intentions are to share a toothbrush holder with your partner for the long hall. You each must be willing to use the time apart to be honest with yourselves and really reflect on what you can do to make that a possibility.
Once you and your partner discuss reasons for the break, the next step is to come up with a game plan for the separation. Consider these conditions when coming up with your break guidelines:
- Should you involve a relationship therapist?
- How long should your break last? (Duration depends on the couple and the issues, but Spector insists that a week is **not** enough for real change.)
- How often will you contact or see each other during the break, if ever?
- Will you discuss what you did while you were apart (this one’s major—just ask Ross from Friends)?
- Will you date and sleep with other people?
- How will you explain your break to your families, friends, and children?
Again, no break will look like another. Some might be limited to weekends because living separately is too expensive. Other times, breaks call for month-long total radio silence, and there are instances when a couple comes back stronger after dating other people. It’s up to you to determine what will work for you. But Spector does warn: “The more [conditions] you add, the more complicated breaks can become.”
K, break’s over. Now what?
Tbh, sometimes couples come back from breaks and one person hasn’t taken responsibility for their actions, or someone realizes they want to call it quits, Spector says. But, typically, if you both commit to honest self-reflection during the break and compare how you felt during the separation to being together, your relationship ends up stronger. Thanks to what Spector calls “a step back from the relationship,” partners will have had time to consider what they need from the relationship and what they need to do to make sure their partner is feeling fulfilled, too.
Of course, just because you’ve spent time apart doesn’t mean your issues will have disappeared. But the separation will give you and your partner the chance to approach your relationship differently and move forward.
This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com