Sometimes you gotta take a step back from a relationship. You don’t want to break up exactly, but you just need…a break. Maybe there are too many other things going on in your life, maybe you and your partner just can’t get on the same page about something, or maybe you just need some space and time to yourself. A break can be a chance to gain some clarity about a relationship, or about yourself and what you want. It’s okay to take a break—in fact, it can be really healthy, as long as the relationship isn’t abusive (a break isn’t going to “solve” an abusive relationship). However, there are some things you might want to consider doing to make sure the break is the healthiest it can be.
First, it’s important that you and your partner are communicating honestly about why you want to take a break. You should each feel safe discussing your reasons and give each other the space to talk about it from your own perspectives. If you want to take a break but your partner doesn’t, try calmly explaining your feelings without attacking your partner. Use “I” statements, for example, “I feel like there’s a lot going on in my life right now, and I can’t be as involved as I’d like to be in this relationship.”
Next, consider working with your partner to lay some ground rules. It could be helpful to set a time frame for the break (for example, a week, a month, or whatever you’re both comfortable with), after which you’ll regroup and decide what your next steps will be. Talk to each other about your expectations for the break. Some people choose to cut off communication completely, while others might want to check in with each other during the break. There’s no right answer; what’s important is that you both feel comfortable with the boundaries you set. You might discuss questions like:
- Will we communicate or check in with each other during the break by phone, text or online?
- Will we be dating or seeing other people during the break?
- Will we still follow each other on social media?
Once you and your partner have reached an agreement for the break, now’s your chance to make the most of it. Take some time to really think through the reasons you wanted a break, then decide how best to spend it. Maybe you’d like to:
- practice self-care more often
- journal about your thoughts
- take a road trip
- write a letter to your partner saying what you need/want to say (you don’t have to send it!)
- finish a project
- pursue a hobby or interest
- do some yoga or go for a jog
- write down a few goals and the steps you need to take to accomplish them
- see a counselor or join a support group
- spend more time with your friends or your family
Whatever you choose to do, remember that this time is about you and what you need.
When the break is over, meet with your partner (if you feel safe, face to face is best, but a phone call could work, too). Talk about the break: how it felt, what you each did or thought about. Maybe you gained some new insights about your relationship and you can work together on making it stronger. If you need to, you could extend the break (just repeat the steps above!). Or you might realize that the relationship just isn’t right for one or both of you, and it’s time to let go. These aren’t always easy decisions to make, but it’s important that each of you respects the other’s feelings and desires.
Need some help figuring out how to take a break with your partner? Call, chat or text with a loveisrespect advocate any time, 24/7!