Taking a Break from a Relationship vs. Breaking Up

Posted by on Mar 30, 2019 in Couples Counseling | Comments Off on Taking a Break from a Relationship vs. Breaking Up

In a breakup, regardless of who initiates it, there’s no confusion. The romantic relationship is over. Friendship may happen later on down the line but, for certain, partners will no longer se each other romantically.

Taking a break from a relationship, however, is different. Both parties are putting the relationship on “pause” and stepping away from the other person with the intent of reflecting on themselves and the relationship. If you and your partner are choosing to take a break from the relationship, there are certain things you both need to know.

Reasons for Taking a Break from a Relationship

Some people think taking a break from a relationship is really a euphemism for breaking away or for exploring relationships with other people. Those kinds of situations are actually breakups, where you and your partner are no longer connected to one another romantically.

However, there are more valid reasons for taking a break from a relationship. These include:

  • Taking time to focus on the relationship and not external things.
  • Deciding on what you’re doing.  What are your reasons for being in the relationship?  
  • Working on yourself and personal issues so that in order to return to the relationship a stronger person.
  • Wondering whether you want to be with your current partner at ll.

Taking a break is really about hitting that “pause” button so that you can have the time and space to focus on both yourself and the relationship.

Being Clear With Your Intentions

When taking a break from a relationship, it’s important that you and your partner clearly understand what’s going on. You need to talk together to ensure that you are both on the same page about this means. For example:

  • Agree up front with your intentions.
  • Negotiate ground rules for taking a break.  You are both still in a relationship and do not have a “hall pass” to pursue other romantic interests.
  • How often will you see each other?
  • How long will the break last?
  • Deal with money matters if you share joint accounts or have other mutual financial interests.

Make sure to periodically assess the situation as you move forward with this process.  

Take your time getting settled into this phase of the relationship.

Reflecting on Your Relationship

Once you have settled into taking a break, it’s time to start asking some serious questions.

  • What is your role in the relationship?
  • Do you want to be with your current partner in the future?
  • When you take a step back, is the relationship dynamic healthy or unhealthy?

Be patient and forgiving of yourself. This isn’t an easy process. It requires some deep thought. However, if you decide that you would be happier without your partner, then you know what you need to do.

However, don’t just “ghost” or disappear on your partner. Sit down with them and discuss what you have realized. Give them feedback about the relationship. Also, check in with them about where they are with your conclusions. Ultimately, when taking a break from a relationship there needs to be a resolution to the process.

Deciding to Stay in the Relationship

If you decide to stay in the relationship, you will both need to communicate about what it looks like moving forward. What are the issues that each of you need to work on in order to make the relationship successful?

Note that this requires a commitment from both partners. You each need to be willing to work on your “stuff” if you want to stay together. If you both are willing then it can really help to work with a couples counselor who can help you understand and improve your relationship.

Again, taking a break from a relationship is not an excuse to see other people. Really, it is a request by one partner for the time and space to reflect and do some soul-searching. If you consider taking a break from a relationship, don’t hesitate to get professional help. A therapist will be able to guide you through this process so that you can truly understand what you really want.

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