Taking a break

So things are strained in your relationship, but splitting up feels like is a step too far? Some time and space away from each other might establish the right way forward. The Mix talks you through taking a break.

Girl and boy on a break

A break from each other may be just what you need.

Why take a break in a relationship?

Few relationships run smoothly all the time. You’re individuals, after all, with needs and interests of your own. Learning how to negotiate any differences is vital for you to function as a couple. Sometimes, however, those differences can leave you both feeling as if there’s no option but to go your separate ways. It’s a big decision, and one you need to make with your head as much as your heart.

In some cases, a break (or trial separation) can allow you to step back from the relationship and pinpoint the problems. As emotions cool, it gives you both a chance to question your future together.

How to take a break

A break from your relationship requires planning. Unless you sit down and discuss how it’s going to work, you could be looking at a temporary split in name only. You could also find the problems you had are still in place when you get back together. Even if you’ve reached the point where you’re finding it hard to get along, it’s vital to stay calm, be prepared to listen and keep a constructive attitude. Lead by example, and your partner is likely to do the same. Here are some key points to consider:

1. Identify why you could benefit from the break. This will involve flagging up what’s gone wrong, so be sure to keep calm and avoid blame.

2. Agree on a timeframe. You could be looking at anything from a weekend to a month or more. Basically, go with whatever feels right for you both.

3. Establish rules of contact. During the break, some couples might find the occasional call to one another serves as a comfort. Others may find complete separation is the only way to handle the situation. Go with whatever works for you, but be sure to agree on it in advance.

4. Commit to the time apart. Commit to the time apart. If you’re tempted to view this break as an opportunity to enjoy a fling without strings, think about the consequences first. If anything, it risks complicating a sensitive situation, so if there’s hope for the relationship then agree to stay faithful for the duration.

Making it work

Once you’ve negotiated a break that suits you both, it can still come as a shock to be apart. Good preparation is the key to softening the impact and allowing you to fill that time and space constructively.

1. Surround yourself with friends and family. Opening up to people who care, and want the best for you, is the surest way of making sense of your emotions. You’re bound to feel wobbly at first, so lean on them for support.

2. Get back in touch with yourself. Often a relationship runs into trouble because you both feel suffocated by each other. This break should remind you that you also have a life of your own. Seize the opportunity to make the most of the things you feel unable to pursue as a couple.

3. Evaluate from a distance. By reconnecting with yourself, it’s easier to identify what’s at fault with the relationship. Has it genuinely broken down, or do you feel it could thrive now you’ve had some room to breathe?

4. Consider what changes are needed. If you think the relationship is worth fighting for, you’ll have to tackle your problems. Ask yourself what needs to change in order for things to improve.

After the break…

At this point, only you will know how you feel about the relationship. For some, being apart might’ve woken them up to what they stand to lose. Others could just realise being single is what they’ve been missing all this time. Whatever conclusion you’ve reached, here’s how to negotiate things positively:

1. Review the relationship together. Agree on a time and place, and then give each other the opportunity to share how you both feel following the break.

2. Keep an open mind. You may not know how your partner feels until they speak, so avoid going in with expectations or assumptions. This way, whatever the outcome you reduce the risk of being disappointed.

3. Deciding to give it another shot? Be sure to establish ways to overcome your difficulties. Also agree to review how things are going on a regular basis. This way, you can address any problems as they arise, rather than allowing them to grow.

4. Going your separate ways? Then you’re doing so having handled a difficult situation to the best of your abilities. It won’t guarantee you’ll stay friends, but at least you’ll finish things on good terms.


Next Steps

  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.


Updated on 29-Sep-2015

Photo of couple on a break by Shutterstock