A relationship can turn sour for any number of reasons.
Maybe one (or both) of you has started to worry that the other person isn’t as perfect a match as they originally thought. Maybe you’re fighting a lot more over meaningless stuff. Or maybe things have just run their course.
When that happens, there should really only be two choices: the first is to sit down, talk things through, and try to work it out. The second is to call it quits. But for some reason, a lot of couples try to introduce a third option: taking a break.
The term “taking a break” is effectively meaningless, because it can mean whatever you want it to mean. Some people believe it means stepping back from the relationship and reassessing whether they want to be with their partner; other people see it as a hall pass to go out and pretend to be single while still retaining the security blanket of their relationship.
It’s time we put a stop to it. Here are some of the most common conditions of taking a break – and why they don’t make sense.
One of the most common refrains about taking a break is “I just need some space to think about us.” The implication is that the relationship is so confining, so oppressive, that you can’t even think. But the cool thing about our brains is that we can – and do – think all the time. We think when we’re asleep; we think when we’re talking to someone; we think when we think we’re not thinking.
In a healthy relationship, you don’t need to physically sequester yourself from your partner in order to evaluate things, because in a healthy relationship, you can feel comfortable saying “I don’t feel like talking right now.” If you want the relationship to work, you stick around; trying to establish physical distance between you and your partner is just an attempt to make the segue back into single life as easy for you as possible.
A Set End Date
Taking a break often comes with a set end date. One person will say “I think we need to take a break for a week,” thinking that that week apart will lead to some serious soul-searching by their partner. But more often than not, setting an end date on a break is pointless.
For starters, everybody processes things differently. Just because it only takes you a week to think through your options and make a decision doesn’t mean that everyone can do so in the same timeframe. It could be two weeks, a month, a year – everybody’s different.
It’s also worth noting that we are lazy as hell. So if we hear “I need a break for one week,” we’re not thinking “Okay, on Monday I’ll record my thoughts on the beginning of our relationship; on Tuesday, I’ll look at where things started to go wrong; on Wednesday…” and so on. Instead, we’re probably thinking “Cool, I’ll talk to them in a week.”
Maybe you’re thinking “Well then, I’ll just do an indefinite break.” But that’s even worse – if you’re willing to be apart from your partner indefinitely, then the relationship is probably beyond repair. On top of that, an indefinite break means that both you and your partner will, more than likely, live in a relationship purgatory until one of you decides to call it off.
Seeing Other People Will Help Us Figure Out If We’re Good For Each Other
Nope. Seeing other people is worse than an indefinite break, because not only are you forcing each other to live in relationship purgatory, you’re also forcing whoever else might come into the picture to live in it too.
If you’re in a good relationship, you already know that you’re good for each other. Seeing other people – hell, even the desire to see other people – is about as big a red flag as you can get that the relationship you’re in is on its last legs.
In each of these cases, the underlying sentiment is clear: the relationship isn’t working. The moment you realize that a relationship is beyond repair should be closely followed by the moment that you end things with your partner. It’s like removing a Band-Aid: we think it’ll be less painful if we go bit by bit, but in reality, it’s faster and easier to rip it off in one motion.
It’s tough to admit when your relationship is toast, especially when that relationship is with someone with whom you had a genuine connection that, for whatever reason, eventually faded away. But 99.9% of the time, a break isn’t going to help.
Nobody has ever solved their relationship problems by putting physical and emotional distance between themselves and their partner. The only way to get over those problems is to face them head-on; otherwise, what’s the point? So if you’re thinking about taking a break, go one step further and call things off. Don’t make it harder than it has to be.
And who knows? If you’re really meant to be together, maybe you’ll find your way back to one another eventually.