Recently, a friend of mine told me that, after weeks of turbulence, she and her boyfriend were “taking a break.” I immediately winced: Going on a break is never a good sign for a relationship, even if it sounds hopeful. It immediately reminds me of the whole “we were on a break!” saga between Ross and Rachel on Friends, which, as you probably know, was a total disaster.
Everyone has a different definition of a break: Is it an undetermined amount of time apart before feeling comfortable being an item again, or is it just a break up with rules and conditions? Now, if you ask me what taking a break means, here’s what I’ll tell you: It’s a cowardly, wishy washy approach to a break up.
I know, that sounds kind of harsh, but let’s be honest! Most couples decide to go on a break when their relationship status has all the makings of an understandable break up–they’re not as compatible as they thought, constant bickering, boredom, etc–but they’re apprehensive to rip off the Band-Aid. So they take a break as a way to rip it off slowly instead. From my observations, most people who go on breaks don’t eventually end up together like Ross and Rachel because they end up breaking up permanently. That’s not to say that there aren’t successful examples of couples going on breaks; as they say, distance makes the heart grow fonder, so maybe a little space is what a couple needs to recalibrate and recognize what they liked about each other from the jump. But don’t get your hopes up if you’re in this situation: Be real. If you and your partner are edging close to or are currently in the “taking a break” zone, here are seven questions you need to ask yourself first.
Do You Two Have The Same Definition Of What 'Taking A Break' Entails?Ah, yes, the classic "WE WERE ON A BREAK!" drama between Ross and Rachel on Friends. The problem with their break--okay, one of the problems--is that they had totally different definitions of what it meant to go on a break. If a break for one person means that they can hook up with other people while a break for person B means no sexual contact until you two figure out what's going on...then you two have a big problem. So if you agree to taking a break, you need to make damn sure that you two are on the same page, or else there's going to be some serious pain down the road. Friends
Who Wants The Break?It's always important to consider the power dynamic in this kind of situation. Are you the one who suggested taking a break, or did your partner suggest it? If it's the latter and this whole recommendation of taking a break came seemingly out of nowhere...that's a big red flag. It means that your partner has been actively thinking about breaking up with you, probably for a while now. Do you want to hold out hope for this relationship knowing that? And if you initiated the "let's take a break" talk, ask yourself what you hope to achieve after your break is over. Do you have a vision of you two in the future? If not, you're just avoiding a break up: Rip the Band-Aid, sis. That '70s Show
Is This Just About Wanting New Experiences Before Eventually Reuniting, Because You Two Are Soulmates?This might have happened to you: Maybe your partner (or you, if you initiated the break), believes wholeheartedly that you two are soulmates, destined to be together no matter what. But the problem is this: They feel too young to settle down with one person and want to explore with others some more. Honestly, it's not weird to want to experience multiple partners--sexually, emotionally, or both--before sticking to one person forever. But it's unfair to rope someone along for the ride while figuring it all out. This is a disaster waiting to happen. Either you two are truly meant to be together for the long haul or you're not. Sure, maybe you can break up and then cross paths again and live happily ever after but...why bet on that happening? My Mad Fat Diary
Is Optimism Overriding Realism?When you're honest with yourself, you know that you two just aren't a very compatible couple, and there are more things annoying you about your current partnership than not. But...you're optimistic that a break will help you rekindle that feeling you had early on in your relationship. Look, optimism isn't a bad thing, but it won't do you any favors if your optimism is overriding the reality of your situation. If a scenario in which the two of you are happily an item again requires a very stringent set of factors and requirements...that's not realistic, dude. Submarine
Is This A Way To Avoid Hurt Feelings?Are you two taking a break to avoid hurting each other? Newsflash: You can still like and care about someone and think that you two are not compatible for a romantic relationship at the same time. But a lot of people don't quite understand that, which leads to people who would otherwise just break up and remain friendly, to "take a break" and try to avoid hurt feelings. This is just a way to avoid confronting reality...don't do it. Clueless
Is 'Taking A Break' Just A Compromise To An Actually Break Up?OMG, please, this is one of the worse things that can happen in this whole scenario: If one of you proposes that you break up, and the other has such a big emotional fit that the break up turns into a "break," then y'all need to break up ASAP. This isn't going to end well, and one person is going to have a ton of resentment. You two are better off breaking up for real than living in this limbo. Some Girls
Be Honest: Do You REALLY Want To Get Back TogetherThink about it...really think about it. If you proposed a break to your partner, are you really jazzed about the prospect of getting back together with them in, say, a couple of months time? Or does the very idea make you a little queasy? If it's the latter, then you know what you need to do: Don't propose a break, you need to just break up. Fresh Meat
What do you think about couples going on breaks? Do you think it’s just an extended break up? Do you think it can have its benefits? Tell us in the comments!