We all know how it feels when a relationship is coming to an end; the calls get shorter, more about the texts less decorated with emojis and arguments are regular, side effects about big things to petty things (“What did you mean when you said ‘Oh hey’? Do you not want to talk to ME?? WHO IS THIS OTHER PERSON YOU LIKE SO MUCH?!” …okay fine, maybe that’s just me).
But we also know how it feels to be in love (or at least deep in “like”), so invested in emotion that you don’t want things to end permanently. In a lot of cases, you’re lucky enough to have a partner who feels the same, to want to be together but is intelligent enough (as you are) to recognize that the problems you’re having aren’t solved as easily as ‘talking them out’. So, you agree to take a break. Whatever that means.
Taking a break feels like a breakup; there’s little to no talking, there’s the anxiety associated with wondering what your partner is doing, if they’re thinking about you, and if the break will ever end.
I speak to you from personal experience; a break does not guarantee the end of a relationship and it does not need to be the end of your emotional stability. So here is my advice, based on personal experience, for handling a break and regaining trust when/if things start up again.
Take it as an opportunity for personal growth
You’re free (not that you want to be)! Look at yourself, cultivate you. Being on a break doesn’t mean filling the hole your partner left behind with another person; it means taking time to grow and nurture yourself, to better yourself. Taking yourself to dinner, to see a movie you were looking forward to seeing with your SO, on a spa weekend, buy yourself a cactus, pluck your brows, attempt to shave *down there*—focus on the energy within and use it to work around potential sadness.
Spend time with other people
And no, I don’t mean a replacement lover; I mean friends, family, people you might have grown distant from. Rebuild relationships outside of your romantic one, trust people who will be sensitive to your feelings and help you feel genuine happiness again as you deal with these changes. Accept that invitation to your friend’s surprise party, join everyone on a mall trip. Often times, surrounding yourself with people is the best thing for the loneliness of losing a partner.
Think sincerely about your relationship
And not just the good stuff; think about these past few days, weeks, months, in-depth. Consider when a distance began to form and why. Reflect on what was said to each other and what might have played into the instability. Ask yourself; do you really want this break to end? As you explore yourself and your friendships, was the relationship in any way detrimental to you, were you losing sight of yourself?
But if you do want to return, remember the good times, think about the energy you miss and how you can reignite the flame that kept you together in the first place. Look forward to being reunited but not in a way that leads you astray from the purpose of the break; to spend time apart and cool down and to acknowledge the difficulties which brought you here in the first place.
If things start up again, take it slow
The end of any relationship, whether it is temporary or permanent, is painful. When it came to my boyfriend and I, I didn’t even realize our break was a break at all—what happened in November was a breakup that suddenly changed its course with a “Hey” from my ex months later, before returning back to college at the end of the winter break. Now, a couple of months into a resurgence, he acknowledged recently that in his opinion we didn’t break up; we just took time off. Still, that “Hey” was far from the romantic, invested conversations that we had for the whole of our first semester, and likewise things were slow initially. I advise you to be gentle in a similar way, despite how eager you might feel, as you move back into things, to avoid past mistakes and be conscious of the fragility of both of your hearts. To take things one day at a time and move back into comfort gradually.
Don’t give up because you’re on a break
Breaks are deliberate; if either of you wanted to break up, hopefully someone would have said so in the first place. So while you take this time for self-growth and reflection don’t lose hope of a reunion. But at the same time, if you tire of waiting and want to move on for whatever reason you should definitely go for it! There’s no reason to keep yourself bound in a relationship that makes you unhappy especially if being apart makes you realize it.
Above all focus the most on the first step; taking a break on your relationship doesn’t have to be the end of your world; if anything it should expand how you look at intimacy and, more importantly, how you look at yourself. And in the end, regardless of how things turn out between you and your SO, it can and should be beneficial to you.
Written by Ashley