It's not unusual to go through a rough patch in your relationship, whether you don't get enough time to see each other, you're getting on each other's nerves, or you just feel a bit flat. But it can be difficult to tell when you're in a relationship rut or when there's a bigger problem. Because sometimes, you may need to take a step back and
take a break in your relationship for a while.
"It's always better to try and talk your problems out with your partner,"
John Keegan, dating expert, tells Bustle. "But sometimes it's time take some space and see if you guys can come back in a fresh way and reset." That being said, taking a break in a relationship can turn into something more, so it's important to be aware of that.
"Often times, however, when people take a break that turns into a full breakup. So don't say things like 'I need a break' or 'let's break up' unless you really mean it. Because once you put them out there it begins to chip away at the fragile infrastructure of a relationship," Keegan says.
Sometimes though, you really do just need the space. How do you know when it's time to
take a break in your relationship? Here's what relationship experts had to say.
You're Caught In An On-Off Cycle
If you have a tendency to get caught up in a fiery on-off cycle, consider taking a real break. "A couple who have a persistent on-off relationship might be caught in such a cycle because they actually do not know have the skills to make the relationship better after each breakup," relationship counselor and clinical sexologist Dr. Martha Tara Lee of
Eros Coaching, tells Bustle "Get some space if you need but seek therapy in the meantime!" You'll be able see if the relationship is really worth it.
You've Reached An Impasse On Major Issues
Sometimes, you reach a stalemate in the relationship — and you can't tell if it's a dealbreaker or not. "There could be fundamental issues or what can be considered dealbreakers that cannot be resolved — their inability to manage their temper, their unwillingness to change or compromise, religion, finances," Lee says. "Some space will allow for you to see if each of you will be happier without the other." Taking some time out will let you decide where your priorities are.
You Don't Know If You Have A Real Connection
If you have a strong sexual connection, it can cover a lot of problems — the passion can blind you to everything else. If you want to see if you have a real connection but you're not sure, taking some time away from that attractive, magnetic energy can give you some clarity. "Couples might be wildly attracted to each other, but confuse passion with having what it takes to be in and maintain a long-term relationship," Lee says.
You Find Yourself Avoiding Your Partner
If you are making up excuses to be alone, then something's off. "When you find yourself starting to come up with reasons why you don't want to spend time with your partner — listen to those," Camille Virginia, founder of
Master Offline Dating, tells Bustle. "It may be you, it may be them, but if it continues to linger for a week or more, explore why you feel that way and if you truly need a break or just some space for a few days to sort out your own stuff." Many of us like our alone time — but if you are actively avoiding your partner then that can be a problem.
You're Worried About Starting A Fight
You shouldn't feel like you're walking on eggshells in your relationship. Keegan says if you feel the need to lie because you're so worried about starting a fight, your relationship has definitely gotten to a place where you need to take a break.
You're Creating A Life Without Your Partner
It's totally normal to have a fair bit of independence in a relationship, but if you find yourself trying to build a life completely without them, that's not a great sign. "If you find yourself relieved when your partner is out or away, constantly trying to get away from them, or looking more forward to seeing people other than your partner, you might need a break from the relationship,"
relationship therapist Aimee Hartstein, LCSW tells Bustle. "It’s healthy to have a bit of a life outside of your relationship, but if you rarely want to do things with your partner, that is a bad sign." Taking some time away might help you rediscover your feelings for them — or confirm that they're not really there.
You Find Yourself Resenting Your Partner
Some emotions can be really toxic in a relationship. If you find yourself resenting your partner — or imagining your life with someone else — then it's probably time to take a break in your relationship, according to Keegan.
You Don't Feel Listened To
If you don't feel valued or heard in a relationship, that's not a good sign. Keegan says that not feeling listened to is a good reason to take a break — and think about what you're actually getting from the relationship.
If You Have Mismatched Expectations Of Each Other
If one of you thinks that your relationship should dominate every area of your lives, but the other doesn't want as much, Lee says it may be a good time to take some time apart and think about what a relationship means to you. "One partner may have some growing up alone to do," she says.
break in a relationship is a big step — because it can lead to a breakup — so it's crucial to be ready for the consequences of suggesting one. But if you feel like you're not happy in this relationship and need some time to reevaluate, taking a break can be a valuable tool.