Do Breaks In Relationships Work? 5 Different Ways Couples Take A Time Out From Each Other

Share
Ad failed to load

At some point in your relationship, you might feel the need to take a break from your partner. The need for a break comes when you reach a juncture where things aren't working and, honestly, you're not sure what else to do. If absence makes the heart grow fonder, then maybe time apart is exactly what your relationship needs to continue to grow. Or maybe it's less about absence and more about needing space to figure out what you need and want, not just for your relationship, but for yourself.

“When a couple takes a break in a relationship, it’s usually because one person isn’t sure about the value of the future of the relationship,” New York–based relationship and etiquette expert of Relationship Advice Forum, April Masini. “The break is either to clear [their] head, test the waters and see what else is out there, see if the partner is missed on the break, or use the break as a slow advance to a full on break up.”

But Masini says a break often leads to a breakup. "It’s very tough to take a break and not have derivative problems added to the mix as a result of that break — and these usually lead to a breakup," she says. "In addition, the break is usually either an excuse for a breakup, or a prelude to one. Breaks are more often than not, the step before a breakup."

Ad failed to load

The exception? When one of you just needs some breathing room for the weekend, whether it's in the form of a girls' trip or a visit to your parents'. "It’s short, and meant to relive a little stress that isn’t major. That kind of break is very healthy in a relationship, and doesn’t necessarily lead to a breakup — in fact, it can strengthen the relationship," says Masini.

Since the reasons for taking a break in a relationship vary, so do the types of breaks that couples can have. Here are five different types of breaks you and your partner can take, according to Masini.

Ad failed to load

1The Blackout Break

Giphy

In keeping with the "heart will grow fonder with absence" theory, some breaks need to be legit breaks — as in no contact at all sort of breaks. Sometimes when we're forced to go completely without our partner that we can clearly see what it is that we want and need. We might realize life without them just can't exist or that life with them just can't exist.

"This is a name I’ve coined for couples who take breaks where there is no contact," says Masini. "They don’t see each other, they don’t talk, text or email each other, and they even cut off with each other on social media. It’s a clear no-contact break, and it’s a way for couples to really see what it’s like for them to be single. Typically, these breaks lead to breakups — but on rare occasions, both people miss each other so much, the black out lets them see that they don’t want a break, they want to work through their problems."

2The Break Where You Don't Discuss Dating Other People

Giphy

When it comes to taking a break, it's probably a good idea if you and your partner come up with some parameters. For example, are you going to date other people when you're apart? If you don't discuss it and your partner pulls a Ross Geller and sleeps with someone while you're on a break then, well, we've all seen Friends: "We were on a break!" Basically, you both want to be on the same page as to the "rules" of the break, because yelling, "We were on a break!" for several seasons of your life to justify your one-night stand while on your break, is really exhausting.

"When couples take a break from each other, the third rail is always the issue of whether or not they’ll date other people on that break," says Masini. "Sometimes this topic is not discussed ahead of time, which is what I call the 'break with a tacit no dating clause'. The problem is that when the couple finds out that one or both of them has dated and slept with someone else during the break, the relationship ends because it feels like there’s been cheating and betrayal."

3The "Monogamy" Break

Giphy

On the flip side of the break with a tacit "no dating," is a break in which it's clearly discussed that there will absolutely not be any dating or sleeping with other people. So, should one partner not abide by this rule, then rekindling after a break becomes extremely difficult. But it's also these couples who, according to Masini, don't really want to break up anyway.

"Some couples take a break with an agreement that they won’t date or sleep with anyone else during that break," says Masini. "This is the kind of break that couples take because they basically need a time out from each other. Maybe bickering has reached a boiling point, or there is stress that escalates to the point that a couple can’t function without a break. These breaks are taken because a couple doesn’t want to breakup, so they throw in an agreement not to date or sleep with anyone else, as insurance against a break up during the break."

Ad failed to load

4The Prelude To A Breakup Break

Giphy

Similar to dipping your foot in the deep end of a pool, the prelude is a way to sort of ease into a breakup under the guise of it just being a break. It's like implanting the idea, so as to make the ending easier on both partners.

"Some people don’t have the tools to break up, so they create derivative relationship dynamics that will lead to a break up," says Masini. "They may or may not realize what they’re doing. Sometimes it’s unconscious. The break that couples take in order to get out of the relationship, is a step toward a breakup that makes the actual breakup less dramatic, less painful, and expected."

5The Fake-Out Break

Giphy

For those who get a little heated in arguments, there's "the fake-out break," as Masini calls it. It's basically when people exclaim they want a break, mid-argument, but don't really mean it. Even as they're dramatically packing their bags, they don't mean it and even if they get out the door with their baggage, they'll be back in like an hour. But this can also lead to a cycle of fake-out breaks.

"Some couples decide on a break in the heat of the moment," says Masini. "As soon as the break occurs, one or both of them realize they didn’t want it and were just being dramatic when they called for it. The fake break is quickly short-lived and may result in a reunion… that leads to more of the same (fake-out breaks) that may or may not lead to a permanent break, or sometimes the fake-out break is all a couple needs to realize that they want to work things out and be together forever."

Taking a break in a relationship is totally normal and can actually be healthy. It gives you a chance to see what you might not be able to see while you're inside the relationship, so it's like getting an extra set of eyes. There's no telling where the break will lead until you take it — it could be a a step to breaking up or a chance for some much-needed breathing room. But no matter the direction it takes your relationship, it's important to trust that what's meant to be is meant to be.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

Here's Where Your Next Trip Should Be, Based On Your Zodiac Sign

If you've been craving a vacation, now is a good time to take the plunge. According to data collected by travel site Expedia, late winters and early spring are pretty much the best times of the year to go on vacation. Based on average airfare ticket …
By Callie Tansill-Suddath

Bustle's Editors On Jennifer Aniston + Adam Rippon

We've made it to Friday! It's been a pretty hectic week, and the news that Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux are splitting up might have put a damper on your weekend. But, if like many people you have Monday off, hopefully you can sit back and enjo…
By Rachel Simon

This Timeline Of Justin Theroux & Jennifer Aniston's Relationship Will Break Your Heart All Over Again

Just one day after Valentine's Day, actors Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux announced their breakup after seven years together. The celebrity couple, who were married for two-and-half years, separated quietly at the end of last year. This week, th…
By Priscilla Totiyapungprasert

19 Things Your Parents Told You Were Illegal In The '90s

Kids say — and think — the darnedest things. We have overactive imaginations, adults like to mess with us, and we don't always understand everything we hear. That's why some kids call strawberries "straw babies" — a boo-boo so adorable, you don't eve…
By Megan Grant

Why Uggs Are Never Going Away, Whether You Like Them Or Not

Uggs. The word alone can conjure up memories of teenage years, regrettable outfits, and undeniable comfort. But if, like me, you thought that you've already said goodbye to those fleece-lined tan boots, you can think again. It seems fashion has adopt…
By Lauren Sharkey

I Never Want To Write This Essay Again

I don't know where you were when you heard about Wednesday's high school shooting in Parkland, Florida. I don't know what you were doing, or how you tried to process the news. I do know this: you thought to yourself, not again. And yet, again. Of cou…
By Jenny Hollander

Netflix's New Romantic Movie Will Have You Crying Like It's 'The Fault In Our Stars'

Cancer movies are a heartbreaking staple of Hollywood and have been for decades. It's almost a law of nature: new year, new cancer movie. This year, it's Netflix's Irreplaceable You, a heartbreaking original about a longtime couple who get thrown for…
By Olivia Truffaut-Wong

A Study Suggests Drinking Soda Can Affect Your Fertility — But Don’t Freak Out Just Yet

An awful lot of things can affect fecundability — that is, the probability of conceiving within a single menstrual cycle — but can soda really decrease your chances of getting pregnant? A new study suggests that it might, although it turns out that t…
By Lucia Peters

Here Are All The Terms You Need To Know If You’re Watching Olympic Ski Events Right Now

Every four years the Winter Olympics rolls around to remind me that A) there are so many important Winter Olympic sports, and B) I know virtually nothing any of them. And I know for a fact, I'm not alone, I bet most people don't know what the differe…
By Danielle Colin-Thome

Money Actually CAN Buy Happiness — And Science Figured Out Exactly How Much It Costs

You’ve probably heard the saying “Money can’t buy happiness.” Personally, I’d be more than willing to test out that hypothesis myself, but researchers at Purdue University beat me to it. Researchers found that there is an actual amount of money it ta…
By Katie Mitchell

Kate Middleton Made Sales Of This $1 Secret Accessory Spike & She'll Turn You Into A Believer

There's a royal epidemic going on, people. It's one that causes any and everyone to obsess over the royal family's wardrobe and beauty routines, even if it means breaking the bank to look like them. So a frenzy was expected when Kate Middleton report…
By Summer Arlexis

Adam Rippon and Mirai Nagasu Have Matching Tattoos & The Story Is So Cute

Olympic season gives people the feels. From those shipping Canadian ice dancing pair Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir to Shaun White's gold medal win on Tuesday, the feels are real. Now, there's another reason to get all up in your emotions. Adam Rippon a…
By Shea Simmons

A New Study Says Being In A Relationship Could Change Your Taste In Wine — Here's How

I’d be willing to bet that for many of you, a nice bottle of wine is awaiting you in your near future — and if you’re planning on sharing that bottle with a partner, there might be more to your choice than meets the eye: According to recent research,…
By Lucia Peters

Carrie Brownstein On Why Even The Obama Era Should Have Enraged You

An icy January morning soon after Hollywood's show of solidarity for the #MeToo movement at the Golden Globes and almost exactly one year into the Trump Administration feels like a momentous time to be sitting across from Carrie Brownstein. The Sleat…
By Samantha Rollins

Here’s What The Upcoming Year Of The Dog Means For Your Chinese Zodiac Sign

On Feb. 16 the world will celebrate the Chinese New Year, welcoming the Year of the Dog in like the good doggo it is — we hope. A new year means new zodiac predictions for the 365 days ahead. So, what does the Year of the Dog mean for your Chinese zo…
By Brittany Bennett

7 Signs You're Ready To Get Into A Relationship, According To Experts

It can be difficult to tell when you're ready to start dating again. Maybe you're coming off of a bad breakup, maybe you've just been focused on other things. And, ironically, one of the signs that you're ready to be in a relationship is that you're …
By Lea Rose Emery

I Got A Breast Reduction & It Was About So Much More Than The Size Of My Boobs

As a young teenager, I pretty much reached peak physical maturity overnight. One day I was wearing my first training bra a la Lizzie McGuire, and the next I was sweatily fumbling around a Victoria’s Secret with 32DD boobs, trying to summon up the cou…
By Sierra Taylor Horton

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
via Romper

The 15 Best Fiction Books Of February Feature Tons Of Extraordinary Women

When the cold winds of February blow in, there's nothing I want more than to hide under my covers with a good book. Luckily, there's more than a few fantastic new fiction books coming out this month, so the only tough decision you'll have to make is …
By Melissa Ragsdale

These 10 Drugstore Red Lipsticks Are Under $10 & Actually *Amazing*

I adore makeup. There are few things I like more than getting myself fancied up in the mornings. It's a little ritual I get to do every day that makes me feel prettier and more put together. When my makeup is on, I'm ready to face the world — pun int…
via Romper

17 Moms Reveal The Most Disgusting Part Of Their Pregnancy

Pregnant bodies do weird-ass things. Weird-ass, gross things. I mean, my pregnant body did (twice), and I have long-suspected I'm not alone. So I asked other moms to share the most disgusting part of their pregnancy and I learned that, not only am I …
via Romper