Where Ross and Rachel went wrong


Marilynn Steuby

A temporary break allows you to “press pause” on your relationship to figure out where to go next, without calling it off altogether.

You and your partner just got in a huge fight and you sense something is off. We’ve all been there. Sometimes the lows can get too low and all of a sudden your relationship feels stagnant and you’re considering breaking up. Before you pull the trigger, I have a suggestion: take a break to figure out if your relationship is worth fixing. 

A temporary break allows you to “press pause” on your relationship to figure out where to go next, without calling it off altogether. Breaks are a sign of maturity. You or your partner have recognized an issue and are willing to fix it, even if that means not talking for a few weeks. As long as you communicate and set ground rules, there’s a chance it could work out.

Can breaks in relationships work?


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The first step is to figure out why your relationship isn’t working and decide if that reason is worthy of an attempt at repair. Did they cheat on you? Automatic break up and block. Do they need time to focus on themselves? Talk about it and consider a break. No progress can be made without addressing the issue at hand. 

Second, set boundaries. Will you communicate with your partner throughout the break? Cut them off completely? These are questions that need to be answered for the relationship to have a higher chance of survival. You should also discuss if you will interact with others. Can you talk to other people? Go on dates with other people? Have sex? Typically, the more people involved, the harder and messier a final decision is to make. Don’t romantically talk to others if you want the relationship to work. 

The third and final step is to make a decision. Talk to your partner about what you learned during your time apart and figure out how to best apply it to your relationship. If both of you are willing to make it work, you now have a healthier relationship with the foundation to last. If a compromise cannot be met, it’s time to break up. Sometimes a break does lead to that, but at least you won’t be left wondering if it could’ve worked out. You tried, and it didn’t. Cry it out and move on. 

Taking a break is not a fail-safe for breaking up, which is a common misconception and major reason why people don’t think breaks are real. Especially in high school relationships, the phrase “we’re just on a break” is thrown around to excuse disrespectful behavior and mask toxic relationships. 

When considering whether or not to take a break in your relationship, it’s important to remember a break is a pause in contact, not compassion. If you no longer have feelings for your partner, lessen the blow and call it off now instead of drawing it out. 

If carried out correctly, breaks can lead to stronger relationships. Will distance make the heart grow fonder?