Whether you’ve decided to take a break, spend a little time apart, or are otherwise separated from your partner, you’re currently, hopefully temporarily, single. No matter what words you used or how you went about setting up the arrangement, it sucks.
There is hope, though. Taking a break – or even fully breaking up – doesn’t have to be the end of your relationship. It’s normal for relationships to go through rocky stages.
To make the break work to your advantage, take it as an opportunity to self-reflect and figure out where your relationship went wrong and how to fix it.
Why Taking a Break Works:
Taking a break is usually the best thing you can do for your relationship. If either of you is feeling stifled or aren’t feeling like the relationship is going anywhere, chances are you need some space for personal reflection and growth.
Even though the goal is likely to get back together, you both need space to figure out your own life.
Taking a break gives you that space, however, if you don’t take the time to improve yourself and reflect on how you got to this point, you’ll be right back where you started.
Keeping the No Contact Rule:
When you agree to take a break, you should set guidelines. The first is how long you two will maintain no contact.
This one is going to be hard. You need to not contact your ex–period. No stalking Instagram and leaving likes on all the photos, nor vague posting on Facebook about the breakup while tagging your ex in the comments.
It hurts, but it’s for the best. You’re taking a break because you need a bit of breathing space. Talking to one another – even if it’s just social media interactions – won’t give you the space you need.
Sticking to the no contact rule is your best bet for making the break temporary.
If you didn’t set a limit on the no contact rule before your break became official, give it at least a week, then send a simple message. “Thinking about you a lot this week.” or “Hope you’re doing all right!” is just a casual check-in. If you know your partner had exams or something big going on during that time, you can ask about that.
Then just let it be. The no-contact rule is to make the break stick and not just have it feel like a continuation of your relationship. It’ll force self-reflection and growth alone – but not necessarily apart.
Follow the Guidelines:
Taking a break is only going to work if you follow any guidelines you set up. When in doubt, ask yourself if it’s something you would do while still dating your ex.
Don’t sleep around or go out on dates, unless you both said it was going to be okay. Even then, it can make things awkward if you patch things up with your ex and get back together.
Don’t start any long-term flings or relationships – it’s not fair to you, your ex, or your new partner.
This is the time for you. Reconnect with your hobbies, visit family and friends, and respect the rules you set with your ex. Breaking them will almost guarantee you won’t be getting back together anytime soon.
While you’re not likely enjoying your newfound singleness, you should still take the time to reflect on everything that’s happened leading up to this. Chances are you’ve both made mistakes, you both have areas of your life that could use improvement.
Focus on yourself and becoming a better person in this time. Don’t do it for your ex, do it for yourself. You want to become a better person to help your life become better. If it has the side effect of winning back your ex, all the better.
This will also have the benefit of showing your ex you have the ability to grow and change and accept that it takes both of you to make this relationship work.
Understand, though, that not all breaks are made equal and not all relationships are destined to continue. Try to use the experience to become a better person and maybe find a friend in your ex-partner.
The most important part is to respect your ex’s boundaries. A short break isn’t the end of the world – nor is a break that ends up lasting longer than originally thought.
Take advantage of your single status to grow and become a better person and it won’t be a waste of time, no matter how it ends.