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The How-To Lounge: Time Apart Without Taking a Break

The notion of taking a break in a relationship is one many people ascribe to and one I’ve even recommended before, but it does seem that more often than not, taking a break is simply a step away from breaking up. When it comes down to it, a break may offer clarity, but it doesn’t actually solve any problems — only communication and compromise can do that — which is why I wanted to share some ideas for taking a break that doesn’t require any official breaks at all. To see my ideas, just


  • It is possible to put physical distance between one another without actually taking an official hiatus. Spend an entire day to yourself or take a weekend to visit your family. Consciously not talking for a couple days is not necessarily unhealthy. In fact, it can let you think clearly for a while.
  • Instead of taking a break from your relationship, try taking a break from the issue at hand. It sounds difficult, but if you and your significant other make the decision together to let something go for a while, it’s not so hard. In fact, being able to enjoy time together might actually give you both some much-needed perspective.
  • Go out with your girlfriends to cry, dance, get goofy, or do whatever it is you want to do — and don’t worry about your boyfriend back at home on the couch. Sometimes we just need some room to stretch our legs. But remember: don’t do anything that might compromise your relationship unless you’re willing to deal with the consequences.
  • Just as breaks are an opportunity to reconnect with ourselves, they’re also an opportunity to reach out to other people and process the struggles our relationships are going through. But reaching out to family and friends for an opinion or a new insight can happen at any time. And you may find it easier to process your problems when you can go immediately back to your significant other and tell him what you’ve realized as opposed to waiting until your break is over.

If you really do want time to yourselves, then by all means take it. But if you're just looking for a breather, it's important to learn how to get that feeling even with your significant other by your side.


JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
I think these little times away for a day or two are much needed before deciding to take an official break or to breakup. Even if you just lock yourself in your room and go online, read books, and watch movies all day alone you still get a break and some time to think for yourself. My husband and I have not physically spent a whole day apart since before we moved in together 4 years ago but we have been spending time apart doing our own thing. It makes the time you have together so much more special.
missyd missyd 9 years
I really wanted a 'break'....some time away to clear my head and figure somethings out. I needed some clarity. We have been together for 4 years and live together, I needed some time away. I didn't say I WANTED IT, but I just kind of 'threw' this subject out in the air with my boyfriend to see what he thought of it. He said in his world, if you leave, then that's it. You left. No 'time away'. You should work it out in house before it gets to that point. If you have to go so far as to leave, then it is over. So I decided not to go that far.
kmh5424 kmh5424 9 years
I find this to be an interesting topic. While my bf and I love each other and all, we don't really talk much when we are apart, maybe a text or email here or there, but neither one of us is phone people at all, so...I don't know, we both work full time and are both single parents, so it is nice to know that he is there doing his thing and me doing mine and then we have special time that we devote to just hanging out together too. But maybe those times in betweens are like breaks. I don't know, I would love to marry him someday, but I wonder if the fact that we aren't in each other's lives all the time means something more.
ilanac13 ilanac13 9 years
i have to agree that people get VERY SCARED when you say the 'take a break' thing. for my fiance and i - we live together in a small apt and sometimes it's just hard for us since you can't expect us to be happy all the time. what we've learned is that it's ok to want to do separate things and it doesn't mean that we don't like to be with the other person. i'll suggest that he go to play golf with some friends out of state - or i'll go to my mom's house about 30 minutes away...and he'll stay home...or sometimes i'll just go to the gym and wander around the city by myself for a bit and he'll do his own thing. it's only natural that you get tired of someone and get into fights but realizing that it's going to happen and take some time for yourself when it does happen - that's how you can avoid saying/doing things that you'll regret.
violinladyfreak violinladyfreak 9 years
There's difference between break and break up. Break up is definitive, it has a sense of finality as in there's nothing in between the couple anymore and whatever they do is none of each other's business. So hooking up after a break up can't be judged as a negative thing to do. Taking a break is just taking time dedicated to personal space, because a lot of times people lose themselves and lose focus while in a relationship. Having time apart not seeing each other and just focus on oneself is usually beneficial to each other and the relationship. The conclusion of a break usually breaks the relationship to a deeper and more functional level. Like on Friends when Ross hooked up while on a break, it really didn't agree with the definition of break.
joy76 joy76 9 years
Greentea I couldn't agree with you more , however it is very difficult to get to that state of mind when there are strong feelings involved. Good that you are, wish I could take a cue from you :-)
Greentea1203 Greentea1203 9 years
my boyfriend and I are on a break now while he figures out some's a little hard but I'm going out with my friends tonight and having a good time anyway! My face does not deserve wrinkles from any stress due to a guy. :P
kristennn kristennn 9 years
My boyfriend and I just decided yesterday to take some time away from each other because I have a lot in my life to handle right now and I need to be able to figure it out independently and without any distractions. We still consider ourselves together, but basically there will be no communication until I initiate it. Hopefully this helps me figure things out. But your advice made me feel a lot better about my situation. :]
njau njau 9 years
I really like the "take a break from the issue at hand"
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