Let’s talk about breaks.
Everyone who has ever watched Friends knows one of the most hilarious (and most relatable) story lines in the series is the one where Rachel and Ross go on a break and Ross goes and sleeps with someone else.
In the show, every time it’s brought up by someone struck by disbelief that Ross would go ahead and sleep with another woman while he was on a break with Rachel, he just repeats “We were on a break!” One time he even says “I thought our relationship was dead” to which Rachel replies “Well you sure had a good time at the wake.”
I always think of this whenever anyone tells me they’re on a break with their significant other. To me, there are a few reasons why breaks just aren’t my thing.
When I was a freshman in college my ex told me he wanted to go on a break. My knee-jerk reaction was utter confusion.
What does that even mean?
What do you need a break from?
If you’re so confused as to whether or not you want to be with me, why don’t we just not be together?
Being the love-struck 18 year old I was at the time, I regretfully obliged because I’d rather have him in some capacity than no way at all. The obvious spoiler alert is that this did not work out and ended with me getting dumped. But that’s neither here nor there. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
The main problem is that this is where things get messy. There are no clear rules as to what happens when you’re on a break. This requires some uncomfortable conversations. Are you allowed to hook up with other people? Will you talk at all? Are phone calls allowed or only texting? So wait, no talking at all? How long are you going to do this for?
When you start breaking down the many facets of a break, it starts to feel silly.
That’s because in my opinion, it kinda is.
From my experience, breaks were the cowardly move. It’s what happened when one partner was afraid to make a concrete decision for whatever reason. Maybe because they were simply afraid of hurting the other person.
It could be that you’re not totally sure about what you want, but you want to see how it feels to be without them without actually being without them. Relationships shouldn’t work that way.
You shouldn’t be able to have someone halfway and you shouldn’t want to.
Unfortunately, this gives the person you’re on a break with the power to string you along, which can so easily happen. You’re going to hang on however you can if there’s someone you care about. Because, like me, you’d probably rather have them some way than not at all. If you’re ever in this situation, you have to ask yourself if you should settle for someone who isn’t even sure about you to begin with.
Granted, there are some situations where breaks might be necessary. And they could be right for some and not for others. We can never say never. I get that. Maybe someone is going through something personally and doesn’t want to get their significant other wrapped up in their drama. Even then, though, the fair and mature thing to do would be to separate and open yourselves up to new opportunities. And then maybe down the line you’ll work out. Right?
The trick here is to not hang on to those maybes. You never want a maybe, you want a f*** yes.
Now, I wanted to be sure that I wasn’t just ignorant to the “rules” or if we’re all in agreement that breaks are the actual worst. I consulted some ladies to ask them about their experiences with breaks. The responses I got were insightful and to me, a little surprising at times. (Names have been omitted).
The question: “Are breaks dumb, or do they work?”
Breaks work for some but not others…
“I think it all really depends. In my experience, every time I or someone I know was in a relationship and took a “break,” at least one person hooked up with someone else. It was really an excuse to explore what else was out there, which only causes complications, and in the end, the relationships never worked out. However, theoretically, I’d like to think if you took a break to work on yourself, i.e. you have insecurities to work through that are only hurting the relationship, and you need to take a step back and work on that before you can move forward in the relationship, there would be a possibility for that break to “work.”
Breaks are an easy way out…
“I’ve always said if you need a break you need an out. I’ve done breaks and they’ve never worked. I’ve been with the same person for 4 years now. We have had some serious fights but never a break. If you want someone you have to be willing to fight for them.”
Breaks are a time to grow, not a time to hook up with others…
“My boyfriend and I went on a ‘break’ after we both went through a rough patch finding work after graduation. I definitely took him for granted even though I loved him to death, but the way we were treating each other was not healthy. I personally did not want the break, but we agreed after that if it weren’t for us taking time apart, we would have ended up hurting each other and breaking up anyway. After taking time to learn how to appreciate each other again, we came back a month or two later completely in love and better than before. I know this is not the case with all relationships, and I would never go through it again (it was so hard!), I do believe it can mend relationships. Mind you, we did not call it a ‘break’, we broke up, but continued to go on a date together maybe once or twice a week. It’s such a confusing state to be in. I believe breaks are shitty, but they will give you the answer you truly need in the end.”
When you know you know…
“I say no. Either you want to be with the person or you don’t. Just my opinion though!”
Breaks are good to get perspective but don’t expect change overnight…
“If you break up, or need a break, it’s for a reason. Usually that reason doesn’t change. So no, it normally doesn’t work. But time away from each other does lend perspective, as long as you aren’t taking the break to date other people or go wild and do everything your significant other hates.”
If you’ve had a good experience with a break, I want to hear about it. Are they a good thing? I’d love to hear from some of you guys!