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So Your Partner Wants to Take a Break

Aug 13, 2008
Anybody over the age of, say, 17 has seen that infamous episode of Friends. You know the one: Ross and Rachel decide to go on a break to re-assess their relationship...and everything falls apart. Ross cheats, drama ensues, and there's a big, nasty breakup. And while Ross and Rachel do get their "happily ever after" in the end, when you hear the dreaded words "I think we should take a break," your heart flips over in your chest and you hear the bells of relationship doom ringing in your ears. Because outside the world of Friends, "I want to take a break" means that it's over, right?

What Wanting a Break Can Mean

Not necessarily. Especially in long term relationships, your partner can be unhappy for an infinite number of reasons...and not all of them have to do with you. It might be something concrete going on at work or with family, or something harder to pin down, like feeling generally unfulfilled. Or sometimes, your partner may just feel unhappy without even knowing why. It's frustrating, but it happens. And when it does, it's perfectly normal for them to want time away to get a little bit of perspective.

Taking a break can be a good thing. It can give your boyfriend or girlfriend a chance to reassess their priorities and figure out what's going wrong in life. It can make them realize that life is better with you in it than it is with you out of it. It can bring you closer and make your relationship stronger.

But it can also mean that your relationship is coming to an end. I'm sure it's not what you want to hear, but sometimes "taking a break" is just a way of breaking up without saying so. To some people, it just seems like the easy (okay, the cowardly) way out of an unhappy relationship.

What You Should Do

First, don't freak out. There are a lot of reasons why your partner might have asked for a break, and you don't want to jump to any conclusions. So silence those ringing bells of doom in your head, and try to keep your cool. A "break" doesn't necessarily mean a "break-up."

Next, talk to your partner about why he or she wants to take a break, and try to look for the truth in his or her answers. If he or she hems and haws about giving you a reason for the break, you can start to worry. But if your partner insists that he or she just needs a bit of space to reassess their life and relationship, the best thing to do is take their statements at face value.

And then give your partner what they want. If you want to save yourself from a potentially dramatic and drawn-out break up, you might just want to break it off with them permanently. But if you really want your relationship to have a chance, you'll have to give your partner the space that they need. There's a chance that your boyfriend or girlfriend will realize that their problems lie within themselves - not with you. And though it'll hurt to be apart, giving your partner the space that they need will only make the relationship stronger.

So just take a deep breath, try not to panic, and have hope. While it's possible your boyfriend or girlfriend wants to end things permanently, it's also possible for a break to be a good thing. Good luck.
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