Are Breaks Just Break-Ups?

It’s an age-old debate: who was right? Ross or Rachel? But it may be just as important to ask, should they have gone on a break in the first place?  

Relationships can be the best or the worst thing in the world. They take hard work and dedication. Sometimes, it feels easier if you just got a break from it all. Breaks in relationships are common, but are they actually any use? Or are they just a softer way of breaking up? 

Couples take breaks for many reasons: sometimes both or one person has personal issues that stops them from giving their partner their full attention. It could simply be about having no time due to work or college, or sometimes you just aren’t sure if it’s working out. 

For the non-Friends watchers in the room, let me explain: breaks in relationships are typically defined as a brief (and it should only be brief) time spent apart from your partner where you don’t see each other or have any interaction at all.  

If Ross and Rachel are anything to go by, it’s important to make sure that both parties know the terms of your break. Are you still exclusive or are you allowed to see other people? How long will the break be? What contact between you is allowed?  

It can get extremely messy if these terms aren’t set out and agreed upon before the break. It’s formal and a tad awkward but necessary if you want to avoid total relationship turmoil.  

Breaks are used as a way for both people to work through whatever issues they have that they can only do on their own. It is also often used as a test for the relationship for the couple to figure out if spending time apart makes them value their time together more or if they prefer being apart.  

‘No relationship is linear,’ English student Daniel said on the subject, ‘if you spend all your time with one person it may become tedious…by taking a break you reconnect to that feeling of newness you had when you first met.’  

However, breaks aren’t always the best thing for a relationship. One student, Martha, said, ‘breaks are just when they [the couple] don’t want to or aren’t ready to admit that they’re over.’ Some think that if a couple cannot work out their own personal issues together then they can’t sustain a long and meaningful relationship in the long run. Taking a break could be just procrastinating the inevitable.  

Breaks can lead to the realisation that you’re much happier away from your partner, or the very reverse could happen. You just have to hope that both parties reach the same conclusion. 

There are many outcomes of taking a break, and not all relationship problems call for one. If you’re thinking of going on a break, really evaluate why you want it and what you wish the outcome to be. If you already have doubts about it working out in the long term, it may be better to cut them loose now to save both them and you more heartache.