Sometimes the relationship reaches a crisis point where both partners need a little, um, “me” time. It’s, like, a trial separation but usually without all of the legal ramifications. It’s a test meant for you to get an answer to one simple and brutal question: Should this break become a break up? Without a doubt, this is the most critical time for what you two have and could have. So here are some general guidelines and helpful tips to make sure you get the answer that’s clearest, sanest, and right for you.
SET THE RULES
Well, duh, right? Each couple has to make up the ground rules for this, um, let’s call it an experiment. Can you sleep with other people? Can you still go on a date once in a while? What’s the protocol for family gatherings or special occasions? Is there going to be an end date? Whatever you need the rules to be, make sure that you set them and set them up BEFORE THE BREAK BEGINS! It’s the safest measure you can take to ensure that when/if you attempt to reconnect that there won’t be any more D-R-A-M-A than necessary.
CHANGE EVERYTHING (SOME THINGS)
You’re set in a pattern. Actually, probably a lot of patterns. And most of those patterns are going to involve your partner. The best thing you can do is to, at least, tweak this status quo. You’ve got to wander off into someplace new to see if you want to reinvest into someplace familiar. Also, it’ll help you get perspective so that you’re not seeing that someplace familiar with the same perspective as before. Try a hobby. Take a new class. Indulge in a curiosity. Go to a new coffee shop or workout at a new gym. Hell, make a big change and send your resume to your dream job or get a tattoo-do things differently and see what the results are.
REMEMBER, YOU’VE GOT PEOPLE
Now’s the time to get back in touch with people that you might have lost touch with. Now’s the time to surround yourself with people you feel supported by and care about. You don’t have to go it alone just because you and your partner decided to, well, be alone for a while. Go out, hang out, stay in, live your life and it’s okay to lean on the people you trust the most, as you would be there for them, so will they be they for you.
The time has come to make that list of pros and cons about your relationship. I’m not saying think of it as an artwork to be critiqued. Look at the facts and the causes. Personally, I’d reflect a couple of different times when you feel like you’re ready. How you look at the relationship a week, month, or six months out (6 months would constitute, most likely, a break up) could be different. Allow for the effect of time, distance, and change to change the way you view what you’ve had and what you want.
To quote a good friend who sat next to me after trying a new Mexican place and indulging in too much drinking in the same night: “You don’t know what’s going to come up but let it come. It’s easier that way.” Same goes for emotions when you take a break. You THINK you’ll experience relief or joy or heartbreak or anger, and you might experience all of those things at some point. But the order and how intense you feel your feelings you can’t know for sure until you go through it. Just let them come up. Don’t try to control them. It’s a detox. Ride it out and eventually you’ll find your footing.
ARE YOU HAPPIER?
After a while, when the adrenaline and all the “eat, pray, love” stuff has engrained itself into your everyday routine, you have to ask yourself this question. And you have to be honest about your answer. Because if you do feel happier without your partner after a while then you just might be. This answer is going to lead to the big answer of the break in general.
RESPECT THE RULES!
First rule of the break: don’t break the rules. You have to respect the boundaries, appreciate them, and abide by them. Otherwise you’re just going to slip back down the slippery slope to the place that you’ve agreed you want to get out of.
Take heed of these wise words and you will survive this critical time. The details of the do’s and don’ts will be dealt with soon. Stay tuned. Keep in touch. And I’ll see you for your follow up. Until then stay strong, allow yourself to experience whatever emotions grip you, and don’t judge yourself too harshly…yet.
Wishing you a clean break,
[Lead image via StockLite/Shutterstock]