Welcome back! The last time we talked, we discussed the big picture issues to deal with when you want to “survive the break” of a relationship. To recap a little bit, a break is when a couple/partnership feels the need to try a trial separation, of sorts. There’s no shame in it, and while it’s a major crossroads for a twosome, it’s not the end, not yet at least. Two of the most important ways to survive the break is to establish what the rules of the break will be (before you ACTUALLY take the break), and to respect those rules. This makes us ask: what are the rules?
FINE PRINT: Each relationship is unique, and the healthy rules for one may bring hell to another. Take these as suggestions, not gospel.
Yeah, baby. You have to figure out whether or not you can sleep with other people. That’s first. Then the decisions become a little more technical: what about a drunken hook up? Can you go on a date but have to keep the sheets unruffled? Is it okay just to hook up casually but you can’t explore it as anything more? Do you two want to make a schedule for once a week, or once a month where you still arrange to get jiggy with each other? Sex is a pillar you need to make sure is set in the foundation of the break very well before breaking contact with one another. Personally, I’d recommend a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. No relationship allowed but give your partner freedom to live their lives and let situations evolve. If you make the shackles too tight from the start then you’re not going to give enough freedom to figure out if you want to stay or go.
WHY ARE YOU TAKING THE BREAK?
Big question. You have to come up with an answer that you both agree with. You’ve got to be reading from the same book and on the same page. Are you taking the break because you want figure out whether it’s good to be dating exclusively? About moving in together? Maybe you want to go off to work on your own issues apart from the relationship? Whatever the reason(s), make sure you’re both crystal clear on the why.
ENDING IN SIGHT?
What’s the time frame? Like it or not, you have to either pick a date or agree not to pick a date for when you’ll reconvene and review where you are, individually and together, and where you want to go next: either individually or together. Creating a fixed point in time to meet and review how the break’s going seems pretty reasonable. Keeps the stakes moderate but also doesn’t leave either person out in the cold.
Break out the calendars! Are you going to spend your birthday together or apart? What about that friend’s wedding: who goes and who doesn’t? We all like to think we can coexist and act like no one else is affected in these situations but that’s not reality. Maybe there are some places it’ll be fine for you to both be at and others it’s better not to push your luck on.
PICK A FRIEND, ANY FRIEND!
Not just the where but who is what you want to get clear about. This is one of the stickier subjects when you share friends. Even stickier if you all of your friends are the same friends. You have to become aware of the monkey wrench that you’re throwing into the group. So, how do you want to deal with it? You don’t dish to them about each other? You can but agree not to hang out with certain people? It’s touchy. It’s a little messy. It could be fine but it’s a finer point that needs to be addressed.
These are the top five areas to set the rules about. There may be more but most of them will come out of these fab five. Sex, friends, time frame, social dynamics, and your goals. These are the things to first figure out when you decide to take the break. What’d I miss?
Break it up!
[Lead image via Sidarta/Shutterstock]