Making the decision to take a break in your relationship is important and good. But what do you do on your relationship break? Do you date other people, or stay faithful to a guy you may never get back together with? These ideas and tips for things to do when you’re not sure if you’re breaking up temporarily or permanently will help you stay healthy and happy.
“This is really helpful,” says Denise on How to Handle Your Boyfriend’s Lack of Effort. “My boyfriend and I started with a lot of stress in our relationship. I recently said I needed a romantic date, and other things kept coming up. I met his mom for the first time when his parents stopped by, we took his dog paddle boarding. It’s not that those things aren’t wonderful, it’s just that I. Need. A. Romantic. Date. So I dug in my heels, and he had a stressful day at work, so it ended with him yelling that I was bipolar and he needed a relationship break. Since then my boyfriend has made no effort to contact me. I don’t want to lose him and I want to give him space. What do I do on our relationship break?”
The short answer is: when you’re taking break from your relationship, do what makes you feel healthy, alive, and good! Figure out who you are, what you want in life, and where you want your relationship to go.
In my long answer I share five things women should do when they’re taking a break from a relationship. At the end is a list of quick tips, for journaling or thinking.
What Should You Do on a Relationship Break?
Short or long breaks in a relationship can give you time to think and space to breathe. “If you feel like your ship is sinking, it might be a good time to throw out the stuff that’s been weighing it down,” says Angel Chernoff. “Let go of people who bring you down, and surround yourself with those who bring out the best in you.”
One of the best reasons to take a relationship break is because your boyfriend is bringing out the worst in you. Or, perhaps you bring out the worst in him! A relationship break can be the healthiest way to figure out if you are or are not meant to be together. It can also be the healthiest thing you ever do for your emotional, spiritual, physical and professional health – if you do the right things while you’re apart.
1. Remember that it’s not all about him
When you’re on a break it can be tempting to think that this is your boyfriend’s or husband’s time to decide what to do about your relationship. You may feel like it’s all about him, about how happy he is or isn’t in your relationship. But what about you? Are you taking time to stop thinking about your boyfriend and start learning more about what you want in life?
“Taking a break from my 14 year marriage is scary for me,” says Amara on How to Decide if You Should Reconcile With Your Husband. “I do not want to lose him. But I do not feel important enough in his life. My husband waits days to respond to my texts. He calls me on Fridays only….if I am lucky.We see each other bi-weekly. (Mind you, I pay the cell phone bill.) He is a calm man, whom doesn’t express his feelings. I love my husband deeply and want to reconcile. But I feel like time is up for us in his eyes. That is why a relationship break is important. To give him space to think and decide his best path.”
Amara is letting her husband determine what happens on their marriage break, how long it’ll last, and whether or not they reconcile. She seems to be forgetting that a break is for both partners to figure out what the next best steps are for their relationship. One of the most important things you can do during a relationship break is to remember that you have the power to decide what you want to see happen in your future.
2. Try to get an objective perspective on your relationship
Love isn’t just blind. It’s deaf, dumb, and unreliable! When you love someone you’re caught up in hormones, histories, personalities, experiences and dreams that aren’t necessarily based on fact. You aren’t looking at your relationship objectively. People in love get caught up in the emotion and drama; they make decisions that aren’t always wise or rational. Both men and women make decisions based on emotion instead of conscious choice. This can be healthy or unhealthy, depending on the relationship and people involved.
So what do you do on a relationship break? Get to the root of the problem. Something is wrong with your relationship, or you wouldn’t need to take a break! Spend this valuable time exploring what went wrong and what’s best for you in the long run. Not what you think you want and need, but what is actually best for you and your future. This is your chance to learn more about yourself and your relationship. Even more importantly, it’s your opportunity to get an objective perspective on your boyfriend or husband. Talk to a trusted mentor, unbiased family member, wise coworker or mature friend. If you’re on a break because of serious relationship problems or even abuse, talk to a counselor or therapist.
3. Learn how to balance love with the other parts of your life
Here’s what I did on my relationship breaks: I learn how to weave a man’s love into the other aspects of my life. When I was younger I tended to abandon all my other friends, activities and interests so I could focus on my boyfriend. When I first got married I put all my energy into our marriage and my husband’s comfort. Fortunately I had a smart boss who gave me the best advice: start as I mean to go in my marriage.
Use your relationship break to think about how and where you want to go in your life. Here’s a small example: I used to make my husband’s breakfast every morning because I thought it was cute and helpful. My husband was cute and helpful, and I wanted to show him how much I loved him! Then I asked myself if I really want to be making oatmeal and homemade granola at 5 am every morning. I realized that I would start to resent it pretty quickly. I wasn’t starting as I meant to go – but it wasn’t too late to change! So change I did.
4. Spend time alone, reconnecting with yourself
When was the last time you spent a solid block of time alone, without thinking about what your boyfriend or husband is thinking or doing? How do you feel at the thought of spending time alone? Reconnecting with yourself can help you figure out what you really want and need out of your relationship – and your life. This break will give you the time you need to think carefully about your future. Marriage and formal commitments (eg, mortgages, car loans, financial loans, etc) can change your life in dramatic ways. Don’t rush into anything – take a break to think carefully before you make an impulsive decision that you may later regret.
Spend time with friends and family who know you well and want the best for you. If they weren’t being honest about their feelings and opinions about your relationship before, this break may encourage them to speak up. They may be more likely to share what they think and know if you’re separated from your husband or taking a break from your boyfriend. You may learn things about your relationship that will surprise or even shock you – things your friends and family didn’t want to or couldn’t tell you.
5. Be honest about what you need to do on your relationship break
Everyone has work they need to do on themselves, to improve their emotional, spiritual, and physical health. Some women need to get more exercise or adopt healthier eating habits. Other women need to explore their creative artistic side, or re-establish their relationship with God. Still other women have academic or professional pursuits they’ve been neglecting, ignoring, or even hiding.
What do you need to take care of during this relationship break? What aspect of your self needs time, attention, perhaps some TLC (tender loving care)? That’s what you should be doing on your relationship break! And those activities or pursuits are things that only you can determine. You are a unique woman, worthy of time and attention. Don’t wait for a man to make you feel valuable or give you an identity. Your health and happiness is your responsibility – even if you get back together after this relationship break.
In fact, now – a season in which you aren’t seeing your boyfriend or husband regularly – could be the most important, valuable time you have in your life. Don’t waste it obsessing about him or your future as a couple.
A list of things to do on your relationship break:
- Find ways to remind yourself that it isn’t all about him
- Get a wise, objective perspective on your relationship – even if it hurts or is hard to take
- Figure out what “start as you mean to go” means to you
- Spend time alone and reconnect with yourself
- Think about what you need to and should do for yourself
- Start something new in your life: a physical activity, spiritual practice, emotional health habit
- Clean up a mess: declutter your home, fix a broken relationship, wash your car, mend your fence, delete old files and photos on your computer, groom your dog, wash your windows
- Travel. Far and wide!
- Call your mom or grandma
- Start a prayer journal – but not a list of things you want God to give you! Ask the Holy Spirit questions, tell stories, and share your heart with Jesus. Write down what God says to you.
What would you add to this list of things to do on a relationship break? How will you spend your time apart from your boyfriend or husband?
When you need extra motivation and support because you feel sad or lonely, read What to Remember When You Miss Your Boyfriend.