Relationships are full of wonder and intimate moments that can make life worth living, but more often than not, people find themselves in a relationship that doesn’t feel right anymore.
For one reason or another, you might find yourself face-to-face with a partner who is not living up to your expectations, or that you are not living up to theirs.
You might find yourself wondering whether or not this relationship is right for you on a regular basis, but are thwarted with doubt and decide to stay for the hell of it.
1. You can’t seem to cut the crap.
If you are fighting like cats and dogs and things aren’t getting better, it might be time to take a break.
More importantly, if you find yourself starting fights because you know that you won’t be talking to each other if you aren’t fighting, that’s a good time to throw in the towel.
If you are just walking on eggshells waiting for the next big blowout, consider your relationship doomed and schedule a break as soon as possible.
Whether you get back together or not is not what is important here; what’s important here is that you take time to figure out what you are really fighting about and where that anger is coming from.
2. You have a lot of doubts about whether or not this is working.
Sometimes, you might find yourself daydreaming about what life would be like if you weren’t in this relationship.
If you threaten to leave or talk about leaving and declare that your relationship is in trouble, a break might do you some good.
Breaks don’t have to mean the be all and end all about your relationship, but rather, they give you space and time to figure out if this relationship is still important to you.
A lot of people, especially married people, don’t ever ask the question, “do i still want to be with this person?” after having been with them for so long already.
We assume that the best course of action is to keep investing time and energy into a relationship, but a break might show you that you aren’t really good together.
3. He’s not stepping up for you
A great sign that a guy is committed to a relationship is when it steps up for the woman he cares about and protects her.
Unfortunately, when he’s not doing this, it could be the sign you need to take a break from your relationship.
Does your guy protect you from the big and little things in life, provide you emotional support, make sure you’re always safe?
In other words, does he act like your hero?
I don’t mean an action hero like Thor, but an everyday hero who provides you something no other man can.
These are the questions you need to ask yourself if you’re contemplating pushing the relationship pause button.
There’s actually a new theory in relationship psychology that goes to the heart of why men commit wholeheartedly to relationships with some women but not others.
It’s called the hero instinct.
According to the hero instinct, men have a biological drive to live a life full of meaning, to provide for those he cares about, and the desire to earn respect from those around him.
And this drive is amplified in their romantic relationships.
The interesting thing is that, before you decide to actually take a break from your relationship, there are things you can do to actually trigger the hero instinct in your guy.
There are words you can say, phrases you can use, and little requests you can make to bring out this natural instinct in him.
I don’t often buy into popular new concepts in psychology or recommend videos. But if you want your man to fully commit to your relationship, I think learning about the hero instinct can make all the difference.
4. You’ve been cheated on.
Look, being cheated on sucks. Even if you are deeply in love and can’t imagine living your life without this person, take some time to figure things out on your own.
A break might be just what you need to clear your head and think about what you will get out of going back to the relationship if you decide that is the right thing to do.
If you find that your partner has been sleeping around, you are going to need a lot of time to think about how your life will be different, how your relationship will be different, and whether or not you really want to start things up again.
You might try to figure this stuff out while still being in the relationship, but you’ll find that the more space you give yourself, the more honest you can be about your feelings.
5. You’re feeling alone.
If you are in a relationship and feel like you are all alone anyway, it might be better to just be alone.
There’s only one way to find out: take some time apart to reconsider what your relationship is all about and what you are getting out of it.
If you aren’t sure that going forward together is the best thing and you aren’t getting what you need from the relationship, parting ways might be best for both of you.
Being alone in a relationship is much worse than being alone on your own. At least when you are alone, you are in charge of your life.
Being lonely makes you feel like a victim. It’s never easy to call it quits, so if you want more time to figure it out, take the time you need.
If your partner isn’t willing to put the work in to figure things out, well, you’ll have your answer about the strength and importance of your relationship. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but it might be worth learning to find yourself again.
6. You’ve fought the same fights over and over again.
If you find that you and your partner are arguing over the same things all the time and the outcome is not changing, it might be time to take a break.
You might find that some time apart from one another gives you an opportunity to make up your own minds and to develop your own opinions about things.
When couples spend a lot of time together, especially if they started dating at a very young age, they can begin to develop a likeness that makes it impossible for one or the other to be different.
Spending some time apart can actually strengthen your relationship, instead of making it weaker.
7. You need to focus on yourself for a while.
If you are struggling to give your partner the attention they deserve, you might consider taking a break from the relationship for a while to give yourself the attention you deserve.
You need to do this without feeling guilty and you need to talk to your partner openly and honestly about these feelings. A weekend away is probably not going to cut it.
In many instances, you may find that a trip or assignment at work might be what is needed to figure your own things out and get back on track.
When you are feeling refreshed or realigned, you might find that you can begin to give your partner the attention you once did.
This is not entirely uncommon as people change over the years and need to figure themselves out at different points.
8. You’re no longer essential to each other
How essential are you to each other?
I don’t mean that you need to be one soul split in two or have an unhealthy reliance on the other person. But feeling essential to your partner is actually a sign of a relationship worth persisting with.
I mentioned the hero instinct above.
It’s a new concept in relationship psychology that’s generating a lot of buzz at the moment. And it helps to explain why some couples take a break in a relationship while others can repair whatever has gone wrong.
According to the hero instinct, a man wants to feel essential to the woman he loves. He has a biological drive to live a life full of meaning and to provide for those he cares about.
And this drive is amplified in their romantic relationships.
When a guy feels like he’s essential, he’s much more likely to be happy and satisfied and commit to a long term relationship.
Men aren’t that complicated. And when certain natural biological instincts are triggered, like the hero instinct, they respond predictably.
To learn more about the hero instinct, watch this excellent free video here.
Some ideas are life changing. And when it comes to repairing a relationship on the verge of ending, the hero instinct is one of them.
9. You miss your friends.
Fear of missing out is a real thing for people who have been in a relationship for a long time.
It’s hard to tell why so many people want to relive their glory days or live them for the first time when they are in a relationship for some time, but it’s been known to happen.
If you find yourself longing for when things were simpler and it was just you and the girls or guys that once were, it’s time for a conversation with your partner about what’s missing from your life.
You don’t need to throw your relationship out the window to try to have some fun; you might find that some time apart to do your own thing is just what the doctor ordered.
10. The relationship is moving at warp speed.
Sometimes, you find yourself pulling away from a relationship because it’s exactly what you want and it’s going swimmingly.
Although we all want to be loved and in a cherished relationship, sometimes we can’t handle the success we find in the things we strive for.
If you have everything you want and you find yourself resisting it, you might need to slow your roll and give yourself some time and space to figure out what you are really afraid of.
Just because this relationship is what you wanted from the start doesn’t mean that you still want that same thing now.
Check in with yourself as your relationship progresses and figure out what is best for you as you go.
11. Your feelings aren’t strong.
It’s a good idea to take a break if you aren’t feeling a strong connection but you aren’t sure why. It could be because of your own situation or issues that your partner is going through and other life changes.
Maybe your partner can’t get over you but you seem further ahead.
This can be the perfect moment for a time out.
You don’t want to end everything but you have to be honest that your heart just isn’t lighting up when he or she is around and your feelings — at least for the time being — have faded.
The time off can give you the opportunity to see if you were more infatuated than in love and you can be more confident once you resume your relationship that what you have is real and wasn’t temporary passion or only physical desire.
Feelings come and go, but if you’re really sensing a lack of connection and disinterest it can be a good time to speak honestly about it and take a break.
12. You feel ignored and overlooked.
One of the best things about being in a relationship is having another person to share your life with, talk to and spend time with.
Whether it’s sharing in activities you both like to do, laughing together at a funny movie, doing some cooking or just sitting on the sofa talking the good energy is flowing and you’re in synchronicity.
When this starts to fall apart it can feel like your world is falling apart, and it can be a good time to take stock of where your relationship is at.
If you’re feeling ignored and overlooked it can be a good sign that you need a break.
There could be many reasons why it’s happening, but the bottom line is it’s a crappy feeling and it’s reasonable to ask for a time out if you’re feeling dismissed and second place.
How to make a break in a relationship work
Taking a break in a relationship can be tricky. If it’s done right it can revitalize your spark and set you back on a good path. If it’s done wrong it can lead to even more tension and a full breakup.
Here’s how to make it work.
When you’re taking time apart from your partner it’s important to both agree on ground rules. If you’re going to still call, text or hang out similarly to your normal relationship it’s not really a break.
You need to both agree and commit to truly taking a break and not contacting each other until you both want to do so. Or maybe you want to allow one call a week or every two weeks, for example.
The exact rules of the break should be decided upon by both people in the relationship.
Of course, there’s no need to be a stickler about the rules or get very legalistic.
But it’s more a matter of having some framework to go by so that you don’t get confused or become embroiled in arguments about smaller details and practical aspects of the time apart, like who has to pay the bills this month or what you should do if one of you meets someone new during the time apart.
Decide on these potentially big issues beforehand and be clear on them so that they won’t come up as a sudden (potentially hurtful) surprise in the middle of the break.
Furthermore, in order to make a break work it’s important that all involved understand and agree to why it’s happening so that bitterness doesn’t fester under the surface.
Do not take a break if you really want to break up but are too hesitant to do it because of the emotional difficulty. This will just make the eventual separation and failed time out even harder and your partner may even feel led on or strung along.
A break is a great chance to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your relationship and see how you feel without your significant other around.
Both individuals should be entirely honest with themselves and must take the break without expectations or attachment to the outcome for it to work.
Be truly open to the feelings and experiences you have during the time apart if you want to get meaningful insights from them.
If you’re both going through difficult times at work and need to focus on getting things done, then the break can be the optimal opportunity to focus on your career for awhile.
If you’re both feeling adrift it can be the perfect time to work on individual goals and excel in a field or activity where you have an interest but your partner doesn’t.
The thing to keep in mind is that taking a break can be positive and enriching and it’s best if you both think of it that way: not as something going “wrong” or a sad time, but as an opportunity for personal growth and regrouping.
To make a break work, it’s important to discuss it in person and really get a firm sense of where your partner is coming from. You should establish rules as mentioned above and stick to them and you should fully explore why you’re taking the break and your own inner state and outer life situation at the time of taking it.
Make sure to listen and be open to what your partner is saying.
To make it work you should also have your own space. If you are living together and want to take a break then try to divide up your important items such as your vehicle, pet and household responsibilities.
Decide who does what so you aren’t always overlapping and don’t fall back into the relationship pattern without ever really getting a break.
When taking a break you are better off not setting a time limit. It’s best to have a “check-in” system to call or see each other every once in awhile to just check where you’re at emotionally, but the truth is that a break can’t be completely predictable.
Things could happen and realizations take place that someone wants to explore that lead to wanting a bit more (or less) time apart. And in this case it’s good that the other partner listen and assess if that works for them too.
At the end of the day a break apart works best when everyone involved does it in a spirit of positivity and openness. Use the time apart to see how you feel and be honest with yourself and your partner about what’s going on inside you.
There are many great things about being in a relationship and experiences we share together can be extremely special, but sometimes a break will show us the ways in which we have been neglecting our own needs or even putting up with unacceptable or undermining behaviors from our partner.
Even if the time apart makes you realize that you want to get back together, there’s a good chance you will have a much more clarified vision of what you need to work on in yourself and the parts of your relationship that aren’t working for you or that need improvement.
Either way, some time apart can work wonder if it’s done the right way, respectfully and without any preset expectations.
What are you going to do now?
Some couples think that they only have two options when it comes to being in a relationship: you can either be in the relationship or you can call it quits.
These days, relationships come in all shapes and sizes and can come about and end in the most interesting ways.
You might find that taking a break is the best way to figure out your future, and if that works for you, then it doesn’t matter what other people think.
However, before you do this, ask yourself this question: Can I (instantly) improve my spluttering relationship?
One way you can absolutely do this is by watching this free video by relationship psychologist James Bauer.
He’ll introduce to you a radical new concept in relationship psychology called the hero instinct. I talked about this above.
I think learning about the hero instinct holds the key to repairing any relationship.
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