09/01/2017 18:22 SAST | Updated 10/01/2018 12:12 SAST

Are Breaks Good For Relationships?

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I've recently gone on a break with my boyfriend as we were arguing too much. I couldn't see any other way forward (aside from ending it completely which I wasn't quite ready to do) than to just take some time apart to think about what it was we really wanted.

After speaking to several friends that were single/in relationships/married, I whittled down a list of opposing views on the benefits and disadvantages of taking a 'time out' in a relationship.

The Benefits

You get a 'taste' - of what it would be like to be without that other person. It's the perfect way to make you realise if you do or don't want to be with them. If you're coping just fine without them then take the time to think: what impact is this person having on my life?

You can find yourself - sometimes couples can get too caught up in the moment and lose track of what's important, depending on how long you've been together, you may have 'lost' who you really are. Having a break and spending some time alone can help remind you of what's important to you.

You can figure out how you truly feel about the other person - do you love them or do you just love the idea of being in love, of having someone to share your life with?

You can recreate 'the spark' - depending on how long the break lasts for and how you both feel after it, you may both come out of it with a stark reminder that actually, you couldn't live without that person; you've been so caught up in other things that you haven't focussed enough on your relationship. A break can be the wakeup call you need to reignite the passion you both once had towards each other.

The Downsides

The ambiguity - depending on what state the couple are in when they go on a break there could be a grey area of what can 'happen' whilst on a break. I personally see a break as simply spending time apart to reflect and think about how you feel, but there have been many instances when people see the time as a hall pass and make the most of the fact they are essentially single, until the break is over.

The reality - if you have to go on a break, is the relationship even that good in the first place? Surely for it to have reached that stage must mean that things are pretty bad - some may even say you are just avoiding the inevitable. My counter argument to this would be that this viewpoint reflects to me how dedicated someone is to a relationship. My view is that if something isn't working you try your best to fix it first, not give up on in it straight away.

The false feelings - normally, after the first few days of being separated, a couple will naturally miss each other and want the other back - even if it's just for familiarity's sake - if the couple both persisted in pushing past those initial difficult days/weeks of a breakup, they may find that they are actually completely fine by themselves. Unfortunately, many couples don't ever reach that stage, because they believe the initial stage of missing of each other is a sign that they should stay together.

The outcome - if you go on a break, the time apart doesn't actually solve anything if you get back together. The key to then making it work afterwards is to address the reasons why you went on a break, how you felt during that break and the conclusions you came to and working through them together. Otherwise, you are just going to end up back in the same situations you were in before you went on that break.