Relationships will inevitably have periods of ups and downs, but what do you do when the stress is just too much to go on? Will a break help your relationship? What does a successful break look like?

If you feel overwhelmed by the challenges in your relationship, there’s nothing wrong with taking time out – whether this is a ten-minute walk around the block or a night out seeing friends or family solo. There might be times when you need a more substantial break to get a bit more perspective, and that’s OK, too: it might help you both see the true color of your relationship.

A break will either confirm you’re meant to be or show that you’re both better off breaking up.

How much stress in a relationship is too much for you?

how much stress is too much relationship

Remember that stress can have physical effects on both of you, and your health should be a top priority. Are you losing sleep – or having headaches, fatigue, even aches, and pains? That might be a sign that you need to step back from your relationship temporarily. Make sure you are not attributing outside stress to your relationship and just passing the blame.

Sometimes all we feel like doing is finding something or someone to blame for our stress, but this can only make things worse in the long run. Other times, it really is just the relationship. If that’s so, then it’s time to ask yourselves the next question.

Is Stress in Your Relationship Productive or Destructive?

Some people think that successful relationships never involve arguments or challenges. This isn’t the case – people will inevitably disagree, but it’s how these disputes are resolved that are key. Do you listen to each other and learn from each other, or end up frustrated and not learning anything?

If you’re constantly arguing without compromise or resolution, this might be a sign that you should take a break to ‘press the reset button.’ This will allow you to think about the issue from your partner’s perspective in your own time, and reflect on whether your behavior and your communication are as good as they can be.

Having fights, disagreements, different opinions (even on the big stuff) is all fine and natural. This means you’re both expressing your deepest thoughts and that’s actually very healthy! Now all you have to do is make sure you don’t let your ego take the wheel of your relationship – take charge, fight, disagree, express yourself – make sure every conflict ends with both of you giving it some thought and coming up with a compromise.

Benefits of Taking a Break from Your Relationship

benefits of taking a break from your relationship

Here’s how taking a break can help you both understand where you are.

  • Time to reflect – it can be difficult to get perspective when you’re worried about accommodating someone else’s needs all the time. Talk to yourself, honestly, about how you feel the relationship is going, and what you can or want to change.
  • Time to miss each other – sometimes, when we spend all of our time with someone else, the little niggles mount up and appear to overwhelm the moments we cherish. Having some space will address this imbalance, and you’re likely to appreciate them again.
  • Time to have different experiences – if you do everything together, it might feel like you’re no longer unique people, and you may even run out of things to talk about. But occasionally, just having something new to share with them may rekindle your relationship and will give you both a reason to find your interests in the long run.
  • An opportunity to prove the relationship – maybe you’ve become complacent and careless about each other. Taking a week apart to miss and value each other will refresh your desires and give you a renewed sense of love and appreciation.

When Taking a Short Break is Not Right

Maybe you just want to break up with this person and not look back. You feel like you’re 100% done. You’re 100% sure a short pause won’t do anything and you don’t want to waste your or their time. If it’s clear to you that the relationship has run its course, then it is kinder to be honest than to drag out the inevitable – however painful that might feel right now.

Other times, one of you might feel threatened enough to throw out the time-out card on the table juts for the sake of showing confidence. It’s an empty threat to gain power. If you throw out ‘a break’ mid-argument as an escape hatch, then you’re preventing effective communication.

How to Take a Productive Relationship Break (Time-Out)

how to take a break from your relationship

  • Communication is key – Talk calmly and rationally about why you want a break, and what you aim to achieve. Do not level any accusations, and suggest benefits for both of you. This is your opportunity to create a ‘clean slate.’
  • Set ground rules – and stick to them – will you call or text once a day to check-in? Will you meet up with each other (as friends) during the break?
  • Agree a time limit – n o one can tell you how long it will work for you – maybe even just a weekend or a week will be enough for some. By arranging an end date, it will give reassurance that this is temporary.
  • Use the break productively – make sure you do concentrate on the big questions you had about the relationship. For example, if your relationship is preventing you from achieving your goals (and there’s no room for compromise), then perhaps it’s not the right relationship for you.
  • Do it for the right reasons – and not to explore other partnerships and “see what you’re missing” – this will more than likely lead to jealousy and accusations of infidelity, even if explicitly agreed with your partner. Do not let the break cause – or exacerbate – trust issues.
  • Coming back after a break – arrange to have an open conversation about what you have learned – and how you will bring these thoughts into the relationship moving forward. Try not to drag up past arguments, but if relevant, swallow your pride and admit the areas where you could have behaved better. And tell them what you have missed about them!

What if You Really End Up Breaking Up for Good?

It might transpire that one or both of you might not be willing to rekindle the relationship at the end of the ‘cooling-off’ period. While the end of a relationship will always be sad, at least you know that you are no longer pursuing something that will not work in the long run. It is better to be honest than to continue wasting each other’s time.

Please don’t be afraid of this. Change is always scary, but it’s good for a reason. Changing, maturing, growing up, in every way possible, will always feel intimidating. But the rewards are a more stable, happier life in the long run. That’s why we need to be brave in this period. Be brave. Be confident. Be humble and be kind.

So, in conclusion – there will always be stressful times in relationships, but there can be benefits to taking a break. As long as you both communicate honestly and respectfully, a break can act as a ‘refresh’ button, providing clarity and perspective.