By Georgia Lasure
When you hear people say they're "taking a break" from their current relationship, your next thought might be "What does that mean? How is that different from a breakup?" What about when your sweetie says "I think we need to take a break" to you? Or if you say it to her? Different people mean different things when they suggest taking a relationship break. See if any of these fit your situation.
Taking a Timeout
Are you arguing too much? Has some disagreement come up that you can't seem to work through? Perhaps some time apart will help you see if there's more room for compromise or if the differences between you are stronger than the desire to be together. Time apart can calm the anger and resentment and help you put the troublesome topic in perspective. If you take time to reflect on your own behavior and how you might handle things differently in the future, perhaps the break can turn out to be productive.
Flirting With Trouble
If one of you wants to take a break because you're attracted to someone else and want to explore it, then make sure you both agree that the break means you're free to see other people. Otherwise, there's little chance you'll get back together after she finds out you've strayed into new territory during your time off. In this case, a breakup is usually in order rather than a break. If you're feeling the pull toward a new partner, it's only fair that she have the chance to do the same, with no strings attached to you.
Cleaning Up the Mess
Sometimes one partner realizes that unrelated personal issues are interfering with the relationship. Perhaps the job stress is just too much right now for her to give you the attention you need to be happy. Maybe one of your parents is critically ill and you need to devote your time and energy to taking care of mom or dad without the distraction of your relationship with your girl. These are potentially good reasons to take a break as opposed to breaking up. If handled correctly, the break will give you time to deal with the problem issue and clear it up. Then you can come back to your sweetie with renewed energy and the ability to focus on your own relationship.
So don't assume the worst will follow those dreaded words: "I think we need a break." Maybe the relationship vacation will give you both a chance to strengthen other areas of your life and come back together recharged and recommitted.