Taking a break. Yeah, I don't know, y'all. Don't "break babies" come out of taking breaks? OK, but I'm getting a little ahead of myself here. Whenever someone is dating someone else and their status update is that they are currently "taking a break", on the surface, I typically liken it to when married people separate. Although it's not nearly as serious or even consequential (a break-up is hard but ask any divorced person and they will tell you that a divorce is hard times a thousand!) oftentimes, the purpose of two spouses separating is to get some space in order to see if their marriage is still worth saving.
That's why, when I look at taking breaks in a dating relationship, I get it. Sometimes, even though you deeply care about someone, you need a little space in order to decide if you should be together or not. I think where breaks get the side-eye from me is if someone is in the kind of situation where breaks happen often or they are used as a way to do some mad shady stuff on the sly. You know the kind I'm talking about—"I mean, I slept with someone else because I was on a break." (Uh-huh. I bet.)
Feel free to chime in, but the way I see it, is if two people have been together a couple of years and one of them gets a job in another city or one of them wants to get married and the other isn't sure, a break might be necessary in order to get a fresh perspective on things. But if you are sick of hearing yourself say "We're on a break" whenever one of your friends ask you about your man, ask yourself the following six important questions. If you're totally honest in your answers, you might discover that what you actually need to be doing is breaking up. For good.
Are Your Problems a Set of Unresolved Patterns?
"Why" has got to be one of the most underrated and underappreciated (and yes, sometimes most annoying) words on the planet. I say that because asking it can help you to get down to the root of so many situations, challenges and issues. Take this break that you and ole' boy are thinking about taking, for example. Why is it necessary? Is it because your relationship has reached a plateau and you both would like some time apart to figure out what's next? That's fair. Or is it because, outside of the earth-shattering sex the two of you've been having, your communication totally sucks?
Remember what I said about married people sometimes deciding to separate for a season? How crazy would a married couple look if they did it every six months? After a while, you would be like, "If y'all can't figure out what's wrong, maybe it's time to do something else." Same thing applies to dating dynamics. If you and yours are always on a break because it's the only solution to y'all's problems that seems to work…yeah, something isn't working. This is your first indication that it just might be time to break up instead of taking a break for the umpteenth time.
Are You Upset More Than You’re Content?
Did you peep how I used the word "content" rather than "happy"? Sometimes I think that people miss out on some great things in life because they are obsessed with feeling happy all of the time. Happiness is cool, but it's also an emotion that has ebbs and flows just like anything else. So, if you call things off just because two days out of the week, you aren't happy, that would be super unfortunate.
Content, on the other hand, is important. When you are content with something or someone, it means that you are satisfied. It also means that you don't want any more than what or who you currently have—whether you're currently feeling super happy or not.
Check it. If you're in a relationship where a lot of times, you're ecstatic but sometimes you're simply chillin' in the state of contentment, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. But if, at least half of the time, you're upset? This means that you're not happy or content. Listen, even if you're dating someone, technically until your relational status on your tax returns changes, you are single. Why stay with someone who doesn't put a smile on your face or leave you satisfied? Break up so that you can get with someone who will (hopefully) do both.
Can You Honestly Say That Your Lives COMPLEMENT One Another?
If you happen to read my articles a lot, you know that it's not uncommon for me to "sneak" some Scripture into here sometimes. One that applies well to this particular point is Genesis 2:18 (AMPC): "Now the Lord God said, 'It is not good (sufficient, satisfactory) that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper (suitable, adapted, complementary) for him.'"
Just because someone is attractive and appealing, that doesn't mean that they are a good complement for you and your life. Your right complement will serve as your counterpart. They will make your world easier. They will enhance it, bring balance to it and add some finishing touches to it. They will truly be like the icing on your already bomb cake.
A lot of couples find themselves constantly taking breaks because, even though they truly care about one another, what they also can't deny is they don't seem to complement each other very well. How did your spirit feel when you just read that sentence? Did your gut say that it's a sign to stay and try and make things work or that it really is time to call things off?
Is There Love and Passion? Or Only One or the Other?
I'm a passionate person. I feel things pretty deeply. I go hard at everything I attempt. If you're a fellow Gemini and reading this, you know that we give our all and expect the same in return—in every room of our home (read between the lines right there, y'all). So yeah, when it comes to that complement thing that I just mentioned, it's a non-negotiable that my long-term mate would have to be a passionate person too.
But as I've gotten older—and prayerfully, wiser—there's a Benjamin Franklin quote that stays with me. He once said, "If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." Amen. And what reason has taught me is passion is not enough to sustain or maintain a healthy relationship. Love must be present too. Not "emotional love" but grown love that says "I'm in this. Not just during the easy times."
At the same time, I'm also not gonna settle for love without passion. I deserve both. So do you.
If you're currently considering taking a break so that you can figure out if you're getting your fill of both love and passion, that's actually a pretty wise call. But if this is now your third, fourth or fifth break because you keep trying to turn one of those into the other, can you feel me looking at you through your computer screen? Guess what I'm about to say. Right. Exactly.
Are You Staying Mostly Because You’re Afraid to Be Alone?
Months back, I penned a piece on signs that you may be a love addict (for the record, an addict, in any form, isn't a good thing; even if the addiction is love). The last sign I mentioned is "you don't feel whole unless you're with someone". I've had a couple of boyfriends where we took several breaks. In hindsight, I must admit, I didn't really keep going back because of how "in love" I was. It was more because I was saying things to myself like, "I mean, we've already been together this long. I'd hate to have nothing to show for all of that time" or "I'm not getting all that I need out of this situation. But at least I'm getting something."
What do both statements boil down to? A woman who's afraid to be alone. The ultimate lesson in all of that? You shouldn't stay in or settle for anything when your core motivation is fear.
A wife once told me that my loneliest night alone in my bed tops being in a bad marriage any day. I've counseled enough married couples at this point to totally agree with her. So, if you're constantly taking breaks because you're afraid of what life would look like if you broke up with someone, look at it this way—the minute he's removed out of your life is the moment that you can prepare for who should actually be in his place. I don't know about you, but I'd rather be alone and hopeful than with someone and semi-miserable.
How Many “Breaks” Have You Already Taken?
Break up to make up, that's all we do/First you love me then you leave me/That's a game for fools. The lyrics are from an oldie but goodie by the Stylistics. And you know what? They're right. If all that you and yours are doing is breaking up and getting back together, only to break up again, while I won't call y'all "fools" for doing it, what I will encourage you to do is think about how many times that has happened and if you're being foolish (unwise, not factoring common sense, ignoring red flags) by staying.
You've probably heard that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing while expecting a different result. That said, a couple of breaks is one thing. But it being a part of your relationship routine probably means that one or both of you are ignoring that something—or a series of things—aren't working. Maybe you're meant to be only friends. Maybe the timing just isn't right. Maybe the two of you are more addicted to make-up sex than you would've ever thought. You won't really know until you stop the taking-a-break cycle, take the plunge and break things off—yes, for good. Or at least for a very long while.
The time apart to work on yourselves will reveal far more than if you stay in the pattern. Then, either you can get together or stay together or get to the one for which this article won't even apply.
It's a win, either way, if you ask me.
Featured image by Getty Images
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