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Everyone has an opinion on this topic, and as February comes to a close I figured I’d share my experience and thoughts with you guys. I know this isn’t a glamorous relationship topic but in being fully transparent with you, I think it’s only natural to talk or think about taking a break from a relationship you’ve been in, at one time or another. Whether you’re taking a break from a family member, boyfriend, friendship or even your favorite restaurant; I really don’t see anything wrong with hitting the pause button and giving yourself time to reflect. I mean, I feel like life can get so ‘busy’ that you don’t give yourself enough opportunities to take a step back and connect with your present self.
I get a lot of emails from you all about relationship advice, from questions about engagement timelines to making long distance work, Matt and I have covered a lot over the span of running this blog. We constantly try to connect and open ourselves up to you guys, however, one topic we have yet to cover, is the one time Matt and I took a break. I’m going to jump right into the details and then loop back around with my opinion about when and why to give your relationship a break. Again, it’s always important to follow your gut, but I’m going to jump right in with my experience below.
As many of you know, Matt and I met freshman year of high school and started dating at the very young age of fourteen, if you’re new to the blog you can read all about how we met in this blog post, here. Looking back on that now, we were sooo young! I mean I can remember Matt’s parents dropping Matt and I off at a restaurant for our first Valentine’s Day dinner, and giving us a gift card so we had a way to pay the check, at the end of our date. We were too young to work, too young to drive and basically two peas in a pod. We dated all through high school and come senior year we started to independently prepare for college.
Matt and I had very different ideas when it came to attending college, and weirdly enough we never once discussed attending the same college together. Honestly, I don’t think either of us really wanted to attend the same college or go into the experience as a couple, along with the fact that we both wanted different things out of the journey. We never talked about colleges together, as we were pretty independent on what we wanted to do and where we wanted to go. All and all we only applied to a few similar schools, but I decided quite early in the process that I really wanted to attend school either in the south or on the west coast. Matt on the other hand really never looked outside of New England and New York, so that was that, but again neither of us really cared where the other went.
I guess that’s the one good thing about our relationship that I really appreciate, is overall we are pretty ‘go with the flow’. We do a lot together but we also make it a point to do things that we personally want to accomplish, even if the other can’t or has no interest. I digress, by May, all the cards had fallen into place, Matt was off to St. Lawrence University in upstate New York, and I was off to San Diego. I mean I was pumped and I think Matt was really excited since he got to extend his time on the football field into his college career. All and all we were happy and had a great summer, but we both knew changes were coming.
At the age of 18, I left my New England home and moved cross-country to attend college, which was an amazing opportunity that resulted in this blog and a huge boost in my confidence levels. But it also meant Matt and I would be in a cross-country, long-distance relationship, with a three hour time difference, that just sounded plain exhausting. Once August hit and the changes started to become real as I booked a one-way ticket to California, I knew it was time, in my gut, to take a break, and Matt agreed. Which brings me to my first point, when should you give your relationship a break.
I’m a firm believer in you do you, and following your gut, but here are a few situations where maybe you need to put your self-care first and take a break:
+ Take a Break Before You Break: You know that saying, the relationship you have with yourself sets the tone for all your other relationships? Well going off of this saying, I knew Matt and I had to hit the pause button on our relationship until at least Christmas. I felt like a six-month break would give me enough time to get settled and put my best foot forward in San Diego. I knew in my gut, that I couldn’t be there for both Matt and myself, and as harsh as it sounds, I picked putting myself first. Starting college in a new city, moving in with people you’ve never met, and being a cross-country plane ride away from your family meant I needed to be present and open to the people and the experiences San Diego had to offer. With that being said, I knew I wouldn’t be able to balance giving Matt the attention and emotional support he deserved whilst trying to make a new start for myself, so I decided we needed to take a break before I overextended myself or even worse, things ended between us on a poor note.
+ If you’re really annoyed with your partner, it’s probably time to hit the pause button and reflect: I mean everyone gets in fights, and everyone has issues; whether we are talking about friendships or significant others but if you find yourself dodging their phone calls, maybe it’s time to reflect. Thankfully this wasn’t the case with Matt, but I knew we would run into this issue if we jumped right into a relationship whilst starting our college careers, and managing a long-distance relationship. College is stressful enough, and schedules can be rough, so I realized it was best to think of myself instead of getting annoyed with Matt for monopolizing my time. I saw so many gals and guys in long distance relationships, get upset or annoyed with the lack of communication or the aggressiveness of the communication. I knew myself, and how poor I am at returning calls, and understood that Matt would get annoyed with me if we jumped straight into this new type of relationship during this big life shift.
+ Who Am I? Time for Reflection and Introspection: Matt and I decided to take a break during a period of big changes. Matt was moving away from his family and starting school as a college athlete and I was adjusting to a California lifestyle; each of us as individuals had new life experiences we had to adjust to and conquer. With that being said, taking a break gave us the space needed to reflect on ourselves as individuals and as a unit. If you find yourself losing your identity to a relationship or having nothing that is ‘your own’, maybe it’s time to take a break and use the space to reflect on your goals as an individual. The break gave Matt and I room to grow our lives as independent individuals, whilst reflecting on if we each positively or negatively affected the others’ life. Obviously, at the end of the break if you feel more productive, happier, and just overall better off without the person then your next step is simple.
Okay, so the above situations are all moments that helped Matt and I decide that it was time to take a break. Again, listen to your gut and don’t overthink it! There is so much social pressure around defining your relationship and celebrating ‘anniversaries’ but honestly, it’s nobody’s business! So if YOU feel like it’s the right time to take a break, great, think it through and open the conversation with your partner! Now I’m going to share a few reasons why I think taking a break helped Matt and I develop a stronger relationship, below!
+ Mutual Respect: By mutually agreeing to take a break we were able to create a better line of communication. I mean we no longer talked every day but we still talked all the time, maybe the longest time we went without talking was two weeks. We also knew we were using this time to reflect on ourselves, this wasn’t a break in order to experience the college hook-up culture or a way to end things without having to say we were ending things. If you know me than you know I just say it how it is, and I knew going into this break that we need to have mutual respect and clear communication, for it to work. The last thing you want to do is string someone along, via claiming you want a break. Again, we used this time away for reflection and introspection, and we both respected that.
+ Time Apart Makes The Heart Grow Fonder: By giving us each a chance to explore life as a singleton we were able to appreciate the way the other person impacted our lives on the daily. In the end, we knew we wanted to be back together, just like how you instantly want to tag your best friend in every funny meme. We were happy as individuals but felt like we were living our best lives apart but even better lives together.
+ We Defined Our Choice: Literally, I blinked and February was gone. I like knowing that Matt and I took the time to really make the choice to be together, by taking a break we gave each other the opportunity to choose to be together or not. I mean ending a relationship is never easy but I would hate to think that I stayed in one just because it was comfortable, you know. I love knowing that we took time to ourselves, as young adults, not fourteen-year-olds, and made the conscious decision to show up and be there for each other.
So that’s my thoughts on When and Why To Give Your Relationship A Break! To make this very long story short, when I was back in New England for winter break in 2012 with my friend from college, Matt showed up at my parent’s house with a Redbox DVD, to meet my friend and talk things out. I don’t know what was more awkward Matt just showing up at my front door at 8 PM on a weeknight, when my friend was visiting, or the fact that my Dad tried to watch the Redbox DVD with all of us. In the end, it’s something we all laugh at today, and is just another big moment for our relationship.
Again, only you can make the decision if it’s time to take a break, just make sure to listen to your gut, have a clear goal going into the break, and maintain an open line of communication. It will all work itself out no matter the outcome, that is one thing I’m certain about. Okay, so it’s your turn? What do you think of breaks? Have you ever taken a relationship break and if so was it for the better? Share your experience below.
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