Margarita Confessionals: It’s OK to give your relationship a break

It’s Margarita Monday! Each week, we’ll be publishing a story about dating by Lauren Levine and/or Ali Washburn to go along with the latest episode of “The Margarita Confessionals,” a podcast for the jaded dater. You can find it on Soundcloud or iTunes.

You know that couple in high school that broke up and got back together roughly six times, probably once right before prom? Looking back on it, their relationship seems immature and a little bit amusing. Breaking up and getting back together in the time it takes you to sit through geometry class just doesn’t make sense. But are all relationship breaks totally useless? Not necessarily.

As junior year as it may seem, taking time apart can actually benefit the health of your relationship. But how do you tell when some space is useful and when it’s delaying the inevitable?

When a break is useful

– You both know you have an issue you need to work on. And you’ve got a game plan about what each of you can do to tackle the problem during your break.

– You’re not sure what you want and it’s causing tension: Are you ready to take the next step in your relationship? Are they? You keep arguing about it but aren’t getting any clarity. Taking some time apart lets you both process what you, as individuals, want and need out of the relationship. You can then come back together and express yourselves succinctly instead of driving the other person crazy.

– You’re willing to work together to compromise. If you’re both committed to putting equal effort into rehabbing the relationship, a break is worthwhile. When you’re ready to compromise, real progress can happen.

– It’s a good relationship at its core, it just needs some tweaks: Time apart enhances a good relationship. It won’t take the toxicity out of a bad one.

When a break is not useful

– Deep down you both know the relationship needs to end, but saying so is sad. Going on a break feels better than dealing with the finality of the end of a relationship, but using time apart as a crutch to delay the inevitable just sets you up for more heartache.

– You’re going on a break to try to make them miss you. You secretly hope the drama of the split will cause them to come running back to you. In reality, if this is happening, the relationship needs more first-aid than just a three-day break.

– Your personalities clash. You can work on modifying behavior to make the relationship better, but personality traits just don’t change. You are who you are and they are who they are. If your personalities don’t blend well together, it’s time to move on for good.

– You want to date other people but don’t want to deal with being totally alone if it doesn’t work. That’s just mean. Don’t make someone your backup option.

Even when you have a good reason to go on a break, make sure to designate a time to come back together and have an honest conversation about your thoughts post-time apart. If it’s been weeks and weeks and you’re still as clueless about the relationship as you were when you first split, it’s time to part ways permanently.

Photo: Courtney Schramm