Relationships - Pushing the Pause Button: Taking a Break

03/14/2017 09:25 pm ET

There are many ways to define a relationship when you’re in one. Couples go from dating to seeing each other, to exclusively dating, to possibly moving in together, or even tying the knot. Then there’s the complication of breakups, taking a break, or asking for space.

Facebook allows you to advertise your relationship status for the world to see. Some use it, others don’t. Among their 11 relationship statuses to select, the “Pause” button isn’t there. “Separated” implies there was a legal commitment and “It’s Complicated” isn’t something we really want to know.

As a dating coach and for my own personal life, I’ve never changed my relationship status. One can surmise by viewing my photos whether I’m in a relationship or not. I guess I never wanted to be listed as “It’s Complicated” in the event it didn’t work out.

Let’s face it, all relationships do get complicated and you’re two unique individuals with differing opinions on the roadmap called love. Our life experiences and as we enter each new decade, it results in a different approach to relationships. What one wants when they are nesting and building a family can be hugely different from what wants after a divorce or the ending of a long term relationship that you thought would be forever. If you add in digital communications and texting, yes, it does get complicated.

Relationship Crossroads: Happily Ever After or a Bump on the Road

Fast forward to the ultimate climax of “happily ever after,” or the disappointing “bump on the road.” The latter is where you decide maybe it’s time to take a break, because you just can’t fathom a full breakup yet. Relationships either move forward, or they don’t, resulting in a lot of endings and new beginnings. Perhaps for some this results in a love affair of serial monogamy, where the hormonal high of three to six months of a new relationship including new lust, new love, and new sex keeps it exciting. Then the bump on the road can happen at six months and you ask yourself, “Do we move forward as a couple or go separate ways?” In other words, should you renew your ongoing lease extension to your relationship?

If you add in the complication of being ghosted or ghosting in general, where a PlentyofFish survey said was rampant among 80% of millennials, it’s a miracle couples are sticking it out all together when it’s so easy to call it quits.

What Happens When it Gets Complicated?

I’m here to talk about the complicated stages and why they are typically different for men than for women. When a man says he needs space or a break, more often than not, there’s someone in mind he’d like to sleep with that’s distracting him. Ouch that hurts, right? You see the word “break” is just half of the word “break-up,” so why not pull the band-aid off right away instead of torturing someone with a slow death of an ending, promising to be friends, but not really meaning it.

Pushing the pause button on a relationship only works if both people come to the realization at the same time and they talk it through with new agreed upon rules. While you had agreed as a couple to be monogamous, you’ll need to agree as a couple what will happen during the “break” in your relationship. Is one working on self-development and soul searching, while the other is bed-hopping because he or she thinks the grass is greener? If so, it’s not a mutual agreement and you should not sign up for this type of relationship status unless it’s to the benefit of both of you.

What Happens When You Take Time Apart?

I believe time apart results in growing apart. Absence can make the heart grow fonder, or make the heart go wander. Space should be a time to learn how to love yourself and go soul searching, without texting your partner good news or hearing the sound of his or her voice while in limbo. It can be painful, but in time, you’ll get used to it.

So if you’re planning on seeing if the grass is greener, don’t ask for a time-out to have sex with someone else while keeping your current love interest on hold as a backup plan. Talk about the issues in your relationship that are causing you to drift apart if you truly love each other. Communicate on any needs of yours that aren’t being met and figure out how to spice it up in the bedroom, the kitchen, or anywhere that needs improvement. We’re all human and often don’t realize what annoys our partners. Remember how you felt when you first fell in love with him or her? Go back to being that person, because you might have gotten lost along the way. Find that person for your benefit alone, if not for the relationship as well.

Let’s not live in a disposable society of easily replacing each other, because true love, the soulmate type, the one where you’d stand in front of the train for the other, and the one where you imagine dying in each others’ arms doesn’t happen every day, or even if ever for some. If you find that person, don’t let them go, because if you ignore your relationship or take it for granted, there is always someone else who will appreciate your partner once they become your ex.

They say time heals all wounds. If he or she asks for a break, have the courage to say goodbye and move on with your life. If you’re meant to be, you’ll renegotiate a stronger new relationship with your partner when you press the restart button than you had before the break. But then again, that assumes your partner is willing to resume and wants to do a do-over with you when you return.

That’s the risk you run when you’re tugging with heartstrings and taking a break causes, regardless of how you label it.

Julie Spira is America’s Top Online Dating Expert and Digital Matchmaker. She’s been coaching singles on finding love online for over 20 years with her Irresistible Profiles programs. Julie’s the author of the bestseller, The Perils of Cyber-Dating: Confessions of a Hopeful Romantic Looking for Love Onli and ranks as the most influential person in social media on the subjects of dating and online dating.

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