My boyfriend wanted a break from our relationship until I broke up with him for good

Tracey Folly

Relationship breaks are just a trial run for the real thing.

I dated a man for almost eight years. The first seven weren't all bad, but then one day, this man surprised me with a special request.

He wanted to take a relationship break.

I was stunned. Taking a relationship break was the last thing I expected him to ask for. I'm ashamed to say I cried over it. Then I begged him to reconsider. Then I cried again as he walked me to my car and kissed me goodbye.

The relationship break lasted two weeks. During that time, he called me incessantly to talk. At the end of those two weeks, he told me that he had thought it over. There was no one better for him than me, he said. And there was no one better for me than him.

So I took him back, but I never felt the same way about him again.

My resentment flared over the course of several months until I couldn't stand it anymore. I couldn't stand him anymore. So I ended it. Over email.

I didn't hear from him for two weeks. That's when the phone calls started. I didn't answer. I had already made my decision, and my decision was final. I didn't ask for a relationship break but a fully-fledged breakup, and I didn't ask him. I told him.

He called and left sad voicemail messages begging me to take him back for three years before I changed my phone number. I've never been happier.

There were many problems with our relationship that I was willing to work to overcome--until he asked for that relationship break and made me realize how much better my life could be without him, for good.

As far as I know, he's never gotten over me. As for me, ending that relationship was the best decision of my life, and I am grateful for the relationship break that helped me see the light.

Nonetheless, I don’t believe in relationship breaks. As far as I am concerned, taking a break from your relationship is just a trial run for the real thing.

Deciding to take a relationship break requires open communication and candid decision-making in order to determine if it’s a healthy choice. There are many factors that come into play and require careful consideration.

Speaking of the real thing, I am reminded of an old episode from the brilliant 1990s television sitcom Seinfeld. In the episode The Voice from season nine, the cast explored the topic of breakups, and Jerry Seinfeld said, “Breaking up is like knocking over a Coke machine. You can’t do it in one push, you got to rock it back and forth a few times, and then it goes over.”

I always interpreted that quote to mean you never really break up on the first try. You break up, miss each other, someone grovels, someone else cries, maybe everyone cries. You get back together, and before you know it, you‘ve broken up again.

It’s like Jerry Seinfeld’s proverbial Coke machine. If you rock it back and forth enough times, it’s going to fall over.

Speaking of 1990s sitcoms, Friends more closely explored the topic of relationship breaks in the fifteenth episode of the third season, The One Where Ross And Rachel Take A Break.

That’s the episode where Ross and Rachel, well, take a break, and it doesn’t go so well for either Ross or Rachel. Let’s just say Ross takes his break a little too literally, and a little too far, which brings us to the reason why relationship breaks are a bad thing:

Asking for a relationship break could backfire if your partner realizes they are happier without you.

Why are relationship breaks bad?

They can start to feel incredibly one-sided very quickly. After all, when a person asks for a break, they usually want to spend time doing things they couldn’t do with their partner. Maybe you want to go on that trip to the Bahamas. Maybe your partner is too busy keeping your home and family life in order to demand yet another hour of your time on top of two jobs and the children.

That’s not suggesting that anyone has issues with responsibility or is a bad partner. It just means that as much as you and your partner love each other: you’re both still people with lives of your own, activities you like to pursue, and plenty of reasons for disconnecting.

A relationship break isn’t going to fix that.

Is asking for a relationship break ever a good idea?

Some people may use time apart from their partner to spark romance with another partner. That alliance could be short-term or long-term and may or may not prevent reconciliation when it’s over.

Committing to someone in a relationship is a big decision. You have to know what you want out of the commitment and how things could potentially pan out in your life together. A relationship break gives you time to test the waters without fully committing, but if things don’t go back to normal, then you may be faced with the decision to end it.

Whether your relationship is in trouble or you’re simply going through a rough patch, taking a break can help bring back a spark to your relationship, a new appreciation for each other and maybe even strengthen your love for one another.

But be careful, it may also signal the end of your relationship entirely.

Make sure that’s a chance you’re willing to take before you suggest taking a relationship break. The next time you ask for a relationship break could be the last time you’re in a relationship.

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Writing about relationships online since 2009.

Boston, MA
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