When you first start dating—or you first get married—it ’s totally natural to have this shared energy, this idea that you want to take on the world as a team. And you should! One of the best parts of being in a committed relationship is having someone to support you, to help you, and be on your side. But that understanding can sometimes lead to a pressure—to this idea that you and your partner should always be together. And that’s not the case.
Independence is great for a relationship. Not just in the sense that you should have your own hobbies in your own friends, but also because sometimes you just need a break from your partner. That’s OK—in fact, taking a little time out occasionally can keep your relationship happy and healthy. When we talk about breaks, that doesn’t mean you need to move out for a week, it can be as simple as taking a bath, going for a walk and a coffee on your own, or a weekend away with other people who are important to you.
Does the idea of taking some time for yourself make you feel guilty? Here are some of the times when it’s definitely OK to take a little breather, because taking some time apart can actually make you so much stronger together.
When You Feel Like You’re Losing Your Sense of Self
One big sign that you should take a break from your partner is that you feel like you’re losing grip on who you are. Maybe you’ve been doing lots of coupley things or only spending time with their people. Maybe you’ve been at home with kids or you’ve been focused on how stressed out their job is and trying to help. If you ever find that your needs have been completely shifted to one side and you feel like you’re just part of a couple—rather than a person—you need a break. Taking one afternoon a weekend for yoga and coffee with friends will do the trick or maybe you need to just go away for a few days and get back in touch with what you want. Reclaiming your sense of self now can make your relationship so much better in the long run.
When Someone You Care About Needs You
Even though your relationship with your partner may be the primary relationship in your life, it's not the only relationship. It’s so important to nurture and maintain relationships with other people, whether that’s your close friends or your family. So if someone needs you—if you have a sick relative, if you have a friend who’s struggling—taking a few days to be there for them is totally acceptable. When you’re in a relationship, especially a marriage, it’s easy to let all of these other relationships fade into the background, but keeping them alive helps make you a stronger, more well-rounded person.
When You’re Getting on Each Other’s Nerves
No, you’re not imagining it—sometimes your partner is really, really annoying. You know why? Because sometimes everyone on the planet is really, really annoying. A good sign that you and your partner need a little more space is if you’re starting to find each other irritating or difficult. Spending too much time together can mean you start seeing all of the tiny, nit-picky things that are wrong with each other and you stop seeing why you love each other so much in the first place. Either find more time in the course of your normal schedule to take breaks from each other or decide to take a weekend with friends and reset. They’ll seem a lot less annoying when you get back.
When You're Questioning the Relationship
Occasionally, we start to question our relationship completely. Now, sometimes this is just a totally normal, momentary worry—something that you shouldn’t stress about. But if you find yourself constantly questioning the relationship and really wondering if it’s the right relationship for you, then you may need to take a break. If you’re spending lots of time with your partner, you can’t get the perspective that you need to decide whether or not the relationship is actually working. Taking some time away will let you approach the issue with a clear head.
When You’re In a Stalemate
Sometimes, you hit a relationship roadblock that it can feel impossible to move past. Maybe one of you has an opportunity for a new job that means moving to a different city—and you’re split on whether or not to take it. Maybe you’ve reached a disagreement in wedding planning that you can't seem to move past. If you’re having the same argument over and over and not getting anywhere, call a timeout. Take some space from each other to really consider the issue—from the other person's point of view as well as your own—and then come back together. You need to start the conversation afresh for it to be constructive.
Taking a break from your partner doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Sometimes, there may be a big issue at play—like questioning your relationship—but sometimes you may just need a break because you’ve been spending too much time together or you’re missing your friends. If your relationship is strong, then taking little breaks is just a way to come back even stronger, with each partner feeling more in touch with themselves and what they care about. Don’t be afraid to make sure both of your needs are being met—because two happy people make a happy relationship.