Relationship breaks are often seen as the beginning of the end — but they don’t have to be. Before you plummet into the depths of despair with the aid of your favorite break-up playlist — all is not lost.
Breaks can strengthen your relationship by giving you the perspective and power you need to reconnect with your partner. Absence can make the heart grow fonder, and with the right attitude and approach, you could end up stronger than ever.
Take this as your sign not to give up. Learn how to reconnect after a relationship break here – your fresh start could be just around the corner.
There’s no textbook definition of a relationship break, with the parameters changing from couple to couple.
However, taking a break in a relationship usually means taking some time apart from your partner to evaluate your relationship and your potential future together.
“Before taking a break, you should think about the reasons behind it,” says Moraya Seeger DeGeare, a licensed marriage and family therapist and In-House Expert at Paired.
“Is it coming from wanting some space to think about better ways to find balance in your life? Or is it coming after the hurt that has been caused by one or both partners?”
The decision to take a relationship break should be a mutual and mature decision, which ideally isn’t inspired by anger or emotion.
“A relationship break is coming at a time when things are not fully working, but when you are stuck in a cycle of disconnection, feeling clear on what is not working can get lost,” says Seeger DeGeare.
There’s no set time for a relationship break, with couples deciding to spend time apart for anything from a few weeks to a few months.
The idea of a relationship break is to let your body and mind adjust to not having your partner around, which may differ from couple to couple. It should be a time for you to focus on your mental health away from the pressures of the relationship, with your wellness as a priority.
Although there is no definitive period for how long a break should last, it should be catered to what you want from the break itself.
“By defining the goal of the break, and putting a time parameter in place, you will be able to fully understand what you want to achieve during that amount of time,” says Seeger DeGeare.
While there’s a lot of debate around whether relationship breaks are a good idea, it’s important to approach them in a healthy way.
Outline your ground rules from the offset by setting clear boundaries for the duration of the break. This ensures both of your feelings are considered throughout, and you have the best shot at getting back together after a breakup.
Does a break mean you cut your partner off entirely? Are you allowed to reach out?
During a break, couples may approach communication differently. Some people prefer to stay in touch, while others prefer to completely cease communication during the break.
“Many couples have logistical needs that need to be communicated during a break, from bill paying, parenting, or events that they are obligated to attend even when on a break,” says Seeger DeGeare.
“Because of this, it is good to be clear on when you should communicate. This way, you are starting the break on the same page, which will help limit confusion throughout the break.”
By putting these parameters in place, couples don’t have to deal with unwelcome messages or flirting during the break.
Are you allowed to date other people during a relationship break?
“It depends on the goal of the break,” says Seeger DeGeare. “If the goal is around being curious about your sex life and sexuality, the couple might agree that they want to take a break to explore that.”
Both parties should be on board when it comes to exploring potential new connections during your time apart.
However, if the break is coming after a betrayal of trust or cheating, involving someone else could get complicated quickly.
“If the goal is to be reflective, dating could be a major personal distraction and could derail the entire purpose of the break,” says Seeger DeGeare.
Even if you’ve set an expiration date on your relationship break, it can be hard to know when you’re truly ready to reconnect.
“After a set amount of time, you should schedule check-ins with yourself to gauge how you are feeling,” says Seeger DeGeare. “Ask yourself key questions, documenting your answers by journaling or even using voice memos.”
“Our emotions change and evolve, so it is important to get it out in an organized way to see for yourself how your emotions can change.”
If you have given yourself enough time away from the relationship, you will hopefully be clear on how you feel.
“It is important to utilize the space and time of a break to explore your own emotions, and not just see it as a time to avoid major issues,” says Seeger DeGeare.
“You should come back to the relationship with some level of insight that could help the relationship grow, otherwise you have just prolonged an inevitable break-up.”
By approaching a relationship break healthily, it’s easier to get things back on track. Time away may make you realize you’re ready to call it quits, or it could give you the fresh perspective you need to try again.
Rekindling that spark with your partner is essential after a break, as you don’t want to repeat the same patterns that brought you to the breaking point in the first place.
If you have decided you’re ready to reconnect, discover how to deal with reconnection in the right way with our expert advice.
Honesty is always the best policy.
“Before the meeting, be clear about what you need from that first conversation,” says Seeger DeGeare.
“Is it to talk about the break? Is it to talk about what is next? Or, is it just to see each other and see how it feels to be together in the same space again?”
Be open and honest with your partner about how you want to handle the first conversation, and from there, simply be honest about how the break made you feel.
It’s not always easy to hold up your hands and admit your own mistakes. So, if you break up and get back together do you start over?
“When meeting for the first time, arrange a neutral place that feels comfortable for you both,” says Seeger DeGeare. “This can help balance the power dynamic, making it easier to meet in the middle ground and see things from your partner’s perspective.”
If you want things to work out, it is important to accept the mistakes that were made and try to move on.
Spending time with your partner again after a break can feel overwhelming, but communication is key.
Learning how to communicate better in a relationship comes with asking open-ended questions which help you rediscover your romantic connection. This involves active listening, with both parties engaged and enthusiastic about what each other is saying.
If you’re lost for words at the start of your reconnecting journey, start with basic conversation starters or simple questions to get the conversation flowing again.
As a love language in its own right, quality time is a key step in reigniting your relationship.
Carve out the time for your relationship by disconnecting from the world of work and social media and focusing solely on your partner's needs.
“Set boundaries around time together, from putting your phone away to being organized with work or other commitments, so you can feel emotionally relaxed and ready to focus on your partner,” says Seeger DeGeare.
Take the time to check in on your partner by organizing activities for you to do together or planning that perfect date night.
“It can be helpful for both of you to step out of your comfort zone and do something new together,” says Seeger DeGeare. “Going immediately back to your routines can have you stepping immediately back into behaviors that could have started the fight in the first place.”
“This might mean exchanging who plans the activities and letting it be a complete surprise. Quality time that gives space to learn something new about your partner is always a win for everyone.”
Relationship breaks are not to be regarded lightly. However, if you decide to reconnect, it doesn’t all need to be so heavy!
To make a relationship work long-term, having fun with your partner is essential. Inject fun back into the relationship by approaching reconnecting positively.
After a relationship break, the ultimate goal for couples is to ‘get back to normal’. Although this may seem like the ideal result, it’s important to set expectations on what you can achieve after a break.
“In relationships, there is no going back, only forward,” says Seeger DeGeare.
By striving for a new normal rather than chasing your past relationship, it is easier to embark on a new, healthier chapter as a couple.
“Embrace the new relationship and what it needs for everyone to feel satisfied. It might be better to frame it as ‘I want to build trust between us again’ rather than just saying you want things back to normal,” says Seeger DeGeare.
This new relationship can reflect the growth you have achieved as a couple, coming out stronger after a break.
Putting a timer on how long it takes to reconnect with your partner could be a mistake.
In an ideal world, there would be a definitive time frame to aim for. However, it all depends on the reasons for the break and what you hope to achieve together.
“If you are reconnecting after an affair, reconnection might take longer as you wait for trust to rebuild,” says Seeger DeGeare.
When breaking up and getting back together, it’s best not to put any pressure on you or your partner. Work together at your own pace and take as much time as you need to reconnect.
If you feel you are not reconnecting, then it could be a sign to reevaluate your relationship in light of these issues.
Overall, reconnecting with your partner after a rough patch can be a daunting prospect. Despite the obstacles, taking time away from your relationship can make you realize what you have and allow you to weigh up what you want from your romantic partner.
As cliche, as it seems, distance and space can make the heart grow fonder. In the long run, a relationship break can save your relationship and give you the new beginning you need to reconnect on a deeper level.
You don’t always need to resort to couples therapy as a last-minute resort to save your relationship. Want more ways to reconnect with your partner and strengthen your relationship? Download Paired and get access to relationship questions, quizzes, games, and exercises designed by experts.