It’s no secret that relationships are never entirely smooth-sailing. The challenges a couple faces together bonds them and makes them stronger – both together, and as individuals. However, for those who can’t seem to get over difficult obstacles, there’s also the option of taking a “break” –usually defined as a short period of time when a couple takes time away from each other, without necessarily breaking up.
But the parameters of a “break” can be vague. Just ask Ross and Rachel from the TV series Friends. To better define what it means to individuals, we spoke to five Singaporean women to share what the relationship status means to them.
1. “‘Pausing’ the relationship to be away from your partner.”
Hazirah and her current boyfriend
Image courtesy of Hazirah
“I’m currently in a relationship, and we’ve been together for 3 years and 9 months. Personally, I have taken a break in my relationship.
From my own experience, a break is “pausing” the relationship to be away from your partner because either one or both parties needs to work on themselves before being able to be committed to each other properly. My break lasted around a month or so, but after the incident, I personally don’t believe that there should be a break in any relationship.
I would only consider taking a break if my partner doesn’t want to talk about our problems with me, or if they don’t consider my feelings for a long period of time, until it deteriorates my mental health and happiness in the relationship.
A break is not a breakup. Neither of us should be looking to find potential partners, or treat it as an excuse to cheat, because we are still in a relationship with each other. I feel that both partners should learn how to effectively communicate their feelings and needs with each other.”
Advice for those considering a break: “Use the break to reflect on the relationship and how to treat each other.”
– Hazirah, 21
2. “Time away from each other to re-evaluate the relationship.”
Image courtesy of Faith Joan
“I am in a relationship, and I’ve been with my boyfriend for four years. I took a break from my boyfriend earlier this year, and also took a break from my ex for two weeks before. The break with my boyfriend lasted for one month.
In the case of my boyfriend and I, we started having issues in our relationship and were fighting more, so at one point we just asked each other if we were still happy in this relationship. Our definition of the break was that, “We are still a couple, but are taking time away from each other to see if we still want this relationship.”
In the case of me and my ex, he initiated the break and basically ghosted me for two weeks. He laid out no terms, so I basically used this time to allow myself to grief for the relationship, and try to move on.
I cried a lot, but spent a lot of time video-calling family and friends, and going out with close friends. I also had a makeover — I got my first Brazilian wax, and got my lashes done. I also forced myself to try things I’d never imagined myself doing, like signing up for a pole dancing class. I also spent a lot of time going to church.
I prefer talking it out instead of having a break, because I believe communication is the most important when there are problems! But if one person is not receptive and does not want to open up, maybe a break would be good.”
Advice for those considering a break: “Force radio silence and don’t talk to each other at all. No texting, no calls, and no hooking up.”
– Faith Joan, 27
3. “To improve on myself”
Image courtesy of Rachelle
“I’m currently single. I had taken a 2-week break from my ex but I initially wanted it to be till after my A levels but he didn’t agree with that. We were quarrelling a lot, and I needed a time-out to sort out my emotions, especially since it was during my exam period.
I define a break as taking time off to figure things out on my own without the intervention or influence of my partner, and also to improve on myself in the process, but also to remain loyal to the relationship.
During a break, you should focus on yourself and remember what the break is for, be it self-improvement or other reasons. Always set ground rules as well. Don’t communicate with your partner, and don’t do anything you wouldn’t when you’re not on the break. Spend more time with your friends and family, and practise self-care.
I feel that taking a break is definitely healthy when you have a partner that is overbearing and/or has a great influence on you and your decisions. As a partner, you should be able to give each other space to do your own thing.”
Advice for those considering a break: “Set realistic goals to hit, and really focus on yourself and reflect on the relationship.”
– Rachelle, 20
Breakups VS Breaks: Unspoken Relationship Etiquette For Modern Couples
4. “Trying to find yourself again”
Image courtesy of Le Xuan
“I am currently not in a relationship. I have taken a break in my past relationship before because we wanted to take some time apart to find ourselves again.
My definition of a break is trying to find yourself again by not talking to your significant other. In my opinion, taking a break is when you know you still want to be together, but you have decided to take some time off from each other to figure out things.
Why I would consider taking a break is if my partner needs some space to find himself or when I need a break to find myself, reflect and think about things. I think that having some breaks is healthy in a long-lasting relationship, but having too many breaks would raise the question of whether the relationship is healthy or not.
During a break, I would turn to getting more of my alone time. Really take the time you need to reflect and do some self-care for yourself. Maybe check in with your partner once or twice during the break to ensure that things are alright on their end, but set boundaries for yourself.”
Advice for those considering a break: “Focus on reflecting on how to become a better partner for your significant other.”
– Le Xuan, 20
5. “Time alone to consolidate thoughts”
Image courtesy of Andrea
“I’m not in a relationship. I’ve never taken a break but my ex and I did break up for a few days before getting back together. I feel like any break should be at least one week – a few days is too short and it isn’t enough time and space for the person to think and be alone. But I think the duration really does depend on the severity of the issue or whatever reason is spurring the break.
If there’s constant fighting, having to explain yourself can make a person feel very tired and frustrated. Maybe some people just need that time alone to consolidate their thoughts.
For me, especially if the break is not one that’s heading towards a break up, I wouldn’t want my partner to see other people during the break.
I would also spend time with my friends and do some self-care activities – maybe go clubbing with my friends to have some fun and not think about the problems in the relationship.
Personally, I’d want the guy to check in on me but give me space on the issue that we disagreed on, and have the guy to reflect on what caused the break. Breaks can help, because if you’ve been with a person for a very long time, people start taking each other for granted.”
Advice for those considering a break: “Don’t take a “break” lightly and use it like a trump card.”
– Andrea, 20
These Girls Show That Each Relationship’s Definition Of Needs & Boundaries Are Different
Through the responses these girls shared with us, it can be seen that taking a break in a relationship can be healthy if the rules are defined by both parties, so that misunderstandings don’t occur.
As each situation calls for a different approach, every couple needs to be able to listen to each other’s needs, so that it can be a smooth period of reflection and separation. Remember, communication is key.
Cover: Hazirah (left), Andrea, Faith Joan
8 Times K-Dramas Taught Us It’s Better To Let Go Of Relationships & Move On