Can a Long Break Ruin a Relationship?

A long break can help determine if you should stay together.
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If you're considering taking a break from your relationship, it is already floundering. A break can be a good way to figure out what you really want out of your partnership -- and in the end, you or your partner may decide to call it quits for good. At this point, a long break is less likely to ruin the relationship than to reveal the underlying, intractable problems that already exist. Still, you can take steps to help your relationship weather a long break.

1 The Shorter, the Sweeter

There is no magic number of weeks or months that will ensure that you get back together with your partner, but keeping your break time to a minimum means that you will both actively consider the future of your relationship. Don't string your partner along in the hope that things will improve with an extra month or two. Some people take years-long breaks and reconcile, but this path is not for everyone, advises relationship psychologist Susan Quilliam in "The Independent" article "Taking a Break Is Hard to Do"

2 Make Reasonable Guidelines

The longer you spend apart, the harder it will be for you both to resist temptation. You need realistic expectations about what you and your partner are allowed to do in terms of dating other people during the time you're apart, psychotherapist Marny Hall tells in "What to Do When Your Sweetie Says Those Words." Be clear on if you're allowed to kiss someone else or go on a few dates.

3 Stay in Sync

During breaks that last up to three months, partners are advised to give one another as much space as possible. In fact, Hall suggests that partners see each other only during therapy sessions if they are using therapy as a relationship tool. During a longer break, you or your partner may change and not want the same things when you consider reconciliation, writes lifestyle expert and teen dating coach Abiola Abrams in "Five Reasons Why Taking a Break Rarely Works Out" on Keep in contact -- always planned and not too frequent -- to resolve the conflicts that led you to this point, social worker Joe Kort advises

4 Know When to Call It Quits

The point of taking a break is to figure out if this relationship is right for both of you. No matter how long you're apart, you're taking the chance that one of you will ultimately want out. Worry less about whether this long break will "ruin" your relationship and more about what is right for you both. If you find yourself dreading every day without your partner, who is living it up, or the situation is reversed, save yourselves both valuable time and cut your ties for good, advises Hall.

A graduate of Oberlin College, Caitlin Duke has written on travel and relationships for She has crisscrossed the country several times, and relishes discovering new points on the map. As a credentialed teacher, she also has a strong background in issues facing families today.