[OPINION] Three ways to make sure that you don't confuse a break-up with a relationship break...
By Lincoln Anthony Blades
I don’t believe in breaks. I think all relationships exist in one of four areas: together, getting together, separating and separated. Breaks are typically an excuse to hit the pause button to delay a hard or inevitable decision. They typically have no rules, no clearly defined boundaries, and no set time frames, existing merely on the whim of one member of the relationship.
With that being said, there are many who still subscribe to the “taking a break” ideology to resolve their relationship problem(s). But here’s the thing: Few know the difference between being on a break and witnessing the end of their relationship.
Truthfully, it is confusing, mainly because the context of the break is in the hands of the person who called for it. And because the “break-caller” sets the boundaries (i.e., are we still living together, can we sleep with other people, etc.) and determines the parameters (i.e., how long will the break be, how much contact should we have, etc.) predicated on their emotions, it can be confusing as hell to operate during a break. How do you know when you’re beginning an actual reconciliation or facing impending singledom?
If you believe in taking breaks, or you currently find yourself in a relationship where you’re being subjected to a break, there’s a good chance you may need some assistance in determining what your next step should be, mainly because you’re not completely sure what’s happening now. Here are three ways for you to know that you’re definitely not on a break anymore and it’s officially safe to consider your relationship over.
1) Communication becomes sparse to nonexistent.
If a break is predicated on repairing what ails a relationship, it will require active communication to fix it. If you go on a break, and you don’t hear from that person for days, weeks or even months, you’re no longer on a break. Your relationship is over. If you are chasing someone down just to hear their voice and confirm they’re still alive, you’re not significant others anymore—you’re exes.
2) Your long-term goals are taken off the table.
If you were both saving for a downpayment on a house, and now they’re talking about taking their savings and possibly backpacking through Europe, or trying to afford a Beyoncé & Jay-Z concert, they’re no longer serious about nurturing a future with you. If they don’t want to come to your family gatherings anymore, and they don’t want you at theirs, your relationship is over. You are just cordial exes at this point.
3) They start dating other people.
Unless you’re in a polyamorous relationship, there’s no damn excuse for you to accept being put on pause while the break-caller is evaluating your replacement. I don’t care what the reason is for the break; anyone interested in cultivating and fixing their monogamous relationship will not find time, energy and condoms for someone new. Your relationship is over. It doesn’t mean you can’t reconcile and get back together, but you’re no longer in a relationship today, while your ex is actively courting a new lover.
If these three points have left you confused, with more questions than answers, then GOOD—that’s how it’s supposed to be with confusing, unqualified and random breaks. They’re messy, nondistinct and apt to worsen your problems. If you’re considering taking one, ask yourself realistically if you’re truly invested in the success of the relationship. If the answer is “no,” just end it and save yourself the headache and the heartache.
Lincoln Anthony Blades blogs daily on his site, ThisIsYourConscious.com. He’s author of the book, “You’re Not A Victim, You’re A Volunteer.” He can be reached on Twitter @lincolnablades and on Facebook at Lincoln Anthony Blades.