Communicating may be the key to a successful relationship break

Relationship breaks have been talked about in pop culture for quite some time now, but recent headlines about NBA basketball player Dwyane Wade and rapper Ludacris fathering children while on a break from their long-term significant others has given the topic new relevance. The media has often discussed breaks in terms of the messy aftermath, but not in regards to making them worthwhile and beneficial to the relationship.

Sometimes couples find spending some time apart is necessary, even though they don’t want to actually break up.

Many students believe relationship breaks can be just as complicated as staying together, though. Like most things, there is no “one size fits all” answer for how to take a successful break, but many believe communicating with your significant other plays a major part in taking a beneficial time out.


Student Dayvon Kimble dated his ex-girlfriend on and off for four years while in high school. They had three breaks in their relationship, the longest one lasting for two months. He explained how they didn’t set rules for each other during their time apart.

“In a break, you know that something is still there, but at the same time you’re willing to test the waters,” Kimble said.

Kimble views relationships differently now that he’s older. He hasn’t dated since coming to college, but he thinks most of his friends who go on relationship breaks are delaying the inevitable.

“The break is pretty much a breakup, but they don’t know it yet.”

Dr. Mindy Stombler, a sociology professor who teaches classes on
sexuality and society, said taking a break to date or have sex with other people isn’t necessarily bad for a relationship.

“If people decide that they want to take a break and have sex with other partners, as long as that’s been communicated and both people agree that it’s a good idea, then it
doesn’t necessarily have to be inherently damaging.”

Students Tia Jackson and Willie Robinson have been dating for nearly a year and agreed that they wouldn’t take a break in their relationship.

“I think taking breaks in a relationship is BS,” Jackson said. “It’s hard to establish guidelines. It seems more complicated than it’s worth.”

Jackson admits she has taken breaks in a previous relationship, but explained that she now finds the concept selfish.

“Relationships are work and it’s not easy. You don’t get to have free time when you’re having problems. I understand the concept of time apart, but I couldn’t imagine looking at Will and saying, ‘lets not talk for two weeks,'” Jackson said.

Stombler said there can be benefits to taking a break from a relationship, however.

“I understand why students want to take them. They’re very busy and they need to decide if this relationship is the right relationship for them,” Stombler said.

Christen Lott and Aaron Hunte have been dating for almost two years after meeting through Hunte’s roommate at Georgia State. They say they’ve tried to go on breaks before, but they never last more than two days.

Still, the couple said they can understand taking time apart to cool off and reflect after heated fights.

“Emotions are high and you say things that you don’t mean,” Lott said, noting that she and Hunter are working on their communication skills.

Stombler agreed communication is important even when couples are deciding to spend some time apart.

“I would agree with those couples and just say that communication is absolutely key. It’s key to a healthy relationship and it would be key to a healthy break.”

Stombler said relationship breaks are different for every couple, but she doesn’t know of any official research on the subject.

“In terms of research or data on this, I don’t know of any research where people have actually surveyed students and found out how they define appropriate activity during a break in a relationship.”

It seems some students believe effective communication will prevent couples from needing breaks from one another, while others seem to think having time apart isn’t a bad thing as long as expectations are discussed and agreed upon beforehand.