There can be a lot of pressure in a relationship to always feel happy. You might feel like being in a good relationship means that you’re always together, always exuberant, and that you never feel the slightest twinge of discord. But that’s just not realistic. It’s totally normal to need a break from your partner from time to time. In fact, taking some time off can help you come back to your relationship feeling happier and stronger — you can think of it as a little emotional nap.
Sometimes when things are feeling tense in a relationship, you really only need a little break, rather than a breakup. “An emotional nap is not always an indicator that you need to break up, it can simply be a time to explore and gain some insight into what you’ve been feeling and why,” Joanna Townsend, a life coach and a Washington D.C.-based psychotherapist for Blush Online Life Coaching, tells Bustle. “It’s important to use space productively and look at the bigger picture, not as a reason to ruminate or dwell on negativity.” If you have a productive emotional nap, you can come back stronger than ever.
What are the signs that you need an emotional nap, rather than to actually break up? Here’s what the experts have to say.
1. You’re Fighting Over The Little Things
If you find yourself getting upset over tiny, insignificant things, it’s a probably a sign you need a break. “Emotional naps may be helpful when you find yourself arguing over trivial issues (like how to load the dishwasher or when you cannot agree on what takeaway to get),” Townsend says.
2. You Can’t Connect With Your Partner
If you feel like you’re so tense or irritable that you can’t connect with your partner or really relax with them, it can be healthy to take a step back “Feeling a sense of disconnect, getting annoyed and irritated easily, or when you are not able to be fully present with your partner,” Townsend says are all signs that a break could do you good.
3. You’re Struggling With Things You Used To Love
A good sign that things have gone too far? “If the quirks you usually find cute are annoying,” family and marriage therapist Rachel Wright tells Bustle. Struggling to enjoy things about your partner that you normally love or noticing that you have a short fuse are indicators that taking a break could make a huge difference.
4. You Look Forward To Reconnecting
One of the differences between taking an emotional nap and breaking up is whether or not you want to connect to your partner and get back in sync. “Needing space from your partner isn’t necessarily a bad sign,” relationship therapist Aimee Hartstein, LCSW tells Bustle. “A good indicator that you just want an emotional nap rather than a breakup, is if you are looking forward to seeing them once that little break is over.” If you want things to go back to normal, an emotional nap may do the trick.
5. Your Time Together Is Always Fraught
It’s normal to be irritable with each other occasionally, but if things feel constantly fraught, then it may be time for a break. “When there is friction, disengagement, distance between you and your partner, sometimes the best thing is not to try and draw closer, but rather to give space and time,” Joshua Klapow, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, tells Bustle.
6. You Can Talk About It
One sign that you just need a little break is that your relationship is strong and you’ve been able to communicate about this need. “Turning away is not avoiding,” Klapow says. “Turning away after you acknowledge that you and or your partner needs space allows the relationship to rest, mend, and positions both of you to get back into the swing of things.” If you both can be upfront about what’s happening and the fact that one — or both — of you need a break, that’s a great sign that your relationship is strong overall.
7. You’re Fantasizing About Alone Time
Put simply, a sign that you need a little break emotionally can be as simple as really, really wanting one. “If you’re imagining a heavenly moment alone,” Wright says it’s probably time to take an emotional nap. If you have an urge to be on your own, with your friends, or just go away for a bit, then it’s totally OK to acknowledge that need. It may be that you and your partner have become claustrophobically close — physically or emotionally — and you just need a moment to reset.
An emotional nap in a relationship shouldn’t be something that scares you. In fact, it can be incredibly healthy. If you’re feeling tense, distant, or easily irritated, try taking some space. If your relationship is strong to begin with, a little break — rather than a breakup — could do you both some good.
Originally posted on Bustle