Relationships don’t come with a nifty handbook to help us navigate our way through the ins and outs of keeping things afloat with a romantic partner, which is why when many couples decide to split, they find themselves confused about whether the breakup is permanent or just a temporary break.
In a perfect world, no relationship would end without that super critical break-up conversation taking place first. In that shiny, totally not-real world, there would always be clarity about where either party stood, and many of us could avoid that awkward state of delusion in which we try to convince ourselves that the breakup is temporary.
Since we are all flawed, and breaking up is complicated AF, how do you know if this split isn’t actually the end of your world, but instead just a hiccup in the road that is only temporarily throwing it off its axis?
1If the breakup happened because…life.
Your partner works night shift and you work the day shift and then attend evening classes, after which you come home and crash at night, forcing you to limit your quality time to the weekend until you graduate or until one of you lands a new job. Maybe one of you experienced a devastating personal loss, and the grief takes away from your ability to fully commit to the relationship.
In the event that life temporarily interrupts your relationship, it may be a sign that you need a brief break from one another to get yourself back on track instead of a permanent end to the relationship.
2You broke up in the heat of an argument.
We’ve all been in a situation where we insisted on having the last words, even if we didn’t really mean what we said. Your partner heard, “I hate you and never want to see you again. We’re done!” but what you really meant was, “I’m really angry right now and incapable of having a rational convo, so here’s something that will really hurt you as much as I’m hurting right now. Oh yeah, I’ll regret everything I said in the morning.”
If you and your S.O. broke up in the heat of the moment, it’s likely that you will be able to rebound from the argument once the both of you have cooled down and allowed yourself to communicate in a healthier manner that actually resolves the issue without sacrificing the entire relationship.
3You keep in touch during the breakup.
You both know you called it quits, but you barely act like it. Between the constant texting, hanging out, and regular sex, it’s apparent that the only thing that changed between you two was you both agreed to break up (whatever that even means).
If you’re struggling to embrace the breakup — which means limiting or completely ceasing contact, no sex and ya know, moving on with your separate lives — then there’s a chance that this breakup isn’t permanent. (Now, whether it should be or not is a totally different story, but that’s not for us to decide.)
4Neither of you is interested in seeing someone else.
Ending a relationship technically frees you up to date around, which is great — except it’s not because none of your Tinder prospects holds a candle to your (kind of sort of) ex.
In some cases, not wanting to date someone new can just be a sign that you’re still not over your last relationship, but if both of you honestly cannot bear the thought of being with another person, it may just mean that your breakup gave you the space to better appreciate what you have in one another.
5Your issues can be resolved without a permanent split.
Relationships tend to bring our inner petty to the surface, and so often we resort to drastic measures to address a simple fix. Like, is it really worth breaking up because your S.O. is the loudest snorer on the planet who refuses to hang the toilet paper facing down? While those minor nuisances can definitely grate on your nerves, they can probably be resolved without ending the relationship.
Believe it or not, being annoyed with your partner is great for a relationship. It allows space for you to exercise your conflict resolution skills. If you ditched your significant other because of their irritating habits, there may still be hope for the relationship with a bit of patience, understanding, and communication.
6Life is better when you’re together.
And not in the dreamy-life-is-a-rom-com type of way. This person legitimately adds excitement, positivity, and balance to your life by supporting you, encouraging you when you’re down and fully accepting you and your imperfections. Intuitively, you know you belong together in spite of this temporary relationship derailment.
There are still doubts over whether temporary breaks actually work, but it’s perfectly okay to take time to consider whether it means your relationship has seen its last days or if you and your partner are just gearing up to give your romance a second chance.