Larry James' BLOG

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Take a Relationship Sabbatical

Filed under: Relationships — Larry James @ 6:00 am
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bandaidheart2Neil Sedaka was right! Breaking up is hard to do. If you have recently been in a relationship that didn’t work, perhaps it time to take a relationship sabbatical to reevaluate your past missteps and to form a new, healthier perspective on what you want in a prospective partner. Taking a relationship break can be both exhilarating and scary at the same time.

A relationship sabbatical is a “personal time-out from relationships for creative, professional or spiritual growth, reflection, renewal, a time to heal and refocus.” A sabbatical mindset is the condition of consciously disconnecting in the midst of a busy life, so that observation and distance create original, relevant, and meaningful ideas and perspectives. Even without an actual relationship sabbatical, one can cultivate and benefit from a sabbatical mindset.

Taking a break from the routine of a relationship is essential if you are going to connect deeply with the dreams that can inspire you on the next stage of your journey. Suddenly, it’s clear to you now. The relationship is complete! What are you going to do now?

Notice that I did not say that the relationship is over. Relationships never end. You can be complete with a relationship but they never end. Death, divorce, or separation does not end a relationship, it only changes it. As long as you have memory, you will have relationships. Letting go and moving on is the difficult part.

Start fresh. Begin again. Be alone for awhile. Focus on having fun without feeling the need to have to be with someone else. Be good to yourself for a change.

The longer you distance yourself from active relationships, the more in tune you will become with what you want now. This will reflect in your future relationships.

How long will you go without dating? Three months? Six months? A year? Setting a definitive amount keeps your sabbatical feeling like a break that you control, opposed to a perpetual slump that could go on for an indefinite amount of time. It’s important to be by yourself long enough to make sure that you do not repeat old patterns and mistakes. You must decide how long and then stick to it. You will emerge from this period of time with clear intentions, renewed energy and an ability to make yourself vulnerable without fear.

When you can finally be alone and not be lonely. . . love will find you. Love and romance should never be rushed. Don’t be in a hurry.

After a break-up, it’s very easy to fall into another relationship and make the same mistakes all over again. It’s time to reevaluate your previous relationships, and your recent break-up, and see where things started to go wrong.

How can you avoid these mistakes? By living solo for awhile.

Before you can successfully get involved with and have a “healthy” love relationship with someone else, you must first get involved with yourself!

When it comes to analyzing yourself, don’t be an ostrich. Get your head out of the sand and take a loooooong look at what you did that may have contributed to the break-up and promise yourself that you will make some changes “prior” to your next relationship.

The time of real personal growth is when you are alone. Singles should use this time to reflect on the behaviors they did and didn’t like in their former partner. Create a “romantic résumé” that lists their positive points and what you are looking for in your next mate.

It’s time to experience how it feels to stand on your own; taking care of you, paying special attention to who you need to become to attract a passionately monogamous, infidelity-free, fun in the bedroom relationship. You must learn to stand alone again before you can again stand together. . . side by side.

If you want to know what the problem is in your relationships, it’s very simple. Look into the mirror. There it is! You must muster the courage to look the problem straight in the eye and declare your independence from it. It’s time to take responsibility for who you are, what you do, how you think, who you date. . . everything.

The most important relationship to you right now is the one you have with you! Rebuilding a relationship with yourself must be your highest priority. This significant first step must occur before you can be who you need to be in another healthy love relationship with someone else. For the time being, spend lots of time working on preparing for love – the love that you will share with someone else in the future.

If you also make a conscious decision to resolve not to allow those same problems to happen again, you will begin to feel better about yourself and the pain will ease. In time, you will look back and wonder how you could have let something like that happen to you. You will also wonder how you could have allowed yourself to feel the way you feel right now. You will look back in disappointment. You will be proud that you no longer will allow yourself to grovel in self pity and pain like you did in the past.

Part of the healing is acknowledging that there were indeed problems that you were responsible for. Knowing that is not enough. DOING something different is! For now, working on you is the first key to unlocking a future chock full of infinite possibilities. Whatever you want, wants you too.

It is now time to STOP blaming someone else for the misery you are creating for yourself. It’s time to forgive them so the hurt will heal. Nothing is unforgivable. That is only and always your choice too.

The hurts won’t heal until you will allow yourself to forgive.

If you think that he or she was solely responsible because of what they did or didn’t do, then you are missing the point. It’s time to let go of that and focus on taking full responsibility for the choices that are available to you right now. Blaming others will only and always keep you stuck right where you are.

It will take a new discipline to do this. Can you do it? You must understand that the pain you feel right now is only temporary. Medical science has yet to prove that anyone has ever died from a broken heart. Broken hearts can mend. It takes time and you must do the work. You can do it! And you will do it when the desire to feel better about yourself again becomes stronger than the benefits of holding on to a past that obviously didn’t work.

It takes no strength to let go, only courage.

Still in a relationship? Married? There is nothing wrong with taking a short break from each other? Time apart to give yourselves a chance to clear your thinking and to miss each other. Separate vacations? Or a week in a hotel across town. And then after a brief time apart, starting to date each other again. Trust is, of course, the big issue. You should never do this if you are on the verge of a break-up or think that this would be a good excuse to cheat on your partner. That would be a big mistake.

Does absence make the heart grow fonder or forgetful? One couple separated for months. Did it help or hurt? Read, “Let’s Take a Marriage Sabbatical.”

Bonus Article. Read, “How to Take a Dating Sabbatical.”


Copyright © 2010 – Larry James. This idea is adapted from Larry’s books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” Larry James is a professional speaker, author, relationship coach and a nondenominational minister. He performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere.

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact:, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – and

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  1. Hey, I am in the process of going through a pretty tough time in my relationship with the other half and this blog post couldn’t have came at a better time, I have been so upset for a couple of months (yes, months!) now as me and my partner have decided to go separate ways. This wasn’t just any relationship, this was a bond between 2 individuals that I believed to have been incredible, but, after a while the true colors started to shine and they started to be verbally aggressive. they even began to hurt a lot. What would you advise to any person that’s currently upset from a relationship that’s ended due to being cheated on? The first three years of the relationship was absolutely fantastic, it was great in fact, we would both go to the movies, eat out, be very touchy, but it’s almost like they changed over night into another human being. It would be amazing to receive a response from you, (please, I need it). xx

    Comment by Kristen Love — Monday, September 10, 2018 @ 8:54 am | Reply

    • Kristen ~ You said the relationship has ended because he cheated. My advice: Move on! Take some time to review YOUR part of this relationship that was because of something you did or didn’t do. Resolve never to let it happen again and move on. People cheat because they are not getting what they need from a relationship. It may seem like it changed overnight, but that is never the case. I would be happy to talk with you for 10 or 15 minutes to offer more advice. You can call me at 480-205-3694. – Larry James

      Comment by Larry James — Monday, September 10, 2018 @ 4:00 pm | Reply

  2. I was in a relationship and my buddy told me that he was stressed not just by our relationship, he made it clear he was stressed by other relationships too. He told me that he was putting mine and other relationships on sabbatical. I was told by him that he was taking a sabbatical to relieve tension and stress and then come back better and healthy. We have exchanged a couple emails but we have not hung out or verbally talked for a few months or so. We have been great buds and I’m worried that I’ve lost a friend that I’ve known for years. I would like to continue our friendship. Any suggestions or advice you can lend?

    Comment by Josh Monroe — Saturday, August 10, 2013 @ 10:24 am | Reply

    • If you really want to continue the relation you may need to make the first move. Call him!

      Comment by Larry James — Sunday, August 11, 2013 @ 3:16 pm | Reply

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