In any relationship, there comes a point when both parties just get so fed up of all the bullshit. Most couples break up, while others try to work things out. Those who still think they love each other, but don't really know whether the relationship is worthy of another shot or not, usually take what is commonly known as a cool off.
"Cool off is supposed to be able to give both partners space to calm down after a high stress conflict. No contact is the usual characteristic intended to induce self-reflection," explains Dr. Tyler Ong, PsyD, MS, a Cebu-based psychologist.
Dr. Tyler notes that it isn't really necessary to take time off. "It's just a modern invention to mitigate conflicts, but has little essential capacity in and of itself."
To start with, a cool off is often not well-planned. "Without other strategies to supplement a cool off, it serves very little purpose and does not produce the intended positive outcome," Dr. Ong warns.
It's important for couples to have a timetable for their temporary break up and to agree upon rules, Dr. Ong says, as the aggravating factor is usually miscommunication or disagreement regarding what exactly should happen in a cool off.
"There is no definitive criteria. This is something the couple should agree on beforehand," he says. "It is very important that the people involved agree with each other how long the cool off should last. If one partner breaks the agreement, it usually doesn't bode well for the relationship."
If you insist on the much needed breathing space, there are a couple of things you need to remember. First off, you have no right to control or make demands of your significant other. Note that no one has the right to be overly-demanding or be control freak; this would not be healthy for the relationship.
Second, a cool off period allows partners to "see other people", which often leads to a more permanent termination.
"Technically, dating other people would create breaches in monogamous relations that would be hard to heal," he warns. "The moment the thought of dating others enters your mind, the relationship is already in deep trouble. This acts as an indicator to the health of the relationship."
Long story short, it's better to sit down with your partner and talk things over. Get straight to the point. Are you willing to save the relationship or will you both feel better if it comes into an end? This might not come easy, but it's always better to come into a painful verdict than delay the inevitable.
Dr. Tyler Ong, PsyD, MS is a clinical psychologist, and family and marriage therapist. For consultation, you can visit his clinic at 317 Medalle Bldg. Fuente Osmeña, Cebu City.