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7 Signs You Need A Break From Your Partner During Quarantine

By now, you might have lost count of how many days (months? years?) it's been since quarantine started and you had an evening to yourself without your partner. After months of a lot of togetherness, you could be feeling a sense of cabin fever and showing signs you need a break from your partner. Don't worry though, because despite what Ross and Rachel have taught you, sometimes a little break can be a good thing.

It's safe to assume that this pandemic hasn't been easy on anyone and even the strongest relationships have been tested a little bit. "Nobody prepared couples for navigating a pandemic in their pre-marital counseling sessions," licensed professional counselor, Kirsten Brunner, M.A., tells Romper via email, "Now there is an excess of together time and it is to be expected that couples are getting on each others nerves." For the couples that were rocky before all of this started, it might be even harder, marriage and family therapist Jenny Limm, MFT, M.Ed, tells Romper. "If a couple had been struggling to find intimacy and communicate effectively before the pandemic, it’s not surprising that this couple may be at their breaking point."

What's difficult is that not always obvious when you've reached the point where you need a break from your partner under normal circumstances, let alone in quarantine. Right now, your ability to tolerate your partner's annoying quirks may be declining, but that's to be expected. Here are a few feelings and behaviors that may indicate it's time to take a little break.

1
You're More Irritable

Pandemic or not, your level of patience can fluctuate on any given day. However, both Limm and Brunner suggest if you're feeling more irritable than normal, it may be time to take a break.

Picking fights on a regular basis can sometimes mean you're bothered/upset by one thing that you haven't expressed, so it's coming out all over the place instead. After taking a breather, Limm says, "I would recommend that a couple displaying these symptoms work on improving communication skills to navigate through what’s really going on and help support each other rather than to turn away from each other."

2
You're Not Interested In Sex/Intimacy
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If you're home with kids right now, you may be feeling 'touched out' by the end of the day, which might make intimacy difficult. In this case, you're probably still attracted to your partner and like the idea of sex and/or intimacy but are just too exhausted. This is not cause for concern (this is a byproduct of surviving).

What should raise a red flag, says Limm, is a total lack of interest in sex and/or intimacy with your partner. If you're shutting them down or coming up with an excuse every time they try to initiate something intimate, you might need to take a break to miss being around them again. If you can, Brunner suggests "checking into an Airbnb for a few nights" to get a little space.

3
You Aren't Connecting

Understandably, there's not a whole lot to talk about right now. If you're both at or working from home, you already know the basics of their day because you were there with them and if the kids are home, there's not much to update each other on. But, as long as you're still trying to find some way to connect, you're doing alright.

Limm warns that constantly tuning your partner out by being "hyperfocused on social media, Netflix, or TV" may be a sign it's time to take a break. Another sign is "holing up in your home office or bedroom more than usual," says Brunner, because "this might mean you are feeling crowded or even smothered."

4
You're Feeling Depressed/Anxious

It is not at all uncommon to be experiencing anxiety or depression right now. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging people to monitor themselves because, right now, "fear and anxiety ... can be overwhelming" and "social distancing can make people feel isolated and lonely and can increase stress and anxiety." Because of this, Limm explains, it's "uncertain" if feeling depressed in general "means that a couple needs to take a break."

Depression looks different for everyone, but your behavior may help you determine if your depression is coming from or being intensified by your relationship. One sign of this, Brunner says, is if you "enjoy time with your partner less than you did before" and "normal rituals that you used to take part in don't hold the same appeal."

5
Your Emotions Are At An All-Time High
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Are you getting easily offended by comments that would be harmless otherwise? Have you gone from zero to screaming at them in a matter of seconds? Emotions are high in quarantine, but Brunner warns, "Some people report feeling more sensitive or argumentative" towards their partner right now, and that may be a sign you need to hit the pause button.

6
Your Banter Has Turned To Bickering

Every couple bickers from time to time, but if your playful banter has turned into negative critiques and bickering has become more frequent, now may be a good time to take a break. Having a "critical tone, [being] emotionally distant, or dismissive of [your partner's] concerns" are signs you could use some space from your partner, Limm warns.

7
You're Not Taking Care Of Yourself

You don't have to stop wearing your leggings or anything, but you should still be showering in quarantine. Being comfortable or opting for a makeup-free face is nothing concerning, but if you're ignoring your hygiene and skipping grooming completely, Limm says that could be a reflection of the state of your relationship and can even cause further damage. "If we’re struggling to love ourselves, and take care of ourselves, we often too quickly turn to our partners, expecting validation and admiration without asking, and then feel under-appreciated, unloved, and disconnected [when we don't get it."

At some point in quarantine, you will probably need a break from your partner, and that's perfectly okay. "I cannot emphasize how absolutely normal it is to be experiencing all of [these feelings]," says Limm, "This is an unprecedented time, and literally no one knows how this will pan out." Needing a break doesn't necessarily mean your relationship is in trouble, it's just that right now "there is an excess of together time," Brunner explains, "and it is to be expected that couples are getting on each others nerves." If you're at that point, share your feelings with your partner and tell them what you need. They will probably help you come up with a way to get some space, because chances are good they could use a little for themselves, too.

If you or someone you know is seeking help for mental health concerns, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website, or call 1-800-950-NAMI(6264). For confidential treatment referrals, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website, or call the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357). In an emergency, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or call 911.

Sources:

Kirsten Brunner, MA, Licensed Professional Counselor specializing in Relationships, Pre and Post-Baby Support, and Perinatal Mental Health

Jenny Limm, MFT, M.Ed., Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in Sex and Relationships