Is It Cheating If You’re On A Break? Let’s Settle This Once And For All

When things get too tense or chaotic in a relationship, taking a break might seem like the best course forward. You’re not ready to say goodbye forever, but things can’t go on as they have been. But, what happens when one of you sleeps with someone else during your relationship hiatus? Is it cheating if you’re on a break? Ross and Rachel have been debating this for decades at this point. It’s time to settle it once and for all.

What does it mean to be “on a break” in a relationship?

  1. You’re taking some time apart. Sometimes things just get too heated and the best way to cool off is to step away from each other and the situation. By giving one another space, you allow yourselves time to think about the issues you have, process them independently, and ultimately decide how you want to move forward. A break can provide clarity that allows you to overcome problems and figure out what comes next.
  2. Your relationship isn’t over, it’s just on pause. When you take a break, you’re not splitting for good. You’re just saying that you’re taking some time apart until you feel like you’re ready to resume things. It’s pressing the pause button for now, not forever. It’s like taking a time-out for anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks before picking up right where you left off.
  3. You’re planning to come back together at a later date. A reunion is always on the cards when you take a relationship break. If you wanted to break up, you would have done that. However, taking a break is simply that — a break. When things are less raw and you take time to work through your feelings, you plan to jump right back in.

Is it cheating if you’re on a break?

This question has been swirling for a long time, ever since Ross slept with someone else while “on a break” from his relationship with Rachel in “Friends” back in the ’90s. Ross insisted he was in the clear because he and Rachel weren’t technically together at that point, but Rachel disagreed. In her mind, they were only taking some space, not ending things entirely. It was a rift between them that was never actually solved throughout the series.

While opinions on whether or not it’s cheating if you’re on a break will always be divided, it is a pretty clear-cut issue. If you’re still in a relationship with someone, even if it is currently on pause, then you should continue to act as if you’re in that relationship. That means remaining loyal to your partner, not bad-mouthing them or doing things to hurt them, and certainly not sleeping with someone else.

That being said, if you and your partner discussed the terms of the break and mutually decided that sex with people outside the relationship is okay, that’s a different story. However, it should be noted that things that are acceptable in theory are often not in practice. If you plan to reunite with your other half and stay together long-term, you’re better off not sleeping around.

Some things to consider

  1. If you’re seeking something from someone else, do you really want to be in your relationship? Instead of simply asking whether or not it’s cheating to sleep with someone else while on a break, ask this question. Your partner may have okayed sex outside the relationship, but why do you want it? You say you’re dedicated to the relationship. If you are, why are you looking elsewhere?
  2. There are obviously issues in your relationship to need a break in the first place. Things aren’t going well in your relationship. That much is clear. When you take a break, that’s the time to find a solution to those issues. Thinking of sleeping with other people shouldn’t even cross your mind. If that’s your focus, that tells you something.
  3. Your break might need to be a breakup. Not all relationships are built to last. There’s a chance that a relationship break won’t solve your issues. It may make you realize that you’re better off apart than together. In this case, you should end things respectfully and move on.
Bolde has been a source of dating and relationship advice for single women around the world since 2014. We combine scientific data, experiential wisdom, and personal anecdotes to provide help and encouragement to those frustrated by the journey to find love.