The on-again, off-again relationship is a staple for many 20-somethings because it’s often a time of self-discovery and personal growth, which can be directly at odds with long-term commitment, says Rebecca Hendrix, a marriage and family therapist based in New York.

“I think it can be really healthy to separate, have some life experiences, date other people, go to grad school,” she says.

“And that literally went on for seven years.” Then, Joe was named to ’s 40 Under 40 list and Jaime—who was just named to the list herself—took the opportunity to make a move by sending a friendly (but carefully crafted) congratulatory email.

So I told Greg he could use our apartment as long as he changed the sheets immediately after sex. We each took a step back at those times, re-evaluated, and took some space from those other people to avoid confusion.

The critical thing in open relationships like the one we had is that you cannot develop emotions for the other people that you meet. You have to be able to trust your partner and feel like you can truly communicate with him or her.

Learn how to be happy as a single person and organize your time outside of a relationship.

The next time you enter into a relationship, you and your partner can add to that happiness, not create it from scratch.

If you're thinking about pressing pause on your relationship, there are certain steps you should take to avoid all of the confusion (like the seven years of “Do they still like me? If you and your significant other are open to dating other people on your break, there are plenty of opportunities for jealousy to creep in.

” that Jaime experienced) and heartbreak, plus a few questions to ask yourself before deciding to get back together. Maybe you see an Instagram of them with their arm around someone else or a cryptic tweet with heart emojis sent to someone you don’t recognize.

I started thinking about saying those words out loud — I had sex with someone else — and it felt awful. He said I shouldn’t be scared and that he understood.

When he finally woke up, he could tell I was upset. It was about a year before Greg slept with another woman.

But for Jaime, who was a late 20-something working in public relations at the time, the relationship wasn’t just a summer fling. It wasn’t easy, but it was a fairly clean break, except for the fact that they both worked in PR and inevitably bumped into each other at industry events.