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Relationship Break: 41 Rules to Taking a Break & How to Plan for It

Sometimes taking a break in a relationship is needed to help bring the two of you back together again. A relationship break doesn’t have to mean the end.

taking a break in a relationship

Taking a break in a relationship is often something couples consider but worry about actually going through with. It probably has a lot to do with the worry that the break will never come to an end, or it will lead to something more permanent.

But, the truth is that a relationship break may be the one thing that actually saves your union from disaster.

Learning how to take a break in a relationship is about space, time, and growing. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re single or broken up. The thing is, taking a break in a relationship has this preconceived notion of an end, so people freak out when they hear the word “break.” But, it’s not always the case.

With some patience, understanding, and trust you can take a break in a relationship and come back to it stronger than before. [Read: The best way to deal with a complicated relationship]

What is a relationship break?

A relationship break is exactly what it says on the tin. The two of you take a break from the relationship and figure things out.

You could have a set timescale for the break or you could just wing it and see how things go. You might come back together, you might decide that it’s just not meant to be. However, a relationship break is designed to create clarity.

For many couples after they have had a break, they appreciate each other far more and the relationship improves as a result. For others, it helps them to see that they’re just not compatible anymore or that they no longer want the same things.

Either way, clarity is achieved and helps you to decide what to do next. [Read: How to give someone space without losing them]

For sure, it might be that one side of the couple wants the relationship break and the other doesn’t, but it’s important to talk about things and come to a compromise that suits you both. The truth of the matter is that a relationship break doesn’t mean the relationship is over, it means it’s on pause, to be continued or perhaps cancelled at a later date.

It means that you need some time to process what is going on, how you feel, and where to go from this point. It doesn’t always mean the end. In some cases, it can simply mean a quick pitstop to breathe a little.

Relationships can sometimes be a little too much

Relationships can be overwhelming from time to time, especially when intense feelings are involved. If something has happened, e.g. one partner has cheated, there are constant arguments, or another issue has arisen, time away to gain a new perspective and really see things for what they are is best. When you’re around your partner 24/7, it can be difficult to see things clearly. [Read: Is love real? 15 happy signs that fuzzy feeling is real]

Of course, that doesn’t make the idea of a break any less worrying. If you’re the partner who doesn’t necessarily want the break, simply trust the process and see what happens. If you’re not willing to do so, really explore in your own mind where you think the relationship is going to go.

The key point to remember is that if you’re really thinking ‘what is a break in a relationship and how might it work for us?’ then you have reached a point where time is probably the only thing that could save the relationship. [Read: 18 emotions you shouldn’t feel in a healthy relationship]

Two kinds of relationship breaks

There are two kinds of breaks in love, one that’s good and one that may not be what you want to hear.

1. A break that leads to a make up

Are you genuinely interested in your lover and want to hold the relationship together? If you’re taking some time away to calm down and sort out the confusion in your head, it’s a good break to take. It may make you stronger as a couple.

2. A break that leads to a breakup

Are you taking a break from the relationship to get away from your partner for a while because you can’t stand them anymore?

Your relationship may already be falling apart and you may be looking for a weak excuse to end the relationship. Or, it may be that something has happened and you just need space to think things through. When you’ve done that, you realize that ending things is the best way forward. [Read: The right way to end a relationship]

Reasons to take a break from the relationship

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t just take a break whenever you want. There are just a few reasons to take a break. For everything else, there’s a little thing called a conversation.

1. You feel claustrophobic

Men are easily susceptible to this kind of break. They fiercely protect their own space and go to great lengths to get some alone time by themselves. If you’re feeling silently frustrated by all the together time or if you feel like you have no life of your own, take a break and see how you feel afterward.

2. You need time to think things over

Are both of you dealing with a relationship crisis right now that can’t be sorted through a conversation? Perhaps one of you cheated on the other or did something just as unforgivable? If you need time to reevaluate the relationship, taking a break in the relationship may give you the time to give that a thought. [Read: Signs to tell if you are not in love anymore]

3. You need to make decisions and can’t agree

If you are angry at each other or can’t come to a decision together, some time apart can help you clear your mind and cool down. Sometimes it’s hard to work out how you feel about something when your partner is right there next to you. When you’re angry at them, your judgment is clouded.

4. You’re in a rut

If you feel like you are in a rut, a break could remind you of all the little things you love about each other that you may overlook regularly.

5. You’re not sure about taking the next step

And if you have doubts about moving in together, getting married, or just getting more serious, a break can help you see things differently and even experience things apart to see if you are happier without them.

A break can help you come to terms with the truth about your relationship. It can help you regain your independence. A break can give you the time you need to organize your thoughts and sort out your feelings.

But, there are other things that taking a break won’t help. A break is not a cure-all, but a BandAid in many cases. A break can always help you gain perspective, but it will not fix everything if done without intent.

Time apart won’t offer you much if your relationship is ending.

How long should a break be?

This is something that needs serious thought. Both of you have to decide how long the break has to be and both of you have to keep your word to not interfere with each other’s lives until then.

Two weeks is the perfect break in the relationship to sort your issues and come back together for a conversation. [Read: What does it mean to love someone? 21 good and bad ways to define it]

Anything less feels like a little holiday from each other. Anything more and you’ll both end up forgetting each other and get used to living separately *unless that’s what you want*.

But then again, depending on how deep the wound is, you can spend more time apart if you’re willing to risk the relationship status and decide if you want to date someone else. It’s a personal choice, but make sure you both agree on a time limit. [Read: How to love again after being hurt]

When taking a relationship break may not be the best idea

While a break may seem like the perfect thing to do when things turn sour in love, in reality, it’s got more bad than good in the recipe.

When your relationship is spiraling downwards, taking a break can push both of you apart instead of helping in understanding each other.

It’s an easy way to run away from nagging conflicts that will always crop up again and again, until it’s inevitably discussed, so a break just means you’re running away from the issue.

In the end, a break is like a really expensive diamond ring. You can only afford a couple in your lifetime. Anymore, and it will ruin both of you.

Eventually, it could end the relationship because one of you may genuinely believe you’re better off single even though the relationship has a great chance of working out to perfection. [Read: Do you want to be single again?]

A better alternative to taking a break from the relationship?

Communicate. It’s as easy as it gets. Taking a break in love is like a little shot of adrenaline. It keeps you running for a while until it makes you collapse again. The only way to truly make things work in love is to talk to each other. [Read: Tips to communicate better in a relationship]

Talk to each other and learn to be frank. You can be honest, as long as you’re not hammering a nail into your partner’s heart with accusations. Talk about each other’s real wants and hear your partner out without cutting in between, even if they make ridiculous claims or accusations.

At the end of the day, you have to remember that your partner loves you and it’s only their pent-up frustrations that are finding a vent.

Both of you will feel better after communicating with each other and understanding each other’s desires. And once you feel better, take a vacation with each other to rekindle the romance back again instead of looking for a way to stay away from each other. [Read: 25 relationship rules for a successful relationship]

What are the rules of a relationship break?

The reason the term ‘relationship break’ strikes fear into the hearts of couples is because it sounds drastic. To be honest, it is quite drastic. You’ve both come to a place where you no longer can carry on as you are and must figure something out. You both need space to work out what that ‘something’ is.

Sometimes it’s just not possible to think clearly when you’re still in a situation, so a little space gives you the time and opportunity to really consider things carefully. [Read: A guide to help you know if you should break up or stay together]

However, to make a relationship break work and to help you both feel far less worried about what it means deep down, you should set some ground rules. This can be different for every couple, but overall, there are some questions to ask and rules you set.

1. Are you going to see other people?

A relationship break means that you’re no longer together for the time being. That means you discuss and decide whether you’re able to see other people or whether you’re both going to remain single for that time and work things out.

It’s vital to be clear about this, as one person dating and the other staying single is a recipe for confusion and the break becoming permanent. [Read: When is it time to breakup? The signs it’s time even if it hurts]

2. How long is the break going to last?

It’s tempting to just go down the ‘see how it goes’ route, but not having a general timescale means that the break can go on for months and even years, leaving both or one party in limbo.

That’s not fair on either of you, so have a general idea of how long the relationship break will last before you come together and decide what you want to moving forward.

3. Will you be in contact with one another?

Are you going to talk during the break or will you cut all contact until after? This is something you both need to be certain about.

For some, having a little contact makes them feel better, but for others, it can be too painful. The contact disturbs their process of gaining clarity on the future of the relationship. [Read: How to be independent even if you’re in a relationship]

4. Will you still follow each other on social media?

This isn’t about contacting each other, it’s about being in each other’s lives virtually. Much of the time’s it’s far better to block each other temporarily, until you decide what you’re going to do.

Seeing what the other one is up to while you’re apart can often be confusing and heartbreaking, often leading to misunderstandings that could put the relationship in a coffin for good.

5. What will you do about mutual friends?

Many couples who have been together for a long time have mutual friends. How are you going to handle that?

Will you sit your friends down and tell them that you’re going on a relationship break? Therefore, they need to understand your need for privacy and time. To avoid confusing other people and making life harder, you should figure this step out. [Read: The right way to fight fair in a relationship]

6. Don’t make any promises about the outcome

When you decide to go on a relationship break, don’t make promises to each other about what the final outcome may be.

At this point, you simply don’t know. It’s not fair to say that everything will be fine after you’ve spent some time apart, only to realize that the relationship has run its course. It’s easy for one partner to hold out more hope than the other. And it’s simply going to lead to hurt and heartbreak over time.

7. Be open and honest at all times

You both should understand that while it’s not the end, a relationship break is a period of limbo. It can go either way. You may split, you may come back together, but right now, you cannot be sure which way it will go.

Simply focus on gaining clarity and try not to promise each other something you can’t really keep right now. [Read: When is it time to breakup? The signs it’s time even if it hurts]

8. Make a commitment to both follow the rules.

Placing the rules there makes sure everyone knows the expectations. The more direct and precise your rules are, the better. But, you need to make a commitment to one another to follow the rules because they’re there to help you both handle the break. Read: How to give someone space without losing them]

9. Know when to meet after the break ends

Make sure you and your partner mark off on the calendar when the break will end. Regardless if you reconcile or not, you need a day to meet up and talk about what will happen next. 

So discuss when you both want the break to end. Do you want to get back together in two weeks, a month, three months?

You both have to come to a mutual agreement on when you think it should end but also what you will do at that point, e.g. when and how you’ll meet. But you should also take note that the longer the break, the more you’re both being accustomed to a life without each other. [Read: Feeling trapped in a relationship?]

10. Make sure you write down how you feel

Your feelings are the most important thing you need to focus on at this time. Initially, you feel overwhelmed and frustrated, but how will you feel a couple days from now? Writing down your feelings will benefit you during this relationship break.

Even if you miss them with an overwhelming intensity, you might feel differently in a couple of weeks. You might even realize you don’t need them in your life any longer. [Read: How to express your feelings & get your point across the right way]

11. Use this time wisely

A relationship break isn’t just about doing whatever spontaneously, but you should use this time wisely. This break occurred because something in your relationship made you feel too overwhelmed, confused, or in pain. Spend this time doing the things you love, including being around your loved ones.

By using your time properly, you evaluate your relationship. Do things that make you feel good during this time. It helps you see whether this person fits in your life anymore. If you don’t imagine your life with them anymore after all this, well, that’s what a break is for. [Read: 18 emotions you shouldn’t feel in a healthy relationship]

12. Be sociable

Some people use breaks the wrong way. Don’t cry and eat ice cream while watching depressing movies at home. People tend to retreat when they go through something like this but don’t do that. Be social, see your friends, laugh, and have a beer.

Socializing is kind of the point in a relationship break as it helps you see what life is like without them in the picture. So the last thing you should be doing is giving in to your sadness and dwelling on it. [Read: How to be more social – 19 ways to genuinely connect with others]

13. Don’t take a break to solve an issue

Taking a break is not what you should be doing because you’re scared to talk about an issue.

Do not use breaks as a way to solve problems. Breaks should be used as a way to reflect. Before deciding to take a break, you should’ve both talked about what needs to be discussed.

So if you’re using the break as a way to deflect your problems or assume that things will magically get better after your break, you’re doing this for all the wrong reasons. You can use breaks to reflect on your problems and get some perspective, but don’t rely on it to fix things. [Read: How to stop fighting in a relationship & learn how to really talk]

14. Make sure you both completely agree on the relationship break

It’s not a break if you want to go on one and they don’t. This means you didn’t really talk to them about it, did you?

Sit down with them and explain to them why you need this time to yourself. Explain to them that it’s not that you’re leaving them, but you just need a little perspective on things.

Also, it helps if you agree that you both won’t see other people or flirt with anyone during your agreed relationship break. [Read: 10 decisions you should never let your partner make for you]

15. Don’t talk about it with mutual friends

Though they may be your friends, they are also your partner’s friends. We’re not saying they’ll gossip but maybe something accidentally slips out when they’re hanging out and you don’t want that to happen.

If you have mutual friends, it’s best not to talk about it with them during the span of your relationship break. After all, this is one of the relationship break rules that can potentially sabotage the entire purpose of this break if things go wrong.

16. Don’t focus on what your partner is doing

This is one of the hardest rules to follow in a break, especially when you miss them with every fiber of your being. However, remember why you decided on this break initially.

You’re probably curious about what your partner is doing on the break, but don’t stalk them via social media and friends. You should be focusing on and prioritizing yourself during this break instead of them, remember? [Read: How to stop caring: 20 steps on how to not care & put yourself first]

17. Know that you may not make it to the end date

If you make a decision about the relationship, you don’t need to wait until the end date. If you don’t want to be with them, it’s okay to contact them and meet up with them earlier.

This is one of the reasons why relationship breaks tend to signal the end of the relationship – when one of you decides that it’s best to part ways. So if you or your partner come to a decision earlier than your decided timeframe, that’s alright.

18. Understand that maybe it’s not about the relationship

Maybe this break isn’t actually about the relationship but more about where you’re going in life and what you want. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t think the relationship is working, but rather, you struggle with your own idea of how your life is shaping out to be.

It’s easy to lose yourself when you’re too focused and invested in a relationship. Even if this is normal, it doesn’t make it healthy. So maybe this relationship break had to happen so you can discover and find yourself once again. [Read: How to make the absolute most out of your alone time]

19. When the break is over, talk to your partner openly and honestly

When the break is over, don’t think that everything is back to normal. You need to sit down with your partner and talk about what happened during the time you two were apart. Communication will always be critical in a relationship, so you have to be willing to talk about it.

There will be things you wouldn’t want to hear, but you need to listen and understand where they’re coming from. That is if you’re going to mend your relationship. [Read: How taking a break in a relationship actually works]

20. Discuss the break in person

Unless you’re in a long-distance relationship and you’re incapable of making things work, you need to discuss things in person.

Don’t talk about your relationship break rules over chat, text, or call, no matter how afraid you are of discussing them with your partner. Take the time to meet with them and discuss the implications of what a relationship break really means.

21. Explore what caused the break

Again, no relationship is perfect but surely, there’s a trigger to what made you want a break in the first place. Did one of you cheat in the relationship, or is there an imbalance of effort?

Whatever it is, this is your chance to reflect on what made you agree to a break. By the end of the break, you should have reflected on the cause and whether it’s mendable or not. [Read: 10 big problems in a relationship and how to fix it]

22. Visualize what you want your relationship to look like

We never achieve our ideal relationships perfectly, but you need to know what your idea of a healthy relationship should be like. So during the time duration of your break, visualize what kind of changes you want to see in your relationship.

Do you see yourselves communicating more, being more affectionate, trusting each other more? Think about it both during and after your break. [Read: How to have a good relationship that gets better with each day]

23. Don’t have a break to avoid breaking up

Look, if you’re on the verge of breaking up, a break isn’t going to turn your relationship around magically. If anything, it’ll just both make you realize you should definitely break up, no questions asked. So only decide on a break to reflect on your relationship, but not when it’s practically over.

24. Don’t force getting back together

Love and relationships can’t happen by force, and that’s what makes them so real. So when observing the relationship break rules, don’t force it if you already know you must end it.

We know how much it hurts that it has to come to this decision, but that’s life. It’s better to accept it so you can both find the people meant for you; someone who can love you better.

How taking a break in a relationship can help you come back together

While taking a break in the relationship is something that should be avoided unless it’s inevitable, it can at times bring both of you closer for many reasons.

1. You’ll miss each other

If you truly love each other, while a break may give the much-needed time away from each other, it’ll make you realize just how much both of you need each other and depend on each other. It can also give the relationship a fresh start, romantically and sexually.

2. Your love may become stronger

You’ll realize in a few days that your love for your partner is way more important than any silly confusion or misunderstanding in your life. Most of the time, it may be your egos that create a fight rather than real reasons. [Read: How egos affect the outcome of an affair]

3. The break will be a motivator

When you love your partner, you’d definitely care about them. Can you imagine not knowing what’s going on in your partner’s life for more than a few days? It would drive anyone who loves their partner insane. Taking a break from each other will give both of you the motivation to work on the issues so both of you can be with each other again.

For many couples, a little time apart actually turns out to be a good thing. A fresh perspective is gained, a new appreciation is developed, and everything causing the rift to begin with is seen through clearer eyes.

When a relationship break means the end

Of course, sometimes a break turns out to be a precursor to an actual break up too. In some cases, the couple find that they enjoy spending time away from each other, to the point where spending time together is a drag. In this case, you’ve really reached the end of the road. [Read: How to give someone space without losing them]

There’s no way to know beforehand how a break will affect your relationship. All you can do is reach that point and figure out whether attempting to take a break is something you both want.

Of course, it might be that one of you wants it but the other doesn’t. In that case, what do you do?

Talk about it. That’s the only answer.

Discuss the problem maturely and with open eyes. See if there is any way to compromise. If not, you really can’t force someone to stay in a relationship, temporary or permanent, when they’re keen for a little time alone. In that case, see where the land lies once a little time has passed. [Read: Time apart in a relationship – 15 reasons why people want it and how to give it]

How to take a break in a relationship

Learning how to take a break in a relationship can be complicated. Taking a break doesn’t feel natural in a relationship. If you wanted to be apart you’d just breakup, right? Wrong.

A break isn’t usually what you want to do, but it is often what a relationship needs. If you want to make your relationship work, a break could be a huge step in repairing any damage.

Now, before we get into how to properly take a break in a relationship, let us remind you that a break is not a window for cheating. A break is not the end of a relationship. It is something mutually agreed upon.

If you want to go on dates with other people during that time, it needs to be discussed. You should know why you’re taking a break and come back from it with something resolved or at least worked on.

So, how do you take a break in a relationship? [Read: How taking a break in a relationship should actually work]

1. Bring up the idea of a break

This may be one of the harder parts of taking a break in a relationship. Bringing up a break with your partner could be perceived as wanting to break up. Be sure to let them know you aren’t breaking up with them, but that you could just use some time apart.

2. Discuss why you think it is important

This is vital for entering a successful break in your relationship. Let your partner know why you want this time and what it is you want out of it. Do you need time to get over a fight or come to an agreement? Do you need some time to rebuild your independence and loosen your codependence?

Let your partner know how the break could help you and your relationship. Remember to be realistic though. A break could end in a breakup if that is what is right for your relationship. Also, be sure to ask your partner what they think and what they want. [Read: Time apart in a relationship – 15 reasons why & how to do it right]

3. Listen to their views

Your partner may agree with you, but they may completely disagree too. You both have to agree before you go on a break, otherwise it’s not going to help. Listen to your partner and communicate openly. Answer their questions and reassure them that this isn’t your way of ending it subtly. 

4. Come up with ground rules

When you agree to take a break in a relationship, ground rules will help you get the most out of that time apart. Without these previously agreed-upon rules, you could spend this time worrying about what they’re doing instead of focusing on the matter at hand.

We’ve talked about ground rules already, so go over those points and make sure that you cover them together, before your break starts.

5. Take time to think

Try not to spend all your time doing things your partner hates like ordering smelly food or watching rom-coms. Actually take time to think about the reasons for this break. Consider if you are happier without your partner. Do you miss them? Why?

Do you miss all the nice things they do for you or do you simply miss the company of someone? Is this time calming you and helping you figure out your feelings? Use this time apart as wisely as possible. [Read: Do you want to be back with your partner or are you just feeling lonely in life?]

6. Return honestly

When your designated break time is up, meet up with intention. You have had time to think and figure things out. You do want to remain open to what your partner has to say, but don’t let them change your mind.

Do you need more time apart? Do you think it would be best to actually breakup? Or have you had time to think about what you need and want from each other?

What if the break signals the end?

If so, face up to the fact that your relationship just wasn’t meant to last the test of time.

It’s sad, but many relationships just don’t last. You can choose to stay friends with your ex-partner or you can cut all ties. Remember, it doesn’t stop it hurting any less simply because you were on a break before deciding to call the whole thing off. [Read: The 9 relationship stages all couples must go through]

However, being on a break doesn’t mean that the end is near. It actually means that you’re placing importance on your relationship because you can see that action must be taken before something drastic happens.

When we simply stay in unhappy relationships for the hell of it, it’s bound to come to a rather messy end. When we think about what might actually help, you could actually divert your path and find long-lasting happiness together.

The ironic thing about taking a break in a relationship is that they actually show you what you’re missing, when you might have taken it for granted. In that case, the time you spend apart could be the best *and most difficult* thing you ever do.

[Read: Not happy with your relationship? How to choose the right path that’ll work for you]

Taking a break in a relationship may seem like the perfect thing to do when love gets tough. Go ahead and take a break, but if you’re brave enough to try something better, have a truthful conversation instead.

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Kirsten Cole
Kirsten Cole doesn’t like falling in love often. Instead she prefers to hop, skip and jump through her perfect, beautiful life. And of course, if the perfect ...
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