Taking A Break In A Relationship: 5 Ways You Can Do It


When your relationship isn’t working as you want it to and you’re always fighting with your partner, the temptation to end it is strong.

But breakups are taxing. No matter how bad things may seem, the idea of going away from the one you love can be painful. So what do you do when you love someone a lot but just need some time away from the relationship?

You take a break, of course! But is that even a thing – “Taking a break from a relationship?”

Yes, it is. It is a perfectly normal and healthy way to evaluate your love life and bring it back on track, with all the bells and whistles. Read this MomJunction post to know more about taking a break in a relationship, the rules, and the points to remember.

What Is A Relationship Break?

When couples can’t stay together or even talk to each other without losing it, they stay away from each other until they are clear about what they want. In short, they take a break. Taking a break is nothing but giving each other space and time they need to rethink and gain clarity about where they stand in the relationship and what they want from it.

Although it initially aims to prevent a complete breakup, it could eventually lead there if both or one of the partners realizes they do not want to continue

The rules of ‘taking a break in a relationship’ vary from couple to couple. Based on that, there can be different types of relationship breaks.

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How Long Should A Relationship Break Be?

There is no golden standard for the duration of a break in relationships. The time set could vary among couples, but it is one of the things that you must discuss and come to a consensus on. For instance, a break of two weeks is good for you to gain clarity on what you want from the relationship.

It shouldn’t be too short like a weekend or too long that you get used to living without each other (unless that’s what you both want).

What you do and not do during this time should also be discussed before you take a break. And you should also figure out how long you want to and can stay away from each other.

Five Ways To Take A Break From Your Relationship

If you want to take a break, talk to your partner and discuss what exactly you want to do and why. Depending on what the couple wants, a relationship break can be one of the five types.

1. The no-contact break

As the name suggests, this is a complete break with no meeting, texting, calling, or interacting directly or on social media. The idea is to live like you’re single again and see how life feels like without your partner. Do you like your life without them or with them in it? That is the question you should find an answer to.

2. The monogamy break

Sometimes, a break is needed to stop all the silly or trivial fights and nagging or complaining that could blow up into something big and bad for the relationship. That is when you take the monogamy break, where you stay away from each other but don’t go on dates or have one-night stands. Couples who want the relationship to work but just need some time away from each other choose this.

3. The unclear break

This is the kind of break you should probably avoid. This break does not have clear rules and leaves the partners in ambiguity about whether or not they can date other people. If you fail to have clear, set rules, you should not be complaining later about what your partner did or did not do, even if it means they met other people or had one-night stands.

4. Break before actually breaking up

Sometimes, one partner in the relationship wants to break up, but the other doesn’t. When breaking up without hurting the other person is not possible, you take a break, which transitions to a breakup. This kind of break is ideal when you want the breakup to be easy on the other.

5. Not a real break

In this, neither of the partners wants to break up. But they are just so angry at the moment that they want to take a break, even if they cannot stay away from each other for long. Couples taking a fake break tend to act on impulse – they may even walk out saying they need time for themselves but are usually back by the end of the day or the next day.

Not deciding on the kind of ‘break’ you want from each other could lead to a confusing situation in your life. Keep reading for tips on how to deal with a break in a relationship.

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11 Tips For Taking A Relationship Break

A break is not to be taken lightly, especially if you care about your partner and the relationship. Here are some tips to help you make the right decisions before and during the break.

1. Ask yourself ‘why’ you need a break

Do you really need a break or do you just want to break up? If you are clear that you want to end the relationship, you may try and find a way to do it without hurting the other person, rather than take a break. If you do not want to break up, figure out how a break can help you both. Sometimes, you may need to take a break because you have too many doubts about the relationship and time away from your partner can help give you that clarity.

2. Discuss the terms

Before you take a break, talk about it with your partner. Discuss why you want to take the break, how long you want to stay away and set ground rules for what to do and what not to do. Setting the terms and conditions of what is okay and what is not okay during the break makes the expectations clear.

3. Focus on yourself during the break

Use the break time to think what you want from and what you can give to the relationship. You may want to spend time with friends, family or others, but try to spend some time alone. Introspect to know what you want in any romantic relationship – that makes getting back and working on your relationship possible.

4. Quit worrying

Worrying about what is going to happen after the break or if your partner is going to cheat on you during the break will only make it worse for you. Make this break an actual one – cut off all communication and try not to stress about it. Since it is a break agreed by both you and your partner, use it to relax and refresh.

5. Avoid dating or one-night stands

Being alone after being in a serious relationship is not easy. Avoid the temptation to hook up with or go on a date with the next ‘hottie’ you meet. Even if the terms of the relationship don’t restrict dating, it is best to avoid it to better reflect on your current relationship.

6. Be honest

Follow the rules of the break without fail. Be honest about your feelings towards your partner and what you think about the relationship. Don’t fool yourself into believing in something that is not going to happen.

7. Make the time apart count

You’re on a relationship break for a reason. So make use of the time to reflect and review your stance in the relationship. Think but don’t overdo it to an extent that you start to stress yourself about it. Ask yourself if you are happy living away from your partner or would you rather go back being together with them. Your answers should help you figure out where the relationship is heading.

8. Be optimistic

You may not have wanted a break as much as your partner did. But that doesn’t necessarily mean your partner wants to be out of it. It is easy to think negatively in such situations, but that is not going to help should your partner want to come back and work things out. So try to be optimistic and be your best.

9. Set communication boundaries

A relationship break is no good when you are constantly messaging each other and arguing about things. A break from your relationship must be done both physically and emotionally. So cut off all communication with your partner for the set period, except in the case of unavoidable circumstances. You can discuss those when you set ground rules for it.

10. Trust your partner

Not having any communication with your partner would mean no idea about what they are doing. This can be difficult, and you may start to wonder if they are adhering to the rules of the break or if they are seeing anyone behind your back. Try not to imagine too much. Trust that your partner is doing exactly what you would do to save the relationship. But if trust is a problem, the chances of a break turning into a breakup are high.

11. Don’t expect a cure or enlightenment during a break

While the goal of a relationship break is to gain clarity about the relationship, it may not always yield the results. You may just be as confused at the end of the break as you were at the beginning. Also, the break may not have solved your previous problems. Be realistic from the start and don’t expect a cure or enlightenment to solve all your relationship problems. Otherwise, you’ll end up with disappointment.

You may have given your best during the break – done what should be and avoided what’s not ideal – but the break may not give you the desired results. It could be that a relationship break is not the ideal tool for you.

Keep reading to understand the benefits and risks of taking time off in a relationship.

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Does Taking A Break From A Relationship Work?

A break can be beneficial or damaging for the relationship. That depends on how you feel about each other and the relationship on the whole.

How a break can help

  • Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Not being with your partner for so long could make you realize that you love them more than you knew and that you want to be together with them again.
  • When you love your partner and want the relationship to work, you will be motivated to use the break properly and find answers to issues troubling you. In short, you’ll be driven to do or give up certain things that are causing trouble between the two of you.

How a break can be bad

  • If the relationship is going through a downward spiral, staying away from each other could only increase the distance you already have.
  • A break could become an excuse for both the partners to avoid discussing important topics that must be resolved sooner than later.
  • While a break is good, too many of them can damage the equation beyond repair.
  • Even among couples who are willing to work out issues together, a break could plant the idea that being single is better.

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While a break can do wonders for some couples, it can destroy others. Think about this option carefully before you jump at it. If there is a way to communicate better and solve issues without taking a break, go for it. Otherwise, take a short break and get back to each other with whatever decision you have made. Even if you choose to walk out for good after the break, let your partner know in person. Avoid ghosting them or breaking up via texts or emails.

You wouldn’t want to be treated like that now, would you? Let us know your opinion in the comment section below.

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Dr. Carlos Juan Carmona-Goyena

(PhD (Counseling Psychology))
Dr. Carlos Juan Carmona-Goyena is a board licensed therapist in the USA and Puerto Rico with a specialty in couples, families, and relationships. Dr. Carlos possesses a PhD in Counseling Psychology granted at the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico. His two-decade professional experience also includes scientific research in family emotional and relational processes and its effect on psychological functioning. Dr.... more

Kalpana M

Kalpana Nadimpalli graduated in English Literature and Psychology. Her fascination for the corporate world made her do a Masters in Business Administration. Being a mother of two boys, she could naturally fit into the shoes of a writer at MomJunction. She wrote articles on new parenting and relationships. Previously, Kalpana worked as a product information specialist and technical writer. During her... more