Taking a break in a relationship is never easy to deal with. Especially if you’re not the one who initiated it!
Maybe you can sense your significant other pulling away already, and it’s making you panic. Don’t worry though! They’re not going to stop loving you from one day onto the next.
What’s more, if you manage to keep your cool through all of this, chances are this problem will just blow over, and you will be back to normal in no time. In this blog post I’ll explain relationship breaks in detail, what causes them, how long they should be and how to successfully get back on track afterwards.
Is Taking a Break in a Relationship Healthy
First off, you might be wondering is this whole concept of going on a break is a good idea. Are relationship breaks healthy? Are they a good way of coping with problems?
In an ideal world we would all be perfect communicators who are willing to talk, listen, have infinite patience and no other problems in life. Unfortunately, this is not the case. People have lots of limitations and there are things and other people that can come in a way and sabotage your relationship.
Relationship break are healthy when one or both of you reached a point where they feel like they have no other way of dealing with an issue. For example, when you no longer can talk without arguing, or when one of you (or both) feels too pressured and overwhelmed with needs of the other.
At such a point in a relationship, a break is not only healthy but also a necessity.
What Does Taking a Break Mean in a Relationship
Going on a break means that there is a problem either in your relationship or outside of it that is making it impossible for the two of you to be together at the moment.
It also means that whoever initiated the break run out of options on how to deal with this issue.
How to Deal With Taking a Break in a Relationship
The key to successfully dealing with a relationship break is to not let your panic make things worse. It really is just what your partner said it is – a break – not a breakup.
We have so many coaching clients who either freak out when they go on a break, they start overriding their boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s boundaries which only leads to it turning into an actual breakup! So keep this in mind and try to self-soothe your anxious attachment (if you need to).
Another common pitfall a lot of our clients fall into when it comes to relationship breaks is that they continue relating to their partner as though there is no problem.
They hope that by acting as though there are no issues in the relationship, they’ll make that the new reality. That just a day or two of giving space should be enough for your significant other to just get over themselves and their problems, and start behaving the way they should.
Unfortunately, this attitude also makes break turn into breakups.
What you need to do instead is approach your partner with empathy and take what they’re complaining about seriously.
What Are the Rules for Taking a Break in a Relationship
There are no universal rules on how to take a break in a relationship. This is something your significant other and you need to discuss and decide yourselves. Does the person who initiated it want to be texted? Don’t assume things, just ask them!
These are some general guidelines that are bound to keep your break as short as possible:
1. Respect Your Partner’s Boundaries
One of the most fundamental way of how to ensure that the break does in fact end at some point is respecting your significant other’s boundaries. If they say they don’t want to hear from you, leave them be. If they say they don’t want to see you, don’t try to convince them otherwise.
We’ve had quite a few cases of both men and women who failed at this point. Not only did it escalate their break into a breakup.
Things actually got so bad, they ended up getting blocked on everything.
2. Don’t Fully Distance Yourself Either
Knowing how to take a relationship break is all about finding a balanced approach and not falling into any extremes. You can’t chase and convince them to end the break, but you also should coldly distance yourself either.
Doing it will make your partner feel like you’re abandoning them with their issues and aren’t interested in making things work.
3. Be Empathetic and Try to Be There for Your Partner
Lat but not least, the third rule for going on a relationship break is to be attentive and try your best to be there for your partner.
If their problem is with you, take them seriously and listen. If the issue they’re struggling with is something else, try your best to support them with it.
How Long Should a Break In a Relationship Last
Taking a break in a relationship is almost always unsettling. That’s why most people’s instinct is to try to get it over and done with as soon as possible.
However, getting back in touch with your significant other TOO SOON might lead to problems and actually force you to take more or longer breaks from each other.
In the course of my over 9-year long relationship with my boyfriend, Gabriel, we’ve been through countless breaks. Some lasted only an hour, while others took up to a MONTH.
Spending time apart from each other was always very tough for me. I never really enjoyed giving Gabriel space but I was forced to do it on multiple occasions.
From my own personal experience, I’ve learned that the point of taking a break in a relationship is to resolve a problem that you’ve failed to deal with otherwise.
That’s why, how long a relationship break should be, very strongly depends on the kind of issue that you’re currently dealing with.
Three Most Common Reasons Why People Take Relationship Breaks
This is something I’ve learned from my own personal experience, as well as observed from our coaching clients,
there are three main reasons why people in a relationship decide to take a break from each other:
- Break caused by an argument
- Break caused by external factors
- Break caused by serious relationship problems
A break caused by an argument is a situation where two people get into a fight.
This might happen in a form of a heated exchange, as well as a totally cold, reserved interaction followed by holding grudges or silent treatment.
Regardless of how the relationship fight looks like exactly, at the end of it, both sides fail to get through to each other, so they’re left with no other option than to just take a break to cool off and get some distance from it all.
A break caused by external factors is another really common situation when either one or both partners need space from each other.
Everybody struggles in life every now and then. It might be due to being overwhelmed at work, family problems, health or mental health, etc.
When going through a tough time, people often fear being judged or don’t want to be perceived as a burden, so they request space or suggest taking a relationship break.
A break caused by serious relationship problems is a situation where a lot of negative factors come together:
If a couple is constantly fighting, one or both sides feel unhappy and the relationship is just not working anymore, taking a break from each other is the last resort to try to restore peace and try to figure a way out.
How Long Should a Relationship Break Caused by an Argument Last
When it comes to dealing with a break caused by a relationship fight this is the easiest and also the shortest one!
The main purpose of taking this kind of time out is to give both of you room to cool off and let your emotions calm down so that you can both gain some distance from the fight and reevaluate the situation with a clearer head.
Whenever Gabriel and I get stuck in an argument it generally takes us anywhere from an hour up to a day to calm down enough so that we can start communicating again.
When it comes to relationship breaks caused by an argument, if the break is cut too soon, it’s bound to cause yet another argument…
On the other hand, if the break lasts too long it might turn into mutual silent treatment, which only tends to make matters worse…
Keep in mind, these rules aren’t set in stone.
Ultimately, the length of the break you and your partner need depends on your personalities and also on the magnitude of the fight.
How Long Should a Relationship Break Caused by External Factors Be
Relationship breaks caused by external factors are always more tricky to deal with, that’s why they tend to be longer.
These types of breaks can generally last between one day to up to a week.
Of course, how much time apart you need from each other, depends on what kind of problems you’re dealing with.
E.g.: When dealing with an overall bad mood one day can be enough to clear it out.
But when it comes to serious family emergencies, they might require your significant other to dedicate much more of their time and attention.
Gabriel and I went through multiple breaks due to all sorts of external factors.
At the beginning of our relationship, he would sometimes say he needs space out of the blue. Even though he never communicated it back then, I could sense that he was simply feeling down but wasn’t ready to show me that part of himself yet.
However, as we grew closer and built trust with each other, our breaks caused by the problems outside of our relationship became shorter and shorter.
The big thing about this kind of relationship break is that when a person is struggling with something, what they often really need is not space but SUPPORT.
The tricky part here is that you might not always be able or willing to give your significant other the support they crave.
Or that your partner might not be able or willing to ACCEPT the support you’re offering…
That’s why taking a break from each other is often a helpful compromise.
How Long Should a Relationship Break Caused by Serious Relationship Problems Last
Last but not least, let’s finally get to the longest and most difficult type of relationship breaks: the ones caused by serious relationship problems.
All couples have problems. It’s normal to have disagreements, feel misunderstood at times, or not always get what you want from your partner.
However, there might come a time in a relationship when NOTHING seems to be working anymore.
This happened to Gabriel and me.
We’ve reached a point where we could not see eye to eye on things, we fought all the time, and both felt misunderstood and alone.
It was as though we were continuously hitting an invisible wall that just kept on tearing us apart.
So we decided to take a break.
In fact, this happened THREE times.
Gabriel and I have been through THREE breaks caused by serious relationship problems (they were basically breakups just that we always decided to keep in touch with each other).
Even though it was Gabriel who initiated all three of our ‘breakups’, I have been the one who insisted on making them last longer.
I did it because I thought that by extending our time apart we’d be more likely to come to some groundbreaking conclusions that would magically fix our relationship.
Unfortunately, that’s just not how things work. Relationship problems don’t vanish by themselves…
All three of our relationship breaks lasted about a month and looking back at it, I consider all three of them to have been UNNECESSARILY LONG.
Too long of a break doesn’t contribute anything towards gaining any new perspective on things.
In reality, making a break last a very long time only makes it more likely for it to turn into an actual breakup.
That’s why I recommend that a relationship break caused by serious relationship problems should last from about one week up to about a month.
And if your guy happens to be the emotionally unavailable type, then watching out for these signs that he misses you, can help the break feel more bearable.
How to Make a Relationship Break Work
As I outlined in the beginning of this article, couples decide to take a break from each other when they face a relationship problem that they aren’t able to fix.
This might be something relatively small, like a fight. Something slightly bigger, like personal issues or struggles. Or it can be multiple serious relationship problems.
Generally speaking, the bigger the problem, the longer the relationship break needs to last.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that on their own, breaks actually DON’T FIX ANYTHING.
They can only provide emotional distance and a fresh perspective that can be crucial in solving relationship problems.
But in order to truly make a relationship break work, both you and your partner need to use what you’ve learned from the break and do the fixing the problem part yourselves.
This brings me back to my story.
You see, all three of our relationship breaks have been caused by THE SAME ONE relationship problem.
We didn’t manage to fix it the first time round.
That’s why we eventually ended up taking yet another long and painful break from each other.
We didn’t manage to fix it the second time round either…
This is the sad reality of relationship breaks.
If you don’t SOLVE the problem that is causing you and your partner to need a break from each other, eventually the same situation is bound to repeat.
You’ll need to take another, maybe an even longer relationship break.
That’s what kept on happening to us.
Even though we were perfect for each other, if we hadn’t managed to solve that ONE recurring relationship problem, we would have been broken up for good by now…
The Ultimate Solution to Prevent or Shorten Relationship Breaks
So you might be wondering, what was THE ONE PROBLEM that kept on causing us to take multiple long breaks from each other?
We didn’t know how to ACKNOWLEDGE each other’s feelings!
And what we discovered while working with countless other couples is that this ONE BIG BLOCK is what prevented them from successfully getting through to each other as well.
Acknowledgment works like a magical spell that can make relationship problems vanish within seconds!
It’s the ultimate solution to dramatically shorten or prevent all relationship breaks.
If you want to find out more about this tool and its incredible effects in a relationship, you can check out our Rebuild Your Relationship course.
In it we guide you step by step on how to use acknowledgment to make your relationship break work and fix the problems that caused it.
This way you won’t need to worry about having too much space from each other ever again.
We also address the common relationship problems and pitfalls that stand in the way of having a happy and lasting relationship, so that you can truly build the loving and stable relationship you dream of.
Also incase you and your partner easily start fighting and you think that might be what’s contributing to your relationship breaks..
You might find our post on how to fix your relationship when you can’t talk without arguing helpful.
If you have any questions about relationship breaks or about our solution to this problem, leave me a comment and I’ll get back to you!
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