There are few sentences that doom a relationship as much as “let’s take a break.” It’s almost like saying, “We’re on the way out, but neither of us wants to let go, so let’s just do this painfully and slowly.” But what the heck are you supposed to do if you find yourself in this situation? We are here to help. First of all, it is very important to understand what your partner means when they ask you for a break.

How to cope with a partner taking a break from you

a break

What does it mean to take a break from a relationship?

Whenever a person says they want a “break” or some time to just “chill for a bit,” it usually mean they’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed by the relationship and need time to work things out on their own. Even if the problems aren’t overt, they may be feeling unhinged about some aspect of the relationship, oftentimes it’s by the fact that the relationship is getting more serious.

In the most fundamental sense, taking a break means that you and your partner haven’t officially broken up, but you’ve decided to take some time off from each other and your relationship. Taking a break enables both you and your partner to use the time away from one another as an opportunity to reflect on your relationship, reassess your feelings for one another, and either resolve to be with each other going forward or not.

Why is your partner asking for a break?

The answer varies from situation to situation, but when a person wants to take a break, it’s generally for one of three reasons: they are genuinely confused about their feelings for you and where they want the relationship to go, they feel a need to reassert control over their life and/or the relationship, or they know they want to break up with you but they are too scared to admit it.

The truth is that, even if the idea of “a break” has the best intentions, the odds that it won’t just turn into a full-on break up are certainly stacked against you.

What should you do when your partner asks for a break?

When your partner says they need space and want a break, immediately agree with them. Say yes to the break, as it’s a good time to enjoy having your own time and space. Stay away from them for as long as the break lasts, and stop worrying about it. Leave it to them to be the one to get in touch with you.

As far as how long you should you go without communicating, the answer is very simple: as long as it takes. Let them go do their thing while you do yours. Seriously. If and when they pop up (probably in a confusing way), you can decide what you want to do next. If you still want to talk and potentially work toward a mutually satisfying relationship, then talk. If not, you can happily continue your own path.

You need to undertand that the two of you are probably broken up

Taking a break doesn’t necessarily mean you’re single, but it surely means there is an issue in your relationship, so you should be prepared for the worse outcome of the break. In order for the break to work, you have to set boundaries and rules for the break and know where you both hope to see the relationship stand once the break is over.

If in-or-out is your standard and you know you can’t stand the pressure of being in “a break”, then be loyal to yourself. But if you’re trying to manipulate them into staying with you by giving them an ultimatum because you’re understandably hurt and upset, you’ll likely end up driving them away for good.

Don’t see a break as a negative thing

A break isn’t necessarily a negative thing for your relationship. There are many different benefits of taking a break from your relationship, as it can actually be a way to strengthen your connection and bring you and your partner closer together. For instance, it can allow you to get a fresh perspective regarding your relationship as well as enable you to reexamine your own wants, needs, and desires.

Set a deadline for a successful break

It’s imperative that you jointly determine a specific timeframe regarding how long the break will last. If you head into the break wanting it to last a week, but your partner believes that it’ll last at least a month, this lack of accord will likely create problems.

You should also agree upon what’s acceptable behavior (and what’s not) while you’re on the break. For instance, is it okay if you both date other people while you’re apart from one another? If you agree on these “rules” together, you’re more likely to have a successful break that allows you both to find yourselves as well as find out what you really want as a couple going forward.