How do you know what your boyfriend means when he says “I think we should take a break?” When a couple is having trouble in their relationship, one of the options they often try is “taking a break.”
But do breaks in relationships actually work? Or is it always a precursor for breaking up? We’re going to explore breaks and what you can do to ensure that your relationship isn’t heading for a breakup.
When taking a break means I want out…
Sometimes when one person says “I want to take a break,” what they actually want to say is “I want out.” How can you tell if your boyfriend wants a break to help the relationship or to end it?
There are a lot of clues to what he is really thinking in the way he approaches the situation. Did you see the break coming? If you have been having problems for a while he may have been considering it for a while too. If it’s coming from out of the blue, then that’s a red flag that he might just want out. Has he proposed terms for the break?
If he has thought about how the break would work and what you can work on during your time apart, that’s a good sign. It shows that he is actually trying to figure out how a break can help your relationship, not hurt it.
Does he want to see other people? Usually this is not a good sign. Wanting to see other people is not about wanting to fix your current relationship. It means you want to take the focus off the person you’re with and put it on other people. If you’re having problems, this is not going to be the thing to fix them.
One way to find out if he wants a break or a breakup is to simply ask him. I’m a big believer in open and honest communication. So many problems can be avoided or easily solved by just having a little chat. If you’re concerned that he wants a breakup not a break, just ask him.
Another possibility is that your boyfriend subconsciously wants to breakup, which means he’s not even fully aware of it. Sometimes when we are afraid to hurt another person we start to do things that will sabotage the relationship without even realizing it.
This doesn’t necessarily come from a malicious place, he might not even have a clue that what he really wants is to end it. Again, this is why it’s important to talk to him about what he really wants. If it’s a breakup he’s after, subconsciously or not, it’s best that you know now so that you can save yourself the heartbreak of dragging things out.
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How can you take a break without ending the relationship?
Taking a break doesn’t have to be the kiss of death to your relationship, but you do need a plan for how it’s all going to work. If your boyfriend wants a break the two of you need to sit down and talk about the details of what that means. Here are a few important things to consider:
- Does the break have a time frame? Taking a break from each other should mean taking a significant amount of time to explore if the relationship has a future, but it also shouldn’t be for an undecided, arbitrary length of time. That’s when a break often turns into a breakup.
- What are the rules? Are you allowed to see other people? Are you taking a break from talking or just from seeing each other? Are you allowed to text? Are you telling other people about it? Hashing these things out is absolutely essential. Your idea of what a break means might be completely different than his. Not discussing it ahead of time will only cause major problems when the goal of the break is supposed to be fixing the relationship.
My advice for setting the guidelines for the break:
- Time frame – Decide on a time frame for the break and stick to it. If you come back together after the allotted time and one of you feels like you need more time, you can take it, but you shouldn’t have an open ended break.
- Date nights – Make a plan see each other once a week to have a date night. On this night you should discuss the relationship and your problems. Try to use it as a time to get back to simply enjoying each other’s company
- Analyzing the problems - Besides date nights, set aside times to talk about what discoveries you’re making about the relationship. This should be a time to talk, not fight, about what is going wrong and what is going right.
- Respect the guidelines – If you’ve agreed to take a break then you need to respect the rules of the break. It’s going to be hard, but it will show your man that you care enough to give him the space that he has asked for.
- Don’t see other people - I am pretty open minded, but I do believe that if you didn’t have an open relationship before having one now is NOT going to help you fix your problems. To me, this just means your man wants to see what else is out there, not work on your relationship.
- Take the time to get back to you – This is a great opportunity for you to take some time for yourself. You can get back into activities that you haven’t had time for or try something new.
- Really think about the relationship – Try to consider your boyfriend’s complaints about the relationship. This is a lot easier to do when you’re not in the heat of an argument. What ways could you improve the relationship? He should be thinking about the same things during this time. Problems in a relationship are never one sided, there are things both of you can do to make the relationship better.
- Highlight the positive things – Taking a break means your relationship has gotten to a bad place, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t great things about it. You should both consider and share with each other the positive things about the relationship. You’ll be amazed at how much it can help to show your appreciation for the good things you share.
- End the break with real insight about what to change – If your time frame has come to an end you should get together to talk about the next step. Taking a break should be about taking time to think about how to make the relationship better, therefore when you do decide to give it another try you should have a clear plan about how you want to do things differently.
How do you know when it might be time to take a break?
Are you fighting all the time? Have you lost the ability to communicate with each other? Are you desperate to make some kind of change? If you’re answering yes to any of these questions a break might be the thing for your relationship.
Sometimes we get so caught up in the unhealthy patterns of our relationships that we just can’t seem to break out of them no matter what we do. A break can give you the chance to cool down and really consider the good things about your relationship. Do they outweigh the bad? Do you still see a future with this person?
Taking a break should be about improving the relationship, not just needing or wanting to get away from the other person. If your break is based on wanting to get away and nothing more, that’s not a good sign. However, if you want nothing more than to fix the relationship, then a break doesn’t have to mean that the relationship is headed for failure.
This could be your opportunity to make the relationship stronger than ever, but you need to able really put the work in to fix the things that are going wrong. Taking time away from each other alone isn’t going to fix anything. It’s going to take analyzing what is going wrong and making a plan about how to fix it.