What Does It Mean When He Says He Wants to Take a Break?

What to do if he says he wants to break up” 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…

Break Time, Break Hart

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? Here are 9 signs he’s about to dump you.

But, 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.

How can you take a break without ending the relationship?

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?  Do other people know 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.

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  is in 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. Read on to find out how to start having realistic relationship expectations.
  • 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 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. 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.

Don’t lose hope just yet. A “break” isn’t necessarily the kiss of death. How do you get him back? What works, what doesn’t and why? Here are 7 tips to help you make him love you more than ever.

How do you know when it is definitely time to break up with him?

If you know in your heart that a relationship is not based on love, there is never a good reason to continue it.

If he is abusive, never supportive, narcissist, if he is a nasty person, who likes drama and fighting….leave him. You can do better.

You have every right to kick your boyfriend’s ass and move on to someone better if he has done any of the following things on this list. Ladies, check this out.

If you two do break up it can be heartbreaking, but we all go through it at least once in our lives. Learning how to survive heartbreak will make things a lot easier. Here are 8 tips to relieve a broken heart.

About the author

Marie Trudeau

Marie currently resides in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She has extensively studied relationships and sexuality and loves to write about those topics. Her passions are photography, traveling, music, art and helping people.


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  • Thanks! Your article really helped! This is the first page I find that breaks are necessarily bad.
    My boyfriend of a year (we are both in our early 20s) just asked for a break last night and I obviously accepted, but i havent stopped crying since he left. I still expected it was coming, since a couple weeks ago he told me he felt our relationship had changed from our earlier months. He said he no longer felt that “passion”.. But that was truly it, since we still have an AMAZING relationship.. Considering we still laugh like crazy together and almost never fight. Also i also believe it has to do with his commitment issues, since he has never dated this long before.
    We decided we would talk again in a week.. And that obviously we would not be seeing other people. The break itself didnt really bother me that much since I saw it comming a couple weeks ago and had time to prepare. However just the thought of him maybe not wanting to get back is killing me!! I seriously dont know what to do.. I know i’ll just have to wait and see.. But considering all that has happened im not sure the facts point to something good or bad. What do u think? :(

    Thanks for the help..
    Im seriously heartbroken

    • Hey, this exact thing happened to me last week with my boyfriend of over a year (we’re both also in our early 20s). Do you have a follow up of how it went when the week was up?
      my boyfriend asked for a month break and I’m having a rough time with it. Thanks!

  • My boyfriend of a year started to become distant recently. Calls , text and coming to stay over have stopped COMPLETLY . I’ve sent a few text but he ignored me and also I’ve called here and there an he ignored me. The day he finally came to see me we had an argument and he said he wants to spend time with his friends and go out and do things. This past year we been together I always wanted and was ready to go out and do things and have fun but he didn’t want to. So now that he wants to go out all of a sudden with friends I feel he doesn’t want to be around me. It’s been some weeks an communication hasn’t got any better. He missed my graduation and didn’t follow up after . We were bestfriends and lovers. To me it feels like someone just pulled a switch in his feelings. I feel I’m no longer the love of his life and he is bored with me. Idk what to do or think … I’ve been crying a lot it feels like I’ve lost my BESTFRIEND :(