How Long Should a Break in a Relationship Last?

Published August 24, 2020
couple having a serious discussion

If you and your partner are exploring the idea of taking a break in your relationship, it's important to figure out a timeframe that works best for you both. Laying the groundwork, such as by discussing how long the break in a relationship should last, can help you both manage the situation.

How Long Should a Break in a Relationship Last?

Breaks in relationships can last anywhere from a few days to a few months, depending on what you and your partner agree upon. In deciding how much time you should take for the break, discuss what would feel best for you and your partner. You can always agree upon a shorter period, set a date to reconnect, and discuss if one or both of you would like more time. When deciding how much time to take:

  • Discuss an amount of time you each feel comfortable with
  • Explain your reasoning for the particular amount of time

What Does Taking a Break Mean in a Relationship?

In a relationship, taking a break can have different meanings for each couple, as well as for each partner. It is so important to thoroughly discuss what it will mean for you and your partner and to never assume you can read your partner's mind. Taking a break can mean:

  • You are both going no contact for a certain amount of time to decide what you each want in terms of the relationship.
  • You may choose to go no contact and date other people during the break.
  • You may schedule regular check ins during the break.
  • You may choose to have no restrictions in terms of contact.

It's a good idea to discuss that one or both of your needs in terms of the break guidelines may change at any time and agree that you both will be open to discussion if or when that happens.

woman thinking

How to Deal With Taking a Break in a Relationship

It can feel incredibly nerve wracking, scary, and anxiety provoking to decide to take a break with someone who you care about. If you are in the process of deciding whether to take a break, or are in the midst of a break:

  • Allow yourself to experience your emotional process.
  • Keep in mind that a break can be an incredible opportunity to reflect upon whether the relationship is the healthiest choice for you and to really identify your individual, as well as relational, needs.
  • Connect with supportive friends and/or family members.
  • Consider speaking with a therapist who can help you further process your experience.
  • Notify your partner if you have concerns about any aspects of the break guidelines you've previously established (this will help reduce some anxiety).

Communication During a Relationship Break

It is important to discuss your communication needs during the break. You may opt to do no contact, have some regular check-ins, or choose to stay in contact as much as wanted. To create some set guidelines together, you may consider discussing:

  • Whether you are both comfortable staying in touch with each other
  • If you prefer one type of communication, but not others
  • What you'll do if you happen to run into each other
  • How to connect if one or both of you feel uncomfortable with any aspect of your set guidelines
  • When you'll set a time to discuss re-evaluating the break

Do Breaks in Relationships Work?

Breaks in relationships may work if you both take some time to reflect on the health of your relationship, your own behaviors and reactions, as well as your emotional health. Breaks in relationships can also be positive if you both reflect on what your individual relational goals are and if they align with each other once you reconnect. If one or both of you are not willing to reflect and resolve your own "stuff", chances are nothing in the relationship will change, and you may end up experiencing the same difficulties within the relationship again.

Do Couples Get Back Together After Taking a Break?

Couples may get back together after taking breaks if their individual and relational goals align. If one or both partners feel the relationship is unhealthy, or that some crucial goals don't align, they may not get back together.

Does Taking a Break Mean the Relationship Is Over?

Taking a break does not necessarily mean that the relationship is over. If you both are willing to work on your relationship together, you may be able to reconnect successfully. If one or both of you are not willing to reflect upon your own behavior and emotional experience, you may have a more difficult time rebuilding a healthy relationship.

How Long Should a Break in a Relationship Last?