9 Signs It’s Time For Taking A Break In A Relationship

Signs you need to take a break in your relationship

When a relationship is blossoming, it feels as though nothing can go wrong. Forever and ever doesn’t seem too distant a dream. But as reality hits you like a truck, you realize holding a relationship together isn’t a cakewalk, especially if the bickering never stops. But when the arguments seem never-ending, taking a break in a relationship may even cross your mind.

If you’re ignoring the glaring reasons to take a break in a relationship, you’re basically writing its obituary. No, your problems won’t magically go away after a break but it’ll do you some good to step away for a while from a stressful situation. But how do you decide which problems are big enough to warrant taking a break from a relationship for your mental health? And how long should a break in a relationship last?

We’re here to address these questions for you with these 9 signs it’s time to take a break in your relationship and how to make the best use of this time apart, with insights from emotional wellness and mindfulness coach Pooja Priyamvada (certified in Psychological and Mental Health First Aid from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of Sydney), who specializes in counseling for extramarital affairs, breakups, separation, grief and loss, to name a few.  

What Is Meant By ‘Taking A Break In A Relationship’?

“Taking a break in a relationship” does not mean breaking up. It means the two of you are simply taking a break from each other for however long you think you need to. A break allows you to take a step back and think about the problems in your relationship. You can take your time and decide what you want to do about them.

The reasons to take a break in a relationship can vary from couple to couple. For some, lack of trust and constant suspicion can be a reason to hit the pause button on their relationship. For others, it can be incessant fighting and bickering. There are no right or wrong reasons here. Even if you’ve been mulling over “taking a break from the relationship to work on myself”, that too is just as valid a reason as any.

However, to make sure that this decision works in your favor and not make a bad situation worse, you and your partner must have absolute clarity on what this break means for your relationship. “Taking a break essentially means taking some time off from the relationship. It may or may not involve physical separation. This time is necessary to recoup from a bad phase or incident in any relationship,” explains Pooja.

If you don’t want to end up like Ross and Rachel, it’s equally important to define taking a break in relationship rules. You’ll hear all sorts of advice on how to go about taking a break in a relationship, but the only real answer is going to come through communication with your partner. Improving communication in a relationship will do half the work for you.

Related Reading: 25 Most Common Relationship Problems

If you do decide to send a taking a break in a relationship message to your partner, make sure you mean it. Once it’s out in the air, it’ll cast considerable doubts over your relationship that you two need to work on immediately. Figure out what your partner wants, how long they want to step away for, and even why you two think you need a break in the first place. Taking a break in a relationship with no contact is often the way people do it, but you should establish if you two want to remain in contact or not.

When taking a break in a relationship, you shouldn’t expect your problems to disappear when you come back. We’ll break it to you right now, they absolutely 100% will not be magically gone. Your relationship problems are here to stay unless you work through them. The benefits of taking a break in a relationship range from having a better frame of mind to being able to deal with your issues, or to have a new outlook on them completely.  

9 Signs You Need To Take A Break In Your Relationship

From how long should a break in a relationship last to how to execute taking a break in a relationship when you live together, there can be myriad little details to iron out when you’re at the cusp of such an important – and ominous – decision. However, before getting into the details, the first order of business should be to ascertain whether your circumstances warrant taking a break.

What are the reasons to take a break in a relationship?
Taking a break does not mean your relationship will end

Don’t go about saying you want a break if your partner watches your favorite show without you. Serious signs you need to take a break in a relationship are at most times staring right back at you. Unless you decide to look the other way, of course. Any of the signs listed below are viable reasons to take a break in a relationship. So, keep reading to find out when taking a break in a relationship is a good idea:

1. A fight is always on the horizon

Doesn’t matter what you say, a fight always seems to emerge out of thin air. You’ll be left wondering what you even did wrong, but by that time, it’ll be too late. The screaming match has already begun. You shouldn’t feel like you’re always treading on thin ice or that you have to think twice before saying anything. You two have no idea how to reconnect after a fight, so you hope the silent treatment will do the trick.

It may seem like you can recall way more bad memories of your relationship than good ones. When you reach that stage, it’s important to take a break in a relationship for mental health. There won’t be any relationships left to harbor when you lose your mind. In such situations, taking a break from a relationship for mental health may be better than being miserable together.

Related Reading: 11 Relationship Challenges Almost Everyone Has To Face – With Solutions

2. If you two are on-again, off-again

When your friends reply with an “again?!!” to the news of you breaking up with your partner, you know you don’t really have the strongest relationship. The fights are always imminent, and when a few of them go especially bad, you know you’re blocking each other on social media. Only to send each other a follow request again after a week since you’ve convinced yourself you can’t live without your partner.

Being caught in that vicious cycle of on-again, off-again will leave you mentally exhausted. Taking a step back and figuring out what you want before you’re “on again” will help your relationship and your mental health. The benefits of taking a break in a relationship far outweigh the risks in such volatile dynamics.

“When there is an established pattern of intense intimacy, conflict, break away, and then reconciliation, one needs to rethink the relationship and why it is falling into this toxic pattern. Taking a break at this juncture can offer each partner time and space to rework priorities and probably narrow down underlying areas of conflict and find their possible resolutions,” says Pooja.

3. You can’t envision a “happily ever after” with your partner

One of the most basic rules for taking a break in a relationship is re-shifting focus on your own needs. If you have a niggling feeling that something is amiss in your relationship or can’t see a real future with the way things currently are in your relationship, you should realize there’s something considerably wrong. A realization like that can eat away at you. Eventually, you’ll need to communicate your thoughts with your partner.

Sexual tension can sometimes keep people in toxic relationships (i.e karmic relationships), despite knowing there’s no real future there. They’ll be willing to overlook the bad things just because the good things feel like they’re worth the pain. But when you realize you can’t go on like this, you know you need to take a break!

4. You just can’t look past that dealbreaker

A few months into your relationship you realized your partner’s political views could not be further away from yours. Or maybe you found out they’re into a few things you just can’t look past. Perhaps there’s a fight that keeps recurring because of it, and you two can’t seem to find a solution.

You may even force yourself to turn a blind eye to it, but it always comes back to instigate another fight that you know will not end well. It’s time you two take a step back and really think about what you want to do next.

“This can be hugely personal for each. For instance, some might consider flirting with others a strict no-no when committed, while there can be others who are okay with even sexting with others as long as it doesn’t actually get physical. Whatever is the threshold or rules set by both partners in a relationship, if they are being overstepped to such an extent that you can’t accept it at all, it would be a great indicator for taking some time off each other for introspection and reconciliation if any,” says Pooja.

Related Reading: 12 Ways To Fix A Toxic Relationship

5. A few days without communication seem to sail by

After your inevitable ugly fights, you two will most probably give each other the silent treatment. If the days when you’re not talking to each other feel a lot better than when you do, it’s as clear a sign as any that a break will do you good.

If every message your partner sends you makes you want to lock your phone again and keep it away, you know things aren’t going too well. You won’t look forward to solving any fights and you might even have thought about breaking up a lot of times. One of the benefits of taking a break in a relationship that has turned so unpleasant that your partner’s presence begins to put you off is that it gives you the space and time to think about what it is that you really want.

Do you feel that the relationship is doing you more harm than good? Is there more angst than joy in your bond? If so, is it even worth fighting for? Taking a break will help you address these – or similar – questions pragmatically, and get a fresh perspective on your relationship.

6. The expectations don’t match

“Good relationships are not just about looking at each other lovingly but looking together at the same goals in the same direction. If this is amiss, there will be an obvious mismatch of expectations from self, the partner and the relationship, leading to conflicts. Partners need to step away for a bit to understand this bitterness and see this situation under a microscope individually,” says Pooja.

Perhaps, you wanted something not too serious, but then you see your partner show up with a dozen roses to your place with concert tickets that are 6 months away. Screw taking a break, you’d want to run away when that happens.

An expectation mismatch doesn’t have to be that extreme. One person could think you’ll be talking over the phone all the time but the other presumes a “textlationship” will do just fine. Take a step back to figure out this expectation mismatch in your relationship.

breakup and loss

7. If jealousy, insecurity, trust issues get too much to handle

Considering taking a break in a relationship when you live together can be considered a big deal. After all, you will be disrupting your lives and stepping out of your comfort zone. Often, couples let issues fester because moving away and being on their own feels far more daunting.

However, if issues such as jealousy, insecurity and lack of trust have grown to an extent that you feel overwhelmed all the time, then taking a break in a relationship is valid, irrespective of how long you’ve been together or how serious you’re about each other. Constantly being questioned about what you’re doing, where you’re going and who you’re going with will leave you suffocated.

When partners project their insecurities on the person they’re with, it will undoubtedly cause problems. Overcoming insecurity in a relationship isn’t impossible, but it definitely requires work. If it starts to feel like you’re sacrificing your mental health to stay in your relationship with a controlling partner, you need to immediately figure out what it is you want next. 

8. You feel like you’re being wronged

A common trait of a toxic relationship is that one partner has no regard for what the other one has to say. If that’s the case, you’ll start feeling like your opinion doesn’t matter and what you want or expect is often overlooked. It can feel belittling and will simply leave you unhappy.

Relationships are meant to make you happier and enrich your life because of the inclusion of your partner. If yours fails to meet this simple criterion, you should consider taking a break in a relationship. Don’t drag your feet on this decision. Sometimes, you’ve got to put yourself first, and feeling unvalued in your relationship is a good reason to do so.

Don’t feel guilty about taking a break from a relationship for your mental health. Have a candid conversation with your partner, let them know how you feel without leveling any accusations, and ask for some time off. Use this time to assess whether you want to give the relationship another chance or turn this break into a breakup.

Related Reading: Is Your Jealous Boyfriend Being Possessive And Controlling?

9. You lie to avoid fights

Or, you just don’t say certain things because you know it will most definitely result in a fight. You might lie about who you’re spending time with even if you’re doing nothing wrong. “This is indicative of an abusive or unhealthy relationship. If a person can’t be honest with their partner, it means that they fear them, have lost trust in them or have simply fallen out of love with them. In all three cases, taking a break can give both the partners time and space to rethink what went wrong and rectify it,” says Pooja.

Everyone lies about a few things in a relationship like if they watched an extra episode you were watching together, or if they’ve ever booty called an ex. But in healthy relationships, you should be able to tell your partner anything without being scared of the response. Lying in a relationship to make life easier for both of you will only result in worse problems down the line.

Taking a break in a relationship should not be seen as the end of the road. If the rules for taking a break in a relationship have been well-defined and both partners are on the same page about what this temporary pause means, it can be a good way to reboot a connection and start afresh.

Of course, you have to be willing to put in the necessary work to work through your individual issues during this time, introspect and decide what you want from the relationship. In some cases, a break may help two partners see that they’re better off apart than together. In this case, even though the outcome may not be a happily-ever-after, the break will still have served its purpose.


1. Do breaks in relationships work?

When you follow the taking a break in relationship rules and effectively utilize your break, they can work. Stepping away from a relationship that’s harming you can give you peace of mind and evaluate what would make you happier. Even when you decide in your break that your relationship shouldn’t continue, the break can still be considered successful since it helped you decide how you can be happier.

2. How long should a break in a relationship last?

Breaks in relationships usually last anywhere between a week or a month and can even extend if both partners feel it’s necessary. However, if your break lasts an unusually long amount of time like 3-4 months, it’s more likely that’s a break-up than a break. It’s important to establish how long you two want the break to last. Extending the break because you need more time to assess things is completely normal as well.

3. Do couples get back together after a break?

Yes, couples can get back together after a break, when a break is done right. A break provides couples time to think about how to tackle the problems they’re facing. So, some couples may even end up forming a stronger bond than they previously had. If you decide to work on the relationship after a break, you’ll be able to do so better since now you have a better perspective on what the problems are and how to find a common ground.

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