The Only Thing You Should Do If He Wants To Take A Break

When someone wants a break, it can be a chance for both of you to reassess your feelings and potentially strengthen the relationship.

girlfriend resting her head on her boyfriend's shoulder Getty

When your boyfriend wants a break, it can be a confusing and heartbreaking moment.

That said, it doesn't necessarily have to be the kiss of death for your relationship. Knowing how to handle it can even help you find greater happiness together. In fact, you might just wind up falling even more in love with each other.

What does it mean when your boyfriend says he wants a break?

When someone says they want to take a break in a relationship, they are saying they want to take some time apart to be alone and assess their feelings without officially ending the relationship,


The answer as to why people want to take a break varies from situation to situation, but when a guy wants to take a break, it's generally for one of three reasons: he's genuinely confused about his feelings for you and where he wants the relationship to go, he feels a need to reassert control over his life and/or the relationship, or he knows he wants to break up with you but is too scared to admit it.

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One of my readers has been together with her boyfriend for 10 months, and lately, they've started arguing more often than usual. "We’re together literally 24/7 and are always doing stuff together, so we very rarely spend a lot of time with ourselves," she wrote.

To her shock, he told her he needed space and wanted to try taking a break, becoming friends again, and then starting their relationship over. He was working a second shift seven days a week and she was back in school, so they wouldn't be able to see each other much, which meant, he thought, that taking a break wouldn't make a big difference.

"He said we both need time to think and clear our heads," she continued. "How long should we go without communicating and how can I get him to miss me and text me first?"

To the reader who submitted this question and to anyone going through something similar right now, I’m really sorry you're going through this. I’m going to talk strategy now, so please trust that nothing I'm about to say is meant to hurt your feelings.


What do you do when your boyfriend wants a break?

When he says he needs space and wants a break, immediately agree with him. Say yes to the break, as it's a good time to enjoy having your own time and space.

Stay away from him for as long as the break lasts, and stop worrying about it. Worrying right now about getting him to text you first is like trying to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic as it goes down.

Leave it to him to be the one to get in touch with you.

Taking a break from this relationship was his idea, so it’s up to him to get back in touch with you if he wants to talk. Don't contact him unless you have to. Don’t do or say much of anything else, aside from handling logistical stuff like, “Here’s your iguana,” or, “Come get the tuba you left in the corner of the apartment.” You get the picture.


Since this man has told you that he wants less of your company right now, joyfully and graciously give him less of your company. It’s so very simple. Go with his momentum and give him what he wants.

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How long should a break in a relationship last?

As far as how long should you go without communicating, the answer is: as long as it takes. Let him go do his thing while you do yours. Seriously. That's all.

If and when he pops up (most likely 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, then let him ride out into the great beyond while you continue making yourself deliriously happy.


When you really love someone who wants something different from what you want, your fate with them is no longer up to you. If they don’t want to claim a place in your life right now, then you have to trust that they are doing the right thing for themselves and for you.

Even if it hurts. Even if you really love them and would crawl over burning coals to be around them. Even if you think they’re "the one" and have secretly erected a shrine in their honor.

You're not letting him go and agreeing with his decision to take a break because you don’t love him or because you think something is wrong with him or with your relationship.

You're letting him go because you trust that real love can never be lost.


If he's happier somewhere else, supporting him to get that is priority number one. That isn't being selfless, it’s being smart. Staying with someone whose heart is elsewhere is excruciating. What you think you want — fixing or repairing the relationship with him — has to take a back seat to what he wants.

In my reader's situation with her boyfriend, he’s trying to get away from his partner, who is fighting and disagreeing with him.

If you think about it, her boyfriend's reaction isn't too shocking or unreasonable. The human ego likes agreement. It supports our pride and makes us feel understood.

That’s why genuinely agreeing with someone at every opportunity can turn the whole relationship around. Your agreement removes all reason for him to run away.


And that’s why disagreeing with someone who wants to take a break will always blow up in your face. It makes the other person want to run as far away as possible.

RELATED: Why Your Boyfriend Wants Space & Exactly What You Should Do Next

Do breaks in relationships work?

The short answer is yes, taking a break works because regardless of the outcome, you'll both learn whether or not the relationship stands a chance.

Here’s a secret about relationships that no one talks about: the more you try to exert control over someone, the more out of control you become.

Needing anything from someone puts you at their mercy. You can negotiate and discuss your shared goals with a love, but you will never succeed at having a good relationship if you try to force or manipulate or nag anyone into doing anything.


It's a good idea to set your standards, make them clear, and then reject someone completely if they can’t or won't meet them.

Taking a break doesn't necessarily mean you're single. 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 you don't feel comfortable taking a break and enjoying your freedom in the meantime (to you, he’s either in or he's out), tell him so, and then see where the chips fall. Negotiating this way is being true to yourself if you are genuinely stating your standards.

But — you can’t tell a guy you won’t take him back if he leaves and then take him back later on. If you do, he’ll know you aren't a woman of your word. And more importantly, so will you.


If in-or-out is truly your standard, then be loyal to yourself. But if you’re trying to manipulate him into staying with you by giving him an ultimatum or by playing invent-a-standard because you’re understandably hurt and upset, you’ll likely end up driving him away for good. He will most likely pick the nuclear option, instead of staying together and feeling trapped with you.

Or, you’ll emasculate him and "win" temporarily. But nothing is less romantic than hanging out with a man who doesn't really want to be with you.

Trying to get your a man to live your vision of life by manipulating, changing or dominating him will only make both of you miserable, since people naturally resist any and all outside efforts to reduce their freedom.

It hurts and it’s painful, but your boyfriend has to decide for himself that he wants to be in a relationship with you because he loves you and wants you in his life.


That’s why things like logic and rational discussions about the future of your relationship will never make anyone want to be with you. You’re essentially telling your partner you know better than they do about what they want for themselves.

See the problem?

Telling your boyfriend you don’t want to take a break from the relationship, or holding onto the simple mindset of wanting to make him get in touch with you first, means that he’s the one in charge of your feelings ... and the entire relationship.

If you need anything from him, he is automatically in control, and by doing this "taking a break" thing, he immediately gained control over your whole relationship.


Simply put, he is willing to lose you in order to re-exert control over his life.

That says a lot about where he's at emotionally, especially since taking a break usually means everyone is free to do whatever they want, and he knows that another man could potentially snap you up.

It sounds awful and devastating — and it really is. Even the simple fact that you want to know how to get him to text you and regain control over your communication with each other is a sign that you'll do anything you can to get that power back.


There’s nothing inherently wrong with this. And if you truly take back control over your own feelings and perspective, you’ll grow and cultivate more self-love, rather than continuing to try wrestling with your boyfriend for control over this situation.

Arguing with him about his decision, trying to manipulate him or trying to come up with an imaginary timeline for when you'll talk to him again will only wreck your relationship further.

It might seem like you'll feel better if he does what you want and works on the relationship with you, but that will never work unless it’s his idea. And if you do talk him into staying with you, you’ll always wonder if he really wants to be there, or if he simply caved to your negotiating pressure.

In short, the only way you’ll really know for sure if he truly wants to be with you is if you agree to take a break so he can decide on his own.

If you joyfully accept what he says wants and go about your own business, making yourself happy, that’s the only path that will lead not only to you feeling better, but to potentially putting your relationship back on track in the future. Doing that is working with your boyfriend, as opposed to arguing with him and making yourself the problem even more than you have already.


Disagreeing with his decisions only gives him someone to fight with, which has been happening up until now and during your life together so far.

The more you affirm that he’s right to take a break from your relationship while you both take care of yourselves, the happier and less pressured you’ll both feel.

And people naturally want to be around happy people who aren't pressuring them. See how that works?

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Elizabeth Stone is an author, love coach and founder of Attract The One and helps women who keep ending up in dead-end relationships with guys who pull away, dump and ghost them, get the love they really deserve.