What your partner actually means when they tell you they want a break

By Faeza
03 February 2017

Confused writes:

MY girlfriend and I love each other a lot. But we have been going through a rough patch

lately. We argue a lot and on many occasions, I have found myself sleeping on the couch because we don’t want to be in the same room. I have asked for us to take a break to cool our heads and regain perspective. She is against the idea and feels that this is a strategy I am using in order to break up with her. How do I convince her that this is

not my intention?

Linda Yende responds:

IHAVE always had the same attitude as your girlfriend as this tactic is the lazy and insincere person’s way of ending a relationship. People who ask for a break are pretty sure they want to break up, but they’re avoiding the uncomfortable feeling of being alone right away.


There are several reasons why someone wants to ‘take a break’ from a relationship. Main reasons include easing into a full-time break-up, using it as a threat to get something more out of the relationship that they’re not receiving, and getting more free time such as nights out and all the freedom of not being questioned. Whatever the reason, don’t fool


yourself – ultimately, taking a break may mean the relationship is over. If you feel bored, frustrated or have fallen out of love, what is a break going to do? You also need to engage with what a break entails: Are you allowed to have sex with others? Do you see each other at all? How long is this break for? Is there a set time limit? If you are still having sex, I have a news flash for you – this means you’ve now been demoted to a booty call.


For many people, a break is just short hand for break-up. Having said all of that; I have spoken to many people who believe in taking a break. I asked them what they hoped to achieve, and some of their reasons were interesting. The notion of ‘taking a break’ from the one you love is often misinterpreted as a cowardly way of ending a relationship. In fact, what some refer to as a ‘need for space from the partner’ does appear to be a

legitimate cry for just that. As such, I have come to discover some advantages that go with this difficult decision for two people to step aside and regroup:

? Stepping aside and finding yourself can be vital, especially after years of coexisting in a committed, long-term relationship.

? Give yourself and your partner the opportunity to let your hearts grow fonder. Sometimes, all you need to do is just miss each other to realise just how much you mean to each other.

? Is the relationship becoming increasingly stormy? You no longer hear one another, you can hardly sustain a conversation without it erupting into a fight?

? On the other hand, if during this time apart, you realise that you hardly ever miss your partner, it might be a clear sign that you may be approaching the end of the relationship. Letting go may no longer be an option but instead, your only available solution.

? Learning more about your loved one is invaluable for a healthy partnership. But somewhere along the way, we find ourselves falling deeper and deeper into our other

half, while inevitably losing touch with ourselves and our identity. Take this opportunity to go back to your partner with a fresh set of eyes and ears.

? Taking a break does not mean going your separate ways and seeing other people. Taking a break is one thing, while breaking up is a different matter altogether. So set very clear parameters of the extent of this break, like you can’t date or have sex with other people.

Lastly, try and present to her this argument and see if this will help at all. But similarly, be totally honest with yourself. If you are just sick and tired of her and honestly want to use this break as your escape route, then it is far more noble and kind to get it over and done with, instead of keeping her in suspense for an extended period of time. Do the right thing.