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What is a Relationship "Break" - And Why Does Your Significant Other Want One?

Updated on May 2, 2013
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Has Your Relationship Been Put on Hold?

So your relationship isn't perfect. No relationship is, right? What else could you expect - after all, the honeymoon phase can't possibly last forever. Although you're able to admit that your relationship has had its ups and downs, you never anticipated your partner's next move. They came to you and asked you for a "break". What on earth is a "break" in the scope of a romantic relationship - and what are they really looking for? Is this code for breakup only nicer? Are they trying to work towards repairing your relationship or destroying it completely? What's really going on in their minds - and what can you do to fix it?


Although it's easy to think that they're calling all of the shots, you do have a say in how this situation goes. You're tentative about disagreeing with them because you're afraid that you're going to push them away even further and they may break up with you completely, officially and permanently. If your significant other has asked you for a break, what's really going on in their head - and what can you do to stop the relationship tide from rolling over you completely before you have a chance to fix your relationship for good?

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Relationships Aren't All Fun and Games

It's easy to become accustomed to the way things are when you and your partner first began dating. Everything is exciting and new, and the sense of adventure is ever-present. Realistically, however, this initial phase of a relationship cannot last forever, and as two people start to know each other on a deeper level, some of this initial sense of adventure is going to automatically start to wear off. Your partner may not have been prepared for this gradual shift. They may be looking for the shiny new relationship constantly, and if they're expecting it, they may feel a sense of disappointment when that inevitably starts to fade.

Personally speaking, it is not always your responsibility to entertain and excite your partner. Everyone is accountable for their own sense of happiness, and finding joy in everyday comfortable circumstances is not always an easy task. That doesn't mean that you should begin bending over backwards to try to always be the person that brings the entertainment to the table. Your partner is responsible for their share as well, and if they're putting the bulk of the burden on you, it can feel like a lot of pressure - but it's not all your fault.


In order to overcome this type of a break scenario, you first have to honestly admit that it may seem like the precursor for an official breakup. Ultimately, taking action is up to you. If your partner feels dissatisfied, they may go for the breakup rather than put in the time and effort to make your existing romance more enjoyable for you both. Two things should be done on your end here. First, acknowledge that the break is happening, but don't allow it to be the sole focus of your attention. Take it in stride, and don't show your partner that you're overly concerned. Focus on other things for awhile. Once your partner sees that you're still enjoying yourself, they'll automatically want to be part of the phone again. Secondly, do what you can to show your partner that you're still the fun, adventurous and entertaining person that they initially fell for.

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Conflicting and Confusing Emotions

You are sitting here, confident in how you feel - expecting your partner to feel the same way. Realistically speaking, that may not be the case. Emotions are difficult to pinpoint, no matter how happy or secure a relationship may seem on the surface. It's possible that your partner may be experiencing some conflicting emotions as they examine the relationship as a whole, and there are likely to be signs that can point you towards what's really happening beneath the surface.

A significant other who is uncertain about how they feel is likely to pull away and attempt to distance themselves from you - even before asking for a break from the relationship. They may have been less interested in intimacy. They may have broken plans with you with increasing frequency. They may have stopped opening up to you in the same way that you are accustomed to. These are all indications that something more is happening that you may not have been aware of at the time.


No matter what you do, it's impossible to force your ex to feel the same way that you do, and you cannot control their emotions at any given moment. What you can do is to decide to give them what they think they want, and you can agree to take a temporary break from your romance. By not putting up a fight, you're going to show your partner that you still have more to offer them. By enjoying other aspects of your life apart from your relationship, you'll show them that your happiness is not solely invested in your romance, and they'll start to want what you have. This will prompt them to act quickly and recommit to the romance - or else face the possibility of having to say goodbye for good, and watching you move on without them.

Are Your Partner's Needs Being Met - Or Ignored?

Once a relationship settles into normal patterns, it's entirely possible that your needs - or the needs of your partner - may not be met the way that you think they should be. Don't see this as selfishness on your partner's part - it's anything but. It takes a lot of guts to come out and admit that you need something that's currently lacking, and if your partner has been less than forthcoming with their needs, keep one thing in mind: How easy would it be for you to admit out loud to another person that you need something from them and you haven't been getting it?


You may have thrown yourself into your work due to an unexpected project, overtime or extended hours. You may have had a situation come up with a friend or colleague that demanded more attention. No matter what scenario fits your situation, it's possible that your relationship got pushed aside as you tackled these other issues. This is entirely normal, but it could contribute to a lack of contentment on your partner's side of the field. Work to remind them that they're still important to you, even if you haven't been able to share as much time with them as you'd like. Tell them that this shift in attention is only temporary - and then follow up those words with actions.

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Is Something More Sinister in Play?

It's not pleasant to hear, but your partner may have their eye on something - or someone - else, and they don't know how to come out and express this extra-relationship interest to you. It's understandable - especially at this critical stage in the game. If your ex isn't certain how they feel about this other person and they're not sure how they feel about you, they may be interested in exploring their options without having to take a big risk in order to do it. They want to know that they have you on the back-burner in case this other person turns out to be crazy - or just not their cup of tea.

You need to be cautious if this scenario seems to be playing out in front of your eyes. If you act rashly or immaturely, you may push them in the opposite direction and they may run from you instead of running to you. This is clearly not what you want to happen. You want to draw them back into your relationship positively without scaring them off for good. Your best option here is to back away slightly and allow your ex to miss you. Only then will they be able to get a good look at what they're missing - and what someone else may enjoy in their place if they decide to call the relationship off for good.

Has a Significant Other Ever Asked You for a "Break"

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What Are You Going to Do About it?

Ultimately, the decision to act rests on your shoulders, and how you act in the wake of a break request often determines the outcome. If you use your time wisely and focus on creating a positive change, you can often expect a positive outcome as a result. You want to avoid flying off the handle here and acting rashly. Your partner is going to be examining your actions closely in order to determine what path they should take moving forward. If you keep a level head and stay mature, they're likely to respond in kind. If you go into a jealous fit, however, they're likely to make the break more permanent and break up with you. The future of your relationship may not be solely up to you, but you can contribute. Use your head here, and act in ways that will encourage your desired outcome. Then you can reap the benefits of your higher path, and enjoy a newly committed relationship for a long time to come.

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    • dashingscorpio profile image

      dashingscorpio 4 years ago

      On the other hand it is also important to ask yourself the following question:

      "Why do I want to be with someone who does (not) want to be with me?"

      The underlying definition of "soul mates" is (two) people who share the same values, want the same things for the relationship, and (naturally agree) on how to obtain them. Last but not least they have a (mutual) depth of love and desire for one another. One person can't save a relationship.

      Essentially, in order for him or her to be "the one" they would have to see you as being "the one". Clearly if someone no longer wants to be with you or is "up in the air" about staying in the relationship then that is a (major clue) that they are probably not "the one". Thankfully there are 7 Billion people on the planet. All is not lost!

      One man's opinion! :-)

    • Ex-Ology profile image
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      Julie 4 years ago from The Bay

      Good points! That's why it's imperative that you act proactively (and correctly) and not just go along with the request for a "break" if you want your relationship to continue and survive it.

    • dashingscorpio profile image

      dashingscorpio 4 years ago

      Very interesting

      However more often than not a "break" is a (practice) breakup! The person wants to see how well they can get along without (you). If they are happier then it will become a permanent breakup. If they have their eye on someone else they are selfishly keeping you on the shelf until they know if they can make a go of it with the new person. If it falls through then they'll get back with you. Essentially they putting you in limbo.

      As much as one may not want to breakup they should make sure their mate understands if they walk out you are moving on.

      No couple has ever solved their problems by being apart. Even if the person came back to you there are no assurances that they are back to stay. Should someone have a bag packed and ready to go every time things aren't going well? All relationships are "at will" and it takes two people to have a relationship. Life is too short to be waiting by the phone, checking emails, or looking out your window to see if your (ex) is going to be coming back to you. Awhile back I wrote a hub on this topic. A break is a breakup! https://hubpages.com/relationships/trialsparations...