If your partner says they want a relationship break, you might wonder what it means. You’ll likely feel like you’re breaking up, even if your significant other says otherwise. When you find yourself in this situation, it’s essential to set ground rules right from the start.

Ground rules will ensure that you are on the same page with the relationship break. It’ll help you get past the initial confusion and find comfort in the new situation. Plus, if your partner betrays the ground rules you’ve set together, it might be a sign that a breakup is inevitable.

When you’re in a relationship break, you’ll want to protect yourself however you can. The conversation might not be an easy one to have, but it’ll be worth it. It’s the only way to find a compromise that works for both of you.

It’s hard to figure out what someone wants when they say they want a break, so communication is essential. While no one prepares for the situation, you must address it and determine your partner’s needs and wants. Plus, you must consider your needs and wants, too.

What is a Relationship Break?


Before you can set ground rules, it’s essential to know for sure what a break is in your relationship. Common information about relationship breaks comes from TV shows and isn’t entirely accurate. A relationship break means different things to everyone, but it’s essential to point out that a break is temporary.

The difference between a break and a breakup is that a break means taking time apart from each other. You’re still technically in a relationship while you figure out the next step during a break. However, a breakup is permanent and means you’re no longer in a romantic relationship.

Since a break means something different to everyone, the only way to know what your break means is to ask. Ask your partner what they mean when they say you’re on a break so that you can be on the same page. If you’re willing to try a relationship break after hearing what it means to your partner, then it’s time to set the ground rules.

Even when someone says they want a break, it can become a permanent breakup. Taking a break allows you and your partner to reassess the relationship to see if it’s right for them. The time away might help them recognize that they want something different for their life.

Additionally, some people say they want to take a break even when they already know they want to break up. They assume downplaying the situation will make it easier on both of you, although that isn’t the case. This problem is another reason you must set the terms right from the start.

However, some people mean it when they say they want a break. They might need time to reflect on the relationship or spend time with friends and family. If your relationship lacks balance, they might need time away to feel like an individual again.

When a Break Might Be Necessary

Relationship experts say that you should consider a break if you feel like you’ve lost touch with yourself. If you have stopped following your dreams or spending time with people you love, you might need some distance. Likewise, if you no longer participate in things that you once enjoyed, a break might be best for you.

Another time you should consider a break is when you don’t know what you want. If you feel confused about your relationship and aren’t sure it’s right for you, a break can help you figure it out. Sometimes this confusion stems from outside factors like work, school, family, or long-distance relationships.

If you still have feelings for your partner but feel confused, a break is typically a better option than a breakup. Once the issue gets resolved, you can have a clear mind to think about the next step. Only opt for a break if you are willing to continue the relationship and do your part.

If there is no compatibility, or you know the relationship should end, be honest and go for a permanent breakup instead. Don’t drag someone else along if you aren’t willing to prioritize making things work when you resolve your issues. Plus, if you know you can’t overcome the problems in your relationship, you should start the healing process right away.

Ground rules are essential so that you don’t feel disrespected or blindsided during the time apart. The rules should be clear so you and your partner can’t claim ignorance later. This process is the only way to make the break work and ensure it doesn’t cause more problems.

How to Set the Ground Rules for Your Relationship Break

Try these tips to agree upon guidelines for the time you spend apart from each other.

1 – Set a Timeframe for the Length of Your Break

When setting your ground rules, the first thing you’ll want to clarify is that it is temporary. Ask your partner if they are implying a permanent breakup or a break. Ask how much time they want to take apart.

Finding yourself and discovering who you are can take some time. If you or your partner hasn’t decided what they want after the pre-determined timeframe, you can then discuss where to go from there.

You might decide to extend the break, or you can make the breakup permanent. Without a timeframe, it could continue dragging on indefinitely, leaving one of you unhappy. However, a timeframe ensures that the discussion is inevitable either way, allowing the healing process to begin.

2 – Discuss Whether You Should Communicate

Another thing to ask about is whether you should still call or text each other. Many breaks mean no contact for a set amount of time, but all situations are different. Define expectations and boundaries clearly and early on so that you both know what will happen.


3 – Avoid Using Indirect Language

When the two of you set the ground rules, don’t let your partner use indirect language. Ambiguity will only confuse you more and offers no definitive answers and limits.

4 – Talk About the Reasoning for Taking a Break

The ground rules that you set will depend on the reason for the break in the first place. Talk about the specific issues so that everyone knows what to work on. You’re more likely to rekindle your relationship after a break if you have this discussion.

The reason might be apparent, but other times it’ll take some reflection. Figure out what both of you think the relationship lacks or why you think it might not work long-term.

5 – Discuss Whether You Will See Other People

You’ll want to establish the rules for seeing other people, too. Some people assume a break means you’re still together and won’t see anyone else. However, other people think that a break means it’s fair to get out there and see other people.

Establish if and when it is okay to spend time romantically with anyone else. This limit is one of the most important ones to set. If the boundaries aren’t clear, it could worsen or end the relationship entirely.

6 – Figure Out the Living Arrangement

If you live with your partner, you’ll also want to discuss the living arrangement. One of you may need to stay somewhere else until the break is over because it’ll be useless if you still see each other every day. You’ll both need your space to overcome the relationship troubles.

7 – Stay Calm and Be Respectful

As you set the ground rules, make sure to stay calm and think logically. Your partner might say things you don’t love, but losing your temper won’t help. However, if you aren’t comfortable with the terms or feel disrespected, it’s okay to end things yourself.

8 – Discuss Taking a Break from Your Partner in Person

You can read your partner’s body language when discussing things in person. You’ll have a better chance of figuring out if they still have feelings for you and whether your relationship is salvageable. Plus, there won’t be as many misunderstandings if you talk in person rather than on a phone call or a text.

9 – Stick to the Rules and Make the Most of Your Time Apart

When you have feelings for someone, it’s hard to stop communicating with them. However, you must stick to the ground rules and see it through for the break to work. Spend your time reflecting and bettering yourself and your life because that’s all you can control.

Use the time apart to reconnect with your friends and loved ones. Pick up a new hobby or revisit ones you haven’t done in a while. When you use the break as an opportunity to improve your life, you’ll know whether you want to continue the relationship or not.


Final Thoughts on Relationship Break or Breakup? How to Set the Ground Rules

Remember that a relationship break is about connecting with yourself and bettering who you are. It involves doing the necessary work to make your relationship work, too. However, you can only take those steps if you have ground rules in place.

Relationship problems are never ideal, but a break or breakup can be hard to handle. Make sure you’re both clear on the situation and set some ground rules to make it work.