Is Taking Time Out From Your Relationship a Good Idea?

Is it a good idea to take a break from your partner when things aren't going well? Is it worth being apart for a few weeks? If you're in this situation and wondering what to do, here's some advice.
Is Taking Time Out From Your Relationship a Good Idea?
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 16 June, 2023

Is it advisable to take time out from a relationship? The quick answer is: it depends. If love still exists and both parties are committed to change and working to improve the relationship, a few weeks apart will be useful. However, pressing the pause button and not clarifying what each other wants to achieve during their time apart will make the plan meaningless.

Taking time out from a relationship can be successful, especially in cases where there are conflicting dynamics and emotions are as tense as violin strings. In these cases, being apart for a few weeks removes the loop of negativity and helps the couple calmly figure out what to do.

If you’re in this situation right now, carry on reading.

The key to the success of a temporary separation in a relationship lies in how the couple spends the time and how good their communication skills are.

Taking time out from your relationship

It’s possible that putting some distance between you and your partner will relieve feelings of tension, make your ideas more flexible, and reveal your feelings to you more clearly. In fact, having a few days or even weeks away from each other doesn’t mean the end. Indeed, it’s often recommended by therapists.

Taking time out from your relationship means you put your conflicts on pause, thanks to the physical distance between you. You can also carry out a self-awareness exercise in which you review and heal your relationship (if possible). It means moving from the ‘shared’ to the ‘individual’ sphere, to clarify where you are and what you want.

A work published in Cognitive-Behavioral Strategies in Crisis Intervention mentions the importance of intervening in relationships with chronic patterns of conflict. These are the kinds of dynamics for which a psychologist may suggest temporary distancing. However, some concrete guidelines must be followed.

Sad woman thinking about whether to take time in the relationship
It’s likely that, by taking time out from your relationship, you’ll become aware of the need to take better care of your relationship.

What does taking time out from a relationship entail?

Taking time out from your relationship doesn’t mean breaking up. It simply puts it on pause, giving you time to review, reflect, and learn. Taking a break shouldn’t be seen as a threat to your commitment. It should be seen as a mechanism of maturity and responsibility to save your relationship at a time of crisis.

Being immersed in the game of blame and guilt makes the emotional atmosphere stifling. Not only do you end up seeing the worst in each other, but you end up neglecting yourself. Giving yourself space helps to end the conflict, make contact with your needs, and figure out what to do. It’s not a breakup.

In some relational dynamics, only guilt, threats, and spite flow. When love is still there, but you’ve become your own worst enemy, you must give yourself time.

When it’s useful and when it isn’t

Establishing a temporary distance is recommended if, despite the tension, you’re both committed to moving forward with your relationship. This is extremely important. If this is the case, it’s always a good idea to take some time out from your relationship instead of impulsively splitting up.

Research conducted by the University of Wisconsin (USA) claims that breaking up and reconciling afterward is a common occurrence. However, it’s also an extremely unstable and deficient way of bonding. It’s better to try various strategies for saving the relationship and to learn from the experience.

When it’s advisable to take time out

  • You both agree.
  • You’re maintaining your plans together.
  • You’re aware that you hurt each other.
  • You feel overwhelmed and need time to think on your own.
  • Conflicts are constant, but love remains.
  • There are tensions and arguments but also trust.
  • Despite the problems, there’s good communication between you.
  • You understand that it’s necessary to work on the relationship to improve it.

You might be interested to read Can a Trip Away Save a Relationship?

When it’s not advisable to take time out

  • You doubt your feelings.
  • You have someone else.
  • There’s no mutual trust.
  • You’ve lost interest in the relationship.
  • Something’s happened that you can’t forgive. For example, they’ve been unfaithful.
  • You believe that, instead of taking time out, couples therapy would be more suitable.
  • Communication between you is always poor.
  • You’re aware that the relationship isn’t healthy and you’re unhappy.

Love requires investment and care. Sometimes, by taking some time out after a crisis, you discover why you really love your partner.

Woman sitting at the window thinking about whether to take time in the relationship
If you decide to take time out from your relationship, don’t go beyond three to four weeks.

The guidelines to follow when taking time out from a relationship

Sometimes, with the noisy arguments, reproaches, and the weight of routine, you forget why you ever fell in love with your partner. At these moments, your mind is filled with so much anguish and so many grudges that every little thing bothers you and there seems to be no affection left between the two of you. Undoubtedly, these situations are hurtful. But, if there’s mutual affection and willingness on both of your parts, your relationship can still be saved.

We suggest you take note of the following guidelines if you decide to take time out from your relationship.

No more than four weeks

Ideally, your time apart shouldn’t exceed three to four weeks. This amount of time is enough to reflect, rest, make decisions, and even awaken your desire for a reunion.

Agree on guidelines and objectives

Taking time out of your relationship doesn’t mean breaking up. Nor does it mean that either of you has permission to deceive the other. Your commitment still exists. You’ve simply agreed to a few days apart to heal the relationship. Hopefully, when you meet again, it’ll be with greater affection and enthusiasm.

You should agree on the goals you both want to achieve during your time apart. Firstly, clarify what you want to do about your relationship. Secondly, if you’re sticking with it, think about changing some of your strategies to improve your coexistence and happiness.

If you spend some time with your partner while you’re apart, by way of occasional meetings and calls, this will favor your reconnection and help you make contact in a relaxed and different way.

Self-care and learning time

One essential goal is to practice self-care. Going through a time of so much stress, emotional anguish, and great tension is exhausting, both physically and mentally. Therefore, you need to rest, connect with yourself, practice your hobbies, talk with your friends, etc.

You should also bear in mind that this will be a learning time during which you can attend to your emotions, thoughts, and needs within the framework of your relationship. Ask yourself if you’re with the right person. Are they worth investing your time, energy, and dreams in?

Say yes to occasional meetings

Having time out from each other doesn’t mean you can’t have occasional calls or meetings with them. In fact, it’s advisable to meet up occasionally. For example, to have dinner, go for a walk, or talk on Zoom. This is a way of rekindling your relationship, keeping the flame of love burning, and catching up on what you’re both thinking and feeling.

Finally, no relationship is perfect or gives any guarantee of happiness. There’ll always be bumps in the road and times of crisis. But, knowing how to face these periods of wear and tear maturely, with good communication and valid tools, will help you successfully overcome those difficult moments.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.