What to Do if Your Boyfriend Wants a Break

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  • When your boyfriend says he needs a break, it’s never an easy thing. It is easy to want to blame yourself, but you shouldn’t. Read on to find out 9 helpful things to do when your boyfriend wants a break.

Relationships are not always smooth-sailing. It sometimes happens that boyfriends decide they want to take a break from the relationship, and there could be several reasons for this. When a boyfriend says he needs a break from the relationship, either to figure things out or for other reasons, this understandably leaves the girlfriend confused because her first instinct is to blame herself and try to figure out what she did wrong. If that’s you, before you get into the fight to keep him mode, let us tell you first what you should do if your boyfriend wants a break. This article will help you reach a decision that is good, both for yourself and your boyfriend.

What Does It Mean When Your Boyfriend Wants A Break?

People rarely take breaks in a relationship if things were going great. When he says he needs a break, there are several reasons for this but it all ultimately boils down to the fact that he is not happy in the relationship.

For a guy, what taking a break means to him will depend on his reason(s) for wanting the break in the first place. And what this means is that sadly, the outcome of that break will determine the fate of the relationship and whether it continues or results in a break-up.

The top 4 reasons why boyfriends ask for a break and what it means and may spell for your relationship are as follows:

  • He is not sure how he feels about you and wants to take a step back to figure things out.

This especially happens where things may be moving too fast for him and he is not sure he wants to be deeply committed in the relationship yet.

It could also happen if perhaps he met someone else that he’s starting to get attracted to and this makes him start to question his feelings for you.

There could be a myriad of reasons why he is unsure about his feelings for you and why he needs time to figure things out. Whatever the reason, the time apart will help him understand exactly how he feels about you.

The reality though is that where this is his reason, it could mean the end of the relationship if, at the end of the break, he concludes that he’s not that into you in the same way that you are. This reason appears to be the number 1 reason for break-ups, according to this 2018 survey on Pinterest.

Top reasons for being dumped (2018). Source: Pinterest

Top reasons for being dumped (2018)

Where this is his reason, while entertaining a little hope that things may get back to the way they were, it is also good to be realistic and probably work on the possibility that the relationship may come to an end. Be hopeful but realistic.

  • Things are not going too great in your relationship either because you guys are fighting a lot or you’re drifting apart.

If you guys are fighting a lot or drifting apart, your boyfriend may start to question the continued use of the relationship to him. He may want to take a step back to assess and re-evaluate whether he wants to continue in the relationship where there is so much bickering going on, or coldness and distance. Guys especially ask for a break in this scenario if they’ve tried everything they think they could have tried.

Where this is the reason, there is a 50-50 chance of whether the relationship could work or end at the end of his break.

  • He wants to break up but can’t seem to be bold enough to say it.

Break-ups are generally messy affairs (and if any survey is needed, the earlier 2018 survey on Pinterest confirms it). They also come with a significant amount of heartache and pain (and this survey from The Breakup App also confirms it)

How frequently do you end a relationship on good terms? (2018). Source: Pinterest

How frequently do you end a relationship on good terms (2018)

Painfulness of a Break-up. Source: The Breakup App

Painfulness of a Break-up. Source The Breakup App

And for some guys, they would much rather avoid the messiness and put off the heartache for later. For some, they prefer using the approach of taking a break first, as a prelude to the final break-up. Whether or not this actually helps in making the break-up any less messy is unknown, and will depend to a large extent on the temperaments and personalities of the guy and his girlfriend.

If this is his reason, then it is almost certain that the relationship will ultimately come to an end, and he’s just delaying the inevitable. Or there could be the 1% chance that he realizes he doesn’t want to end things and can’t stand the thought of losing you.

  • He may feel suffocated in the relationship and wants a breather.

This especially happens if the girlfriend is extremely clingy and needy. A clingy and needy girlfriend will definitely tire her boyfriend out, and before long he will ask for a break. If you want tips on how not to be clingy and needy in a relationship, our article on What Not To Do In A Relationship With Your Boyfriend will be a useful and helpful read.

What To Do When Your Boyfriend Wants A Break.

These are the top 9 things to do when your boyfriend says he needs a break.

1. Find Out What His Reasons For Wanting A Break Are.

This is very important. You don’t want to drive yourself crazy trying to figure out what may have happened to have caused him to want a break. His reasons may be one or several of the reason(s) we have listed, but whatever it may be, you deserve to know why. Three reasons why it is important you know what his reasons are:

  • So that you understand where your relationship stands and importantly where you stand.

If his reason is that he wants to figure out how he feels about you, for instance, this is something you need to know upfront so that you are not being strung along by someone confused and unsure about how he feels for you. It would be unfair to you that you are head over heels in love with him and entertaining hope that he would come back to you when he’s not even in love with you at the same wavelength.

  • So that you know what the next steps to take are.

His reasons will help you know exactly what the break means for you in terms of the next steps. It will help you understand whether you want to take a chance at waiting for someone who may just be delaying an inevitable break-up, or to cut your losses at that point and move on.

  • So that you know what rules, if any, to agree on.

This is closely related to the aspect of knowing the next steps to take. If it is clear that he simply is delaying the inevitable, you will know whether or not to save you both the trouble and end things there and then. If he needs a breather or just wants to figure things out, it will help you set timelines and rules regarding the break.

Whatever happens, never enter a break without knowing what his reasons are or it will be a very weird, awkward, and untidy break, especially for you.

2. Depending On His Reasons, Ask Him If He Is Open To Considering Other Less Drastic Options To Address His Reasons.

Finding out what his reasons are will also give you a chance to understand where he’s coming from and get him to talk through exactly what the burning issues are. This will help both of you understand if there are other less drastic measures that you could take. If for example, his reason is that you guys are fighting too much and he can’t seem to understand why this calls for soul-searching by both of you. It could mean that there are underlying issues from one or both of you that need to be resolved through such means as couple’s counseling and therapy.

If his reasons can be resolved through such less drastic means, ask him if he is willing to give those less drastic options a shot/try.

3. If He Is Not Willing To Consider Other Options, Let Him Go On The Break.

If he says that he is not willing to consider or try these less drastic options, as difficult as it may be for you, you have to let him have his break. You may feel very strongly that his issues can be resolved through other less drastic options, but if he doesn’t see it that way or feel that way, there is nothing left for you to do. You can at least pat yourself on the back for trying to want to meet him halfway.

4. Before Going Your Separate Ways, Agree On Rules That Would Apply To Your Relationship During The Break.

This is important for both of you. Rules such as whether or not either of you is free to see other people or sleep with other people during the break are very important to know upfront. This helps in managing expectations. This is especially important for you because he may be asking for the break just so he has the chance to sleep with other people. And on the flip side, you could meet someone interesting and want to try dating them temporarily while waiting for your boyfriend to come back from his break. This is one rule you must both agree on before going on the break.

Another important rule to agree on is how long the break is to last for. The last thing you want is for someone to string you along indefinitely. You certainly deserve better than that. He knows his reasons and how long he needs to figure things out. But whatever happens, don’t set yourself up for more heartache that comes with the uncertainty of not knowing if you’re still taking a break or whether you’ve actually broken up. If he has no time frame, give him one. Your time is also valuable and should not be wasted by a confused guy.

A final important rule to agree on is on contacting each other. Make it clear up front that you will be giving him all the space he needs, and will not be making any contact whatsoever. Since there will be a time frame in place, and since he’s asking for space to understand a thing or two, constant communication will defeat the whole purpose. So it is best to agree upfront that neither of you will for the duration of the break stay in touch with the other.

5. Give Him The Break He Wants.

This means that you should give him space and initiate no contact or communication with him. This will not be easy at all, but you need to do it. The reason why this is crucial is because if you keep communicating and keeping in touch, you won’t give him the space he needs to get the clarity that is needed for the progress of the relationship. Remember that at the end of the day, you want him to come back more committed to the relationship, and importantly to appreciate you more.

If you’re always in his face, he would resent you for it, which is the opposite of how you want him to feel about you. Whatever happens, truly give him a break.

6. Don’t Blame Yourself.

This is important. You are not responsible for how your boyfriend feels in wanting a break. There would always be other less drastic options to a break if he really wanted it. His choosing a break is his prerogative, but it’s also not one for which you should blame yourself or feel guilty.

If you had a part to play, take responsibility, and move on from it. Whatever happens, never blame yourself for his decision to take a break.

Another important reason why you should not blame yourself is because doing so makes it easy for him to string you along indefinitely, especially if he knows that you blame yourself.

7. Keep Yourself Busy And Occupied.

The only way it will be easy for you to stay away and maintain zero contact with him is if you are busy and occupied while on the break. Consider the break as your chance to also get to reconnect with yourself without the distraction of the relationship. Oftentimes we tend to lose ourselves in a relationship without realizing it.

These are a few non-exhaustive suggestions of how you can keep yourself busy and occupied:

  • Do the things you loved doing alone before he came along.
  • Spoil and pamper yourself.
  • Take yourself out to the movies.
  • Find other new and exciting hobbies and interests apart from the ones you used to do together as a couple.

Interests and hobbies like learning a new language, acquiring new skills, blogging, and writing a book. The list is endless and the only limitation you will have is your imagination.

You don’t have to go far. There are 50 beautiful States with many cities and towns to explore. You will be amazed at the discoveries you make on each of these trips.

Whatever happens, keep yourself busy. This also helps you in starting to get used to a life without him in it because of the realistic possibility that this could very well be the end of the road in your relationship.

Related articles: How To Stay Single And Be Happy and 22 Things To Do When Single And Alone.

8. If Your Break Rules Allow You To See Other People, Put Yourself Out There And Meet Other People.

This is another important thing to do when your boyfriend wants a break. Seeing other people also helps you both truly know how deeply what you feel for each other is. For you, seeing other people will be a good distraction to take your mind off trying to reach out to your boyfriend.

And if your break rules do not allow for seeing other people, consider making it part of your break rules. You don’t have to see anyone else if you don’t want to, but it’s good to have the option to be able to do so, should the need arise.

9. Use The Time To Re-evaluate The Relationship Dispassionately And Critically.

Knowing what his reasons are and knowing where your relationship is at, you should be truthful and honest to yourself about where your relationship truly stands. Some important questions and considerations are:

  • If the relationship is a toxic and unhealthy one, would this suddenly change overnight even after his break?
  • If you’re being honest to yourself, has he been as passionately in love the whole time as you were, or was he half-hearted about it? And if this is the case, is this something you really want for yourself?
  • Is he really willing to give the relationship a shot or is this an attempt at trying to eat his cake and have it?

This step is important because it will help you in knowing exactly what it is you want from the relationship after the break if he decides he wants to continue. It helps you know what to ask for when he comes and how you want things to continue.

Remember that a relationship is an equal partnership where both parties equally bring their all to make it work. If you are the only one trying to make it work and he isn’t willing to pull his weight, you need to reevaluate whether it is truly worth it.

Related article: When Should You Give Up On A Relationship?

Frequently Asked Questions.

  • He wants a break, how long should I give him?

It is good to give him some time but that time should not be too long so that it doesn’t drag on indefinitely and leave you confused about the status of your relationship. You also need to know where you stand with him as soon as possible, for the sake of your heart and moving on, if you need to be moving on.

Ask him how long he needs. If he says he isn’t sure, make it clear that you also have your own life to live and cannot wait indefinitely. Having said that, give him a definite time-frame. We will suggest anything in the region of 2 – 3 months.

If this is not a disguised break-up and he truly wants to come back and make things work, he should have no problems with this. Should he have a problem with this, you may have to come to terms with the sad reality that he probably wants to string you along for as long as possible and eat his cake and have it while at it.

  • My boyfriend wants space, how long should I wait?

This is a question only you can answer. How long are you willing to stay on a string? If you are not willing to stay strung along for any duration of time, then this is when you make it clear to him that you can only wait for so long, and that after that time, you will move on if he still hasn’t decided what he wants.

As we suggested in the first answer, it’s best to have a break for 3 months tops. Your waiting should also not exceed 3 months unless you don’t mind the uncertainty and being strung along.

  • My boyfriend wants a break but still loves me, what should I do?

If he still loves you but just wants to take a breather because maybe he feels suffocated, give him the space he needs. Follow all the steps listed in this article and if he loves you as he says, then you have nothing to worry about because he will come back to you. But smoldering him and not letting him have his break will only have the opposite effect.

  • My boyfriend wants a break to figure things out, what should I do?

Give him the break to figure things out. It is in your best interest that he figures out exactly what he needs to figure out about you and the relationship. Remember to ask him what exactly it is he wants to figure out, so that you know where you stand, and it also helps you take all the steps listed in this article.

  • My boyfriend wants a break, how do I keep him?

Only your boyfriend can decide if he wants to be kept. Give him the break he needs to make that decision. And if after the break he decides he wants to end things and not be kept, let him go. You can’t force him to stay and you shouldn’t force him to stay if he doesn’t want to stay.

Related articles: What To Say To Your Boyfriend To Make Him Happy and 5 Things To Say To An Ex Boyfriend You Still Love.


As hard as it is to hear your boyfriend say that he needs a break, it could be what your relationship needs for you to both know where you stand and whether you are not both flogging a dead horse.

Follow all the 9 steps set out in this article. They will help you make the right decision for you and your boyfriend.





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