5 Differences Between Breaking Up and Taking a Break

Breaking up vs taking a break. What’s the difference? If your partner tells you they need to take a break from your relationship, you might feel like it’s just as bad as breaking up.

However, these two things are very different. Let’s look at the differences between ending a relationship and putting it on pause for a bit. From permanence to the intention, we’ll explain the differences.


To understand the differences between a breakup and taking a break in a relationship, let’s look at what they each mean.

Definition of Taking a Break

“In a long, committed relationship; the couple are going through some confusion as to what they really want. They ‘take the break’ in hopes that after a certain amount of time apart, they will A) miss each other enough to realize they really love each other and want the other person back or B) realize they’re better off without them.

Sometimes they do get back together and really do benefit from taking a break. Sometimes they don’t.” (Urban Dictionary)

Definition of a Breakup:

“End relationship.

If a marriage breaks up or two people in a romantic relationship break up, their marriage or their relationship ends.” (Cambridge Dictionary)

Breaking Up vs Taking a Break

breakup vs take a break infographic

1. A Breakup Is Final

When you tell someone you want to break up, you end the relationship. There is no wiggle room there. Saying “I want to break up” finalizes what you two have together.

On the other hand, when you say “I need to take a break from our relationship.” it doesn’t mean that your relationship is over. It can result in the ending of it, but you can also choose to continue the relationship after the break is over.

So, a breakup is final, a break is not.

2. Taking a Break May Benefit Your Relationship

By pausing your relationship, you are giving it a chance to survive rather than just breaking it off. Whatever your reason for taking a relationship break, there are many benefits to doing so.

You can work on issues, get clarity, receive help, and then come back to the relationship with a renewed outlook. Breaking up means that you’re not willing to put in any more work.

So, taking a break can better your relationship while breaking up terminates it.

3. There Are Rules When Taking a Break

When you end a relationship you let go of all responsibilities and loyalty to the person you were with. You are free to go out and do as you’d like. You are no longer tied down and are a free agent.

Meanwhile, when you’re on a break. There are rules that you should agree to with your partner. These involve things like seeing other people, how long the break will last, and what you should focus on while on the break.

So, breaking up means you can do whatever you want. Taking a break means you’re still accountable to your partner.

4. A Break Doesn’t Necessarily Imply Problems

Taking a break from your relationship doesn’t always mean that there were problems present. Although this can often be the case, breaks are taken due to personal issues, life changes, and timing.

However, when people break up, it’s because the relationship wasn’t working for them. They may have not been right for their partner, or there could have been serious issues like cheating or constant fighting.

So, a difference between breaking up and taking a break is that breaks aren’t always taken because of issues.

5. A Breakup Is For People Wanting to End Things

This point may seem straightforward, but it’s important to include because it’s the biggest difference between a breakup and a break. When you break up with someone, the intention is that you’re ending the relationship.

On the other hand, when you take a break from your relationship, there is still hope. You aren’t necessarily saying it’s over or you don’t want to work on things. In fact, you might be taking a break so you can work on yourself or give the relationship a chance to make it through a rough patch.

So, a breakup means you’re ending things, a break simply means taking a break from the relationship.

Summary Of Breaking Up vs Taking a Break

Here’s a quick summary to wrap up the differences between breaking up and taking a break from a relationship.

  • Breaking up is final, taking a break is open-ended
  • Taking a break may benefit your relationship
  • You are still accountable to your partner during a break
  • A breakup implies that the relationship has problems
  • Taking a break is for people who want to preserve the relationship


Although taking a break and breaking up can sound equally as bad, they are not similar things. The five points above show the major differences between the two terms. So, if your partner asks you for a break, know that it’s not the end of the relationship. Breaking up is very different.

If you want to learn more about relationship breaks, take a look at these other helpful articles.

10 Benefits of Taking a Break From Your Relationship

10 Rules For Taking a Break in a Relationship + Worksheet

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