Here's The Real Difference Between Needing Space In A Relationship & Breaking Up

by Alison Segel

Taking a break from a significant other is incredibly awkward. But then, the alternative — breaking up — is one of the greatest pains one can experience in life. Neither is an activity I'd describe as a fun time. So when you and your partner are having trouble in your relationship, it's important to figure out how to navigate them properly so that you each go through the least amount of hurt. But how do you know the difference between needing space and breaking up? It's important to know the signs of both before you jump to conclusions and potentially break you or your partner's heart. If you automatically go straight to breaking up, sometimes, there's no turning back. You miss the wonderful opportunity to practice communication and conflict resolution with your partner over topics that are absolutely solvable. I've broken up with boyfriends, only to realize with time that an apology, or a few days apart, could have changed everything. Sometimes, our pride, ego, and expectations can stop a relationship that just needed a little space. But the question is this: how do you know what's worth fixing? Because it's important to know this before you make any decisions in your relationship.

Well, before you even consider the conflicts going on in your relationship, ask yourself the bigger question: Is your partner right for you?

Mike Goldstein, founder of EZ Dating Coach and producer of the free video How To Text Men During The Day: What To Do and What Not To Do, offers a way to figure this out:

I would suggest writing down a list of every quality you want in your life partner. Next, pick your top five. Now, moving forward, you only date men/women that have your top five. If he/she has the qualities, keep going. If he/she doesn't, then call it quits immediately."

But what about once you're actually in a relationship, and you're trying to figure out if you should just take space or breakup? "First, evaluate the relationship not the person," Goldstein says. "For example, if the guy is a doctor, comes from a great family, is a nice guy, has great social skills, but only calls you once a week and doesn't treat you the way you want to be treated, then you should move on." That is an indicator of what Goldstein says is a "great guy [but a] sh*tty relationship."

Those two things can be easily confused for sure, and I've done it many times in my life. A great person can still be not great in a relationship. Don't mix up the fantasy you created in your head of someone with the reality of who they really are.

But not every relationship hurdle calls for a breakup. Some things, like small annoyances, can totally be fixed with a little bit of space.

"If you are fighting over silly arguments — for example, 'I didn't like the tone of your text message' — then maybe you just need a little space but probably should stay in the relationship," Goldstein explains.

So what are the signs of a relationship that is good, healthy, and worth staying in? Goldstein says that if you and your partner spend time discussing the future together, have met one another's friends and family, have similar morals, ethics, and goals, and accept each other — flaws and all — then you should probably try to work things out.

Needing space and breaking up are two different things, and there's no reason to jump to conclusions in your relationship. If your issues are small, why not try working things out first? If you can't improve your relationship from there, you can always break up in the end.

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