The Risks of a Temporary Separation

Temporary separations can often be a double-edged sword, since they can either give us the chance to miss the other person, or they can be the prelude to a definitive breakup.

It’s pretty normal for couple who live together to sometimes have problems understanding one another or in resolving a dispute.

The real problem is when this continues over a sustained period of time. Is a temporary separation a risk in this situation?

It might be the case that you often have loud, heated arguments with your partner. Then you calm down and the argument doesn’t seem so important after all.

A lot of people in relationships recognise the healing effect of a temporary separation.

It can be revitalising and help to temporarily reduce the tension between you and your partner. But it doesn’t always work like this.

  • All couples have things in common, but we can’t forget about the differences.
  • It’s not the differences that tend to be the source of the conflict, but the incorrect management of them, and this can lead to a temporary separation.

How long should a temporary separation last?

Although there is no straight answer to this question, the ideal time is probably between two and six months to reduce the tension.

Some of the risks of a temporary separation

Damping system

Often when someone asks for a temporary separation it’s being used as a subtle euphemism for ending the relationship.


  • In this case, the aim of that person is to not hurt anyone. They’ll suggest a period of time for reflection, meditation, and analysing the situation.
  • The problem is that actually they just want to reduce or cushion the final blow: a permanent breakup.

Lack of agreement

One of the risks involved in a temporary separation is the one party doesn’t agree with the decision. This means that one of the couple doesn’t believe in separation as a way of fixing whatever has gone wrong.

What should be done? Pose clear objectives and intentions. The whole point is not to waste anybody’s time.

Seeing separation as a solution

It’s important to consider that just separation is not a sufficient solution, only part of it.

  • Simply by being apart from the your partner, will not resolve the differences between you, nor automatically change the events that led to the separation.
  • A much better course of action would be to seek help from a counsellor during this time, to avoid frustration or not resolving problems properly.

Making promises that you can’t keep

After deciding on a temporary separation you need to establish what you can, or cannot change, to make each other happy.

During this negotiation phase honesty and compromise are indispensable. It’s best that you make commitments that you can actually fulfil in reasonable time.

Time and avoiding despair

You only have to agree to requests that feel comfortable and you don’t have to agree to anything just to make your partner happy.

  • If they ask you for time, you need to give them time. This will help you both to heal and focus on what you need from your relationship. It will also help you to establish what you want from each other should you get back together.
  • Mentally prepare yourself to let them go. It could be that this temporary separation is going to be longer. Both of you need to be prepared for the moment when you decide either to get on with your lives separately or get back together.

It’s not an easy task, but the best thing to do is occupy yourself with things that you might have used to do together. Now is the time to do them alone.

  • Don’t show any desperation. If your partner has decided that they need time, and you don’t give them that space, it could frustrate them.

If this happens, then they won’t have that time alone which is the whole point of a temporary separation. This ultimately could lead to a definitive breakup.

A separation isn’t the solution

A temporary separation can carry many risks and is a double-edged sword.

  • For some couples, this period of time is a healing time.
  • However, for others it can be completely the opposite, and can bring a huge sigh of relief.

The best thing to do is for both parties to think carefully before making a decision. Amongst other things, it might be that this separation won’t be so temporary.

Such a separation can work when there are lot of raw emotions and confusion. It’s important to make a decision like this for the correct reasons.

The subject of temporary separations is a complex one, and can be helped by the services of a professional. As you can see, it’s important to take many factors into consideration before taking such a step.

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