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When your man tells you that he needs space, it can be a little scary. Is “I need space” a secret cover-up for “I want to break up?” or “I don’t love you anymore?”
The truth is, it depends, so let’s dive deeper into what “I need space” means for a relationship and what you can do about it.
What Does It Mean When Your Partner Wants Space?
Before we answer this question, I am going to assume that you’ve asked him why he wants space and you haven’t received a good answer.
If you haven’t asked him yet – ask!
In a perfect world, he would be able to explain to you what he’s going through and why he feels he needs some space. However, the world is not perfect and sometimes when people are dealing with emotional things such as romantic relationships, they need a little time to themselves and might not give a great answer.
So if you need to analyze what’s going on, these are the most likely culprits.
1. You’re Being Too Clingy
Take a long think about this one. You might not realize you’re doing this but if you are, it can have a huge impact on your relationship. Here are ways that you might be too clingy and you need to pull back:
- You’re texting him too often. If you need help on how often and what to text men, check out this article.
- You’re asking to hang out too much – this means you’re initiating too many hang out sessions in a row. He should be asking you more often than you ask him if you want to play the dating game properly.
- You are pressuring him to take the next relationship milestone. Whether that is meeting your parents, moving in together, “making it official”, or getting married.
The good news about this one is that it’s in your control. Even if you have been acting this way and it’s hurting your relationship, you were doing this out of love and connection, which is a good thing.
It’s important to remember what love truly means. This is going to sound cheesy, but love is not “self-serving” we don’t love other people so that we can demand they do things we want them to do. That’s not loving, that’s manipulation.
If you are pressuring him to hang out too often or move the relationship forward too quickly (in his opinion) this is going to make him question your intentions. He’s going to think to himself:
“Does she really love me and respect my wishes or does she just like the “idea” of me?”
This little seed of questioning and doubt can be enough to make him want to pull back.
2. He’s Going Through Something Emotional
Men like to focus on one thing at a time. If he’s going through something difficult or planning on making a big change in his life, he likely wants to focus his attention on that before he brings it up with you. If you have been dating for a shorter amount of time (less than a year) this is really nothing to worry about.
People early-on in relationships are not yet used to living a “we” life instead of a “me” life so it’s a lot easier for him to put the relationship on the backburner while he gets things sorted.
If you have been dating for a longer period of time, his behavior is more significant. Either the problem he is dealing with is really taking a toll on his mental health and well-being or he is, in fact, dealing with issues in the relationship that he’s not ready to talk about.
3. He’s Having Second Thoughts Or Issues In The Relationship
Sometimes when you’re having a hard time with someone, you don’t want to approach them about it right away. He might be asking for some space so that he can get a little distance from the situation to better analyze his next move.
This one is easier to pinpoint because you can ask yourself:
- Have you been fighting a lot lately?
- Has he been expressing feelings of frustration or concern?
- Does he show signs of resentment, getting mad at little things or saying things like “you always do this.”
- Has anyone told you that he seems to be acting very normal and happy when you’re not around?
If he is growing unhappy in the relationship, he may need some space to think things through.
4. He’s Unsure About the Future
This doesn’t necessarily mean the future of your relationship, it could just mean his own future and what he wants.
This will likely be the case if he’s been living a pretty stable life and is now at a crossroads. He may be growing tired of his job and is considering changing career paths. He could be thinking about moving cities or moving into a bigger house.
The key here is that if he doesn’t know what he wants or where’s going, he’s definitely not going to want to talk to you about it because all he would be saying is “I don’t know.” Which leads me to the next point.
5. He’s Not Ready To Talk Yet
Men usually don’t like to “think out loud” or discuss things in order to come to a conclusion.
Instead, they prefer to think about a solution or a decision and then talk to you about what they have decided. This is the biggest reason why he might need space, he’s just not ready to tell you about what’s going on yet.
How Do I Give Him Space?
The first step towards making sure your relationship gets back on track, is to give him the space he is asking for.
He has every right to take a step back so he can think things through. So here are a few things you can do to give him space and help get things back to a happier place.
1. Ask Him If Everything Is Ok
This is something you just have to do. You can tell him that you’re more than happy to give him some space, but it’s making you concerned and you want to know if everything is ok.
The chances that he will talk to you about what’s going on are slim to none here but you still have to try. He likely is pulling away because (as mentioned) he’s not ready to talk about it.
This conversation is less about trying to dig out the truth from him, and more about letting him know that when he’s ready to chat, you’re ready to listen without judgment or big anger or emotions. He has to know that opening up to you is going to be a safe space where he is not going to get yelled at.
Make sure he knows that it’s safe for him to open up when he’s ready.
2. Stop Texting Or Asking Him To Hang Out
As much as it’s going to suck, you need to give him the space he’s asking for. This means you should ease up on all the texting and don’t ask him to hang out. Let him take the lead from now on,
Now is a good time to think about yourself. Focus on what makes you happy outside of your relationship. Go hang out with your friends or get back into a favorite hobby.
3. Treat Him Normally
The above step is a little difficult to do if you live together, so if you do, just treat him normally. You want to make sure that you’re still the same person and that you’re not mad at him, you’re just letting him have his time to be a little bit of a hermit.
It’s really important that during this time, you don’t try to pick a fight. I know it can be tempting to want to fight because you’re frustrated and want some answers, but that will only make the situation worse. Give him the time he needs.
4. Have A Time Limit On the Space You Give
Doing step number two is respectful of his request and his emotions but it can’t last forever. You don’t want to be in a relationship with someone that you’re not allowed to talk to or message.
After he’s had a couple of weeks to think things through, slowly start opening up the conversation again.
5. Initiate Conversation
After you’ve given him space for a few weeks, you’ll need to start opening up the lines of communication again.
Text him how he is doing or if he would like to meet up and talk.
If you try to pressure him to talk too soon, you just look demanding and needy. But if you give him space and don’t contact him for a couple of weeks, now he kind of owes it to you to explain what’s going on and why he is treating you this way.
When you reach out to him, remember to be nice and act concerned. You don’t want to say things like “you need to talk to me, this isn’t fair” or anything like that.
All conversations must be handled in a calm and collective manner. Remember, you don’t know what’s going on with him, he might be really suffering emotionally and you don’t want to be the enemy here.
It’s OK To Need Space In A Relationship
In a relationship, you can get so caught up in your own needs that you forget about the other person that is equally as involved and invested in this as you are.
He has the right to take some time to himself.
It’s important to remember that a healthy relationship is made up of two complete people that meet in the middle. You should be perfectly able to keep yourself happy and entertained without him while he sorts things out.
If you’re not able to do this, you’re showing a glaring flaw in your personal self-care, life fulfillment, and well-being.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s perfectly normal to feel worried and concerned about your partner, but you should be able to keep yourself occupied without feeling the need to cling to him. If you’re really struggling with this, it is a good idea to read up on the “anxious” attachment style.
What Do You Do When Someone Says They Need Space?
As mentioned above, you should be able to fill your time on your own.
Now is the time to focus on yourself and your needs.
Here are some ways to help you get through this rough patch in your relationship:
1. Remember That You Are Worthy Of Love
As a dating coach, it is my job to remind my clients that they deserve love, simply because they are human. We all deserve to love someone and find someone that loves us too. That second part is really important because so often, people find themselves in relationships that are a one-way street.
If for some reason your boyfriend has decided to check out, then he wasn’t a good fit for you and you deserve better.
I know this can be really hard to hear when you’re in love, so don’t tell yourself that you have to be “ok” if your relationship is struggling, instead just tell yourself of this:
“I Deserve To Love And Be Loved”
That’s all you need to know for now.
2. Reach Out To An Old Friend
They say that when you enter into a relationship you lose two friends. This happens because you can get so caught up in the new love that you forget to nourish and maintain the other relationships you had when you were single.
Now is a great time to reconnect with some old friends that you may have lost touch with. Reach out to them and see if they’d like to go for dinner instead of messaging your boyfriend.
You’ll be surprised at how many people are willing to do this and how nice it is to have some fresh conversations and new insights.
3. Do A Self Check-In
How is your mental health these days? How are you feeling?
This is something that we can forget to ask ourselves when we get so caught up in relationships. When we look at the world we see the other people in it, so it’s easy to forget about looking at ourselves.
Now is a great time to think about what makes you happy and how you can find happiness in day to day life. If you don’t feel good on a regular basis, you should look into why that is and how you can get to a better mental state.
Talk to a therapist or loved one about what is going on and seek the help you need.
4. Live In the Present
A great way to give yourself anxiety is to always think about the future. A great way to give yourself depression is to get too caught up in the past, or comparing your present to your past.
Instead, just focus on what is going on now. Ground yourself, be mindful. Practice gratitude for current life.
Here is some help on how to stop negative thoughts.
5. Be Nicer
I know this one sounds a little weird, but when someone isn’t being super nice to you (ie. wanting space and not telling you why) a good thing to do is to kill with kindness.
This is not a way to manipulate your boyfriend into talking.
It’s about turning a life situation that is not ideal and making you a better person for it.
We all could be a little nicer, whether it’s being more friendly to co-workers, going the extra mile to help a friend, or laying off the nagging to your boyfriend. All of these things are great practice to make you a better person which will make you much happier and boost your self-confidence.
A Word Of Warning
Now that you know what to do when he says “I need space”, you’ll want to make sure he’s a high-quality man who is worth your time.
You can do this by downloading my Free Dating Red Flags checklist here. Find out what to look out for in a man that will not be a good fit.
When your boyfriend says “I need space” you can be sure that things are going that well for him right now. This will add some stress and anxiety into your life which is the perfect time to go easy on yourself (and him). Be kind, loving and patient, that’s the triple threat for dealing with this situation.
All will be known in time.
Thanks for checking out my post. If you are interested in dating coaching packages, you can check them out here.