What to Do When Your Partner Says, “I Need Space”

woman listen to the man

Most people have encountered the “I need my space” talk at some point in their romantic lives. It can cause lots of stress and doubt, triggering feelings of fear and insecurity. However, there are ways you can work through this situation together as a couple. There can be many reasons why your partner needs space, and it doesn’t have to mean that your relationship is about to break down. It may be that he is missing his independence or wants to spend more time with his friends and family, or even simply pursue a hobby that he left in the past when you began dating. Here’s what to do when your partner needs space…

Listen carefully to your partner

Rather than getting defensive, listen to him carefully to try and see things from his point of view. He’s not making a personal attack, but rather asking for something that he needs in order to move forward in the relationship. Don’t take his request for space personally, as this is more about him than you. Keep a level head and let him tell you what he needs right now. You may not feel that you need a break from your relationship, but the fact is that he does. You might not like it or agree with him, but as his girlfriend you have a responsibility to acknowledge and try to understand how he is feeling. Really do your best to see where he’s coming from, even if that means you need to confront your own shortcomings.

Determine how much space he wants

Ask him what he means when he says, ‘I need my space’. Does he need one hour or one month? Or does he want to break up? How will this change your living arrangements, if at all? Does he want to communicate via phone, text or not at all? Will you still keep plans that you’ve already made together? Answering these questions will give you comfort and the information you need to feel secure. Give him time to explain how he is feeling and what kind of space he needs, without getting angry or judging him. As someone who cares about him, it’s your role to respect him and try to understand his feelings.

Be clear about your own feelings

couple after quarrel

The conversation may be about why your boyfriend wants space, but that doesn’t mean that your feelings are irrelevant. It’s important to tell him how you’re feeling, as well as what you want to happen going forward. Be honest and direct, but remain calm and composed. Keep an even tone of voice when talking to your boyfriend and avoid yelling, which will only make him get defensive and want space even more. You need to keep in mind that this isn’t the end of your relationship and he isn’t breaking up with you, even though the conversation can feel scary. Take deep breaths and allow yourself to process what he’s saying.

Respect his boundaries

If your boyfriend says that he doesn’t want you to text or call, then don’t. If he needs two weeks by himself, then respect this request and give him the two weeks he needs. Whatever you do, don’t “accidentally” bump into him at work or drive by his house at night. It’s also a good idea to avoid looking at his social media pages. Looking at the fun things he might be doing without you may only hurt you and lead you to get upset with him. Ask your friends to help you police your Facebook usage and make sure you’re not constantly stalking his profile! It makes sense to delete the app from your mobile phone, as this will remove the temptation to peruse his profile every five minutes. Rather than reaching out to him when your boyfriend wants space, focus on yourself and spend time with supportive friends.

Look after yourself

When it comes to taking space in a relationship, don’t just sit there pining for your partner. Use your free time to catch up with other important people in your life, including family and friends. You may find yourself feeling lonely, and these are the times you need to be kind to yourself. Take a hot bath, watch a movie or call a friend. You may even want to work with a therapist or life coach to find out what you want on your own. Go back to doing the things you used to go before you started dating your boyfriend. Perhaps you used to be keen photographer or tennis player, but this pastime took a backseat as you through yourself into your relationship. Whatever you used to do before your boyfriend came into your life – start doing it again. Devoting time to yourself and your own passions and interests will remind you that you can still have your own life, even when you’re part of a couple.

Discuss taking a trial run

If you’re caught off-guard or feel upset by your partners request for space, why not discuss taking a trial run? Agree to give him space for a few days or so in order to see what happens. At the end of this period, meet up with him and discuss how you both found it. You may well be shocked at just how well you’re able to adapt when you’re not partner needs space, or you may have felt lonely and hurt. Whatever your feel during the time apart, be honest with him, as this is the only way you can work towards something that works for both of you. Don’t be afraid to adjust your parameters based on what works for you as a couple.

Be energised when you reconnect

When your man has had the space he needs, text or call him and arrange to meet up – preferably in a public, neutral space. Tell him how excited you are to see him and how happy you are to be together again, but don’t be overbearing. This may be one of the reasons why wanted space in the first place! You’ll also need to address more serious concerns about your time apart. but don’t hesitate to show how much you’ve missed him. Show him how much you appreciate him, either with words or actions.

Why he might want space

man in smoking

It’s common for couples to be not just partners, but best friends too. This means that they become involved in every aspect of each other’s lives. If this sounds familiar, this could be why your boyfriend wants space. In the early days, your man probably put aside his own personal needs to make you happy and for the good of the relationship, but the time may have come when he wants time “me time”, so that he can spend time not just alone, but with his friends and family. He probably doesn’t want to break up, but he wants his independence for a while.

It’s also possible that he wants space because he feels controlled. He may feel as though you want him to fulfil a particular role, i.e. boyfriend, husband or father, whereas he wants to be somebody else from time to time. Whilst you may fear that his idea of space is breaking free from you and enjoying the single life again, he’s really just asking to spend more time with his friends or the chance to pursue particular hobbies. Rather than clipping his wings and keeping him to yourself, let him discover himself again – he’s likely to be a lot happier and a much better partner as a result.

Unfortunately, sometimes a guy asking for space can be a bad sign for a relationship. It can be an indication that he is not truly committed to you and unwilling to build a long-term partnership. You need to ask yourself if you feel that he truly loves you and wants a relationship with you. If you can’t answer yes without hesitation, it can be a bad sign and it could be time to say goodbye.

Summing up

Whilst taking space in a relationship can be a very healthy thing for couples to do every so often, it can be difficult, particularly if you’re not the one who’s requested time apart. It can leave you feeling hurt and upset, and unsure of your future with your boyfriend. Despite this, it’s important to be honest, compassionate and to act with integrity in order to get through this challenging time in your relationship. It can be hard to know what to do when your boyfriend wants space, but as long as you maintain communication between the two of you, and you both still want things to work, you can and will get through this time. In the end, you’ll come out stronger and ready to face to future together.