There is no woman on this planet who wants to hear her partner say that he needs space. It sounds awful and in the female mind, that means that things are over for good. Yet a male mind works in a completely different way and ‘space’ doesn’t necessarily mean that things are ending. But we can’t help but wonder what ‘space’ really means—does he need space or is it over?
Those questions are not easy to answer. I was in a similar situation. My boyfriend told me he needed space and I burst into tears because I thought he was leaving me. I was crying for about an hour until his words reached my ears—he was trying to explain that he didn’t want to break up with me, he just needed some alone time because we were spending too much time together.
I wasn’t pleased with that answer either at first but I realized he was right. We were spending every waking hour together and we really took things too far. At first, it was fun and it was really time well-spent. But recently we got into this rut where we stopped paying attention to each other and we were just physically together, with our minds elsewhere.
I gave him the space he wanted, even though that was the scariest thing. I feared I would lose him for good. But I realized right there and then that by giving him the space he needed, I only helped us get much closer. We were spending less time together but all the time we had together was more than well-spent. It’s about quality, not about the quantity of time.
Unfortunately, I have seen a lot of real-life examples of relationships ending because they were unable to provide each other with much-needed freedom, or because someone needing space signified that they had much deeper issues and the end was inevitable.
The question is, how do we differentiate between the two? Does he need space or is it over?
The best way to answer those questions is by taking a step back and looking at things from a male perspective and his possible reasons for wanting space.
1. Things are moving too fast for him.
As I already mentioned men and women operate on different levels. Taking that into consideration, we have to be aware that women can have deeper feelings or be ready to take things to the next level before men. It doesn’t mean that your man cares less than you do, it just means that he needs more time to get to the place in your relationship where you already are.
So don’t jump to conclusions. Men tend to be clear with their words. If he says he needs space because things are moving too fast that means just that things are getting out of his comfort zone and he needs some space in order to decrease the speed. Adjust your pace, meet him halfway, and give him that space so he will be able to catch up with you.
2. He is scared to fully commit to you.
Or in other words, he is scared of his feelings. Not all men are in touch with their feelings and they might have a difficult time expressing them or even dealing with them. So they get this need to pull away whenever they feel things are about to become more serious.
If you are the first woman he has ever considered as something more serious, he will be scared as hell. It will freak him out. On the other hand, if you are dealing with a real commitment-phobe he will run for his life and there is nothing you can do about it.
In either case, giving him space is the right thing to do. Forcing things and trying to tie him down won’t get you anywhere. He needs some distance in order to see things from a different perspective. If he is the man for you, some time apart will make him realize that he is just being stupid and that he will just spend all that time missing you like crazy. If things go any other way, you will at least avoid being strung along by someone who wasn’t good for you to start with.
3. He is already a ‘low investment’ partner.
He already doesn’t spend nearly enough time with you and he is not matching your efforts. You are the only one giving and investing in the relationship and he is never there when you need him. These are all signs that he is already one foot out the door. If, in addition to all of that, he informs you he needs space, then things are ending. He is probably using the space to decrease the intensity of the break-up.
He is not sure about you and odds are he never will be. If you assess that he already has more than enough space for himself, his interests and his friends and if you admit to yourself that he has been neglecting you all along, you will see that this space is actually the space you need to see that this relationship isn’t working. Don’t try to hold on to somebody who is clearly unworthy of you. Let him go if he is not ready to be all in.
4. He feels pressured into taking your relationship to the next level.
This is connected to the first item on this list but it consists of his family, friends or even you pressuring him to take things to the next level—to become more committed, to move in or to get married. The more pressure you put on him, the more he will want to flee.
If you keep pressuring him, your relationship will end. If you relax and let things take their own course, he will get where you want him to be. Reverse psychology is all you need. If his friends and family are the ones putting on the pressure, make sure he knows that none of it is coming from you. Grant him the space he needs by talking openly and reassuring him that you don’t want to force anything and that you will let things fall into place in their own time.
5. You fight too much.
If he needs space because you fight all the time, you should reconsider your whole relationship. Just because you share strong feelings doesn’t mean you are compatible. Your constant fights indicate that you are not able to function normally.
Some time apart will do you good. Consider all the pros and cons of your relationship. See if you and your partner are able to find some common ground and a way to overcome your differences. If not, no matter how much it hurts, you will have to put an end to it. If you are not able to work as a team in your relationship and agree to disagree at some points, then as the relationship progresses, things will only get worse.
6. He feels caged.
This is what happened to me. My boyfriend felt trapped in the relationship because he forgot a sense of who he was without me. Our relationship became stronger because I gave him space. If love is genuine, there is no amount of space in this world that can drive you away from one another.
So if your boyfriend needs some time for himself, or if he is in desperate need of privacy and freedom to pursue his other interests, then that’s nothing to worry about. That’s just a sign for you to loosen the reins. It’s a sign you are being too clingy and that you will end up suffocating the relationship if you don’t grant him some space.
7. He has some problems that are unrelated to you.
Men are not as good at multitasking as women are; they prefer to focus on one thing at a time. So if he is too stressed at work or he is having any sort of personal problems outside of the relationship, he will need to take a step back to address those problems.
Let him know you are there for him and that you don’t consider him getting away from you as a good solution to his problems. You guys should be a team who support each other through difficult situations, you shouldn’t seek escape when things get tough. You can provide him with enough space by accepting that you will see less of each other and that you will understand if his attention is redirected elsewhere for the time being.
In a nutshell, not everything is so black and white. When asking yourself, “Does he need space or is it over?” you have to realize that relationships are full of gray areas. The current state and quality of your relationship will determine if you guys are meant to last or end because your relationship is not making you both happy.
All in all, if your man wants some space then you should provide him with that. When you set somebody free, it really tells you if they are the one for you or not. If he comes back, you will have a firmer relationship and a better sense of belonging than you ever had before. If he stays away, it’s better for you. Relationships can’t and shouldn’t be forced. So if him needing some space is something permanent, you will have to make peace with the fact it was never meant to be.
If you need some additional help in giving your partner the space he so desperately seeks, download Give your partner space and let your relationship bloom
and see how mutual freedom will make you more connected.