It can hit you like a smack in the face with a wet fish, or you feel it coming gradually. Slowly at first but building momentum like a freight train. Then it hits you, “Honey, It’s not you. I need some space. I’m just not sure how I feel. Maybe I need time to process my feelings about my ex who I split up from three months/one year/five years ago.” When a guy needs space, how should you react? What can you do?
Why Does a Man Ask For Space?
When a guy needs space, he is requesting that you back off and leave him alone. This is, understandably, beyond painful for most women. It’s often at the beginning of a relationship, when you are just getting into each other. When it’s moving from nervous brand new into pleasantly comfortable. When you just started thinking you might have a future with this guy. So what is really going on? Usually it is one of two things: he wants to end the relationship without openly saying he wants to end it. Or, he really does need a break in order to touch base, to get back in touch with his ‘guyness’.
What should you do when a man asks for space? Give it to him, of course. You can ask why, but he doesn’t usually tell you much. If he mentions his heartbreak over his ex, that often means he’s looking for an excuse to end it with you. Sometimes, though, all he wants is a little time to himself.
New relationships take up a lot of time. There’s a lot of emotion between you and men don’t process emotion in the same way as women. They begin to feel as if they are losing themselves. Women grow when in a new relationship, but men often feel as if they are giving part of themselves away. They feel that masculine part of their life they valued – time with their guy-friends, chill-time in front of the TV, getting their hands dirty fixing their old bike or Mustang, or just being themselves – has been put aside in favor of the relationship.
What did your guy do before he met you? What were his favorite ways to spend time? Has he done those things since he met you? No? Then that’s all there is to it – give him space to catch up on his favorite pastimes and to get in touch with his masculinity.
Meanwhile, you’ve got into a bit of a state about it. You need reassurance. You need to know you didn’t do anything wrong. You need to know it’s not necessarily all over between you.
What To Do When a Guy Needs Space
First of all, you need to establish if this is the end, or if it is merely a pause until he sorts out his head. The following points are merely suggestions. Possible directions of thought. Mull them over and see which, if any, apply to you.
1. If he hasn’t returned your texts, stop texting him. Constant texting or calling is not giving him space. Drop all contact. This may surprise him as he is so used to you making the running. So stop doing that. You might find that’s all it takes to jolt him into sending you a large bouquet and a ‘sorry’ note.
2. If you do #1 and there’s no response after several days that’s usually the end. Keep your dignity and let it go. Remind yourself of all his less-than-desired habits and move on.
3. Should he come back to you and expect you to pick up where you left off, you have to make a decision whether you ask him to commit to the relationship or let him carry on as before. Only you can know which is the right way to go, and it’s a discussion that only the two of you can have.
4. Should you both agree to an extended break, don’t let it include casual sex when you do get together. For some men, that would be the best of all worlds – no commitment, sex when required. Having said that, if that feels like the best solution for you as well, then carry on, but don’t expect any happy-ever-afters.
5. What do YOU want to do? How are you feeling about the relationship? Be honest with yourself. Perhaps you need space too, to work out what you want?
6. Does he habitually hold himself apart from you? Is this ‘I need space,’a regular thing? Does he connect with you on an emotional level? Do you feel supported by him, or drained? Your responses to these questions might give you the answer you are looking for.
7. Don’t cling. This is the worst thing you can do. It makes you look needy and most people can’t deal with that. Nothing makes a person want to run from a relationship like a ‘clinger’. Maintain a dignified silence during ‘space time’. You may feel bereft, abandoned and scared, but share those feelings with a girlfriend, not him. If he’s truly processing how he feels about you, then displaying neediness won’t help one little bit.
8. What is the most important thing in your life right now? Him? If so, this means you have focused your whole being on this one person. Of course it’s natural, but it’s also debilitating when something like this happens. You have to have the capacity to swing your focus back to your own life, your career, your family – your own self.
9. While you have this space forced upon you, and while you have the chance to refocus on you, it’s a good opportunity to thoroughly evaluate your life. Especially if you don’t want to feel like this again. This is your chance to rethink the commitment you made to him. To work out if this relationship is good for you. To think about your future.
10. If he returns with a list of required changes in order to continue the relationship, don’t immediately wheel around and stamp your foot like an angry pony. Instead, give his suggestions some thought. Why is he asking for this? Why is that an issue for him? Really listen to what he is saying. Should his demands be off-the-wall stupid or controlling, feel free to kick the relationship into the long grass. Yet if they are reasonable – like, for example, he wants to spend a little more time with his buddies, you should accept them.
It is important to understand that you fell in love with a MAN. Men want to feel useful. They are oriented toward problem solving, getting things fixed, and general manly stuff. They are not geared to being emotional and feminine in their outlook. And that’s a good thing, right? You might have been expecting him to be like your best girlfriend. He can’t be that person. He needs a way of expressing his masculinity and whether that be yelling at a game, or fixing up a bike, or proudly walking you around town – you gotta let him be a man.
Images via Pixabay