How To Figure Out What He Means When He Says He Needs Space

Your boyfriend asks you out because he needs to talk to you about something. Over coffee, he tells you he wants to take a step back for a bit. Maybe he doesn’t even meet up in person, he just tells you via text. Does that make you assume your relationship’s done and dusted? Not so fast. Asking for space doesn’t necessarily mean that, so here’s how to figure out what he really means when he says he needs space.

  1. “Space” can mean many things. Don’t just assume that when he asks for space that he’s saying he wants to break up with you. He might not! He might legitimately be asking for more time to himself so he can focus on something that’s bugging him in his life that’s got nothing to do with you, or because he’s lost himself a bit and wants to get himself back.
  2. Ask him for more details before assuming. One of the best ways to find out what he’s really saying is to ask him! Instead of just assuming that he wants to break up or he wants space so he can date other women, have a frank and honest conversation with him so you can find out what it is he needs.
  3. Look at your relationship. What’s been happening between you guys? Have you been more distant with each other over the last few weeks or months? If that’s the case and then he asks for space, then perhaps a breakup is on the cards. On the other hand, if you’ve had an argument, maybe he just needs some time to clear his head. It doesn’t have to be a big deal.
  4. He should set some rules. If a guy’s eager to have a bit more space without ending the relationship, he’ll be willing to set some rules for what happens in this new relationship mode. Like, is he still going to chat to you regularly or is he basically asking for a relationship break? You need to know what you’re getting yourself into before you agree to anything. You’re part of this relationship too and your needs matter.
  5. What does this mean about his feelings? If he’s asking for a bit of space because he’s confused about his feelings, that’s a huge red flag and a breakup could be coming fast, so brace yourself. Again, it’s a good idea to ask him where he’s at feelings-wise so that you know if things are still okay or if he’s too much of a coward to tell you he’s not in love with you anymore.
  6. Some space can be healthy. Remember, time away from your partner is important. It gives you and your partner the chance to focus on your own lives, instead of being a clone of each other. So, if he’s keen on having a bit more space so he can do his own stuff without always doing couple stuff, that’s actually healthy and you should be taking that time to concentrate on your own life, too.
  7. Watch out if he’s all about himself. His above-mentioned need to take some time for himself can easily turn toxic if he’s focusing on himself so much he’s not behaving like he wants to be in a relationship. For example, if you mention that your cousin’s wedding is next week and he says he “needs to do his own thing” even though he’s already doing that. That’s a red flag. He craves being single.
  8. What’s the timeframe? If he wants space to figure himself out but he’s not ending things, he’ll be open about how intends to use that space. So, for example, he’ll say that he wants to go away on his own for a week to figure out what he should be doing with his life.
  9. See how he behaves. Before declaring the end of the relationship (which might be you jumping to conclusions), give him the space he so needs. See what he does. If he’s not ending things, he’ll still be in contact with you. He’ll also give you a clear idea about the space he needs. On the other hand, if he goes AWOL, leaving you to wonder what’s going on, that’s a bad sign that his need for space is really a need to be single again.
  10. What if it’s never enough? You gave him more space and now he wants more. It seems that he can never get enough time on his own. While having time to himself is important to keep him happy and healthy, it’s a whole other ballgame if he’s taking so much time that it’s pushing you further and further away. The guy’s fading you out!
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.