It’s the dreaded “I need space” stage of the relationship. While this might immediately send you into a panic, this is just a healthy way of expressing personal boundaries which might be hurtful in the short term but futureproofs the relationship in the long term. It’s nothing personal, but it can feel like a kick in the teeth. Here’s how to give him space when he asks for it without feeling like you’re going to lose him.
Prioritize communication. This is the make or break of the relationship in normal terms, but particularly here. You will start to realize that there are lots of different kinds of silence. This doesn’t have to be a loveless absence in your life, so long as you’re on the same page with your partner. Don’t go off in a huff after he tells you he needs space and expect to reconcile neatly after 10 days of radio silence. This is space for reflection, not a way of squeezing all your negativity into the mix too.
Check-in with him regularly. Just because you need space, it doesn’t mean that you stop thinking about your person. You shouldn’t feel like you have to. However, it is important to respect his wishes and maintain physical or online distance so that he can get his head right and figure out what he’s feeling. Most emotions are only identifiable in retrospect, which is okay. You can still check in if you’re really missing him, but keep it relaxed. Don’t love-bomb him with affection the second he pays attention again. This time is primarily for him, not for you. Listen to his needs.
Talk to your friends and family. While you’re having a break from the relationship, take some time to talk to the other people in your life that care about you. This will help you feel less alone. It will also reaffirm all the people who love you. They are important people to lean on and valued parts of your life. Make sure you use them and enrich your brain with other people and draw on their experiences and advice for reassurance. It will take the pressure off the relationship.
Talk to his friends. If in doubt, check in with his friends. You can give him space but not be entirely out of his life in the meantime. Talk about what they’ve noticed about him, and whether his past behavior aligns with what’s happening now. Ask about him – and bond with his friends while you’re there. Establish whether you can support him further from behind the scenes without badgering him.
Turn your phone off. Are you anxiously checking your phone every few minutes to check whether he has replied? That’s not productive. You aren’t willingly giving him his space and you aren’t relaxing into space. You’re trying to grab for more of his time. To save this stress, just turn your phone off altogether and the time will pass much faster. Pick up a book or go climbing. Take your mind off things.
Distract yourself. If the slow period of reflection isn’t working for you just yet, save yourself some time and get active. Do a really killer workout or hang out with your grandparents for a few hours. Either form of endurance training will work to distract and refresh your brain. Gain a little perspective – that’s the whole point of this exercise.
Don’t blame him for having needs. Remember to take this period with grace and learn how to deal with it yourself. If you can’t go a few days without your partner or you start to resent him for it, you need to reassess. If he’s taking space now, the likelihood is that he will need it again in the future. If you’re committed he’s brave enough to tell you he needs, you have to take that in good faith.
Know that relationship comes in waves. They can’t all be moving forward in a linear progression all the time. Relationships ebb and flow with life so take the pressure off. Not everything will be someone’s fault or need to be fixed. Things move on their own and you have to trust that. The moment isn’t fragile. Believe in the strength of your love.
There you have it, some ways of ensuring that you can respect your partner and give him the space that he needs without feeling resentful.
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