How To Tell Someone You Need Space Without Hurting Their Feelings

Are you currently in a broken relationship and need to take some time away from your partner to figure out if it’s even worth it anymore? Or are you living with them and you feel suffocated but don’t necessarily want to break up? Whether you’ve been in a relationship for a few weeks, a few months, or 10 years, having to tell the other person that you need some space is never easy. However, there is a way to do it that will avoid hurting their feelings too much.

  1. Pre-empt the conversation. Telling your other half that you need some self-reflection time shouldn’t come as a huge shock to them. Hopefully you’ve been open and honest with your feelings already if there has been a build-up of issues in the relationship. This way, it won’t completely blindsight them to the point where they start to resent you for not being totally transparent.
  2. Put a date in the diary to talk. Once you’ve decided that the conversation needs to happen (and soon), ask your partner to meet you one-on-one at a time that suits them so you can have a serious talk. Avoid doing it over FaceTime or via text (unless it’s absolutely necessary) and make sure it’s in a reasonably private place so that you can take some time to air everything out.
  3. Don’t just dive straight into the issues. At the start of the conversation, have a general chat about how you both are and how your days have been. This is just so you can both ease into the talk and establish a level of comfort before you tackle the deep stuff. Plus, if you go in with all guns blazing, you’re likely to say something you don’t mean and hurt your partner in the process.
  4. Tell them how much you value them. Let your other half know just how much you value them and love and care for them. This will start the conversation off on a good note and emotionally prepare them for what you’re about to say.
  5. Calmly explain how you feel. Don’t start with “I need space and here’s why.” Instead, work backward and tell them how you’ve been feeling and why you think that might be. Even if you’re not the best communicator, try to be as direct as you can. It’s important not to dance around the issues or just drop hints as to what you’re ultimately trying to say. This can come across as passive-aggressive. If you’re seriously re-assessing the relationship, communicate your doubts but not to an extent where it creates a confrontation. 
  6. Avoid playing the blame game. I know it can be difficult, but try to avoid pointing fingers at your other half. If you get into an argument, this will just leave a bitter taste in both of your mouths as soon as you walk away from the conversation. You don’t want that when you’re about to spend a significant period of time away from each other. 
  7. Choose your words carefully. When it comes to the nitty-gritty, be very cautious with what you say. Something along the lines of the following will get to the point without coming across as too harsh: “If I’m completely honest, I think what will help us to get back on track is if [I move out/we go on a break] for a little bit. It doesn’t have to be for long and we can keep re-assessing things as we go.”
  8. Try to be as positive as you can about it. At the end of the day, you’re not breaking up with them at this point. Therefore, sometimes you need to say this to your other half to put the worst-case scenario in their head. Make them realize that positive things can come from this (i.e. going on a break or moving out for the time being could ultimately bring you guys closer together). You don’t want to give them a false promise; however, if you’re adamant you don’t want to break up, you could say something like, “I’m confident this is just a temporary solution to get us back to the place where we’re both happy.”
  9. Arrange a date that you can re-assess your situation. While you’re both there in that moment, give your other half something to look forward to. How? Well, come up with a date together when you can meet up and talk about how the time away from each other has gone. And stick to it. After all, this is hard for both of you—but it’s especially hard for the partner who doesn’t really want to have space. Just be mindful of this and I’m sure everything will go swimmingly. If it doesn’t, perhaps the relationship just isn’t meant to be. 
Katie Davies is a British freelance writer who has built a career creating lifestyle content that caters to the modern woman. When she's not sipping tea, shopping, or exploring a new city, you'll probably find her blogging about her fashion and travel adventures at